Hey there, this is Teacher Ola Podcast episode 31 Learn English With Metallica: ‘Nothing Else Matters’.
My name’s Ola and I am an online English teacher.
This podcast is for you if you’re an English learner who wants to speak English with more confidence and get rid of speaking barriers. You’ll boost your vocabulary, brush up your grammar, improve your pronunciation, see how to have a tense-free conversation with another English-speaking human being! Go to my website for full transcripts and worksheets to each episode. Happy learning!
Thank you for tuning in! Please remember that this episode is transcribed and you can find the text on my website. Go there because you need to see the worksheet. Go to teacherola.com/31.
Hello and welcome to your English class today. I’m excited that you have chosen this podcast for your practice today. This episode will definitely differ from what you normally hear. This time I’m happy to have a guest.
Marcin contacted me after the episode about Metallica’s ‘Unforgiven’ and offered his help with analyzing the lyrics of another Metallica’s song. And I accepted the offer and proposed recording something. Marcin has recorded himself and it’s pure gold. Thank you Marcin so much.
This is how it’s going to look like today. First of all you’ll hear from Marcin and he’ll tell you about his journey. You’ll find out: how his learning process looked like, what helped him to finally start speaking fluently, what kind of attitude you need to have to make the learning process faster, Marcin will also suggest learning methods, you’ll hear one great tip on what kind of materials to choose, above all Marcin is going to share with us his passion for Metallica. It’s absolutely clear he’s a devoted fan, so passionate about the music it’s a pure pleasure to listen to him.
Later on I’ll jump in with some interesting facts about the song ‘Nothing Else Matters’. And that’s not all. Then we’ll take a closer look at the lyrics of the song and then you’ll have a chance to make this episode practical for you. We’ll go through the lyrics line by line and repeat them. You’ll learn some collocations and phrases. You’ll listen and repeat even more sentences. Don’t skip the repeating part, please don’t leave it for later. Repeat out loud.
Ok, let’s begin. Are you ready? Let’s hear from Marcin.
Hi everyone. My name is Marcin and I have been asked by our lovely host, of this podcast, Ola to say a few words.
There are really two main reasons for me being here and one of them would be my interest in learning English language.
I was born in Poland but for the last 13 years I have been living in United Kingdom. Being in Poland I have only had learned English at university for two short, academical terms. What really made the difference in my learning was coming to UK. I know, it sounds like a cliché but believe me, speaking from my personal experience it is true that the best way to learn a foreign language is to go and spent some time in a country where people actually speak that language. Let’s put it that way, in my life I have been learning Russian language for 4 years and German for another 5 years at school while living in Poland. Neither one them I can actually speak, but after only roughly a year and a half of attending language course here in England I was light years ahead of my own skills in the other two languages. Obviously not everyone can afford or even have a chance to go and live in UK. In that case, probably the next best thing I can suggest is what I call being greedy for the language, looking for every occasion, no matter how small, to learn something. Nowadays, let’s be honest, with an internet in almost in every house options are unlimited. You could be trying to read a bit from a website, maybe a piece of an article if you prefer and an old fashioned news paper, listing to an English radio, watch a short video or maybe even, at some point a whole film. In which case, to start with, I would strongly suggest putting on English subtitles to help you catch words spoken too fast or with an accent which you are not familiar with. However, no matter what you choose, I believe the most important is to do it on a subject that interest you. It is always easier and more fun to listen, read or watch about something you like. In may case it was music. Reading about my favourite bands, watching interviews with them and finally understanding what exactly they are singing about was a huge factor behind my drive to learn English.
This, I guess takes us to the second main reason I am a guest speaker at this podcast today, which is my passion for music and in particular a certain American heavy metal band called Metallica. I tend to say that I am the second biggest Metallica fan in the whole wide world. Why not first? Well I am afraid this spot is already taken by a certain guy born in Denmark, who labels himself with the title of The Biggest One and, as he actually co-formed Metallica alongside his friend James, I really do not stand a chance of competing with that, do I?
A fun fact for you, Lars Ulrich whom I’ve just mentioned, have had his very first drumming lesson only around recording Metallica’s third album and that is not because he thought he played drums so well before but because he was so madly driven by his passion to be a drummer in a rock band that nothing was going to stop him even the fact he couldn’t properly play in the first place.
