Psychedelic Lunch

Welcome to our “Psychedelic Lunch”series, where we find out how deep the rabbit hole really goes and explore music and musicians from the 60’s to today. Enjoy the trip!

Metallica: Sad But True, The Black Album. Release Date: February 8th 1991


“Sad But True” was released February 8th 1991. This song is about blind faith in religion and the lengths people will go to to practice their faiths. The line, “I’m inside, open your eyes” means that god only exists in people’s heads.

James Hetfield got the idea for this song from the 1978 Anthony Hopkins film Magic, which is about a ventriloquist who is controlled by his evil puppet.

Like, “Thing That Should Not Be,” this was written and performed in standard-D tuning for guitar. However, the song’s demo was originally in the key of E. Producer Bob Rock recalled to Musicradar.com: “We were in pre-production, which was uncomfortable because nobody had ever made them go through their songs in such a deliberate way before, and six songs in ‘Sad But True’ came along. Suddenly, I realized that every song, including this one, was in the key of E.

I brought this to the band’s attention, and they said, ‘Well, isn’t E the lowest note?’ So I told them that on Motley Crue’s Dr. Feelgood, which I produced and Metallica loved, the band had tuned down to D. Metallica then tuned down to D, and that’s when the riff really became huge. It was this force that you just couldn’t stop, no matter what.”

The artist Pushead (Brian Schroeder) created the sleeve art for the single, which is an image of two skulls looking at each other. When James Hetfield saw the artwork, it made him hear the song differently. He told Rolling Stone in 2012, “I had no idea the duality was so blatant in that song. He picked up on that: good and evil; the secret me and the public me.”

Ulrich, Hammett and Newsted were all going through divorces while making the self-titled album, also known as The Black Album. Hammett told Playboy in 2001: “I was an emotional wreck. I was trying to take those feeling out of guilt and failure and channel them into the music, to get something positive out of it. Jason and Lars were too, and I think that has a lot to do with why The Black Album sounds the way it does.”

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