I’ll never forget “One” by Metallica. It was the first song I ever liked by the group and it heralds the beginning of their accessible period.
Well at first I just liked the pretty start and the singing parts. It took me a long time to accept the heavy ending. But I eventually accepted it. You see it might be a bleak sounding ending but the words were so bleak that I accepted it. At least I thought this was one of the bleakest songs I knew.
Near the end of the singing it goes “Land mine has taken my sight, taken my speech, taken my hearing, taken my arms, taken my legs”. And earlier on it said “Nothing is real but pain, now.”
We have a limbless Helen Keller with constant pain as a companion. That seemed so bleak to me.
Maybe “One” (I’m going to call him this for the duration of this post), can communicate if someone put a pen in his mouth and held a sheet of paper such that he could write on it. So one-way communication is possible.
But speaking of Helen Keller, the reason there was so much hope for her was that her instructor Anne Sullivan began tracing letters and thus words on her hand.
One may not have hands to spell words on but what about his back, his stomach, his cheek? Once One realizes what is going on he can have two-way communication.
Then, with two-way communication, the doctors can do their best for One’s pain. Maybe it’s a neglected part of his treatment. Maybe the pain will go away after One heals better. Maybe there’s nothing the doctors can do for the pain but drugs might help. With two-way communication odds are One’s situation can improve.
And maybe the pain is so bad that One does everything in his power to get to Switzerland and then gets access to assisted suicide. This is still a bleak ending but at least One isn’t helpless.
So now what do I do when listening to “One”? The story’s no longer so bleak that I feel forced to listen to the overly heavy ending. Do I now get to play just the pretty parts?
I hate to say it but over the years I got used to the heavy part and now accept it as part of the song. You win, Metallica. But if I thought of this years ago…
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Close to this subject, it’s very, very sad to see Terry Pratchett openly discussing his proposed assisted suicide. Wish it was a Discworld novel so you wouldn’t have to go to it and open it and deliberately read it if you didn’t want to. It’s hard avoiding it when it’s dominating the news media though.