There are a lot of firsts that parents look forward to in their spawn’s life…first tooth, first steps, first solo trip to the bathroom, etc. But there’s one that’s more a rite of passage than a “first”; when a father passes down to his son the teachings of a manly art that has started neighborly civil wars, made enemies out of friends and has broken full-grown men at the sight of the slightest imperfection. I am talking about lawn maintenance. Truthfully, I have never had the skills or the horticultural aptitude to make a lawn look like a Major League ballpark, but I do like the lawn to look neat and manicured.
I remember not being old enough to drive when the crate arrived in our driveway. It was like getting a delivery from the ACME Corporation in the cartoons, but it wasn’t, it was from Sears. The crate gave birth to a 12 Horsepower, 4 speed, 32″ deck riding lawn mower (complete with grass catching system). Some kids had paper routes or worked at a local grocery bagging canned goods while I would hop on the lawn mower and drive around our neighborhood…blades of grass were no match for the spinning twin blades of steel beneath my feet.
Our neighborhood had less than 2 dozen homes. The average lot size was bigger than most homes at the time, an acre or more. The riding lawn mower made short work of even the larger lawns. After finishing my homework, I would jump on the mower with my yellow Sony Sports Walkman and a container of water…heading out to another neighbor’s to earn my $20 for a couple of hours work.
Back to the lecture at hand. I can’t remember why I bought the album Persistence Of Time. I don’t think that there were any radio stations that had Anthrax playing in heavy rotation nor did I have any friends that said, “You have to buy this album!” Maybe I saw some kid at school wearing an Anthrax t-shirt and thought it was a cool logo. I don’t know where it cam from, I just remember having it.
After checking the fluid levels on the lawn mower, making sure I had fresh bags in the grass catcher and my own fluid levels were satisfactory I would line up at the beginning of the lawn and press play on the rubberized buttons.
Tangent: My dad was big into safety on the mower. Making sure that I knew how to properly manage my way through all 4 gears of the tractor and how to use the clutch brake. As far as I knew, when dad wasn’t around, there were 3 speeds. Stop, Reverse, and Top Gear. Thrash metal made the time go by faster. Mowing down an acre of grass is boring. Really boring. Going all the way from one end to another. You go horizontally one week and switch it up the next by making the lines vertical. It’s like doing laps in a pool but really, really, really monotonous.
Persistence Of Time was on the short list of tapes that I always had with me. There is one track on the album that blew my mind from the first time I heard it, and to this day it still feels like the first time, every time. I don’t know if it was because I could’ve really been into instrumentals or what, but I knew it was something that resonated. Starting out with some audio from The Twilight Zone over the top of a simple rhythm guitar it morphs into something that can only be described as tranquil speed metal…at least for the likes of Anthrax. After a calculated build, the music erupts seamlessly into Belly Of The Beast.
It was probably this moment that made me have a light bulb moment. The 4 guys that made the music aren’t just dudes going as fast and hard as they can for as long as they can, nor are they trying to see who can jam more notes into a measure of music than the next guy. They were musicians and my ears appreciated them.
|Keep It In The Family||7:09|
|In My World||6:25|
|Belly Of The Beast||8:12|
|Got The Time||2:44|
|One Man Stands||5:38|