The classic Metallica song James Hetfield called “a fluke”

James Hetfield’s guitar is responsible for more than half of the best Metallica riffs. Hetfield is credited with redefining the role of the conventional rhythm guitarist throughout the history of thrash metal. He frequently played incredibly quick rhythm sections that frequently sounded like a machine gun whenever he strapped on his guitar. Hetfield said that one of their greatest songs came about entirely by coincidence, despite his reputation for hoarding incredible riffs.

But without even realizing it, Hetfield transformed into a guitar god throughout the course of the band’s early years. Hetfield liked to be the leader of the band and was more comfortable keeping time behind the guitar than Lars Ulrich, even though he never found the pleasure of learning to play solo.

Even with the extreme accuracy with which he wrote his riffs, the song never suffered from being overly complex. Hetfield would write mesmerizing patterns for songs like “Master of Puppets” that revolved around a few incredible licks, ranging from grandiose midsections to riffs that could shred bone.

The band realized they needed direction for the next project by the time they began recording And Justice for All. With the help of producer Bob Rock, who had produced albums for Bon Jovi and Aerosmith, the band was able to write songs that were more basic and frequently revolved around a few riffs.

Hetfield ultimately came across a riff while on the phone with his wife, even though he had a ballad in mind for the album “The Unforgiven.” Unbeknownst to him, Hetfield was soon propelled to complete the song while on the phone, transforming it into the hit song “Nothing Else Matters.”

Hetfield said to Classic Albums that he was nearly forced to create the song while discussing its origins. “The opening of ‘Nothing Else Matters’ was more or less just a fluke. It started when I was talking on the phone with the guitar on my lap. I was just playing the strings because they were all open strings, *sings the opening melody*. And suddenly, it was like, ‘I gotta go’. And then, starting to do pull-offs and things like that and it started coming together.”

Hetfield didn’t think the song should have been on a Metallica album, even though he wrote it as a love letter to his wife back home. Hetfield hadn’t considered playing it for the band until Ulrich heard it on one of his riff cassettes and thought it would be a fantastic addition to the tracklist, as the rest of the album was centered around darker stuff like “Sad But True.”

One of the most opulent Metallica songs ever recorded, the song eventually became the centerpiece of their performances when they performed with The San Francisco Symphony Orchestra when a string section was added. “Nothing Else Matters” may not have been Hetfield’s idea of a song for Metallica, but its inclusion on The Black Album demonstrated that the group was about much more than just head-banging riffs.




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