Haters can hate me because most of my favorite Metallica songs are those from the ‘90’s, and many people say that is when Metallica sold out. Maybe. As I wasn’t one of those Metallica fans of the ‘80’s (though a friend played me “One” and I loved it), I don’t have a right to say. All I know is that I fell in love with them in the ‘90’s. I loved how even though they rocked hard, they were melodic at the same time. I think no one can dispute the perfection of both “Nothing Else Matters,” a superb song which has probably converted more people to Metallica than any other, and my favorite Metallica song from the ‘80’s – “Fade to Black.”
(Speaking of “Fade to Black,” I had heard that in the ‘80’s some kids either committed suicide or wanted to because of that song or that parents blamed Metallica for instigating suicidal thoughts or actual suicides with that song. I, however, think the song is beautiful and an eloquent portrait of what goes through your mind when you lose all hope. Many of us have been suicidal at one time or another – when art can capture that darkness, creating something good out of despair, isn’t that a positive thing? The members of Metallica didn’t kill themselves, so they can scarcely be blamed for influencing suicide, as their actions don’t correspond with suicide. But I think it is important that they gave voice to suicidal thoughts because anyone who has contemplated suicide can relate to it, and being able to relate to the idea that other people have felt as hopeless as you have is actually helpful. So, if anything, Metallica should be praised for that song).
But the ‘90’s really hit me with Metallica. I love “Ain’t My Bitch,” “Bleeding Me,” “Mama Said,” “Low Man’s Lyric,” and the instant-classic complete with full orchestration — “No Leaf Clover.” The S&M concept was brilliant and so well-suited to their songs, and I love the S&M version of (another musical genius) Ennico Morrone’s “The Ecstasy of Gold.”
As for my favorite member of Metallica, as much as I love the incredible songwriting of James Hetfeld and Lars Ulrich, lifting Metallica high above other heavy metal and hard rock bands, my favorite member is Kirk Hammet. Not only because his guitar-playing is astonishing, absolutely mind-blowing, but he is one of the most humble and truly decent rock stars. In every interview I’ve read or seen with him, his down-to-earth attitude comes startling through.
After Clinton’s impeachment, Rolling Stone interviewed several rock stars asking them their opinion of the situation, and Kirk Hammet said something along the lines of (and I don’t want to use quotes because I don’t remember exactly the words, just the message): He committed adultery, and that’s wrong, but he shouldn’t have been impeached for it. How many rock stars would say that adultery is wrong? I almost couldn’t believe it when I read that. Even though I don’t know if I completely agree with monogamy, I absolutely love and admire people who believe in it and practice it, and for a huge rock star to have that belief, I was overcome.
Also, in the Metallica documentary “Some Kind of Monster,” Kirk seemed the most humble, and that’s saying quite a bit because I was quite impressed with the decency that all the members of Metallica seemed to have, including former members Jason Newstead and (very brief former member) David Mustaine. They all seemed so human and likable. But Kirk rose above everyone. I noticed his wife’s face wasn’t even shown in the documentary, and I’m sure it’s because they’re trying to live as normal a life as possible without the spotlight. Everytime I see any interview with Kirk I am bowled over by his presence. What a nice, good, decent, humble, and incredibly talented man!