Metallica’s James Hetfield Finds Inspiration in Elton John for New Music

by Patria
James Hetfield

James Hetfield, the frontman of Metallica, has been busy writing new music, drawing inspiration from none other than Sir Elton John. The legendary heavy metal band recently performed a medley of Elton John’s hits, “Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding,” in honor of Elton and his longtime songwriting partner Bernie Taupin, who received the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song.

In a recent episode of “The Metallica Report” podcast, Hetfield revealed that this experience has profoundly influenced his songwriting. “The time off has been pretty fantastic but, at the same time, I missed playing with the guys. And I let them know, ‘Man, I miss jamming with you guys!’” he shared. Reflecting on their performance, he added, “The Elton John thing [covering Funeral For A Friend/Love Lies Bleeding on TV in April] was so fantastic. Had a blast there. Elton, what a beautiful soul.”

Hetfield finds solace and inspiration in his makeshift music studio in his basement, where he escapes to create new tunes. Playing the guitar daily has become a necessity for him. “I’ve been doing some skiing, getting up on the mountain – there’s been tons of snow in Colorado, where we’re at, so a good snow season – and writing loads of music,” he said. “[I’ve been] playing guitar pretty much every day. I have to. It’s like breathing.”

For Hetfield, music is an endless source of ideas and a means of escape. “I’m so grateful it doesn’t shut off,” he expressed. “Whether it’s an escape from life or whatever it is, I love my little music room basement. I’ve got a computer, a few guitars and a little rig set up. It is my soul-nourishing place, to go in there and just play and write. Not so much practicing, it’s just writing.”

He continued to explain how different sources of inspiration, including his recent interactions with Elton John and Bernie Taupin, have challenged him creatively. “There’s always ideas. I get inspired [by] all kinds of different music, listening to it. Even the Elton John thing, hanging out with Elton and Bernie Taupin challenged me,” Hetfield noted. He also mentioned how watching the 2019 biopic Rocketman, which portrays Elton John’s life and creative process, provided further insight into Elton’s visionary approach to music. “Seeing how they wrote – Elton is such a visionary in the way that Bernie sets a set of lyrics, a poem, in front of him and he sees the music just appearing, which is bizarre to me. I’m more of the old Tony Iommi way, where, ‘Here is the riff, and we build around the riff,’ you know?”

Metallica’s latest studio album, 72 Seasons, was released in 2023. As Hetfield continues to draw from diverse influences, fans can look forward to seeing how these inspirations shape the band’s future projects.

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