This list of songs is inspired by a list published by radio station, KEXP, from Seattle in 2010. For the most part, I will faithfully countdown from their list, from Song #500 to Song #1. So, when you see the song title listed as something like: “KEXP: Song #XXX”….it means that I am working off of the official KEXP list. If I post the song title as being: “KTOM: Song #xxx”….it means I have gone rogue and am inserting a song choice from my own personal list of tunes I really like. In either case, you are going to get to hear a great song and learn the story behind it. Finally, I am not a music critic nor a musician. I am a music fan and an armchair storyteller. Enough said! Let’s get on to today’s song.
KTom: The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History.
Song #397: Enter Sandman by Metallica.
Metallica are one of the most successful Heavy Metal bands of all time. They have album sales of well over 100 million worldwide. The band has consisted of core members: drummer, Lars Ulrich, Singer/guitarist, James Hetfield and guitarist, Kirk Hammett; along with a rotating cast of bass guitarists, of which, Robert Trujillo is the current member. Metallica began in the early 1980s as a “Thrash” or “Speed” Metal band. They played fast and hard and loud. Their songs were often based upon dark themes. Their fan base was very loyal. Metallica rewarded their fans with a string of hits such as “Whiplash”, “And Justice for All” and “One”.
Not only did Metallica produce an impressive collection of Heavy Metal songs during the 1980s and 90s, they were one of the bands most responsible for the system of song downloading that we have in place today. Waaaay back in the day, there was a computer file sharing service called, “Napster”. Napster allowed users to share computer files with each other for free. Not long after starting as a business, members of Napster began sharing song files among each other. In essence, music fans were getting to have their favourite songs without the artists in question being compensated in any form. Metallica sued Napster. For awhile, Lars Ulrich, who became the spokesperson for the band during the Napster trials, became a hated future among music fans for seeking to deny them free access to their favourite songs. As it turned out, there was justice for Metallica and for all artists who place their copyrighted material in the marketplace. The judge in the case ruled in favour of Metallica. As a result, we have pay-per-download streaming services such as Apple Music and Spotify that must compensate artists whenever their music is downloaded.
Meanwhile, as the Napster trial was going on, Metallica met a Canadian producer named Bob Rock. Rock had been a member of the Canadian band, “Paul Hyde and the Payolas”. Bob Rock went into the production side of the business and one of his first major clients was Metallica. Under Rock’s guidance, Metallica released an eponymous album called “Metallica” that simply became known as “The Black Album”. On this album, Metallica moved away from thrash metal and moved toward a more radio-friendly rock sound. Many of their original fanbase were outraged and accused the band of selling out. Many pointed an accusatory finger at Bob Rock, as well, for leading the band away from their roots. However, the album sales for “The Black Album” went through the roof. The first single released from that album was “Enter Sandman”.
“Enter Sandman” is a creepy, suspenseful song about the fear that children may have about falling asleep and having nightmares. The song begins with the children’s lullaby, “Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep”, which starts out sweetly enough but, as it goes on, the guitars and drums spring to life, rumbling and roaring and then, as the conclusion of the lullaby, they erupt into sonic life! It is a song that has become a staple of all of Metalica’s live shows. (As you will see in the video below….I should note that the live version does not contain the opening lullaby…only the album version does). As well, the song as been adopted by various sports teams as their entrance song. I will show one such instance where the song is used at a US College football game. It is something to see almost 100,000 people getting swept up in the fervour of “Enter Sandman”.
So, without further delay, here is “Enter Sandman” by Metallica. Enjoy.
PS: In the comments section, I am going to share a slightly-inappropriate but, very true story of what this song means to me when I hear it. I am not the main character in this story but, just the same, it affected me. Read the NSFW story below or not, if you would rather just stick to the musical facts in this post.
The link to the music video for Enter Sandman by Metallica can be found here.
Metallica have their own website that can be accessed by clicking on the link here.
The link to the video for Enter Sandman being used as a football hype song, can be found here.
Finally: here is my NSFW story of what Enter Sandman really means to me when I hear it being played.
NSWF: Ok, here is my story about “Enter Sandman”. Before becoming a homeowner, I lived in a series of apartments, in and around, Oshawa, Ontario. One of the apartments I had was in a house owned by a Dutch woodworker. He lived on the main floor of the house and had converted the upper floor into two separate apartments. I had one of the upper floor apartments and a good friend of mine at the time, Barb, had the other. Barb was a very tasteful, professional person and was very quiet. I didn’t even know she was across the hall most days. Eventually, she moved out to a house of her own and a new girl moved in. This is where “Enter Sandman” comes in.
The new girl was about ten years younger than me (so, barely 20 or so). She was a blonde, with a Lady Di-pixie cut. She wore long, flowing Laura Ashley floral dresses (when that was a thing). We were friendly but were never friends. However, every once and awhile, she would knock on my door and ask to use my phone (which, at the time, I thought was weird). After sitting on my couch for several times and chatting with her girlfriends, I imagine, and me not making any moves (Because I was STUPID that way), she stopped knocking on my door and, instead, started bringing a boyfriend around to her apartment. It was her life so I didn’t care what she was doing. Until, one day, when I was returning home from getting groceries, I entered the house to the opening notes of “Enter Sandman” blasting from her apartment. Prior to this, she had been a model tenant and neighbour as far as noise went. So, imagine me climbing the stairs to the landing that we shared as “Enter Sandman” begins to build in intensity. I stopped at the top of the stairs because, truly, I was taken aback that she was rocking out like that. It was really loud! I could feel the bass vibrating through her door. Anyway, as I stood there, surrounded by the sounds of drums and thundering guitars, a new sound joined the mix……moans and groans!!!!……timed perfectly to the rise and fall of the notes of that song. Once I realized that she and her boyfriend were making out, I quickly entered my own apartment, put my groceries away and then, left again to go for a walk. No need to be listening to that going on.
From that day onward, every time they made love, it was to the throbbing beat of “Enter Sandman” by Metallica. And, every time I have heard that song since, all I can think about is that day, grocery bags in hand, when I heard the “Enter Sandman” remix version coming from across the hallway for the first time. True story.