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“I love seeing people’s vulnerability to emotion during that song”: James Hetfield on why Nothing Else Matters remains one of his favourite tracks to play live

“It’s a very different emotion in the show from just, ‘Lose your mind, mosh and go crazy.’”

James Hetfield on stage playing guitar. He is standing by bassist Robert and is looking up above him. His face and body is illuminated by green lights.

Image: Scott Legato / Getty

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James Hetfield of Metallica has shared why Nothing Else Matters of the band’s classic Black Album remains one of his favourite tracks to play live.

The band released their eleventh studio album, 72 Seasons, back in April. The metal outfit have also embarked on a global tour, which is set to continue in 2024, in support of the record. The run of shows sees the band play “no repeat” weekends in each city they perform in.

Speaking on an episode of The Metallica Report alongside bassist Robert Trujillo, Hetfield shares which tracks have been his favourite picks to play in front of a crowd: “It depends on the gig, on how I’m feeling… 72 Seasons, Lux Aeterna — love playing those songs,” he begins (via Ultimate Guitar).

Shadows Follow [is] kind of the next one that I really enjoy. It’s just forward-moving, pushing, and it’s not your typical song. You need to pay attention to it, because there’s little things here and there [that] you got to remember.”

He later adds, “Nothing Else Matters is always a song that I enjoy playing. You see people hugging each other, crying… It’s a very different emotion in the show from just, ‘Lose your mind, mosh and go crazy.’ It’s like that, but goes inwards, you know? I love seeing people’s vulnerability to emotion during that song.”

Listen to the podcast below:

One of Hetfield’s favourites to play live, Shadows Follow, also contains a sneaky reference to Batman. Some fans noticed that when listening to the track, a guitar riff around the 4.20 timestamp sounds rather similar to the 1960s Batman TV series theme tune.

In an interview with Total Guitar for its end of year print issue, Hammett confirmed this was fully intentional: “That’s really funny, because we called that riff ‘The Batman Riff’,” he said. “And I know exactly what you are talking about.”

View all of Metallica’s upcoming 2024 live dates via the band’s official website.

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