‘Cure’: The Metallica song that mirrors Moby Dick

The enduring appeal of Metallica can be attributed, in part, to James Hetfield’s distinctive vocal style. While Hetfield’s singing may not be considered operatic, his signature growl has provided a sense of comfort to fans. Beyond the vocals, however, Metallica’s songs often carry more complexity than initially meets the ear.

Hetfield’s songwriting draws inspiration from a wide array of subjects. From issues like drug abuse to modern warfare, the thrash metal icon doesn’t shy away from any topic when crafting his material. Rather than hiding under a guise of pretence, it’s evident that Hetfield leans toward more profound themes and aims to connect with his audience on a deeper level.

One such example is the song ‘Cure’. This song delves into the contemporary human experience, specifically the feeling of disconnection from a definite sense of purpose or belief in something beyond the material realm. It explores the notion that we’re all seeking our own escape from the persistent inner turmoil, alongside the fact that we’re all in search of a cure in our own unique ways. However, this also encourages many of us to find solace in the wrong remedies.

In ‘Cure’, Hetfield employs a well-known songwriting technique: give just about enough away so that listeners will understand the messaging, but not too much so as to spill all of its secrets. This lyrical technique is akin to the approach used by artists such as Bob Dylan. Some might even contend that it’s a fundamental aspect of all great art: capturing attention with something weighty while leaving sufficient space for imagination to complete the narrative.

Some have even compared this song – and its lyrical approach – to Herman Melville’s Moby Dick. Similar to how Melville provided ample hints that the whale in Moby Dick represents something of immense significance yet maintained a degree of ambiguity, Hetfield portrays the theme of illness in ‘Cure’. This approach keeps the interpretation open-ended, allowing each listener to form their own perspective.

That said, ‘Cure’ is typically not regarded by fans as a masterpiece. In fact, it’s commonly seen as nothing more than a decent song, though some may consider it somewhat forgettable and akin to an album filler. What’s more, for those less familiar with Metallica’s work, it mostly goes unnoticed.

In contrast to the less remarkable tracks that occasionally appear in the band’s albums, experiencing Hetfield’s distinctive vocals on songs like ‘The Unforgiven’ and ‘Nothing Else Matters’ is a far more unforgettable and often a more widely discussed experience in metal circles. While ‘Cure’ may be a good or even great song, it doesn’t quite reach the level of excellence achieved by some of their most iconic anthems.

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