When you’ve been a band for four decades and have released hundreds of songs like Metallica, it’d be completely understandable if there are some tracks in your catalog that you never want to hear or play again for the rest of your life.
Every band under the sun has a song (or few) that, despite fan adoration, they just won’t bust out on the live stage. In the case of Metallica, you might assume that the “forbidden” song that is disavowed from any setlist is one from some of their more fan-maligned albums like “St. Anger” or “Lulu.” Because let’s be honest, we all know those albums are littered with stinkers.
Interestingly enough, though, the one song that Metallica just will not play comes from one of their earlier classics, “Ride the Lightning.”
The specific traffic is fan favorite, Escape, and James Hetfield is the member of the band who’s essentially blacklisted it. Part of his issue with the track is that he felt forced to write it last minute in the studio. Per James:
“[‘Ride the Lightning’ album] was the first time we wrote a song in the studio. I remember we had all the songs and Lars said, ‘They want us to record one more, they need one more for the album.’ I was like, ‘You didn’t tell me that…’ So we had to write and it was really last-minute. So ‘Escape’ was one of those songs that was written in the studio.”
As a way to mess with Hetfield over the decades, his bandmates would hilariously jam out the song on occasion to push his buttons, knowing damn well how much he didn’t like the track.
Fast forward to the year 2012, though, and James did finally have to begrudgingly play the song live for their Orion Music fest. The band essentially forced their own hand into playing it after promising to play all of “Ride The Lightning” from front to back for the first time.
Before kicking into Escape at the show, Hetfield reinforced his ire for the track and gave some context as to the significance of them playing it:
“Do you know what song is next? God, don’t say it out loud, please! This is groundbreaking right here, this is historical, for those of you who might know what’s coming up next. The song that we never wanted to play live, ever… is now on the setlist. We’re not afraid, we’re just hoping it’s good. We’ll do our best.” You can watch the one and only time Metallica graced us with Escape live right below: