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Don't Tread On Me (Hetfield/Ulrich)

The drums and the guitars give a military sound to the song.

Album:
Metallica

The song live:
Has never been played live.


The intro:
In the intro Metallica plays tunes of a song from the musical "The Westside Story" called "I Like To Be In America".


The origin of the "Black Album" snake:
The black snake from the black "Metallica" album cover is from the Gadsden flag "Culpepper Minute Men Flag" presented by Philip Gadsden, delegate to the Second Continental Congress, in 1776 showing a coiled rattlesnake with the words "DON'T TREAD ON ME". Commodore Esek Hopkins, United States Navy, flew the flag on all of his ships during that time. Later, during the Civil War, similar flags were adopted by many of the Confederate armies.


"Liberty or Death":
In 1776, when the Americans signed the Declaration of Independence and officially declared war on England, Patrick Henry's words were "give me liberty, or give me death" which can be found in the lyrics as "liberty or death".


Interpretation possibility #1 (assumed):
The song "Don't Tread On Me" could be a very patriotic song, because it is connected with America's "War of Independence".


Interpretation possibility #2 (assumed):
On the other hand it can be interpretated in the exact opposite way. In that aspect it could be a condemnation of blind patriotism. The Americans started out as the revolutionaries who just wanted to fight for their freedom and their country. Today they are supposed to be "The World's Police" who have to fight in almost every war all over the world. Probably the lyrics are close connected with the Gulf War I, because the song has been written around that time.

 

Metallica about "Don't Tread On Me"

source: GuitarWorld issue of '91

Kirk Hammett: I used the '89 black Gibson Les Paul Custom and a wah-wah pedal on "Don't Tread On Me". At one point I had to play these ascending lead fills, and it just wasn't happening at all. So I wound up playing harmonics instead of lead guitar fills, and it worked really well.

James Hetfield: A lot of the songs on this album are more simple and concentrated. They tell the same story as our other shit but don't take as long. There aren't a hundred riffs to latch on to - just two or three stock, really good riffs in each song.

I used my ESP's and tons of other guitars: a 12-string electric, a Telecaster, Gretsch White Falcon, a sitar and other things. I also used a B-Bender - a bar installed in the guitar that twists the B string up a full step. It's used a lot in country music. But "Don't Tread On Me" is just real heavy guitar - there's really nothing else to it.


 
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