Metallica is a real phenomenon not only within the metal music but more broadly in the entire popular music industry. There are very few other artists who are that successful over such long period of time and crossing over more than just one genre of music. Metallica’s career stretches over almost 39 years now. In that time they have sold an estimated 100 million records around the world, picking up along the way 14 Grammy awards and playing over 1700 shows across 60 countries. 6 consecutive Metallica albums released between 1991 and 2016 peaked at no.1 on Billboards 200 list. Can you imagine that? 6 consecutive albums. Basically, whatever they recorded at that time was just flying off the shelves. They were also inducted to Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame in 2009. If you are one of an older internet users like me you may remember a little file sharing website called Napster back in the day. Well, believe or not Metallica is one of the main reasons Napster doesn’t exist any more. The website was forced to close down following a law suit filed by Metallica’s drummer Lars Ulrich over sharing on the internet supposedly unfinished version of their song ‘I Dissapear’.
And if that’s not enough, listen to that: Metallica has got an entry in Guinness World Record Book. How awesome is that? The band has been recognised for being the first musical act to perform a concert on every continent. That’s huge, isn’t it?
And believe me, there is way, way more to Metallica than just their commercially acclaimed songs and albums. Just give it a go and listen to something by Metallica you have never heard before and you may be very surprised. And if you are a Metallica freak like me always hungry for more information about the band I suggest you search the Internet. If you not sure were to start, apart from, obviously band’s official website I strongly recommend a polish website www.OVERKILL.pl, where somewhere in archives you may actually stumble upon some of my translations or articles.
OK, enough of that! Let’s get down to the business. Today’s episode of Ola’s lesson is based on probably the most famous and definitely the most recognisable Metallica’s song called Nothing Else Matters which was released on band’s self-titled album Metallica in 1991.
Thank you to our host Ola for giving me a chance to talk to you and let’s learn & enjoy.
Take care guys. Bye!
Thank you Marcin for sharing your story with us. Marcin has also prepared a bunch of interesting facts about ‘Nothing Else Matters’. It’s all his work. All I did is translated it into English. Let’s hear some song facts prepared by Marcin:
Nothing Else Matters is the first and probably the last in the history of Metallica song about romantic love. The author himself admitted in interviews that he had written it while touring with the band. He had been missing Kristen Martinez, his then-girlfriend.
This is particularly interesting considering the singer’s introverted character and his tough-guy image. Hatfield’s closed personality as well as the image of macho he created, were to protect him from emotional difficulties in life. Later in his life emotions took him over when James felt hurt after breaking up with Kristen. He publicly denied writing ‘Nothing Else Matters’ with her on his mind.
Nearly twenty years later, James himself admitted in one of the interviews that at first he was afraid to play this song to his friends from the band. It was intimidating to wait for their reaction to a song radically different from anything they had done so far. It was also deeply personal and he wasn’t sure if he wanted to share it with everyone. Finally he agreed to record a demo after his friend Lars had persuaded him to do so.
Nothing Else Matters is in fact a fairly simple song about love and missing someone, however, like most of Hetfield’s lyrics, may be and should be perceived in broader sense. Searching for the meaning of life or a human personal relationship to the Higher Power, and many more big ideas are to be found in this simple at first hand song. In recent interview, James told the story when he was invited to a popular in the U.S.A. Hell’s Angels motorcycle club rally, where they showed him a short film created in honor of one of the club members, who passed away. In this film, the song Nothing Else Matters was used as the soundtrack. The singer said “It was amazing,” “Such matters mean much more than just longing for a girl. It shows feelings of brotherhood and unity just like in an army. “
Until Nothing Else Matters was written James had drawn inspiration from tv news, books, films or from long hours of talks “about life” and drinking alcohol with a narrow group of friends. Now for this, just like in The Unforgiven or even more The God That Failed he himself became the inspiration to write the song. Lines such as Never opened myself this way or So close, no matter how far literally illustrate a massive change in his approach to writing lyrics.
Nobody expected the author of the thrash metal creed which was Whiplash, the biblical Creeping Death, warning against drug addiction “Master of Puppets” or even the anti-war manifesto in the form of One that he would write about something as personal as his feelings for a woman.
Indeed, Nothing Else Matters has become one of the band’s greatest commercial successes. They have sold just over a million copies of the single worldwide. In the entire discography of Metallica, this song could be overtaken in this classification only by a peculiar monster of popular rock music Enter Sandman.
At first they deliberately omitted the song while performing live, because of the assumption that “something like this will never be accepted at concerts”. But then Nothing Else Matters debuted on Billboards and radio stations from around the world seemed to play it constantly. In turn Nothing Else Matters became an inseparable element of virtually every Metallica concert.
The first two bars of the song in the form of repeated six individual notes are today one of the most recognizable guitar intros not only in rock but also in all popular music. Legend has it that James invented this passage during a phone call with Kristen. As he was holding the telephone receiver in one hand, he used the other one to play “empty” guitar strings and by doing so he composed this characteristic phrase.
