Happy 54th birthday to Metallica’s James Hetfield! Why, you might ask, would we feature headbangers like Metallica here? Because they’re more multi-dimensional than their rep might suggest, capable of delicacy and nuance. There’s a reason why these guys have been one of the most popular bands in the world for decades. They’re not just metal monsters—though they certainly are that, too!
The power-ballad “Nothing Else Matters” is among their most famous and loved songs; it’s definitely the one that’s been covered the most by others. It first turned up on the group’s eponymous fifth album (popularly known as “The Black Album”), released in the summer of 1991. That album was a huge hit both in the US and around the world (Number One in many countries), and the single of “Nothing Else Matters” was also a smash, making it up to Number 34 on the US Hot 100 pop chart and cracking the Top Ten in Australia, France, Belgium, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland, and the UK.
This acoustic version is from 20 years ago (1997) at Shoreline Amphitheater in the group’s native San Francisco Bay Area, and features some lovely acoustic interplay between Hetfield (who also sings/growls lead) and fellow guitarist Kirk Hammett. The bassist in that era was Jason Newsted; the drummer Metallica lifer Lars Ulrich. —Blair Jackson