Mama she has taught me well
Told me when I was young
"Son, your life's an open book
Don't close it 'fore its done"
"The brightest flame burns quickest"
That's what I heard her say
A son's heart's owed to mother
But I must find my way

Mama Said was the third single to be released of Metallica's Load album, to a mixed reception. Many branded it "too country" because of the steel guitar used in the chorus, but die-hard fans pointed out it takes more than a country guitar to make a song country, and personally it is one of my favourite tunes on the album. The song's subject matter is very personal to James, looking back on his youth and his yearning to distance himself from his mother.

Let my heart go
Let your son grow
Mama let my heart go
Or let this heart be still

We progress through the rebellious phase and the resentment felt toward his mother, and watch as he gets older and begins to realise that he had disappointed her and taken her love for granted. Tragically, by then it was too late.

Mama now I'm coming home
I'm not all you wished of me
A mother's love for her son
Unspoken, help me be
I took your love for granted
And all the things you said to me
I need your arms to welcome me
But a cold stone's all I see

The song was so personal in fact that he never actually intended to record it until his bandmates persuaded him that it was too good to pass up, and the result is sad, thoughtful and ultimately touching.

The song is fairly easy to play on the guitar if you're familiar with it; the intro and verse follow a simple Dm C Am pattern, and the chorus tacks a G on the end to make it a square Dm C Am G. The "Never I ask of you" parts are played Dm G C F and the "So let this heart be still" at the end of that and the chorus Dm C Bb G Am. Many of the tab sites tell you to tune down half a step, but I can't be bothered with all that (floating bridge and all) so please feel free to correct me if any of this is glaringly wrong.

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