The song Lars Ulrich has heard “92,000 times”

Lars Ulrich

According to leaked documents, there came a point in the Vietnam War when President Lydon B. Johnson’s primary motive for remaining actively involved was “to save face”. Operating on the advice of Henry Kissinger, this would perpetuate countless losses of life and cast an irreparable stain on American society. Counterculture rallied against such mindless death. And in many ways, it was easiest for the British bands to lead the charge.

The National Guard opened fire on a group of unarmed protesters at Kent State University in Ohio. It killed four and severely injured nine in a salvo of 67 shots. Polls found that the majority of the US public found the protestors, strumming their lutes and singing for peace, at fault. Unlike their American counterparts, the second wave of British invasion bands didn’t have to answer to that mob. They could happily offer a voice of foreign counterpoint on the debate.

One of the most epic wails for peace on this front would come from Ian Gillan and Deep Purple with their scintillating rally cry to spot the mindless violence with ‘Child in Time’. “The song reflected the mood of the moment, and that’s why it became so popular,” Gillan would later claim. That says a lot about the ‘mood’—the track is dramatic. It’s an orchestral piece of rock that roars out of the speakers like ‘1812 Overture’ in a time of napalm.

While the specifics of the Vietnam War contained within the track might now render it a time capsule, the adrenalizing blast that the song offers remains as visceral as ever. Metallica’s Lars Ulrich, the man partly responsible for birthing thrash metal – a genre that similarly offers a blitzkrieg in response to hardship. He has consumed the cold splash of water of ‘Child in Time’ like coffee.

The drummer cites the song among his all-time favorites and recalls the life-changing moment. It was when his father took him to see the band play live at the tender age of nine. Lars Ulrich became determined to seize the thunderous potential of rock ‘n’ roll. He used ‘Child in Time’ to serve as a reminder of that ever since.

“This is their most iconic moment,” he told Rolling Stone regarding the rollicking 1970 hit. “I’ve heard it 92,000 times, and it never sounds anything less than great.”

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