PLEASE NOTE:

MyNews24 is a user-generated section of News24.com. The stories here come from users.

 
The Last Contrarian
 
Comments: 26
Article views: 1106
 
 
Latest Badges:



 
View all The Last Contrarian's badges.
 

Lyrics Analysis: Metallica - The Unforgiven

28 April 2014, 10:07

I love listening to Metallica, and for the first time I decided to contemplate the full message and meaning behind the lyrics of a favourite Metallica song of mine The Unforgiven.

What follows is a deep but drunken analysis of the lyrics of the song and what they may refer to.

After a brief instrumental intro, the vocal component of the song starts,

New blood joins this earth,

And quickly he's subdued.

Through constant pained disgrace

The young boy learns their rules.

The opening verse is undoubtedly about being born (new blood joins this earth) and being prevented from becoming rebellious (and quickly he’s subdued). The latter part of the verse details the growing up process being achieved through punishment and humiliation, to instil a high level of conformity in that which was born free.

Verse two then commences,

With time the child draws in.

This whipping boy done wrong.

Deprived of all his thoughts

The young man struggles on and on.

To be drawn in is either to be coloured in or to be led in a direction forcibly or involuntarily. So in verse two the individual is still present but losing out to the system. Grammar often suffers for the sake of rhythm, so the line ‘This whipping boy done wrong’ is unclear, but could suggest innocence in the face of punishment. Now the will breaks (Deprived of all his thoughts, the young man struggles on…). Indeed the tide is too strong.

Then follows,

He's known a vow unto his own,

That never from this day

His will they'll take away.

As with all defeats, one has a last moment of utmost struggle. It seems the character swears to himself that they will not rob him of his will(power). One would almost expect this of someone who is of the age where they just enter the corporate mill (perhaps after graduating university). Youthful exuberance and defiance are usually at their strongest at this point.

But the song tells us that the character was, indeed, defeated, for in the first chorus of the song, lamentation is clearly audible:

What I've felt,

What I've known

Never shined through in what I've shown.

Never be.

Never see.

Won't see what might have been.

The first three lines of the chorus clearly explain that nothing of what the character is about ever showed in any of his work. The artist is divorced from his art; it is not the art he would have created. Once we are dead, all that remains to identify us to the world is our works that we leave behind (think Einstein, for example).

The last three lines of the chorus are haunting! This is the proverbial gnashing of teeth. He will never ‘be’ (what he was destined to be) and will never ‘see’ the successes of that life he never got to live (Wont’ see what might have been).

They dedicate their lives

To running all of his.

He tries to please them all –

This bitter man he is.

Anyone who has done any stint in especially the corporate mill will identify with the words of this verse.

Throughout his life the same –

He's battled constantly.

This fight he cannot win –

A tired man they see no longer cares.

He’s battled constantly—‘battled’ here is excellently chosen over ‘battles’ which would imply that the character is the one doing the fighting. And as is often the case when confronting a system, one does not so much battle as one is battled by the adherents of the status quo.

Defeat comes swiftly with the repercussions: ‘This fight he cannot win; a tired man they see no longer cares’. This line is particularly haunting to me as I’ve seen this defeat in my own father. This was a reverse sort of paternal inspiration to me as I saw what I never want to be, as opposed to what I would want to emulate.

The old man then prepares

To die regretfully –

That old man here is me.

The first sentence is one of pure defeat. Whereas previous verses alluded to an ongoing reformation imposed on the character by the system, his ongoing struggles against its rules of conformity, the prophetic prediction of eventual defeat by the system, in this verse it is clear that the old man came off worse from the collision—his will never satisfied in his life.

And revelation: ‘That old man here is me.’ Nowhere prior in the song do we get a clear indication that the song is being sung in first person (from the character’s perspective). The choruses allude to it, but as song lyrics usually dispense with academic precision, it’s not possible to say if the singer is quoting the character or if it’s the character doing the lamentation in first person.

What I've felt,

What I've known

Never shined through in what I've shown.

Never be.

Never see.

Won't see what might have been.

What I've felt,

What I've known

Never shined through in what I've shown.

Never free.

Never me.

So I dub thee unforgiven.

[Solo]

What I've felt,

What I've known

Never shined through in what I've shown.

Never be.

Never see.

Won't see what might have been.

What I've felt,

What I've known

Never shined through in what I've shown.

Never free.

Never me.

So I dub thee unforgiven.

Never free.

Never me.

So I dub thee unforgiven.

You labelled me,

I'll label you.

So I dub thee unforgiven.

Never free.

Never me.

So I dub thee unforgiven.

You labelled me,

I'll label you.

So I dub thee unforgiven.

Never free.

Never me.

So I dub thee unforgiven.

Lamentation, the solo (the soul of the song essentially) and more variations of lamentation follow in the closing choruses of the song. There is also the introduction of the new revealing line ‘So I dub thee unforgiven,’ which shows his hatred for the system and those who prevented him from living free and without conformity. He cannot forgive them and his regret is endless for he never was free, never will be, and never will see what might have been.

I find this song from Metallica a great way to motivate myself when burnout overcomes me. So much for metal being the devil’s music. There is more truth and wisdom and warning in this song than there is in much of religion, and what a pity most will not heed its warning.

Evidently this is a song is a warning and a prophecy for the young (if they listen) and a lamentation of solidarity for the old who have reached the final stages of their life, knowing that none of their works show anything of who they were; knowing that the system chew them, swallowed them, and defecated them when it had sucked all it could out of them.

Powerful stuff indeed, especially when one reaches the reflective depths of drunkenness.

Disclaimer: All articles and letters published on MyNews24 have been independently written by members of News24's community. The views of users published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24. News24 editors also reserve the right to edit or delete any and all comments received.

 

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
26 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Read more from our Users

Submitted by
Nigel Myers
South African firefighters

The last group of South African firefighters who helped fight a fire in Saskatchewan did an amazing job.  Read more...

0 comments 2134 views
Submitted by
Masego Khumalo
Non-violence to Ba Ga Mothibi com...

The people of Baga Mothibi, in the North West, want to be incorporated into the Northern Cape.  Read more...

0 comments 277 views
Submitted by
Johan de Lange368
Unusual Decision by SABC.

The SABC's decision to stop showing violent protests on TV is beyond comprehension. Read more...

0 comments 741 views
Credit Ombud

The Credit Ombud plays an important role to protect credit consumers from unfair practices Read more...

0 comments 613 views
Submitted by
Arthur Freitas
Too late...

It is not good management to wait for problems before addressing them. Read more...

0 comments 590 views
Submitted by
Samantha Rodseth
Yes I am a Christian and no I am ...

I am tired of people feeling like they can say what ever they want about Christians, that they can make fun of and joke about Christians, yet they would not dare do it to other faiths or denominations. Read more...

0 comments 2364 views
 

services

E-mail Alerts The latest headlines in your inbox

RSS feeds News delivered really simply.

Mobile News24 on your mobile or PDA

E-mail Newsletters You choose what you want

News24 on Android Get the latest from News24 on your Android device.

SMS Alerts Get breaking news stories via SMS.

TV Get us in your home, on your television.

 
Interactive Advertising Bureau
 
© 2016 24.com. All rights reserved.
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.