The Blog

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Claire Meadows Headshot

From the Wilderness...to Wagner

Posted: Updated:
Print Article

During my college 'wilderness' years, I used to wake myself up every morning with Marilyn Manson's 'Mechanical Animals'. I was most fond of the track 'Fundamentally Loathsome', which seemed to tap straight into my psyche and set the tone for the day.

Fast forward eight years, and I'm working in London. Every day, riding the number 23 bus up the Edgware Road, I used to steel myself for a day of dealing with two difficult managers by blasting out Metallica on my iPod.

Walking to my desk in time to the beat of 'For Whom the Bell Tolls', I felt invincible. At least up until the point that manager one had his first rant of the day, and manager two insisted I bent the will of the world to his need.

Heavy metal was a constant in my life from my teens - with my specialist subject being the 'Big Four' thrash metal bands: Metallica, Slayer, Anthrax and Megadeth, though i loved to keep my nose to ground for new talent, poring over Kerrang and Classic Rock with a notepad and pen.

The louder, the faster, the harder, the better. When Metallica headlined at the Big Day Out event in Milton Keynes in 1999, I was there, in the moshpit. In 2008 when they played a one-off gig at the O2, I was there in the gods, beer in hand, revelling in their majesty.

But then something very strange happened.

Last year, I turned 30, and almost overnight, all appetite for louder, faster, harder left me.

I know - it took me by surprise as well.

My iPod, formerly the home of Appetite for Destruction, Reign in Blood, and Death Magnetic, is stocked to the gills with Goldfrapp, Bat for Lashes. I'm writing this piece to the strains of Yves Montand - one of the three 'french classics' albums ordered from the Guardian music store, no less.

I have become a Classic FM groupie - Jane Jones plays complete works of an evening and I am regularly in raptures at her choices. My current favourite is Sibelius - I am in awe of his vision.

I still consider my tastes as diverse, and I still keep my nose to the ground for exciting new bands, and composers I haven't discovered before. It's just nowadays, Wagner's as heavy as it gets.

Why the sudden turnaround? I think it's complicated - it could just be a natural progression with age. But I think part of the reason is that the disaffected youth in me has finally been laid to rest.

Instead of fighting the world, and thinking in a truly insular fashion about my own struggles, I want to fight for the greater good in the world at large - not just in my own head. And the soundtrack to this is completely different.

Plus, as my own boss now, and carrying the troubles, and frequent disappointments of self-employment, I need as much peace as I can get, wherever I can find it.