The Sentimental Meaning Behind Metallica’s “72 Seasons”

Metallica still knows how to write a hit, as evidenced by “72 Seasons.” The title track of the band’s 2023 album was a hit on the rock charts, continuing their legacy in the genre. Co-written by bandmates James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich and Kirk Hammett, the song strikes a sentimental chord, as it’s inspired by childhood and young adulthood and the growing pains we’re faced with during such formative times in life.

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The Meaning Behind the Song

Metallica co-founder and frontman Hetfield said that “72 Seasons” was inspired by a book he read about childhood and learning how to process childhood events as an adult, with the title of the song reflecting the number of seasons one experiences during their first 18 years of life.

“How do you evolve and grow and mature and develop your own ideas and identity of self after those first 72 seasons?” Hetfield reflected in a video interview about the song’s meaning. “Some things are more difficult than others. Some things you can’t unsee and they’re with you for the rest of your life, and other things you’re able to rewind the tape and make a new tape in your life. So that’s the real interesting part for me, is how you’re able to address those situations as an adult and mature sometimes.”

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Hetfield added that the album incorporates the idea of finding light in the darkness. Hetfield had a tough childhood growing up in California as the child of parents who were devout members of the Church of Christ, Scientist, that teaches the belief that prayer is a more effective form of healing than medicine. His sister Cynthia died of cancer when he was 16 years old and his mother passed away in 1996. In an interview on the Metallica website, Hetfield elaborated on the album’s concept, revealing that the title was initially going to be, “72 Seasons of Sorrow.”

72 Seasons as a concept, that’s been digested from somewhere else, meaning it was a concept – it was the ’72 seasons of sorrow,’ and I dropped the ‘sorrow’ part off because the first 18 years of life aren’t all sorrow,” he explained. “And we tend to just focus on that in our adult life, like, ‘I need to fix all the shit that was wrong when I was a kid.’ There was great stuff as well, so 72 Seasons, everyone’s got their version of what their 72 seasons were and what they mean to them now…Hanging onto the past hasn’t served me well, but changing the narrative of my childhood has been helpful. And that’s a lifelong process.”

“72 Seasons” reached No. 5 on the Billboard Rock Airplay chart and the Top 20 on the Hot Rock & Alternative Songs chart. The album was a worldwide success, peaking at No. 1 on the Billboard Top Rock Albums, Top Hard Rock Albums and Top Album Sales chart, as well as No. 2 on the all-genre Billboard 200. It was also No. 1 in the United Kingdom, New Zealand and many other countries.

Be there when the metal gods descend on stage. Don’t miss out – buy your Metallica tour 2023 tickets now!

Photo by Mike Windle/Getty Images

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