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“Fuel” by Metallica.

Few other everyday objects have shaped modern music as much as the car. In this column, our editors write about songs that tell stories related to a vehicle. Some of them even went down in music history – but certainly not all of them…

2 min reading time

by Christian Scholz, Editor
published on November 19, 2019

"Gimme fuel, gimme fire, gimme that which I desire, ooh!" OK, so this demand seems a little outdated given all of the discussions surrounding CO2, climate protection and electromobility. Loud engines with a lot of horsepower under the hood, and an obsession with high speeds – these are passions that people are no longer so willing to admit to in public.

Metallica presumably could not have cared less in 1997. They were probably equally untroubled by the fact that their "Load" and "Reload" discs shocked a lot of their fans in the 1990s, and they lost quite a few of them who were not enthusiastic about their switch from the thrash and heavy metal of their first five records to more mature, country and blues-infused rock. But never mind – today the group fronted by James Hetfield have long returned to their metal roots, are more successful than ever in their late fifties, and are considered the most successful live band of all time with more than 22 million tickets sold, uniting the generations.

Album cover "Metallica - Reload"
Album cover "Metallica - Reload"

I wonder if the song "Fuel" was left out of the set for this year's festivals out of consideration for the younger generation's often greater environmental sensitivity. It was a shame, because the song is suited like few others to open an adrenaline-fueled rock and metal show, with a lot of smoke and fire on stage. And "Fuel" is one of the few songs from the 1990s that is also popular with those fans who grew older with the band, and used to declare their love for California with big bumper stickers on their tuned cars. The love endures, even if the family car no longer has any space for stickers that isn't taken up by the names of the scribbling passengers on the rear seat (as evidenced by the car park of the Maimarktgelände in Mannheim, Germany, where the band played in August).

But young or old, rock and metal still stand for power, fun, and a bit of rebellion like few other music genres. And let's be honest: who wants to be sensible and rational all of the time? Exactly! "Quench my thirst with gasoline", sings Hetfield, the son of a trucker, and you believe without question that he has gasoline in his blood – a real motorhead, as they say in the States. In his spare time he enjoys tinkering with his converted classic cars, which include rarities such as a 1937 Lincoln Zephyr Voodoo Priest, and a 1948 Jaguar Black Pearl that has won numerous custom awards. Under the hood is an American 5.0-liter V8 engine from Ford. Is that sensible? No. Is it rock 'n' roll? Hell yes! And even though the future belongs to fuel-efficient engines and electromobility: a little bit of craziness is allowed sometimes, and not just in rock 'n' roll.

Christian Scholz

…has idolized Metallica since he was 15, and could never have imagined back then that it is possible to even listen to heavy metal at the age of 30, never mind play it on stage. Today he is happy to have been mistaken, and that his old heroes are still showing others how to rock in their late fifties.

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