Megadeth’s Dave Mustaine talked to Rolling Stone about how the middle section of Metallica’s “The Four Horsemen” was created.
“Cliff [Burton] and I became really, really, really close. And I remember he had an affinity for Lynyrd Skynyrd. I remember driving to rehearsal one day. We were listening to ‘Sweet Home Alabama’ and Lars [Ulrich] goes *imitates lars*, ‘Oh, man, we have to slow this part down in the middle, man.’
“And I went, ‘Okay.’ So I went *hums ‘Sweet Home Alabama’ riff*. I was playing ‘Sweet Home Alabama,’ and he didn’t know it. And he goes *imitates Lars*, ‘Fuck! That’s fucking brilliant, man.’
“And I went, ‘Okay. Here we go.’ So I ditched the [last part of the ‘Sweet Home Alabama’ riff]. Dave Mustaine and Lynyrd Skynyrd wrote ‘The Four Horsemen.'”
“I wrote “Mechanix” long before I was in Metallica. When I got into Metallica, we didn’t have a lot of songs. … We were playing cover songs by Killing Joke, Sweet Savage and a lot of Diamond Head, and we played my originals.
“The lyrics are about a horny gas-station attendant because I was a horny gas-station attendant. I was a teenager living down in the Huntington Beach Harbor and girls would come into the gas station, driving these really expensive cars in bikinis. Fuck, are you kidding me? And that’s back when they had full service, so you would wash the windows and they would sit there in their bikinis and you got to check ’em out while they were sitting in their cars.
“I don’t think that they disliked it one bit. If they didn’t like it, they would’ve covered up. You’re a really testosterone-driven young kid with a job where you’re doing something you love with motors and doing something that you also love with seeing women. So it’s just that’s kind of how the song turned out.
“‘Mechanix’ was a song that we played and one day I came to rehearsal with Cliff Burton and Lars goes, ‘Oh, fuck, man, we’ve gotta change this one part.’ I’d been listening to Lynyrd Skynyrd in the car with Cliff and I figured, ‘OK, I’ll play ‘Sweet Home Alabama,’ he’ll never know.’ And he was like, ‘Fuck, man, that’s the greatest part ever.’ And so I went, ‘Oh, my God. You’re kidding, right?’ So ‘Mechanix’ with ‘Sweet Home Alabama’ in the beginning is what we fondly know now as ‘The Four Horsemen.’
“James rewrote a lot of those lyrics for that particular song and ‘Jump in the Fire,’ he rewrote those lyrics, too. Not quite as much, but he didn’t really like the sexual connotations in that song that much. So he changed it more about jumping into a pit where I said, ‘Jump into the fire,’ which I think is a little bit more of an innuendo. It could be anything that’s, you know … A pit is one thing.
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