Best Use of Metallica’s ‘One’ in a Public Radio Story


Photo by Daniella Zalcman under CC license.

“Chronically Homeless See New Woes in New Orleans”, by Joseph Shapiro.

I heard it this morning around 3:15 a.m. when I flipped over my Zune and tuned to NPR after being awoken by violent sounds from a movie playing too loud in the next room. These are the stories that actually play three times here on the West Coast, where morning edition begins at 2 a.m. and in some cases, runs — or rather loops — until 9. When I lived in Chicago I thought it was cool to hear the BBC after getting home on a late night, but now, in LA, we’ve got tomorrow’s news at 2 a.m.

(The unfortunate consequences for an NPR junkie like myself are that Renee Montagne’s voice begins to randomly say “good morning” while your sleep and, at times I find I secretly wish a lengthy spell of laryngitis on the likes of Steve Julian. Sorry Steve, you’re not as annoying as Larry Mantle, just speak a bit faster if you could.)

OK, I digress. The point of this post is to highlight this great clip from another excellent Morning Edition piece from New Orleans. NPR had the best coverage during the Katrina disaster and they continue to document the aftermath better than anyone — check their Katrina & Recovery page.

In this particular story, in spite of the vivid and blighted landscape I was aurally transported to at 3:15 a.m., it totally made my day to hear 38-year-old Benjamin Parnell, a blind New Orleanian, laughing and — longing for his guitar — belting out the ever-powerful machine-gun lyrical climax of Metallica’s “One” a capella:”Landmine has taken my sight/Taken my speech/Taken my hearing/Taken my arms/Taken my legs/Taken my soul/Left me with life in hell…

The kicker, NPR followed through in providing the gritty, heavy metal context. Kudos to reporter Joseph Shapiro and his producer(s). Listen to the excerpt below. You can read / listen to the entire piece here.

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