One (Metallica song)

Last updated

"One"
Metallica - One cover.jpg
Single by Metallica
from the album ...And Justice for All
B-side "The Prince" (7")
ReleasedJanuary 10, 1989 (1989-01-10)
Format
Recorded
Genre Thrash metal
Length
  • 7:27(album version)
  • 4:58 (radio edit)
Label Elektra
Songwriter(s)
Producer(s)
Metallica singles chronology
"Eye of the Beholder"
(1988)
"One"
(1989)
"Enter Sandman"
(1991)
Music video
"One" on YouTube
Audio sample
"One"
Alternative cover
Metallica - One (live) cover.jpg
"One" (Live) cover

"One" is a song by American heavy metal band Metallica. [1] It was released as the third and final single from their fourth studio album, ...And Justice for All (1988). Written by band members James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich, "One" is an anti-war song that portrays a World War I soldier who is severely wounded  —  arms and legs blown off by a landmine, blind and unable to speak or move  —  begging God to take his life as he feels constant pain. His only hope is to devise a way to communicate with the hospital staff. In the music video, he jolts in the hospital bed, spelling "Kill me" in Morse code. [2] Production of the song was done by the band alongside Flemming Rasmussen. The song was the band's first top 40 hit single in the U.S., reaching number 35 on the Billboard Hot 100. It was also a number one hit in Finland.

Heavy metal is a genre of music that developed in the late 1960s and early 1970s, largely in the United Kingdom. With roots in blues rock, psychedelic rock, and acid rock, the bands that created heavy metal developed a thick, massive sound, characterized by highly amplified distortion, extended guitar solos, emphatic beats, and overall loudness. The genre's lyrics and performance styles are sometimes associated with aggression and machismo.

Metallica American heavy metal band

Metallica is an American heavy metal band. The band was formed in 1981 in Los Angeles, California by drummer Lars Ulrich and vocalist/guitarist James Hetfield, and has been based in San Francisco, California for most of its career. The group's fast tempos, instrumentals and aggressive musicianship made them one of the founding "big four" bands of thrash metal, alongside Megadeth, Anthrax and Slayer. Metallica's current lineup comprises founding members Hetfield and Ulrich, longtime lead guitarist Kirk Hammett and bassist Robert Trujillo. Guitarist Dave Mustaine and bassists Ron McGovney, Cliff Burton and Jason Newsted are former members of the band.

<i>...And Justice for All</i> (album) 1988 studio album by Metallica

...And Justice for All is the fourth studio album by American heavy metal band Metallica, released on August 25, 1988, through Elektra Records. It is the first Metallica studio album to feature bassist Jason Newsted after the death of Cliff Burton in 1986.

Contents

A video for the song was introduced in January 1989 on MTV. Shot in black and white by director Michael Salomon, the video's story is intercut with scenes taken from the 1971 anti-war film Johnny Got His Gun . Due to routinely being required to pay royalty fees to continue showing the music video, Metallica bought the rights to the film. The video was ranked at number one on MTV soon after its introduction. [3]

MTV American pay television channel

MTV is an American pay television channel that serves as the flagship property of owner Viacom Media Networks and is headquartered in New York City. The channel was launched on August 1, 1981, and originally aired music videos as guided by television personalities known as "video jockeys" (VJs). At first, MTV's main target demographic was young adults, but today it is primarily teenagers, particularly high school and college students.

Black and white monochrome form in visual arts

Black-and-white images combine black and white in a continuous spectrum, producing a range of shades of gray.

Michael Salomon is an American music video/film director, who has directed many music videos, including many of Toby Keith's music videos. He directed the video for Metallica's "One", which was nominated for "Best Heavy Metal Video" at the MTV awards, and was declared one of the "Top 75 Videos Of All Time" in Rolling Stone's critics' poll.

Metallica performed "One" for the 31st Annual Grammy Awards show broadcast from Los Angeles in 1989. The next year, the song won a Grammy Award for Best Metal Performance, the first ever win in that category. [3] The band also performed the song alongside pianist Lang Lang at the 56th Annual Grammy Awards in 2014. The song is one of the band's most popular pieces and has remained a live staple since the release of the album, making this the most played song from ...And Justice for All.

The 31st Annual Grammy Awards were held on February 22, 1989, at Shrine Auditorium, Los Angeles. They recognized accomplishments by musicians from the previous year.

