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Best 10 Metallica Songs
10. The Unforgiven
This song was a new style for Metallica. They wanted to try a song with a heavy verse and a soft chorus, something rarely heard in hard rock or metal. On the show Classic Albums: Metallica – The Black Album, James Hetfield explained that the intro was taken from the score of a Western movie, and reversed so it would not be identifiable. The band won’t reveal the movie for legal reasons, but it is probably the 1965 Clint Eastwood movie For A Few Dollars More.
Title refers to Battery Street in San Francisco. It was on this street that many of the clubs where Metallica first played were situated. “Battery is found in me” shows that these early shows on Battery Street were important to them. Battery is where “lunacy finds you” and you “smash through the boundaries.”
James Hetfield once said: “There’s a good and a bad side of a battery. We were very good at the negative.”
8. Welcome Home (Sanitarium)
A sanitarium is a mental institution that an inmate can leave at his own free will.
This is somewhat inspired by the play/movie One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. The movie stars Jack Nicholson as a mental patient. The chorus was supposed to be sung in a higher pitch, but while recording the vocals, James realized it wasn’t going to work that way and sang it lower.
In the original demo tape of this song, the lyrics were very much different. The demo tape included no chorus; it contained basically the same tune, but halfway in the song cuts off into the bass Interlude of “Orion” which is another song on the album.
7. Nothing Else Matters
According to Hetfield, he wrote the song about a girlfriend he once had, but when he looks back at it, he can’t remember why he wrote it. Now, Metallica just considers it a song about their fans, because nothing else matters but their fans.
6. Creeping Death
This is about the life of Moses. The Creeping Death is the plague inflicted on the Egyptians, also known as the Angel of Death. He was sent by God to kill every first born child. Moses told the Jews to save their first born sons by putting lamb’s blood on their doors. The Egyptians, however, didn’t know to do this.
The inspiration for this song was the movie The Ten Commandments, starring Charlton Heston as Moses. In the movie, the Angel of Death is represented by a green cloud. When bass player Cliff Burton saw it, he thought it looked like “Creeping Death.”
5. Enter Sandman
This song is about nightmares and things that go “bump” in the night. It has by far the most radio play of all of Metallica’s songs. James Hetfield’s original lyric was about Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (Crib Death), when a baby dies inexplicably in its crib. The line, “Off to never never land” was, “Disrupt the perfect family,” and the “sandman” kills the baby.
4. For Whom the Bell Tolls
The lyrics are based on the Ernest Hemingway novel of the same name. The book is about an American who is given the job of taking out a bridge held by the Fascist army in the Spanish Civil War – the precursor to the World War II. He fell in love and then found out very disturbing things about life and death.
This song is a commentary on the futility of war. The last few lines of the song diverge from the book to make this point.
3. Fade to Black
Song is about wondering if this life is worth living and wishing to be dead. In the last 2 verses the person in the song realizes life is too good to let go, but by that time, its too late: “No one but me, can save myself but its too late.”
Metallica wrote this after their equipment was stolen in early ’84 and they had to start all over again. More specifically, James Hetfield wrote the lyrics in response to one of his amps being stolen. Not only was this amp his favorite, but it was also the first amp he ever owned so it had a lot of sentimental value to him. The song is about losing everything and wondering if it is worth going on.
This song is about a soldier fighting in a war and a mortar blows off in his face. He can’t hear, see, smell, taste and he doesn’t have arms or legs. He comes out of a coma in a hospital. During the time he is in the hospital he reflects on his life and things his father told him. Eventually the doctors get worried because he’s having spasms all the time, but he doesn’t seem to be dying. They call in the general and he can’t figure it out either but the soldier with the general recognizes it. “Its Morse code,” he says. The general asks what he is saying and the soldier looks for a minute and then says, “He is saying K-I-L-L- M-E over and over again.
1. Master of Puppets
The “Master” of puppets is a reference to drugs. Throughout the song the “Master” controls you and your life. This is evident in lyrics like, “chop your breakfast on a mirror,” “The Master Of Puppets is pulling your strings, twisting your mind and smashing your dreams.” Drugs is the Master while the drug user is the puppet. At the end of the song, you can hear backwards recordings of the band’s guitars while the bandmember’s echoed laughter is played.
James Hetfield in Thrasher magazine: “‘Master of Puppets’ deals pretty much with drugs. How things get switched around, instead of you controlling what you’re taking and doing it’s drugs controlling you. Like, I went to a party here in San Francisco, there were all these freaks shooting up and geezin’ and this other girl was real sick.”