Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Enter Sandman

I am not a music savant or critic. I can hardly be called musically literate for that matter. I played the saxophone for a few years in middle school and I can play the chorus to “In the Jungle” on a piano for some reason.

I am not really a fan of rock or metal. My knowledge of the genre stems from nothing more than reading Chuck Klosterman essays.

Music does not “speak to me.” I hear all the time how someone is moved by a song or hears lyrics that touch their soul. I missed out on this form of elation somehow. The closest I usually come to being moved by a song is getting my foot to tap with the beat…with one exception.

Metallica’s Enter Sandman is a song that will live with me for as long as I live, a song that brings out feelings of excitement and anticipation, feelings that have almost nothing to do with the score or melody.

Enter Sandman has become my sports national anthem through no fault of my own. It has happened because I grew up through the 90’s loving the New York Yankees and I went to college at Virginia Tech: two teams that have no correlation to one another and would have no conceivable connection at all if it wasn’t for Metallica’s hit.

Since the mid-1990’s, Mariano Rivera has been the closer for the 27-time World Champion New York Yankees. As baseball fans know, each closer has a song they enter to, much as each batter has walk-up music that plays when they come to the plate. In Rivera’s case, he chose Enter Sandman as his entrance theme, one that displays his power and finesse, oozing excitement. Mariano Rivera has run in from the bullpen to the mound to this specific song nearly 1,000 times since joining the Yankees. I have been in the stands for a few and watched on television for hundreds more. Any time Enter Sandman plays that feeling plays with it. Mariano is coming in, the greatest closer in baseball history. The other team is doomed. Victory is ours. That’s what Enter Sandman represents.

That would have been enough for me, enough for one song. However, upon graduating high school early in the 2000s, I chose to attend Virginia Tech for my undergraduate degree. My first visit into Lane Stadium for a football game revealed more than I was anticipating. Every game, the Virginia Tech Hokies run out onto the field to Enter Sandman.

It even goes beyond being an entrance song though. Enter Sandman is a school tradition. Prior to the team running through the tunnel, the song picks up in the stands, every student starts jumping. We jump, we yell, the fervor building. When the Hokies finally burst out onto the field, the crowd is raring to go. I experienced this every home football game for four years until I graduated.

As is the case with these things, the basketball team also used Enter Sandman to jack up crowds. It was pulled out in strategic places, at opportune times, to get the crowd juiced. Anytime that tune came on, it was like a Pavlov’s Dog reaction. We are Hokies and we know what to do when Metallica comes on.

Years later now, I don’t sleep with one eye open as the lyrics would suggest but Enter Sandman has a place in my heart that I never assumed a song could. If it comes on in a bar or at a random place, I get that thrill back, the anticipation of Rivera coming in to close out another Yankees win, the exhilaration of the Hokies booming onto the field to mash another opponent, and I always start jumping. Always.

(Image courtesy of metallica.ws)

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