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Music

How Elton John made Metallica's James Hetfield cry

@josephtaysom

James Hetfield from Metallica cuts a brooding figure on stage, but he has a seldom revealed his tender side. However, that didn’t stop Elton John from remarkably managing to reduce him to tears.

Elton and Hetfield seem like an unlikely pairing, but last year, the English singer revealed that the duo had been secretly cooking up a project together, which later came to fruition. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a collaborative record between the pair – which would have been a spectacle – and instead, John played on a track on the covers album, The Metallica Blacklist.

During his Rocket Hour programme on Apple Music, John made the revelation when he spoke to SG Lewis: “I’ve just done something with Metallica,” he said. “During this lockdown period. I’ve been working with Gorillaz and people like that.”

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A few months later, the worlds of Elton and Metallica intertwined once more thanks to Howard Stern. Hetfield appeared on the legendary host’s Sirius XM radio show to promote The Metallica Blacklist, the album which features John. Elton played on the track ‘Nothing Else Matters’ alongside Miley Cyrus, Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith, Yo-Yo Ma, Robert Trujillo, and WATT.

During Hetfield’s appearance on the radio programme, Stern surprised him with John, who joined via Zoom. He was full of praise for ‘Nothing Else Matters’ and described the track as “one of the best songs ever written”.

“It’s a song that never gets old. And playing on this track, I just couldn’t wait. The chord structure, the melodies, the time changes, it’s got drama written all over it,” he continued.

“I have to say, it was a no-brainer playing on this song,” Elton added. “Metallica are probably the crème de la crème of those kind of bands. You can’t really define them. They’re not a heavy metal band. They’re a musical band. Their songs aren’t just heavy metal. They’re beautiful songs. This is such a melodic song — it’s fucking great, actually.”

Understandably, Hetfield was thrilled by the comments made by John, which visibly moved him, and he could even be seen wiping a tear from his eye.

Managing to secure Elton John to cover one of your songs is an incredible achievement, but for him to wax lyrical and refer to a song you’ve written “as one of the best” is enough to make any grown man well up in tears — even James Hetfield.

Even though his heart is in the right place, we’ll let you decide whether you think Elton and his ensemble collective’s cover of ‘Nothing Else Matters’ competes with the original.