JASON NEWSTED: 'Nothing Else Matters' Broke Down 'The Most Serious Walls' For METALLICA
September 9, 2021
While promoting the the 30th-anniversary reissue of METALLICA's self-titled fifth LP, better known as The Black Album, the band's former bassist Jason Newsted spoke to Germany's Rock Antenne about the record's more streamlined direction compared to the thrash metal overtones of METALLICA's first four albums. He said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "I had no problem with coming back to the midtempo crushing as opposed to the fast stuff, 'cause we've still got plenty of stuff fast to play live. And live was all that mattered to me anyway. So we still had the repertoire to be able to do all that all the time — with 'Battery' and 'Fight Fire [With Fire]' and anything you wanted — along with the softer songs. The one catch, I think, that I would say here is that 'Nothing Else Matters' was such a personal song for James [Hetfield, METALLICA frontman]. Some of them are quite personal — 'The God That Failed' [and] 'Fade To Black' [were] very personal, [and he's] one of the best lyricists there's ever been in any style of music ever, this guy. He's amazing. And that song was so personal about him and his special person. So when I first heard it, I was, like, 'Are we sure that we wanna share that with the world? Isn't that your song for your girl?' And everybody was going, 'That's a pretty fucking good song.' Usually if we like it that much, a lot of other people are gonna like it. That's what we found out. If we keep our standard up here and we play to that standard, mostly everybody's gonna like it.
Newsted also reflected on the massive commercial success of "Nothing Else Matters", which Hetfield had written about missing his then-girlfriend while on tour.
"We were out on tour for a couple of months," Jason recalled. "'[Enter] Sandman' was the first single, and then 'Nothing Else Matters' showed up some months later, once we were already out on the tour for some months. We had played 27 or 32 countries at that point… So, all of a sudden, when 'Nothing Else Matters' comes out, the guy comes in the dressing room that tells us what's happening for the day, and he said, ''Nothing Else Matters' is No. 1 in 30 countries this week.' And we were looking around, like, 'What the fuck? What?' So there were people that were calling, representatives from promoters and radio stations and all this stuff from countries we haven't played yet, that we haven't been in live. But all of a sudden, there's this nice song: 'These guys are great. Have them come over and play for our kids.' So, all of a sudden, all these people come out of the woodwork, 'Can you come and play 'Nothing Else Matters' for us?' 'Absolutely.' And that's six minutes out of two and a half hours. Guess what's gonna happen for the other two hours and 20 minutes, man. It's gonna be 'Fight Fire' and 'Battery'.
"My point being, the softest song that METALLICA ever made — ever — broke down the most serious walls ever to be able to take 'Creeping Death' and everything else through to the people. It couldn't have happened the other way… 'Nothing Else Matters' is delicate. It's a love song. It's a fucking song.
"I'm gonna say by now, since we're 30 years in, I'm gonna say hundreds of thousands of couples getting married have used 'Nothing Else Matters' as their wedding song all across the globe. It's a love song. Our love song bashed down all the walls for us to go through and all the millions of bands that have followed since then."
METALLICA music video for "Nothing Else Matters" recently surpassed one billion views on YouTube. It was the first METALLICA track to reach the milestone.
The "Nothing Else Matters" video, which was uploaded to YouTube in October of 2009, was directed by Adam Dubin and edited by Sean Fullan and is made up of clips from the 1992 METALLICA documentary "A Year And A Half In The Life Of Metallica". The clip is perhaps best remembered for a scene where Lars Ulrich throws darts at a poster of WINGER frontman Kip Winger.
Prior to working with METALLICA, Dubin directed two music videos for the BEASTIE BOYS. While he was a student at New York University, he was roommates with record producer Rick Rubin, who would later go on to produce "Death Magnetic", METALLICA's ninth studio album.
"Nothing Else Matters" reached position No. 11 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks chart as well as top-ten positions on many European charts.
"Nothing Else Matters" was featured as a playable track in the music video game "Guitar Hero: Metallica" and has been covered over 40 times by a host of different artists, including STAIND, Shakira, Bif Naked, Macy Gray, DIE KRUPPS, REV THEORY and APOCALYPTICA.
A never-heard-before, totally new and different version of "Nothing Else Matters" appears twice in Disney's new movie "Jungle Cruise".