Metallica was born in the early eighties and is now one of the most popular heavy metal bands in the world. Since the band’s formations many singles have been released but some say that One is the most acclaimed of them all.
One was written by James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich and is part of the And Justice for All album. This song awarded the band their first Grammy in the category of Best Metal Performance, in 1990. Since its release it has been played live more than 1000 times and is for sure one of the fans’ favourites.
One is an anti-war song and was inspired in the book Johnny Got His Gun. The novel talks about a World War I soldier named Bonham who after stepping a landmine lost his face, arms and legs, and with it all his senses. Doctors kept him alive, in what was believed to be a vegetative state. However, the soldier’s mind remained undamaged. Bonham felt like a prisoner in his own body as it is perfectly described in One’s lyrics “I cannot live/ I cannot die/ Trapped in myself/ Body my holding cell.”
The soldier’s despair is so grave that he tries to suffocate himself only to realize that it would be impossible due to a tracheotomy that had been performed. This feeling too was transcribed to the song’s lyrics “Hold my breath as I wish for death/ Oh please, God wake me.”
Furthermore, the passage from “Johnny Got His Gun” that served as an inspiration for the song was:
“How could a man lose as much of himself as I have and still live? When a man buys a lottery ticket you never expect him to win because it’s a million to one shot. But if he does win, you’ll believe it because one in a million still leaves one. If I’d read about a guy like me in the paper I wouldn’t believe it, cos it’s a million to one. But a million to ONE always leaves one. I’d never expect it to happen to me because the odds of it happening are a million to one. But a million to one always leaves one. One.”
In the song’s video clip it is possible to see some passages from the film version of the book.