“Nothing Else Matters” by Metallica is a song for the centuries. Possibly one of the greatest songs of the 20th Century and it still is one of the most played songs in live concerts. Why? Because this song has the power to move people. A song that was never meant to be released, later became the identity of the metal group Metallica.
“Nothing Else Matters” gets released on Metallica’s fifth studio album also titled ‘Metallica.’ This album also marks a turning point in the band’s history, as they turn somewhat towards mainstreaming their music and as a result the album sold over 16 million copies in the US alone. The Rolling Stone magazine ranked the album at 252 on ‘500 Greatest Albums of All Time.’ Further, the album spent 363 weeks on Billboard chart, making it one of the longest charted albums of all time. However, due this subtle change of course in their music in an attempt to make it more mainstream, Metallica lost some of its hardcore fans and hence this album is forever tagged the ‘Black Album.’
“Nothing Else Matters” was released as the third single off of this album and it broke into top 10 of most music charts across the world. The song was written by James Hetfield, while he was talking to his girlfriend on the phone while he was on tour. The song started as a personal confession by James and was never meant to be released as a song. However, when Lars Ulrich got the whiff of the lyrics, he insisted on making a song out of it. James opened about the song in an interview with The Village Voice.
“It’s absolutely crazy, that was the song that I thought was least Metallica, least likely to ever played by us, the last song anyone would really want to hear. It was a song for myself in my room on tour when I was bumming out about being away from home. It’s quite amazing, it’s a true testament to honesty and exposing yourself, putting your real self out there, and taking the risk, taking a gamble that someone’s either going to step on your heart with spikes on or they’re going to put their heart right next to it, and you never know until you try.”
Watch “Nothing Else Matters” Music Video by Metallica
In the light of what James had to say about the song, we will be exploring the lyrics to the song below.
Lyrics Review and Song Meaning of “Nothing Else Matters”
James Hetfield composed this song while the band was recording the Black Album in San Francisco. During a break from recording sessions James went on a phone call with his girlfriend and jotted down the first few verses of “Nothing Else Matters” with his free hand.
The first verse explains what James feels as he has to rely on a long distance relationship most of the time due to the hectic schedule of the band. The verse actually speaks of a quite strong bond between James and his girlfriend. Because they make each other feel as if they are closer together even when they are miles apart. It was truly a bond of the heart. How do they do it? Trust is the key. They know each other so well and they trust who they are. And nothing else matters in a relationship, if two souls are this closely knit.
Never opened myself this way
Life is ours, we live it our way
All these words I don’t just say
And nothing else matters
Part two of verse 1 is of a confessional mode by James. Love has made him open up to the vulnerabilities of life. And no matter what obstacle falls between them, they can overcome it if they live true to each other. James is not just saying these things. He means them.
The third part of the first verse could be about his relationship and about the new direction of the band. He is looking for trust and he finds it in his girlfriend. He could also be asking his fans to trust them in their new musical trajectory. A new obstacle could come between his relationship or even the band. He has to stay open minded to make this long distance relationship work. And he wants the fans to be open minded about this new change as well.
Again, these lyrics could be about the girlfriend or about the band. In the relationship, James has left little to no space for third party opinions about the relationship or about the girlfriend. He wouldn’t care what anybody said about her, as long as he can trust her. Because, he knows her. On the perspective of the band, it could mean a similar thing. James does not care about what others think of their new direction. Because he and the rest of the band members know it’s the right way.
The balance lyrics are different compositions of the same lyrics appeared above, so we would not go into details about them.
Watch Metallica Perform “Nothing Else Matters” Live
However, it seems that James Hetfield started writing lyrics about his relationship and very subtly he merged a different theme on to it. So, even if you decode the meaning as a description of his relationship with his girlfriend or a spokesperson of the change that Metallica is undergoing, it still makes perfect sense.
What are your opinions on this song? How does this song make you feel? Let us know in the comments below. If you enjoyed the annotation, do share it with other metal-heads.