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"Enter Sandman"
Single by Metallica
from the album Metallica
B-side "Stone Cold Crazy" / "Enter Sandman" (Demo) / "Holier Than Thou" (Work in Progress)
Released 1991
Format CD single, 12"
Recorded October 1990 - June 1991
One on One Studios
Los Angeles, California
Genre Heavy Metal
Length 5:30
Label Elektra Records
Songwriter(s) Kirk Hammett
James Hetfield
Lars Ulrich
Producer(s) Bob Rock
with Hetfield and Ulrich
Metallica singles chronology
"One"
(1989)
"Enter Sandman"
(1991)
"Don't Tread on Me"
(1991)
"One"
(1989)
"Enter Sandman"
(1991)
"Don't Tread on Me"
(1991)

"Enter Sandman" is the opening track on the American heavy metal band Metallica's 1991 self-titled album, also known as The Black Album. The song was written by guitarists Kirk Hammett and James Hetfield and drummer Lars Ulrich. Hetfield wrote lyrics to the song, which are about nightmares.

"Enter Sandman" was the first single of a very successful album that sold over 15 million copies worldwide and dramatically increased the Metallica's popularity worldwide.

Acclaimed by critics, the song is featured on all of Metallica's live albums and DVDs released after 1991, including S&M, recorded with the San Francisco Symphony in 1999.

Writing and recording[edit]

"Enter Sandman" was the first song Metallica wrote for what would become their self-titled album, released in 1991.[1] Metallica's way of writing songs at the time consisted in lead guitarist Kirk Hammett and bassist Jason Newsted submitting tapes with their ideas for songs to rhythm guitarist James Hetfield and drummer Lars Ulrich, who would combine then with their own ideas and write the songs for the new record in Ulrich's house in Berkeley, California.[1] "Enter Sandman" evolved from a riff Kirk Hammett wrote.[1] Originally, the riff had only two bars, until Lars Ulrich suggested that the first bar should be played three times before the last.[1] Although the song was quickly finished,[2] James Hetfield did not come up with vocal melodies and lyrics for a long time and the song was one of the last to have lyrics.[1] The lyrics featured in the song are not the original: when Hetfield started writing lyrics for the song, he felt it sounded "catchy and kind of commercial" and tried to write lyrics about what he described as "destroy the perfect family; a huge horrible secret in a family".[3] Ulrich and producer Bob Rock told him they felt he could write better lyrics for the song, the first time anyone suggested that to Hetfield and he agreed.[3] According to Lars Ulrich, even before the song had lyrics and vocals, it became the "foundation, the guide to the whole record".[1]

The demo of the song was recorded on September 13 1990 and did not feature lyrics or vocals.[4] The Metallica (album) was recorded in Los Angeles, California, between October 1990 and June 1991, with a week of recording in Vancouver, Canada in the end of April and beginning of May 1991. Being the first album with Bob Rock producing, it was recorded differently than previous Metallica records: Rock suggested the band members should record while playing together in studio instead of separately.[5] "Enter Sandman" had what Hetfield described as a "wall of guitars": three rhythm guitar tracks being played at the same time by himself, creating a "wall of sound".[2] For "Enter Sandman" "close to 50" takes of the drums were recorded, according to engineer Randy Staub, because Ulrich did not record the song in its entirety; he recorded the each section of the song separately.[6] Because it was difficult to get the "intensity" the band wanted out of the drums in just one take, the numerous takes were then selected and edited together.[5] The producing team spent much time and used between 40 and 50 microphones for the drums and different combinations to get the sound of the drums out of each part of the room.[6] The same techniques were used to record guitars.[6] The bass guitar frequencies gained importance with Bob Rock: Jason Newsted stated that before Bob Rock, Metallica's sound was "very guitar oriented" and that "when he came into the picture, bass frequencies also came into the picture".[7] "Enter Sandman" was the first song to be mixed, being the first single of the album.[5] The mixing of the song took about 10 days because the band and Bob Rock had to find on "Enter Sandman" "the sound" for the rest of the album.[5]

Music and lyrics[edit]

After releasing a musically complex album in ...And Justice for All, Metallica wanted to write simpler songs their self-titled album[1] and "Enter Sandman" is a departure from their previous works.[8] Enter Sandman is, as Lars Ulrich has stated, a "one-riff song": all sections of the song derive from the song's main riff that Kirk Hammett wrote.[1]

"Enter Sandman" is 5:32 long, slightly above the average song length in the album and moves at 128 beats per minute.[9] The song starts with a clean guitar intro similar to the main riff. The drums come in playing the tom-toms heavily and a guitar is heard playing an E chord with a wah-wah pedal on. Then, distortion guitars come in a "buildup intro" to the main riff that starts 56 seconds into the song. The song then follows a common structure, with a verse, a pre-chorus and a chorus played twice. On the chorus and pre-chorus, the song modulates a whole tone up to F#.[10] After the second chorus, Kirk Hammett plays a guitar solo over the song main riff and the pre-chorus and chorus riffs. Hammett uses a wah-wah pedal and a wide range of scales, starting with E minor pentatonic and moving into E's dorian mode, B minor, F# minor and E minor.[10] After the solo, there's a breakdown, where the clean guitar intro and the drums are heard together with an adult teaching a child the Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep bedtime prayer. After building again to a chorus, the song starts to fade out, with the same riffs of the "buildup intro" played in reverse.[9]

