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Metallica's "One"

By Tridiv Sinha, New Delhi

I can’t remember anything
Can’t tell if this is true or dream
Deep down inside I feel to scream
This terrible silence stops me.

Now that the war is through with me
I’m waking up I can not see
That there is not much left of me
Nothing is real but pain now

Hold my breath as I wish for death
Oh please god, wake me.

These are the excerpts from the song – ‘One’ by the Heavy Metal band Metallica. The song was inspired from Dalton Trumbo's novel ‘Johny Got His Gun’. The novel tells the story of a young American soldier who was severely wounded by a German Artillary Shell in the First World War. His arms, legs, eyes, nose and ears were gone and he could not see, speak, nor hear — but his mind functions perfectly, leaving him a prisoner in his own body. Medically, such a condition is known as locked-in syndrome.

The song reproduces the feelings of the soldier lying on the no man’s land of death and life. After losing almost all the sensory organs except the skin, the soldier is left on the bed with nothing to confront him. He is unable to express his wishes, his problems and worst of all is that he can’t even move his hands to perform his daily activities which are integral to surviving.

The soldier wishes to scream thinking that it will help him get some relief by pouring out his pain which is building up inside. But that is too much to ask for. Since the war is over for him and he tried his best to make sure that he did his part for the country, he wants to get back to the life he once had. But all is lost for him where there is nothing left except physical and mental pain.

All what a person can wish for in this kind of situation is Death, which will be more peaceful and cheaper than the price he is paying to survive. The situation is that he can’t feel whether he is sleeping or he is awake.

He is scared to look forward to the future and see the horrors which will unfold throughout his life. He wants to cut off his life supporting machines which remind him of the war field. He is trapped inside his own body as he cannot communicate with the external world, so his world becomes just ‘One’.

All he can feel is the darkness and no ray of hope. He drifts between reality and fantasy, tries to figure out the realities and myths of war. Physically, he can’t see the literal darkness. Mentally, there is no hope for a peaceful future, there is darkness there too. Now his life is just one hell on earth and no one wants to live in hell. He prays to god for Death.

War can bring only grief and death and no glory with it. We kill our own kind just to get a little more of the lifeless lands and make lives lifeless. Nothing can relieve the soldiers of their pain suffered during war.


The song opens with the sound of machine guns followed by a sad guitar solo by James Hetfield. The intro guitar conveys the sadness, which is produced in the soldier’s mind. Hetfield starts the songs with a slow and quiet voice with a little aggression. When he complains about his present situation and prays to god for death, he becomes more aggressive.

Kirk Hammet’s soft guitar solo follows. The song takes a violent turn to show the agitated mind of the soldier. The song transforms from a sad melody to an aggressive one. The situation of the soldier is the same. The first feelings in his mind were that of sadness. Later, he starts to complain about everything as he finds no comfort in any earthly things, which makes him more violent where he prays to god to greet him with death.


The music video of the song was taken from the movie ‘Johny Got His Gun’ which was also inspired from the novel. The video shows the condition of the soldier in the hospital where he is covered by a roll cage and a white cloth over it. His face is also covered with a cloth.

In the video, there was a scene of the soldier’s childhood when he asked about democracy to his father. The father replies by saying that it has something to do with young people killing each other. This was the darkest truth behind America’s participation in First World War.
Soldiers sacrificed their lives without knowing exactly what they were dying for.

The soldier tries to convey his wish to die to his doctors by using the banging of his head as his Morse code. In the end, he is left in his bed alone and the door is closed.


  1. seems ua re a big fan of music that is heavy metal...

    to be frank u strike my one dream to have the music bone that was necessar y in one of my job...

    well job gone and my instinct to carry theat bone is gone....
    do write so that i can keep up with the westen songs..heavy..
    well i love kistening beetles i dont know/.....

  2. hmmm...m also a die hard fan of MetallicA n i love this song a lot n d video too...the heavy guitar riffs n the drums r awesome alongwid the story depicted in this video...

    MetallicA rulez....\m/....


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