Metallica seem to be having their time of their lives lately, after all they said that ‘The world’s our oyster. We can basically do whatever we want‘; and that came after the disastrous flop that was Lulu, their collaboration with Lou Reed. The metal titans have, of course, had their problems in the past (Exhibit A: rockumentary Some Kind Of Monster) and things haven’t always been so chipper…
James Hetfield reports that he was “forced” by his bandmates to record ‘Nothing Else Matters’ for the inclusion on their 1991 Black Album.
In a recent interview with Village Voice, the Metallica frontman reveals that he didn’t believe the rock ballad – which has since gone on to be an essential part of the band’s catalogue – had any place in the trash metal band’s songbook. “That was the song I thought was least Metallica, least likely to ever be played by us – the last song anyone would really want to hear,” explains Hetfield.
“It was a song for myself in my room on tour when I was bumming out about being away from home,” says Hetfield.
It took some major twisting of his arm by his fellow bandmates before Hetfield would agree to take it to the sessions for what became the iconic Black Album, “I’m grateful that the guys forced me to take it out of my tape players and make it Metallica.”
Hetfield admits that it’s “become an unbelievable song live”, also remarking how the song’s significance has extended outside of the context of the album. Having been used at people’s weddings, to sports montages and even “the New York Hells Angels putting it in their movie.”
Hetfield believes it’s because of the song’s personal meaning, “It’s a true testament to honesty and exposing yourself, putting your real self out there and taking the risk; taking the gamble that someone’s going to step on your heart with spikes on, or they’re going to put their heart right next to it. You never know until you try.”
Upon release as a single in April 1992, ‘Nothing Else Matters’ went on to chart in the Top 10 of seven countries, and attained Gold status in two European nations. Hetfield added that it’s commercial success was a reflection of the connection people have with it: “We were doing the right thing, writing from the heart about what we felt, and you can’t go wrong that way.”