Lyrically, the song is about "nightmares and all that come with them".[8]

"Enter Sandman"'s main riff has been defined as "sinister"[10] and All Music Guide has complimented the song's breakdown that "brilliantly utilizes that “now I lay me down to sleep” bedtime prayer in such a way to add to the scary movie aspect of the song".[8]

Release and reception[edit]

Initially, "Holier Than Thou" was thought to be the opening track and first single of Metallica (album).[1] Only Lars Ulrich felt, even "before recorded" according to Bob Rock, that "Enter Sandman" was "the song".[5] In the documentary A Year and a Half in the Life of Metallica, Rock, Ulrich and James Hetfield are seen discussing this issue, with Bob Rock saying that "the first song that should come out is "Holier Than Thou"".[11] Ulrich has mentioned the band had a "big argument" in which he explained the rest of the band his point of view.[1] "Enter Sandman" eventually became the opening track and first single of Metallica (album).

The "Enter Sandman" single was released shortly before the release of the Metallica (album) on 13 August 1991.[12] Metallica (album) was a huge commercial success that debuted at #1 on US charts[12] and sold over 15 million copies worldwide[13] and "Enter Sandman" became "one of the most recognizable songs of all time" "worldwide" according to All Music Guide.[8] Apart from the nominations to the entire album, "Enter Sandman" was nominated for a Grammy Award in 1992 in the "Best Rock Song (songwriter)" category.[14] Rolling Stone magazine listed the song in the 399th place on their 500 Greatest Songs of All Time list and VH1 placed it in 22nd in their list of the "40 Greatest Metal Songs".[15][16] "Enter Sandman"'s riff was elected by Total Guitar magazine readers as the fifth greatest riff ever.[17]

"Enter Sandman" was acclaimed by critics: Chris True from All Music Guide declares it "one of Metallica’s best moments" and a "burst of stadium level metal that, once away from the buildup intro, never lets up".[8] In the All Music Guide review of Metallica (album), Steve Huey described "Enter Sandman" as one of the best songs, with "crushing, stripped-down grooves".[18] For Rolling Stone magazine, "Enter Sandman" "tell[s] the tale" of the album's "detail and dynamic", "song structures and impact of individual tracks".[19]

Music video[edit]

James Hetfield on "Enter Sandman" music video

"Enter Sandman" was the second music video Metallica has released, the first from Metallica (album). It was recorded in June, 1991 in Los Angeles, California and premiered on July 30, 1991, two weeks before the release of the Metallica (album).[20] It was directed by Wayne Isham. It was Isham's first Metallica music video, but he would direct another six Metallica music videos and their released live shows.[20] The plot of the music video directly relates to the theme of the song and combines shots of the band playing with images of a child having nightmares and of an an old man. The child dreams he is drowning, falling from the top a building and being chased by a truck and falling from a mountain while escaping it. During the part of the song in which the child recites a prayer, the child is seen praying while being watched by the old man.

"Enter Sandman" music video won the award for Best Hard Rock video in the 1992 MTV Video Music Awards and was nominated for Best Cinematography and Best Editing.[14]

Appearances and covers[edit]

"Enter Sandman" has been played in almost every Metallica live performance since its release. Metallica released live versions of the song in video on Live Shit: Binge & Purge, Cunning Stunts and S&M, where the band played with the San Francisco Symphony led by maestro Michael Kamen. The song is also discussed in videos A Year and a Half in the Life of Metallica and Classic Albums: Metallica - The Black Album and its video is available in The Videos 1989-2004. Metallica has played "Enter Sandman" live in award ceremonies and benefit concerts, such as the 1991 MTV Video Music Awards,[21] Grammy Awards of 1992,[14] The Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert[22] and Live Earth.[23] BBC apologized Metallica fans after receiving 413 complaints for having cut their set on Live Earth before "Enter Sandman".[24][25]

"Enter Sandman" has been covered by many artists, including versions by Motörhead, Pat Boone and Apocalyptica.[26] Sportsmen have used "Enter Sandman" as their entrance music in baseball[27] and wrestling.[28] The song is playable in the video game Rock Band.[29]

"Enter Sandman" made the headlines during the invasion of Iraq in 2003, after it became known that uncooperative prisoners were exposed to the song for extended periods by American interrogators.[30]

Formats and track listing[edit]

Chart positions[edit]

Chart (1991) Peak
position
Norwegian Singles Chart[31] 1
UK Singles Chart[32] 5
Australian ARIA Singles Chart[31] 10
Swiss Singles Chart[31] 11
Swedish Singles Chart[31] 14
US Hot 100[33] 16
US Mainstream Rock[33] 10
Chart (2006) Peak
position
US Digital Songs[33] 55

