When you think of Metallica, who have the biggest-selling record of the SoundScan era (the Black Album has sold over 16 million copies), you probably think that they’re a band that’s got their shit together. However, in a video from Road Recovery, an organization dedicated to helping people battle addiction, the now-straight Hetfield has an earnest and revealing chat in which he speaks about running from responsibility:
“I’ve been afraid of responsibility my whole life… not wanting to take responsibility for myself.
“I remember as a kid in school… There was a summer school for gifted kids… which, for me, was weird already. Gifted… yeah! [Laughs] And then going to summer school ’cause you’re gifted. Wait a minute! You’re gifted. You shouldn’t have to go to summer school. But going to a summer school for gifted kids. Okay. It was around film. This was elementary school, by the way. And getting into film. It was, like, ‘You’re gonna make a film. Okay, get into groups and then come together with an idea and what you wanna do.’ So I was, like, ‘Oh, okay.’ We get into groups together and then I was, ‘Hey, how about we do this?’ and [I had] all these ideas. And then they said, ‘Okay now, choose your leader who’s gonna be leading this group and who’s responsible for the stuff.’ And I shrunk, man. I got scared. And the rest of the group was, like, ‘Well, you’re the leader, ’cause you had all the ideas and all this.’ And I was, like, ‘No no no.’ And I totally… I bailed on it. I bailed, ’cause I was afraid of responsibility — afraid of failure, maybe, afraid that I didn’t know what I was really doing.
“And that’s kind of what it’s like for me in recovery at times — afraid to take on responsibility of sponees or something, or allowing myself to stand up and shine in that way.”
He also discusses his feat of turning 50:
“Another fear of me: my turning 50. I’m supposed to know everything. I’m supposed to sit down there and be a role model and teach everybody all the stuff. And when you think you’re a role model, guess what?! You’re not. If you’re trying to be a role model, you’re not. Being yourself and the best self you can be? Then maybe you’ll be a role model to somebody.”
So there you have it from the horse’s mouth. If you run from responsibility, one day you might have the best selling album of all time. That’s probably not the message you should be taking from this, but we’re taking that and running with it! Actually, it’s inspirational that he can speak so frankly, and if it helps someone decide to man up and face their responsibilities, then we’re all the better for it.