turning metal, the iron in the ground

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chopin7

Senior Member
Albanian
Hello
It's this documentary about Muscle Shoals.
Someone, Bono of the U2 I think, at the very start says
"Magic is the word that comes to mind for me when I think of Muscle Shoals.
It's about alchemy, it's about turning metal, the iron in the ground, the rust, into gold."

Only "rust into gold" is clear to me.
What does he mean with "turning metal, the iron in the ground"?
Finding iron? Elaborating metal?
Seems something missing here.
Obviously, he is just talking, not reading something written.

Thank you
 
  • Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    I see from The History of the City of Muscle Shoals that Reynolds Metals Company and Union Carbide Metals were big in the area, so I assume there were some sort of metals around. Beyond that observation – and after having read a whole lot of the script, which mentions Reynolds Metals Company – I can only suggest you read the linked history above and perhaps do a geological survey of the region for your own answer. :D
     

    Raymot

    Member
    English - Australian
    It's about alchemy, it's about turning metal, the iron in the ground, the rust, into gold."

    It means "It's about turning metal (the iron in the ground, the rust) into gold."
    If you understand "turning rust into gold", there shouldn't be a problem with "turning the iron in the ground into gold". Rust is a form of iron oxide, and it's in the ground.
     

    Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    I don't really see what that has to do with Bono ... he's not digging up iron or rust and turning it into gold. The "turning it into gold" presumably refers to the value of the music produced in that region, and gold records. But where the iron and rust come in still eludes me.
     

    PaulQ

    Banned
    UK
    English - England
    Someone, Bono of the U2 I think, at the very start says "Magic is the word that comes to mind for me when I think of Muscle Shoals.
    It's about alchemy, it's about turning metal, the iron in the ground, the rust, into gold."
    I think Bono(?) is comparing the way that the recording studios of Muscle Shoals turned singers and musicians instantly into stars. Bono likens this to an alchemist turning base-metal into gold -> magic.
     

    chopin7

    Senior Member
    Albanian
    That's very easy, Reymot, if you read the sentence that way.
    And I guess that's the way, but the formulation is a bit so so. But maybe because is spoken language.
    Thank for your response.
    And thank you, PaulQ.
     

    Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    I think Bono(?) is comparing the way that the recording studios of Muscle Shoals turned singers and musicians instantly into stars. Bono likens this to an alchemist turning base-metal into gold -> magic.
    You'll forgive me for not believing that Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett and Aretha Franklin weren't already shiny when they rolled into town. That's why I think Bono is making connections that don't exist just for the sound-bite effect – and why I'm having difficulty figuring out what he meant. Not that I'm going to think about it any longer.
     

    Raymot

    Member
    English - Australian
    That's very easy, Reymot, if you read the sentence that way.
    And I guess that's the way, but the formulation is a bit so so. But maybe because is spoken language.
    Well, yes, I gave the literal meaning. If it's a metaphor, then you'd need further context to understand it. Yes, the sentence is a bit run-on. It'd put a semicolon after "alchemy". But I don't think it's that obscure as it stands.
     
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