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Lars Ulrich (2001). Classic Albums: Metallica - The Black Album (DVD). Eagle Rock Entertainment. 
  2. ^ a b James Hetfield (2001). Classic Albums: Metallica - The Black Album (DVD). Eagle Rock Entertainment. 
  3. ^ a b James Hetfield (2004). When Metallica Ruled the World Extras - "James On Writing "Enter Sandman" Lyrics" (TV Documentary). VH1.  External link in |title= (help)
  4. ^ "Metallica - Timeline - 1990". Metallica. Retrieved 2007-08-27. 
  5. ^ a b c d e Bob Rock (2001). Classic Albums: Metallica - The Black Album (DVD). Eagle Rock Entertainment. 
  6. ^ a b c Randy Staub (2001). Classic Albums: Metallica - The Black Album (DVD). Eagle Rock Entertainment. 
  7. ^ Jason Newsted (2001). Classic Albums: Metallica - The Black Album (DVD). Eagle Rock Entertainment. 
  8. ^ a b c d e True, Chris. "Enter Sandman Song Review". All Music Guide. Retrieved 2007-08-27. 
  9. ^ a b Metallica - Black (Play it like it is - Guitar Tabulature Book). Cherry Lane Music. 1991. pp. pp. 5–12. ISBN 0895246759.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  10. ^ a b c Howorth, P. J. (1994). The Wah Wah book. Hal Leonard Corporation. pp. pp. 42–45. ISBN 0711952590.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  11. ^ Bob Rock (1992). A Year and a Half in the Life of Metallica (DVD). Elektra Entertainment.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  12. ^ a b "Metallica - Timeline - 1991". Metallica. Retrieved 2007-08-31. 
  13. ^ "Metallica History Part 2". Metallica. Retrieved 2007-08-27. 
  14. ^ a b c "Metallica - Timeline - 1992". Metallica. Retrieved 2007-08-28. 
  15. ^ "The RS 500 Greatest Songs of All Time". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2007-08-27. 
  16. ^ "40 Greatest Metal Songs". VH1. Retrieved 2007-08-27. 
  17. ^ "Guns N' Roses top rock riff poll". BBC News. 2004-05-02. Retrieved 2007-08-27.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  18. ^ Huey, Steve. "Metallica - Review". All Music Guide. Retrieved 2007-08-31. 
  19. ^ Palmer, Robert. "Metallica - Metallica - Review". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2007-08-29. 
  20. ^ a b The Videos 1989-2004 liner notes.
  21. ^ "Video Music Awards - Past VMAs - 1991". MTV. Retrieved 2007-08-07. 
  22. ^ "Singles - Live at Wembley". Chapter Inc. Retrieved 2007-08-27. 
  23. ^ "Metallica's 'Live Earth' Setlist Revealed". Blabbermouth.net. 2007-07-07. Retrieved 2007-08-27.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  24. ^ "METALLICA Fans Complain To BBC About Band's Abbreviated 'Live Earth' Performance". Blabbermouth.net. 2007-07-09. Retrieved 2007-08-27.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  25. ^ "BBC Apologizes To METALLICA Fans". Blabbermouth.net. 2007-07-16. Retrieved 2007-08-27.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  26. ^ "Enter Sandman". All Music Guide. Retrieved 2007-08-27. 
  27. ^ Feinsand, Mark (2006-04-04). "Notes: Mo puts 'Sandman' debate to rest". Major League Baseball. Retrieved 2007-08-27.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  28. ^ "WWE Fails To Work Out Deal With METALLICA To Have 'Sandman' Music Included On DVD". Blabbermouth.net. 2005-07-09. Retrieved 2007-07-28.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  29. ^ "Rock Band video game includes Sandman". Metallica. 2007-07-11. Retrieved 2007-08-27.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  30. ^ "Sesame Street breaks Iraqi POWs". BBC News. 2003-05-20. Retrieved 2007-08-31.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  31. ^ a b c d "Enter Sandman Charts information". SwissCharts.com. Retrieved 2007-08-29. 
  32. ^ "UK Top 40 Hit Database". EveryHit.com. Retrieved 2007-08-29. 
  33. ^ a b c "Metallica - Artist Chart History". Billboard. Retrieved 2007-08-29. 

External links[edit]

[[Category:Metallica songs]] [[Category:1991 songs]] [[Category:1991 singles]] [[Category:Richard Cheese and Lounge Against the Machine songs]] [[Category:Signature songs]] [[cs:Enter Sandman]] [[da:Enter Sandman]] [[de:Enter Sandman]] [[es:Enter Sandman]] [[it:Enter Sandman]] [[no:Enter Sandman]] [[pt:Enter Sandman]] [[fi:Enter Sandman]] [[sv:Enter Sandman]] [[tr:Enter Sandman]]