“One” is the fourth single from American metal band Metallica and their fourth studio album: “…And Justice For All”, which was released in 1988. It is written by two members of the band, James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich.
“One” is supposedly based on a novel titled “Johnny Got His Gun”, from writer Dalton Trumbo. The novel is about a soldier in World War I who is hit by a landmine explosion that leaves him without a face or limbs, and cannot communicate. He is kept alive by his medical team. “One” is written as the perspective of that soldier. In 1991, Hetfield spoke to Guitar World about the song’s opening chords: “I had been fiddling around with that B-G modulation for a long time. The idea for the opening came from a Venom song called “Buried Alive”. The kick drum machine-gun part near the end wasn’t written with the war lyrics in mind, it just came out that way. We started that album with Mike Clink as producer. He didn’t work out so well, so we got Flemming to come over and save our asses.”
The music video was premiered on MTV in January 1989, and was Metallica’s first music video. Directed by Bill Pope and Michael Salomon, the video is shot in Long Beach, California, in only black and white or a blue tint to the video. While Metallica perform the track in a warehouse, clips from the 1971 film adaptation from “Johnny Got His Gun” are shown. The video was uploaded to YouTube in October 2009, and as of December 2019 it has over 142.9 million views, with 773 thousand likes.
Release Date: 10th January 1989
Songwriter/s: James Hetfield & Lars Ulrich
Producer/s: Metallica & Flemming Rasmussen
Music Video Release Date: 20th January 1989
Music Video Director/s: Bill Pope & Michael Salomon
Chart Rankings, Certifications & Awards: In a year of its release, “One” hit the following peak chart positions in various locations: #38 in Australia, #23 in Belgium, #1 in Finland, #31 in Germany, #12 in Ireland, #3 in the Netherlands, #13 in New Zealand, #4 in Norway, #14 in Spain, #3 in Sweden, #22 in Switzerland, #13 in the UK and #35 in the US. “One” is certified Gold in the US and Silver in the UK. At the 1990 Grammy Awards, Metallica won the award for “Best Metal Performance” for “One” – this was the first ever win in that category.
The lyrics to “One” can be viewed here: LINK