32nd Annual Grammy Awards award ceremony

The 32nd Annual Grammy Awards were held in 1990. They recognized accomplishments by musicians from the previous year.

The Grammy Award for Best Metal Performance is an award presented at the Grammy Awards to recording artists for works containing quality performances in the heavy metal music genre. The Grammy Awards is an annual ceremony, where honors in several categories are presented by The Recording Academy of the United States to "honor artistic achievement, technical proficiency and overall excellence in the recording industry, without regard to album sales or chart position". The ceremony was established in 1958 and originally called the Gramophone Awards.

Recording and composition

"One" was written in November 1987 by Metallica's principal composers James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich. The song was released in 1989 as the third and final single from the album. For the first 17 seconds of the song there are a series of sound effects with a battle theme, an artillery barrage and helicopter are heard and continues slightly over a clean tone guitar intro by Hetfield before Kirk Hammett comes in over the top with a clean-toned solo. Ulrich's drums come in and continues until each chorus, when the guitars become heavy and distorted before returning to clean. There is a second solo by Hammett halfway through the song, before lyrics cut out and the song gradually gets more heavy and distorted until the "machine gun" guitar build up (played alongside double bass drums) before the next, often highly praised, guitar solo by Hammett, and a final dual solo by Hammett and Hetfield. The song begins in 4/4 time, and later 3/4 as well as 2/4.

James Hetfield American musician

James Alan Hetfield is an American musician, singer, and songwriter known for being the co-founder, lead vocalist, rhythm guitarist, and main songwriter for the American heavy metal band Metallica. Hetfield is mainly known for his intricate rhythm playing, but occasionally performs lead guitar duties and solos, both live and in the studio. Hetfield co-founded Metallica in October 1981 after answering a classified advertisement by drummer Lars Ulrich in the Los Angeles newspaper The Recycler. Metallica has won nine Grammy Awards and released ten studio albums, three live albums, four extended plays and 24 singles.

Lars Ulrich Danish musician

Lars Ulrich is a Danish musician, songwriter, actor, and record producer. He is best known as the drummer and co-founder of the American heavy metal band Metallica. The son of tennis player Torben Ulrich and grandson of tennis player Einer Ulrich, he also played tennis in his youth and moved to Los Angeles at age 16 to train professionally. However, rather than playing tennis, Ulrich began playing drums. After publishing an advertisement in The Recycler, Ulrich met vocalist/guitarist James Hetfield and formed Metallica.

Kirk Hammett American musician

Kirk Lee Hammett is an American musician who has been lead guitarist and a contributing songwriter for the heavy metal band Metallica since 1983. Before joining Metallica he formed and named the band Exodus. In 2003, Hammett was ranked 11th on Rolling Stone's list of The 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time. In 2009, Hammett was ranked number 15 in Joel McIver's book The 100 Greatest Metal Guitarists.

In 1991, James Hetfield told Guitar World that he wrote the song's opening B-G chord change (miscalling it a 'modulation') based on an idea prompted by the Venom song "Buried Alive" from their second studio album, Black Metal .

<i>Guitar World</i> magazine

Guitar World is an American monthly music magazine for guitarists, published since July 1980. It contains original interviews, album and gear reviews, and guitar and bass tablature of approximately five songs each month. The magazine is published 13 times per year. Formerly owned by Harris Publications, Future US bought the magazine in 2003. In 2012, NewBay Media bought the Music division of Future US. The latter company also published a spin-off title, Guitar Legends, each issue of which typically combined past articles from Guitar World under a specific theme. The first Guitar Legends was on Eddie Van Halen. In 2018, Future acquired NewBay Media, returning Guitar World to Future US.

Modulation (music) in music

In music, modulation is the change from one key to another. This may or may not be accompanied by a change in key signature. Modulations articulate or create the structure or form of many pieces, as well as add interest. Treatment of a chord as the tonic for less than a phrase is considered tonicization.

Modulation is the essential part of the art. Without it there is little music, for a piece derives its true beauty not from the large number of fixed modes which it embraces but rather from the subtle fabric of its modulation.

Venom (band) English thrash metal band

Venom are an English extreme metal band formed in 1978 in Newcastle upon Tyne. Coming to prominence towards the end of the new wave of British heavy metal, Venom's first two albums—Welcome to Hell (1981) and Black Metal (1982)—are considered a major influence on thrash metal and extreme metal in general. Venom's second album proved influential enough that its title was used as the name of the extreme metal subgenre of black metal.

