There is no shortage of covers of Metallica’s Nothing Else Matters. “Cover.info” lists over 110 versions, and the list is by no means complete. Considering the popularity of Metallica and the fact that Nothing Else Matters is one of the bands most melodic songs, the number of cover versions is not surprising.
Missing from the list is Golden Salts’ delightfully unexpected instrumental take on the song. Golden Salt are a violin and electric guitar duo who contrast the precision of classical music with the power of rock. The video of Nothing Else Matters, below, is set in a marble quarry – marble being both rock and the material of classical sculpture.
Consisting of violinist Arianna Mazzarese, a graduate of the prestigious L.Cherubini Conservatory in Florence, and guitarist Eleonora Loi, Golden Salt are known for their wide-ranging choice of covers, medleys, and original songs. The beginning section of their version of Nothing Else Matters follows the opening guitar part of the original. When Mazzarese’s violin floats in one fears that this version is too delicate, too tasteful, and, indeed, the duo savour & prolong the melodic introduction.
It is only halfway through the song that one gets some rock payoff when Loi’s steps on the overdrive and lays down some power chords. Thereafter the song dextrously shifts between the two modes, as the duo show off their skills. As refreshing as Golden Salts take on Nothing Else Matters may be, possibly two of the most unexpected musicians to perform the song are Elton John and Yo Yo Ma, who play piano and cello on the version Miley Cyrus recorded for The Metallica Blacklist tribute album.
The Metallica Blacklist is a companion piece to the remastered edition of “The Black Album” which was released in 2021 to mark the 30th anniversary of the record. Promoting the remastered album, Metallica and Miley Cyrus appeared on the Howard Stern show. Stern surprised them by linking to Elton John on Zoom. John explained that Andrew Watt, who produced the Miley Cyrus track, wanted him to start and finish the song on piano to differentiate it from the original which was bookended by guitar parts. John went on to say that he considered Nothing Else Matters to be one of the best songs ever written. “It’s a song that never gets old. And playing on this track, I just couldn’t wait. The chord structure, the melodies, the time changes, it’s got drama written all over it.”
At this point Metallica’s James Hetfield, who wrote the song, wiped tears from his eyes.
When James Hetfield came up with Nothing Else Matters as a response to feeling homesick on the road, he didn’t consider the song to be suitable for Metallica. The band disagreed. On it’s release the track provoked disparate responses from the band’s fans. Some loved it, some thought that the band had sold out. Nowadays, Metallica is no longer pigeonholed and the track is a fan favourite. To return to Elton John: “Their songs aren’t just heavy metal. They’re beautiful songs. This is such a melodic song – it’s f*cking great, actually.”