Megadeth frontman Dave Mustaine spoke in an interview with Consequence Of Sound, and revealed the story behind the lyrics of Rust In Peace.
“There’s a lyric from 1990’s Rust in Peace where you sing, “Don’t ask what you can do for your country / Ask what your country can do for you.” Where do you stand on those lyrics now?”
If you kinda reduce that song — “Take No Prisoners” — to its lowest common denominator, it was about the fact that if the military machinery wants something, it usually gets [it]. I was watching something late last night about one of our states here in the U.S. where they’d raised the age to purchase a weapon to 21. The sheriff of that territory said, “They’ll take you in the military at age 18.
You can get a gun there but you can’t get one on the streets.” I’ve been on the USS George Washington, which is an amazing aircraft carrier. To think that they’ve got 18-19-20 year-old guys driving these $100 million — and even sometimes close to billion-dollar — vessels. [Laughs.] And you’re thinking, “God, this guy’s not even old enough to buy a beer. Oh my gosh!” So that’s kind of what that was.
I registered for the selective service when I was 18. I had no fear whatsoever because I was living on my own and I really didn’t have much to live for at that time. So I figured, “Shoot, I’ll register.” During that time, when my best friend and I were waiting for our cards to be called up, that’s when I started thinking, “Well, they want my life, but they don’t want my hair — crazy.” [Laughs]
So I looked to JFK. I know that nobody’s without blame. We’re all human and we’re all fallible, but he was somebody that everybody really looked up to, so it was kind of like rock-legend stuff. So there was that famous line of his, “Don’t ask what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.” So I was like, “Let’s see now [if I invert this]. Let’s put this out there — the yin and the yang.” Do you like a Berean in the Bible who questions everything? Do you like a skeptic in science who questions everything? Be like a typical young child who says “why?” to everything — just ask. I think a lot of people misunderstand me sometimes when I talk or sing about a subject, as if I’m taking a particular side.
As a parent, I’ve learned, when I explain something, to say, “Okay, here’s the pro; here’s the con; here’s what I would do” and just kinda let the chips fall where they may. I think that’s how my kids turned out balanced. I thought my kids were gonna end up being awful because of the whole rock thing, but I’m really blessed in that area. And I’ve got all of you guys to thank for helping us have the lifestyle that we do. Of course, I came close to f*cking it all up numerous times.
Click here to entire interview.