Metallica’s James Hetfield – Before ‘Nothing Else Matters’ I Thought Love Songs Were a Sign of Weakness
30 years ago, Metallica’s Black Album classic “Nothing Else Matters” proved there was room in thrash for power ballads. But James Hetfield didn’t want to bring the song to his bandmates at first, believing the love song was “a sign of weakness” in Metallica’s bravado.
“Nothing Else Matters” will be covered by various artists on Metallica’s Black Album reissue, Blacklist. Miley Cyrus collaborated with Elton John, Yo-Yo Ma, Andrew Watt, Robert Trujillo and Chad Smith on her version of the song, while musicians such as Phoebe Bridgers, My Morning Jacket and Chris Stapleton also reimagined the ballad.
While speaking to Classic Rock magazine, James Hetfield spoke about his initial thoughts on “Nothing Else Matters.” “What was it about not wanting to write a love song?” Hetfield asks rhetorically. “That’s pretty easy. It’s a huge sign of weakness. You’re in Metallica. This is hardcore. What the fuck are you doing?”
“But that song was for me,” Hetfield continues. “It’s about being on the road, missing someone at home. But it was written in such a way that it connected with so many people. It wasn’t just about two people. It was about a connection with your higher power, lots of different things.”
Kirk Hammett adds, “All I could think of at the time was, ‘James wrote a fucking love song to his girlfriend? That’s just weird.’ James always wanted to be perceived as this guy who is very confident and strong. And for him to write lyrics like that — showing a sensitive side — took a lot of balls.”
"At first I didn't even want to play it for the guys,” Hetfield told MOJO in 2008. “I thought that Metallica could only be the four of us. These are songs about destroying things, head banging, bleeding for the crowd, whatever it is, as long as it wasn't about chicks and fast cars, even though that's what we liked."
Blacklist, along with a remastered version of the Black Album, will be released Sept. 10 to celebrate the monumental record’s 30th anniversary. Listen to Miley Cyrus’ rendition of “Nothing Else Matters” below.