Metallica frontman James Hetfield opened up about ‘The Black Album’ and one of its tracks’ creation process in his recent interview with Louder Sound and admitted that he didn’t know how to sing or write music.
As you probably know, Metallica released their fifth studio album, commonly known as ‘The Black Album’ on August 12, 1991. The album received critical acclaim and became the band’s best-selling record worldwide. Its songs, ‘Enter Sandman,’ ‘The Unforgiven,’ and ‘Nothing Else Matters,’ were very popular among metal fans.
‘Nothing Else Matters’ was a very different song for a band like Metallica that preferred themes like war, death, and religion until their fifth studio album. It was a love song that Hetfield wrote for his then-girlfriend, and even Papa Het didn’t have the courage to sing this song.
Then, Metallica’s lead singer admitted that he was embarrassed as the song was very personal and not as aggressive as their previous ones. In addition, he couldn’t write or read notes either, and he wanted their producer Bob Rock’s help. However, Hetfield’s performance in ‘Nothing Else Matters’ was extraordinary thanks to Bob’s help.
In Hetfield’s words, he said:
“The song was about a girl, a girlfriend at the time. Just starting to be able to get some other feelings out. I certainly did not think it was a Metallica song.
At first, I didn’t even want to play ‘Nothing Else Matters’ for the guys. It was so heartfelt, so personal to me. I thought that Metallica could only be these songs about destroying things, headbanging, 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.
‘Nothing Else Matters’ was a song you couldn’t put borders around. So when Bob suggested the orchestra, I was open to it. I was kind of embarrassed. I didn’t know how you did it. I didn’t even know how to write music. I don’t even know the notes on the guitar.”
Bob Rock responded:
“He wanted to go deeper with his writing. He wanted his songs to really matter.
James said: ‘Bob, I’ve never really sung before, I’ve just kind of yelled.’ He played me a Chris Isaak record and said: ‘I want to sing. How do you sing like this?'”
You can listen to the song below.