Absent  – A heavy metal rock star opens up

Now the Metallica music plays and James begins to talk about his Christian science upbringing:

“the concept of Christian science is that you are using all of God’s power to heal you. You don’t believe in doctors, you don’t believe in dentists even.”

He had to go out in to the hallway where his class was taught about health stuff. His father would get all teary eyed when reading the bible but James didn’t. He wondered what was wrong with him. Ah, and then he says that these things show up in his lyrics. He reads these ones as they appear on screen. :

“dear mother father, what is this hell you put me through…”

He says:

“the thing that made me really mad was that my dad left without saying goodbye”.

James blames his dad for his mother’s death too. She died of cancer and he watched her wither away.

“Obviously the Christian science religion is don’t go to the doctor”…there was no funeral, no grieving. That’s another part of the religion that didn’t do well for me.”

Then he reads these lyrics:

“I see faith in your eyes

Never you hear the discouraging lies

I hear faith in your cries

Broken is the promise, betrayal

The healing hand held back by the deepened nail

Follow the God that failed.

  • The God that failed. Metallica


Wow “the healing hand held back by the deepened nail.” That is a powerful lyric. I think it’s saying that Jesus’ hands were held back from healing as he hung on the cross. Crumbs. The cross is the place where Jesus triumphed over sin and death and yes, sickness too. But when you are so close to sickness and death and Jesus seems so far away and no healing comes, the temptation to see things differently must be overwhelming. Everything in your experience seems to say that perhaps the cross was a failure and Satan has won. The resurrection says differently though and one day everything will be made right. Now though, in between these two events, one historical and the other future, we fight the fight of faith. Trusting that God is good and powerful, and looking to him to help us in the pain and imperfection and incomprehensibility of it all.

James goes on:

“it didn’t end great with my dad. He got sick. He had cancer as well”

Since then he says:

“my family fell apart so I created my own family with the band”


He then talks about the death of a close band member and how he coped with it:

“I would say that Cliff passing, it really reopened that whole wound of abandonment. Of anyone I’m going to get close to is just going to leave. And it’s better maybe to not put your heart out there. I see how I gathered up some of those tools and used them later on to, you know, ‘the mighty Hetfield speaks’, stand back, don’t get close, I’m a rock, immovable. I’ve got no emotion. And that was the easy way to not get close to anybody. And yes I still struggle with that. Wanting to just ‘stop the world’, ‘you get there, you get there’ the total control aspect of it. On stage it was an easy persona to put on. It’s a jacket that I could wear easily because of my past wounds. And I could get up there and play the victim. ‘back off, get away from me’. But when I took that off it was still there. There is an integrity to part of that. That I believe. But most of it is the shield. The shield to keep people back”

And reads more of his lyrics:

“I’ll die if I let go

Control is love, Love is control.

I will only let you breathe

My air that you receive

Then we’ll see if I let you love me

Kill Kill Kill,

All within my hands – St Anger


Asked what was his most personal track, he replies without a moments pause “unforgiven”.


“With time the child draws in

This whipping boy done wrong

Deprived of all his thoughts

A young man struggles on and on

He’s known…

  • The unforgiven – Metallica


Not surprisingly James’ dad didn’t have a father figure either.


Big eyes open soon

Believing all under sun and moon

But does Heaven know you’re here

And did they give you smiles of tears

No, no tears…

  • Where the wild things are – Reload



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