"Nothing Else Matters" is a song by American heavy metal band Metallica. It was released in 1992 as the third single from their self-titled fifth studio album, Metallica. The song peaked at number 11 on the BillboardMainstream Rock Tracks chart, number 6 on the UK Singles Chart, number 1 in Denmark, and reached the top ten on many other European charts. "Nothing Else Matters" was featured as a playable track in the music video game Guitar Hero: Metallica. Recognized as one of Metallica's best known and most popular songs, it has become a staple in live performances.
Lead singer and rhythm guitarist James Hetfield wrote the song (credited to Hetfield/Ulrich) in 1990 while he was on the phone with his then girlfriend. Since he held the phone with one hand, he plucked the four open strings of a standard E-minor chord with the other, which eventually made up the first two bars of the song. The lyrics, which talk about being "so close, no matter how far", were also dedicated to his girlfriend, indicating the bond they shared even when Hetfield was on tour. Initially, the song was not meant to be released, as Hetfield had written it for himself, but after drummer Lars Ulrich heard it, it was considered for the album.
Its intro is an E minor arpeggio (transposed one half-step lower on stage performances) beginning with the open low E followed by the open G, B and high E strings.
It is one of the few Metallica songs in which Hetfield plays the guitar solo. Guitarist Kirk Hammett does not play on the studio recording, making it one of the few in the whole Metallica repertoire, along with Cliff Burton's "(Anesthesia) Pulling Teeth", in which he does not appear. Hammett stated he did not learn how to play the song until they were well into the tour for the album.
The orchestral arrangements were written by award-winning composer Michael Kamen, who would later go on to collaborate with the group on S&M.
The music video premiered on MTV on February 26, 1992. It was directed by Adam Dubin, and edited by Sean Fullan. The clip consists of parts of the A year and a half... video tape which was shot during the recordings of Metallica. One of them shows Hetfield playing a Gibson EDS-1275 guitar during the second chorus. MTV will not air the video during daytime hours anymore because it features nudity in the form of pin-up posters and Playboy centerfolds that are taped up in the studio. It also has a picture of Winger's Kip Winger which Ulrich is seen throwing darts at. On the band's 2006 music video compilation DVD, the posters are censored, as was done with the nudity featured in the music videos for "Turn the Page" and "Whiskey in the Jar".
For its appearance on S&M, its orchestration was arranged by Michael Kamen conducting the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra. This live version is featured on the album S&M. It was also released as the single "Nothing Else Matters '99", which included the b-sides "-Human", and the S&M version of "For Whom the Bell Tolls", on November 22, 1999. This version was also played with guitars tuned to E♭.
There is also an acoustic remix of "Nothing Else Matters" that is called "Elevator Version", with no electric guitars (replaced by acoustic guitars, even for the solo), Kamen's orchestrations, and Hetfield's voice only; it appears as the B-side to "Sad but True".