Another interesting fact about Nothing Else Matters is the arrangement and production of the song. Bob Rock a former music producer of Bon Jovi for example, got hired. At one of the last stages of recording he decided to add a delicate string arrangement. And then one of the most admired film music composers in Hollywood at the time – Michael Kamen – was asked to arrange it, and then to conduct an orchestra that played these sounds. Michael Kamen is known for the music from films such as Die Hard, Highlander, Lethal Weapon and Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves. The band ruled out such an idea at the very beginning and only when the producer played them a fragment of the song with the orchestra already mixed James, Lars and the company changed their minds.
What’s more, they liked the effect of cooperation with Michael Kamen so much that eight years later, when the conductor offered them a recording of a dozen or so of their songs with additions to arrangements for classical instruments, Metallica not only agreed to it, but also proposed to play these songs live with the entire symphony orchestra.
Now, let’s move on to the lyrics. Listen and repeat out loud:
So close, no matter how far
Couldn’t be much more from the heart
Forever trusting who we are
And nothing else matters
Let’s stop here. What strikes me and what needs to be said here is that there’s a difference in pronunciation patterns in British and American English. British pronounce ‘t’ sound, whereas in American English ‘t’ is pronounced differently. In the case of the word ‘matter’ in American English we have so called ‘flap t’ which basically sounds like ‘d’. Listen to both pronunciation patterns. Listen and repeat. British: No matter how far. American: No matter how far. In the song we hear the American pattern of course.
no matter how – it doesn’t matter how. ‘Matter’ is also used to ask if somebody is upset, unhappy, etc. or if there is a problem. Repeat after me some more examples:
I’ll be there no matter what.
What’s the matter? Is there something wrong?
Is anything the matter?
What’s the matter with you today?
The following verse:
Never opened myself this way
Life is ours, we live it our way
All these words I don’t just say
And nothing else matters
Never opened myself this way – reflexive pronoun: myself. I see lots of problems with those so let’s repeat all of them: myself, yourself, herself, himself, itself, ourselves, yourselves, themselves. It’s always better to see the word in a context, so let’s practice all sentences:
Have you hurt yourself?
She must be very proud of herself.
He introduced himself.
The company has got itself into difficulties.
We shouldn’t blame ourselves for what happened.
You can try it out for yourselves.
They seemed to be enjoying themselves.
Life is ours, we live it our way – ok, so isn’t it pronounced /ˈaʊə(r)/? Well, sometimes it is, but the main form is /ɑː(r)/. In American English /ɑːr/. Repeat after me:
Our house, in the middle of our street.
Of course I’m exaggerating and normally nobody says it like this, so maybe without exaggerating, it’ll sound like this:
Our house, in the middle of our street.
Our street. Instead of our street. Ok, one last time:
Our house, in the middle of our street.
Our song is the way you laugh.
‘Cause our love’s not hiding anymore.
We showed them some of our photos.
Trust I seek and I find in you
Every day for us something new
Open mind for a different view
And nothing else matters
Trust I seek and I find in you – to seek means to look for something/somebody. Past and past participle forms of this word are: sought. So it’s: seek – sought – sought. Repeat the examples:
The pilot sought permission to land.
She was determined to seek revenge.
They came seeking for the truth.
EU citizens have the right to seek employment in any member state.
a different view – view carries two meanings. A view is what you can see from a particular place or position, especially beautiful countryside. A view is also used when you are talking about whether you can see something or whether something can be seen in a particular situation. Let’s have a look at some examples:
The sun disappeared from view.
I didn’t have a good view of the stage.
I’d like a room with a view.
Tensions within the band remained hidden from public view.
Sit down—you’re blocking my view.
She and I hold opposing views on the matter.
His views on the subject were well known.
I am afraid I do not share this view.
In my view it was a waste of time.
The last verse:
Never cared for what they do
Never cared for what they know
But I know
Never cared for what they do – not care for something or for somebody, to not like something or somebody. Repeat after me:
He didn’t much care for her friends.
I don’t care for seafood.
I don’t care for him enough to marry him.
Good job on repeating all sentences! That brings me to the end of this episode of TOP, thank you all for tuning in. Thank you Marcin for your appearance, all the best.
Now I do recommend going to teacherola.com/31 and downloading the worksheet. It’s Nothing Else Matters gapped song lyrics. Listen to the song and fill out the gaps.
If you liked this episode, let me know. Leave a comment on my website. teacherola.com/31.
If you know someone who is a Metallica freak spread the word and let them know about this episode.
TOP 32 will be available next Wednesday and it’ll be about the zero conditional. So grammar it is. Make sure to subscribe and do not miss it! Have a great week, till next Wednesday, happy learning, bye!