“Enter Sandman” by Metallica (1991)

I follow a song about death with another song about death. And so it goes…

Metallica first appeared in my life in 1990. I was watching the Grammy Awards, they performed “One”, and they scared the shit out of me. The hard rock I was familiar with came from Def Leppard and Guns ‘n Roses and Bon Jovi, and maybe GN’R’s music had some menace to it. But it was almost a cartoon menace. Axl was only a tough guy insofar as it might help him scare more chickenshit musicians and pick up chicks. James Hetfield looked like a fucking serial killer. Now he looks like someone who may have been a serial killer once and is now a suburban dad.

Anyway, “Enter Sandman” was the first HOLY SHIT BIG DEAL mainstream Metallica song, and it’s a perfect synthesis of the hard-driving thrash metal of Metallica’s past and their more commercial sounding, melodic future. The subject matter isn’t exactly top 40 fare, but because Metallica was absolutely fucking enormous and growing, “Enter Sandman” got love from Casey Kasem (or was it Shadoe Stevens by this point) on American Top 40, and earned Metallica their second Gold single (“One” was their first).

The “Enter Sandman” video, as a whole, is a very uncomfortable watch. But the truck chasing the kid? I can not. So I guess I should throw out a content warning, just in case you’re one of the 4 people on Earth who has not seen this video before.

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