New Jersey stoner rock band Monster Magnet shared a cover of Dust’s 1970 track “Learning to Die.” It’s one of the songs they recorded for their upcoming covers album A Better Dystopia, which is due in full on May 21 via Napalm Records.
Monster Magnet’s rendition of “Learning to Die” is pretty faithful to Dust’s classic, but the cover takes away the original’s soft edges. There’s no acoustic guitar, no dobro and no backing vocals. Modern production valley also adds to the hardness of the recording, along with a crunchier guitar tone. Monster Magnet’s frontman Dave Wyndorf commented on the cover choice, “‘Learning To Die’ blew me away when I was 15 and it still blows me away. Man, do I LOVE to sing this song. Dust was one of the greats.”
Not to be understated, the song has always still had plenty of hard rock jamming to it. It starts with a fast-paced guitar riff that forms the spine of the song that the musicians return to between verses. It’s an epic, progressive track that contrasts its energetic theme with sections of downtime. Lyrically, it covers the story of a man coming to grips with the fact that everyone must eventually have a time to die, beginning with “When I think of all time/We had to die/I think that we should have gone/Somewhere away/Far from our maddening state.”
The cover is accompanied by an animated music video in which a space fighter pilot navigates the shrapnel of a galactic battle. After a scene with a huge demonic figure and some more flying, the pilot reaches what appears to be a portal guarded by two tyrannosaurus rex. It has simple animation, but that works to its advantage since it’s officially a lyric video.
Monster Magnet has been around since 1989 and released a lot of albums over the years. Their first four records remain the fan favorites, Spine of God (1991), Superjudge (1993), Dopes to Infinity (1995) and Powertrip (1998). Once the ‘90s ended, Monster Magnet had established themself as a force that was here to stay, thanks to the success of their songs “Space Lord,” “Power Trip” and “Negasonic Teenage Warhead.”
Dust was a New York hard rock trio who only released two albums, Dust (1971) and Hard Attack (1972). They never secured any notable hits, but those who have discovered their music tend to value it highly. “Learning to Die” is just one example of their effective style, and their full albums tell the rest of their tale.
Wyndorf previously stated how he decided that Monster Magnet would release their first covers album, “I didn’t feel much like writing, but working on anything was better than watching the news as hospitals filled up, people died, and American politics went bat-shit crazy. The world roared ‘Dystopia! Apocalypse! Revolution!’ I’d heard those words before, and they brought to mind my childhood in the late 60’s/early 70’s… and the music… and short playlist of songs (just one of many) that I’d been carrying around with me on my whatever device to listen to before shows.
“Of course, these tunes have also been in my head for more or less my whole life. These were not the popular hits of the time. This was like a playlist from the 4th dimension… strange bits of musical obscurity, mostly dredged up from that inglorious and freaky “twilight zone” time that preceded Arena Rock, Heavy Metal, Reggae and Disco. A no-man’s land of hard rock that still had remnants of psychedelia and garage punk but had abandoned any notion of “flower power” or frat house fun. And of course, they rocked. Yeah, these songs were it.”