Music has the beautiful ability to spark emotions when listened to close enough. Fans often find meaningful messages within the lyrics and get into different emotions. They don’t appeal just to the audience, though. The songwriters probably feel it the most as the creators of these expressive lyrics. Inspiration can come to them from anywhere, but their life experiences and feelings at the moment are among the richest sources of creative force.

Thus, the lyrics that are meaningful to them and evoke certain emotions have a unique place in their musical journey. Songwriters tend to let these feelings out by using music as an evocative tool. Metallica’s ‘Bleeding Me’ also has this kind of an impact on the band’s frontman James Hetfield. Let’s see why the track means a lot to him.

Metallica Released ‘Bleeding Me’ In 1996

Metallica released their commercially successful record, ‘The Black Album,’ in 1991. It marked a shift from the thrash of the band’s early days to a more mainstream hard rock sound. Thus, it appealed to a larger audience and became a number one album that sold over seven million copies only in the US. Following the tremendous success of the record, Metallica embarked on an extended tour that kept them on the road for approximately two years.

Around early 1995, the band returned to the studio to write and record their sixth studio album. It took them almost a year to complete the whole process. ‘Load’ finally arrived on June 4, 1996, after five years of break. Their transition to a hard rock sound showed itself also in this album. There were also influences from blues-rock, country rock, and alternative rock, which divided much of the band’s fanbase. One of the songs appearing on the record was ‘Bleeding Me,’ which coincided with an emotional period in James Hetfield’s life.

What Did James Hetfield Say About ‘Bleeding Me?’

The lyrical themes of ‘Load’ reflected a striking departure from Metallica’s earlier social and political themes. The songs of the album stood out with their deeply personal lyrics. Dealing with the loss of someone, depression, and drug and alcohol addiction were among the discussed themes. James Hetfield had been struggling with his alcohol addiction at the time, leading him to enter rehabilitation a few times later.

During an interview with Playboy in 2001, the singer talked about the song. Hetfield explained that he felt he wanted to quit drinking during the making process of ‘Load’ because he had the feeling that he was missing out on his life. He was depressed until he went to therapy for a year. He thought a lot about himself and wanted to let off all the negative feelings with the song ‘Bleeding Me.’

James Hetfield’s feelings on the song follow:

“Around the time of ‘Load,’ I felt I wanted to stop drinking. ‘Maybe I’m missing out on something. Everyone else seems so happy all the time. I want to get happy.’ I’d plan my life around a hangover: ‘The Misfits are playing in town Friday night, so Saturday is hangover day.’ I lost a lot of days in my life.

Going to therapy for a year, I learned a lot about myself. There are a lot of things that scar you when you’re growing up, and you don’t know why. The song ‘Bleeding Me’ is about that: I was trying to bleed out all bad, get the evil out. While I was going through therapy, I discovered some ugly stuff in there. A dark spot.”

Then, Hetfield also spoke to Kerrang! TV about how the song made him feel and the other band members. The singer said that he couldn’t know whether the remaining members felt as emotional as he felt. However, it has always been a song that left him tear-stained. Since its release, the track has been an important part of Metallica’s live performances.

Hetfield’s words on the song’s impact on him:

“How did I know whether the rest of the guys in the band felt as much about the lyrics as I did? I could be singing ‘Bleeding Me’ with a tear in my eye, and the rest of the guys might not have cared.”

You can listen to a live version of ‘Bleeding Me’ below.


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