I had been fiddling around with that B-G modulation for a long time. The idea for the opening came from a Venom song called "Buried Alive". The kick drum machine-gun part near the end wasn't written with the war lyrics in mind, it just came out that way. We started that album with Mike Clink as producer. He didn't work out so well, so we got Flemming to come over and save our asses.

Mike Clink is an American record producer. Clink began his career as an engineer at Record Plant Studios, recording such bands as Whitesnake, Triumph, Guns N' Roses, Mötley Crüe, Megadeth, UFO, Jefferson Starship, The Babys, Heart, Eddie Money and many others.

Flemming Rasmussen is a Danish engineer, producer, mixer and owner and founder of Sweet Silence Studios in Copenhagen, Denmark. Rasmussen is currently main engineer/producer at Sweet Silence North in Helsingør.

The song starts off in a soft melodic setting, but it develops through multiple sections into heavier and faster speed metal sounds, [4] leading up to a technically complex tapping solo by Kirk Hammett, [5] and a dual guitar section by Hammett and James Hetfield. [1]

Concept

The song is based on the idea of a soldier losing all of his limbs and being unable to hear, speak, or see, set to a World War I backdrop. In an interview in New Zealand in 1989, Ulrich describes the movie Johnny Got His Gun as having a similar theme, and this was the reason it was incorporated into the video. [6]

Music video

"One" was the first Metallica song for which a music video was created. The music video, directed by Bill Pope and Michael Salomon, debuted on MTV on January 20, 1989. The video, shot in Long Beach, California, is almost entirely in black and white, and features the band performing the song in a warehouse. It features dialogue and several scenes from the 1971 film adaptation of Johnny Got His Gun . Timothy Bottoms can be seen starring as Joe Bonham, the main character in the novel (written by Dalton Trumbo and published in September 1939; the basis for the 1971 film).

Three versions of the "One" music video were made; the first (the longest, album version) contained scenes of both the band and scenes from the movie. The second was simply a shortened version of the first, and the third, often known as the "jammin' version", lacked scenes from the movie (the song and video fades at the last bridge in the third version).

Like many other music videos from Metallica, "One" puts great emphasis on the performances of the band members as musicians, with many shots of James, Jason and Kirk's hands picking and fretting. The video features the band members in a typical early Metallica fashion: playing (as if in rehearsal) in some sort of warehouse, in tight formation around Lars' drum kit, and dressed in casual street clothes and with long untamed hair.

In the music video, both James and Kirk play ESP guitars; Jason Newsted is on a 5-string Wal bass. Jason plays bass with his fingers at the start of the song, but later switches to a pick.

Two of the three versions of the "One" music video appear on 2 of One , a VHS released on July 1, 1990 and both would again be featured on the band's 2006 music video compilation DVD.

The music video was ranked at number 38 on Rock on the Net: MTV: 100 Greatest Music Videos and number one on Fuse's No. 1 Countdown: Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Special Edition.

Live performance

"One" is a favorite of many Metallica fans, and therefore is a fixture of the band's live performances. When played live, the song is usually played with guitars tuned down by one semitone (a permanent fixture of their studio and live work since the post Metallica era, save for Death Magnetic in the case of the former) and is preceded by pyrotechnics and the same sounds of war such as machine guns, and bombs exploding as heard on the recorded version. The song also features heavy strobe lighting during the heavier half of the song, namely before the Hammett solo.

The song was also featured on S&M , Metallica's album of live performances in collaboration with the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Michael Kamen. Another mentionable performance was at the Grammy Awards 2014, having pianist Lang Lang accompanying the band on an acoustic grand piano. [7]

Track listing

Personnel

Charts

Weekly

Chart (1989–1994)Peak
position
Australia (ARIA) [8] 38
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders) [9] 23
Finland (Suomen virallinen lista) [10] 1
Germany (Official German Charts) [11] 31
Ireland (IRMA)12
Netherlands (Dutch Top 40) [12] 3
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ) [13] 13
Norway (VG-lista) [14] 4
Spain (AFYVE) [15] 14
Sweden (Sverigetopplistan) [16] 3
Switzerland (Schweizer Hitparade) [17] 22
UK Singles (Official Charts Company) [18] 13
US Billboard Hot 100 [19] 35

Year-end

Chart (1994)Position
Sweden (Sverigetopplistan) [20] 28

Honors

See also

Related Research Articles

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