The Full Wiki

One (Metallica song): Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Single by Metallica
from the album …And Justice for All
Released January 1989
Format CD single
Recorded January - May, 1988
Genre Thrash metal
Length 7:24
Label Elektra
Writer(s) James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich
Producer Metallica, Flemming Rasmussen
Metallica singles chronology
"…And Justice for All"
"Enter Sandman"
Music sample

"One" is a song by heavy metal band Metallica. The song is released as the fourth single and fourth track of their fourth album …And Justice for All. "One" was also the band's first Top 40 hit single, peaking at #35 on the Billboard Hot 100. It is one of their most popular songs.



"One" was written in November 1987 by Metallica's principal composers — rhythm guitarist/vocalist James Hetfield and drummer Lars Ulrich. The song was released in 1989 as the second single taken from the album (the first being "Harvester of Sorrow" in the U.S and "...And Justice for All" in Europe[1]).

For the first 17 seconds of the song there are a series of sound effects with a battle theme; an artillery barrage and helicopter are heard and continues slightly over a clean tone guitar intro by Hetfield before Kirk Hammett comes in over the top with a clean-toned solo. The song speeds up after Ulrich's drums come in and continues until each chorus, when the guitars become heavy and distorted before returning to clean. There is a second solo by Hammett halfway through the song, before lyrics cut out and the song gradually gets more heavy and distorted until the "machine gun" guitar build up (played alongside two bass drums) before the final, often highly praised, guitar solo by Hammett, and a final dual solo by Hammett and Hetfield. The song is in different time signatures. It begins in 4/4 (with an occasional measure in 2/4), then shifts to 3/4. After the verses and choruses it shifts to 6/4. The heavy doublebass part is again in 4/4, soon switching to 2/2 (Double-Time) up to the end.

In 1991, James Hetfield told Guitar World Magazine that he wrote the song's opening A-G modulation based on an idea prompted by the Venom song "Buried Alive".

I had been fiddling around with that A-G modulation for a long time. The idea for the opening came from a Venom song called "Buried Alive". The kick drum machine-gun part near the end wasn't written with the war lyrics in mind, it just came out that way. We started that album with Mike Clink as producer. He didn't work out so well, so we got Flemming to come over and save our asses.


The song's theme is based on Dalton Trumbo's 1939 novel Johnny Got His Gun. It tells the tale of a soldier whose body is severely damaged after he is hit by German artillery during World War I. His arms, legs, eyes, mouth, nose and ears are gone and he can not see, speak, smell, or hear; but his mind functions perfectly, leaving him a prisoner in his own body. The book was suspended from printing for many years during WWII and the Cold War. Trumbo directed the movie adaptation in 1971, from which the footage for the "One" music video is taken.

Live performance

"One" is a favorite of many Metallica fans, and thus is a fixture of the band's live shows. When played live, the song is usually played with guitars tuned down by one semitone (a permanent fixture of their Studio and Live work since the post-Black Album era, save for Death Magnetic in the case of the former) and is preceded by pyrotechnics and the same sounds of war such as machine guns, and bombs exploding as heard on the recorded version. The song was also featured on S&M — Metallica's album of live performances in collaboration with the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Michael Kamen.

Music video

"One" was the first Metallica song for which a music video was created. The music video, directed by Bill Pope and Michael Salomon, debuted on MTV on January 20, 1989. The video, shot in Long Beach, CA, is almost entirely in black and white, and features the band performing the song in a warehouse. It features dialogue and several scenes from the 1971 film adaptation of Johnny Got His Gun. Timothy Bottoms can be seen starring as Joe Bonham, the main character in the novel.

Three versions of the "One" music video were made; the first (the longest, album version) contained scenes of both the band and scenes from the movie. The second was simply a shortened version of the first and the third lacked scenes from the movie.

Like many other music videos from Metallica, "One" puts great emphasis on the performances of the band members as musicians, with many shots of Hetfield, Newsted and Hammett's hands picking and fretting. The video features the band members in a typical early Metallica fashion: playing (as if in rehearsal) in some sort of warehouse, in tight formation around Ulrich's drum kit, and dressed in casual street clothes and with long untamed hair.

In the music video, it can be clearly seen that both Hetfield and Hammett are playing ESP guitars. It is also clear that Newsted is playing bass with his fingers at the start of the song, but later switches to a pick.

Two of the three versions of the "One" music video appear on 2 of One, a VHS released on July 1, 1990 and both would again be featured on the band's 2006 Music video compilation DVD.

The music video was ranked 39 on Rock on the Net: MTV: 100 Greatest Music Videos and number 1 on Fuse's No. 1 Countdown: Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Special Edition.

Chart performance

Chart[2] Position
Australian Singles Chart
38 in 1989 / 5 in 1994
Dutch Singles Chart
New Zealand Singles Chart
Norwegian Singles Chart
Swedish Singles Chart
Swiss Singles Chart
US Billboard Hot 100


Other appearances

  • "One" is featured in the video game Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock, and appeared once again in Guitar Hero: Metallica.
  • "One" was featured in the remake of the 1971 film adaptation of Johnny Got His Gun , which was released in 2008.
  • "One" is sampled in the song "Like This" on Feed the Animals, the 2008 album by artist Girl Talk.
  • "One" was featured in an episode of Beavis and Butthead.




Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address