Metallica - For Whom the Bell Tolls - Meaning of the song
The lyrics are based on the 1940 Ernest Hemingway novel of the same name. The book is about an American who is given the job of taking out a bridge held by the Fascist army in the Spanish Civil War - the precursor to World War II. He fell in love and then found out very disturbing things about life and death.
This is another song in which Cliff Burton's unique lead bass style is often mistaken for a guitar solo. Burton played the intro using light distortion on his bass. According to Kirk Hammett, Burton regularly played the intro bass riff when the pair of them were hanging out in their hotel room. The guitarist recalled to Rolling Stone in 2014: "He used to carry around an acoustic classical guitar that he detuned so that he could bend the strings. Anyway, when he would play that riff, I would think, 'That's such a weird, atonal riff that isn't really heavy at all.'" "I remember him playing it for James (Hetfield, vocals), and James adding that accent to it and all of a sudden, it changed," Hammett added. "It's such a crazy riff. To this day, I think, 'How did he write that?' Whenever I hear nowadays, it's like, 'OK, Cliff's in the house.'" Burton, Hetfield and Lars Ulrich are the credited writers on the song.
For Whom the Bell Tolls - Lyrics
Make his fight on the hill in the early day Constant chill deep inside Shouting gun, on they run through the endless grey On they fight, for they're right, yes, but who's to say? For a hill, men would kill, why? They do not know Stiffened wounds test their pride Men of five, still alive through the raging glow Gone insane from the pain that they surely know For whom the bell tolls Time marches on For whom the bell tolls Take a look to the sky just before you die It's the last time you will Blackened roar, massive roar, fills the crumbling sky Shattered goal fills his soul with a ruthless cry Stranger now, are his eyes, to this mystery He hears the silence so loud Crack of dawn, all is gone except the will to be Now they see what will be, blinded eyes to see For whom the bell tolls Time marches on For whom the bell tolls