Megadeth's Dave Mustaine: My Life in 15 Songs

Singer/guitarist reflects on nearly four decades of thrash-metal masterpieces

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"Use the Man"

Cryptic Writings (1997)

When I was working on the record, I went to a 12-step meeting in a place right next to the studio. The guy who runs it told me he had something to show me, and he had this box and goes, "Check this out." And I'm looking through it and he goes, "That's Bob," for lack of a better name. Then he told me that earlier in the day, a guy had gone to a meeting and then shot up and died at the halfway house and that this box was all his stuff. So he's having me casually look through this stuff and told me it was a dead guy's. I was like, "Fucker." 

He was trying to get a message across to me and it worked – I'm still alive. I wrote the lyrics to "Use the Man" immediately. "I heard somebody fixed today/There was no last goodbyes to say." There's a proverb in China or Japan that goes, "First the man takes a drink, then the drink takes the drink, then the drink takes the man." I thought, "The same thing could be said about the needle." First the man uses the needle, then the needle uses the needle, then the needle uses the man. And that's where the title came from.

These guys come out of prison, go to a halfway house, their systems have cleaned out, but they think they can use half as much and get twice as high. They don't realize that their systems have cleaned out, and they O.D. So that's what "Use the Man" was about. It's a very, very sad song about people overdosing on drugs, and it was also inspired by Neil Young's "Needle and the Damage Done."

I can't say when I got off of street drugs; I don't look at it like that. But I changed my life when I got saved back in, I think, 2003. God sent me to AA and AA sent me back to God and that's kind of where I'm at right now with everything. So that's when I put scoring heroin and doing cocaine in the past. I can still have a glass of wine. I have a beer company now, so it's kind of hard to say you're sober when you have a beer company. It's not my place to tell you what to drink, or anything like that, but everything in moderation – except for metal.

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