The Memory Remains

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"The Memory Remains"
Metallica - The Memory Remains cover.jpg
Single by Metallica featuring Marianne Faithfull
from the album Reload
ReleasedNovember 11, 1997
GenreHard rock[1]
Metallica singles chronology
"King Nothing"
"The Memory Remains"
"The Unforgiven II"
Music video
"The Memory Remains" on YouTube

"The Memory Remains" is a song by American heavy metal band Metallica, with British singer Marianne Faithfull on backing vocals.

The lead single from Metallica's seventh studio album, Reload, released in 1997, it was first performed live in a "jam" version on July 2, 1996.[2] Marianne Faithfull was brought in as James Hetfield felt her "weathered, smellin'-the-cigarettes-on-the-CD voice" fit what he described as "the whole eeriness of the Sunset Boulevard-feel of the song", given the lyrics tell the story of a faded artist who goes insane from losing her fame.[3] The spoken words "Say yes, at least say hello", during the outro, are a reference to The Misfits, the last complete movie in which Marilyn Monroe starred.[4]

The song was written by James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich. It can be heard playing in the strip club Bada Bing! in the episode of The Sopranos, "The Knight in White Satin Armor". It is also used as one of the theme songs for WrestleMania XXVIII.

Asked if he would have bought Reload, bassist Jason Newsted said, "Not if I heard 'The Memory Remains' first."[5]


The song's demo was also called "Memory" and was recorded in Lars Ulrich's home musical studio "Dungeon" on March 6, 1995 (take 1) and March 17, 1995 (take 2).

Other versions[edit]

The band, with Faithfull, performed the song on the December 6, 1997 edition of Saturday Night Live. A live version was released as B-side to the single "The Unforgiven II". It was later performed with the San Francisco Symphony (conducted by Michael Kamen) for S&M. Another live version was included on Orgullo, Pasión y Gloria. According to a post on Metallica's Facebook wall, they performed the song, again with Faithfull, on December 7, 2011, at the Fillmore in San Francisco.


Several bands have covered the song (either live or on record), including The Kovenant, Spleen, Iron Horse and The Stanford Harmonics.

Chart performance[edit]

The single was successful, hitting number 28 on the Billboard Hot 100, number 3 on the Mainstream Rock Tracks chart and number 13 on the UK Singles Chart. It was Metallica's last appearance in the top 40 of the Billboard Hot 100 until 2008's "The Day That Never Comes". The song was Faithfull's first Top 40 single on the Hot 100 since 1965's "Summer Nights", and her last to date.

Music video[edit]

The "Memory Remains" music video (directed by Paul Andresen) features a surreal, anti-gravity concept. The band plays on a large, suspended platform making full and continuous rotations throughout the performance, like an enormous swing. The platform and band are actually stationary and the room, a giant constructed box, spins around it. Marianne Faithfull sings in a dark corridor and turns the crank of a street organ, the crank presumably attached to the rotating platform upon which the band plays. In some scenes money rains down, an allegorical reference.

According to Encyclopedia Metallica, the video was shot at the Van Nuys Airport and cost $400,000, with the large platform costing over $100,000. The video premiered on MTV's Mattrock on November 15, 1997.[2]

Track listing[edit]

CD single (ReLoad)
1."The Memory Remains"4:38
2."Fuel for Fire" (work in progress with different lyrics)
3."Memory" (demo)
  • Hetfield
  • Ulrich
CD single (UK pt. 2)
1."The Memory Remains"
  • Hetfield
  • Ulrich
2."The Outlaw Torn" (Unencumbered by Manufacturing Restrictions Version)
  • Hetfield
  • Ulrich
3."King Nothing" (Tepid Mix)
  • Hetfield
  • Ulrich
  • Hammett
CD 2-track single (U.S. and Canada) and 7" single (Europe)
1."The Memory Remains"
  • Hetfield
  • Ulrich
2."For Whom the Bell Tolls" (Haven't Heard It Yet Mix)


Additional performer

Chart positions[edit]

Chart (1997) Peak
Australia (ARIA)[6] 6
Austria (Ö3 Austria Top 40)[7] 20
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders)[8] 28
Canada Top Singles (RPM)
Canada Rock/Alternative (RPM)[9] 25
Denmark (Tracklisten)[10] 13
Finland (Suomen virallinen lista)[11] 1
Germany (Official German Charts)[12] 20
Hungary (Mahasz)[13] 4
Ireland (IRMA) 13
Italy (FIMI) 13
Netherlands (Dutch Top 40)[14] 17
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[15] 23
Norway (VG-lista)[16] 3
Spain (AFYVE)[17] 3
Sweden (Sverigetopplistan)[18] 4
Switzerland (Schweizer Hitparade)[19] 30
UK Singles (The Official Charts Company) 13
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 28
U.S. Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks 3

Release history[edit]

Region Date Format Label
Europe November 10, 1997 Elektra
United States November 11, 1997 Elektra


  1. ^ "If You Still Hate Metallica For 'Load' And 'Reload,' Here's Why You Need To Reconsider". 3 August 2015.
  2. ^ a b The Memory Remains Retrieved March 21, 2008.
  3. ^ Inc, CMJ Network (1 February 1998). "CMJ New Music Monthly". CMJ Network, Inc. – via Google Books.
  4. ^ Dome, Malcolm; Wall, Mick (2013). Metallica: The Music and the Mayhem. Omnibus Press. p. 160. ISBN 978-0-85712-721-1.
  5. ^ "2001: A Rock Odyssey". Classic Rock #36. January 2002. p. 40.
  6. ^ " – Metallica – The Memory Remains". ARIA Top 50 Singles.
  7. ^ " – Metallica – The Memory Remains" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40.
  8. ^ " – Metallica – The Memory Remains" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50.
  9. ^ Canadian rock peak Archived 2014-11-11 at the Wayback Machine
  10. ^ " – Metallica – The Memory Remains". Tracklisten.
  11. ^ "Metallica: The Memory Remains" (in Finnish). Musiikkituottajat – IFPI Finland.
  12. ^ " – Metallica Single-Chartverfolgung" (in German). Media Control Charts. PhonoNet GmbH.
  13. ^ "Top 10 Hungary" (PDF). Music & Media. Retrieved May 6, 2018.
  14. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – Metallica" (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40.
  15. ^ " – Metallica – The Memory Remains". Top 40 Singles.
  16. ^ " – Metallica – The Memory Remains". VG-lista.
  17. ^ "Hits of the World – Spain". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. December 13, 1997. p. 51. Retrieved 2017-06-10.
  18. ^ " – Metallica – The Memory Remains". Singles Top 100.
  19. ^ " – Metallica – The Memory Remains". Swiss Singles Chart.