It Is What It Is: Banging my head

“Dad, why don’t we have more Iron Maiden in our playlist?”

I got that question from my 13-year-old son recently, as he was scrolling through our iTunes library. We had just watched a cover of Iron Maiden’s “The Trooper” by 2 Cellos, which is just what it sounds like — a pair of cellists who play their own arrangements of rock songs from time to time.

Anyway, after hearing the 2 Cellos version, he went and found Iron Maiden’s original, and apparently, liked what he heard.

My quick reply to his question was that I don’t have a way to convert a cassette tape to a digital format. In fact, I don’t even have a way to play a cassette tape any more (my son actually made sure of that when he was a toddler helping me in the garage and “fixed” my old tape deck with a hammer), but I’ve never liked paying for music I’ve paid for once before.

But there’s a different answer, one I’ve always been a little embarrassed to admit: I’ve never been much of a metalhead. Sure, there were a few heavy metal songs here and there that I like, and I tuned in to “Headbangers Ball” on MTV every week in my younger days. But while I rocked a sweet mullet and ripped jeans, I never really embraced the heavy metal genre.

Now, you may ask why I would be embarrassed to admit that I didn’t really like heavy metal. I can chalk it up to peer pressure. Most of my friends were into heavy metal, and quite frankly, if I had swapped out one of their Black Sabbath or Judas Priest tapes for some Journey, I don’t think anyone would’ve been picking me up to go do whatever high school kids were doing on Saturday night. (I really needed the ride; I have a late-in-the-year birthday and I didn’t get my driver’s license until I was a senior in high school. My parents always offered to drop me off, but I’m pretty sure that at the time, that might have been worse than liking Journey.)

I couldn’t do it then, but I’ve got my own vehicle now, so I’ll admit it: Not only do I like Journey, I also like all those other not-so-heavy rock bands from the late 1970s and early 80s — Styx, Night Ranger, Boston, REO Speedwagon, you get the picture. Just writing the names of those bands makes me feel like a geek.

My son, on the other hand, has embraced heavy metal and gone even heavier. Just the other day, I overheard an adult ask what type of music he listens to. His response came as somewhat of a surprise to me — he’s apparently found one of those streaming music services with a heavy metal channel, and when he started listing the names of some of the bands, it made Iron Maiden seem as tame as Journey. It also explains why learning a John Denver song during his guitar lessons was like nails on a chalkboard to him (which, by the way, is kind of like what the music he’s listening to sounds like).

Clearly, musically speaking, we are going our separate ways (that’s a Journey reference, in case you didn’t catch it).

For now, Iron Maiden will have to be our common ground — unless 2 Cellos gets even heavier with their arrangements. In which case, I just might have to regrow a mullet and find a new cassette player.

Clarion editor Will Morrow can be reached at

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