Elton John’s recently collaborated with Miley Cyrus on a Metallica cover song, and his comments on the tune brought frontman James Hetfield to tears. The band was a guest on The Howard Stern Show this week, along with Cyrus, and were surprised by an appearance from John, who joined them virtually. Speaking about “Nothing Else Matters,” the Metallica song that John and Cyrus covered, the iconic singer-songwriter referred to it as “one of the best songs ever written.” Upon hearing this, Hetfield put his hand to his face, and then began to tear up.
The pair covered the tune for The Metallica Blacklist, a compilation of cover songs from the band’s self-titled 1991 album, most commonly known as “The Black Album.” The track also features legendary cellist Yo-Yo Ma, Los Angeles-based musician/producer WATT, Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith, and Metallica bassist Robert Truillo. The compilation also features stars such as Chris Stapleton, Alessia Cara, J Balvin, Corey Taylor from Slipknot, Phoebe Bridgers, and Weezer, all offering their own takes on some classic songs from the iconic hard rock album. For their cover of “Nothing Else Matters,” John is heavily featured by opening and closing the song on the piano and, during his Howard Stern Show appearance, he explained how that specific direction came to be.
“That idea came from Andrew Watt, who produced the track and played guitar on i,” John revealed. “He said, ‘I want you to start the song and finish the song, because I don’t want it to start with the guitar, because that’s how the original record started.'” John continued, “Listen, this is one of the best songs ever written, to me. It’s a song that never gets old. And playing on this track, I just couldn’t wait. The chord structure, the melodies, the time changes, it’s got drama written all over it.”
Continuing his acclaim of “Nothing Else matters,” John said, “I have to say, it was a no-brainer playing on this song. Metallica are probably the crème de la crème of those kind of bands. You can’t really define them. They’re not a heavy metal band. They’re a musical band. Their songs aren’t just heavy metal. They’re beautiful songs. This is such a melodic song – it’s f—ing great, actually.”
Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich, who co-wrote the song with Hetfield, responded to John’s praise by saying, “If you could have said 40 years ago when James and I started … that 40 years later we would still be functioning, we’d be sitting here with one of the greatest stars in the world (Cyrus) next to us, with Elton on a Zoom, and doing your radio show, and talking about the accomplishments and what this record means to so many people, that would be the mindf— of all mindf—s.” He added, “To be able to hear what you just said, Elton, sitting next to James … the reaction I can feel in his body language when you said it was one of the greatest songs ever written … it’s just incredible to hear.”