A Metaphorical History of the Snare Drum

The gunshot beginning of “Like A Rolling Stone.” Gene Krupa’s delirious popcorn. Head meets wall on “Highway to Hell” (the snare is the head; the kick drum is the wall). Mitch Mitchell like toy trucks kicked down a set of stairs. Bonzo is a fat man afternoon drunk walking towards you, perilously. “Walk Don’t Run” is the sound of someone trying to nervously and repeatedly shut a gate. Muddy Waters’ band (“Hard Again”) like a car door slammed inside a dark garage while Ringo’s snare practically rolls towards you and begs to be picked up. “Born in the USA” like a tall person shouting from the back of a crowd and “Tommy Gun” like a windup monkey and Greg Enrico (Sly Stone) like a halo above the bass guitar. “Tom Sawyer” is your heartbeat in platform shoes while “Walk This Way” is your heartbeat in brown cords while “Smells Like Teen Spirit” is your heartbeat drilled with a syringe. Pete Thomas cracks his snare while Buddy Rich spanks his. Stevie Wonder plays the kit like a set of shakers while Budgies plays his like a set of kitchen utensils. Ramones’ snare (all 3) sounds like a nail gun while the snare on “Magnificent Seven” seems as if plunged into hot grease and left to bubble. “Look Sharp” sounds like it costs ten cents (at least it’s mixed loud) and “Comfortably Numb” is a mothering palm patting your head until you sleep. Elvin Jones like a Christmas tree falling over and Earl Palmer like dribbling two basketballs at once. And then there’s “I Can See for Miles” by The Who. Keith Moon’s snare keeps going and going and going until it stands above the fray as if calling forward every other snare.

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