What does Hero of the Day mean?

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Metallica: Hero of the Day Meaning


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Song Released: 1996

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Hero of the Day Lyrics

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Mama they try and break me

The window burns to light the way back home
The light that warms no matter where they've gone
They're off to find the hero of the day
But what if they should fall by someone's wicked way?

Still the window...


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    Jan 26th, 2012 1:13am report

    The song is about a man dealing with the effects of war and PTSD.

    “The window burns to light the way back home” – This is a play on the old practice of leaving a candle in a window so travelers could see houses at night. The window itself burning and the phrase “warms no matter where they've gone” is used to emphasize this persons desire to return home.

    “They're off to find the hero of the day
    But what if they should fall by someone's wicked way?” – This lyric denotes that the unknown “they” in the song is looking for a “hero of the day” or in other words a person to celebrate for a short time and then dispose of, in essence a Disposable Hero. “Should fall by someone's wicked way” refers to dying in war either at the hand of the “wicked” enemy or the “wicked” people that started the war to begin with.

    “Still the window burns,
    Time so slowly turns,
    Someone there is sighing” – The desire to return home is an ongoing feeling. The knowledge that loved ones are sad due to his absence and are waiting for this person to come home makes time seem to slow down.

    “Keepers of the flames;
    Do you feel your name,
    Can't you hear your babies crying?” – Keepers of the flame are the people at home awaiting his return. Do you feel your name refers to family members being connected and identifying their position in the family. He is asking if they understand what it means to be a father, mother, brother or sister and if that description now has deeper meaning. “Babies crying” is a connection between mother and child. This line is asking if she feels the separation from her son.

    “Mama they tried and break me
    Still they try and break me” – This denotes that he has returned from the war “they tried to break me” but is still suffering from the effects of what happened while he was there. “Still they try to break me.”

    “Excuse me while I tend to how I feel
    These things return to me that still seem real” – Here he is dealing with the effects of PTSD. He is asking to be forgiven for the behavior that he is partaking in to help him deal with the lingering effects of his experience. Things that still seem real refers to the “flashbacks” felt by Vets as they deal with the often vivid memories of what they saw and did.

    “Now deservingly, this easy chair
    But the rocking's stopped by wheels of despair” – This lyric says that the person in the song deserves rest and relaxation but the emotional baggage he carries prevents him from actually doing it.

    “Don't want your hate,
    But the fist I made,
    For years can't hold or feel” – He rejects the hate and anger that he feels. The “fist I made for years can't hold or feel” denotes that he carries so much anger that he can’t love anybody. His emotions are now a “fist” that is not capable of holding or feeling the love of other people.

    “No I'm not all me,
    So please excuse me while I tell them how I feel” – He has lost a piece of himself and is screaming out against those that made him into what he has become. “Them” is a generic collection of everybody that he sees as the cause of his anger.

    “But now the dreams (and waking screams) that everlast the night
    So build a wall (behind it crawl) and hide until it's light
    So can you hear your babies crying now?” – The nightmares don’t end when he wakes up screaming, they “ever last the night” and are part of his waking hours. The wall he builds and crawls behind is an emotional one. He will hide there until the darkness of his experience is gone and the “light” cleanses his fear and anger. “Hear your babies crying now” is asking if his mother feels the separation from her son despite his physical presence.

    “Mama they try and break me” – Here he is saying that “they” knew that this was going to happen to him and that “they” did it to him on purpose. He is not saying that they tried “to” break him in addition to all of the other things that happened, he is saying that breaking him (his emotions) was the whole intent to begin with.


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    Sep 16th, 2016 9:24am report

    Lights in the windows and ties around tress to remember soliers and wish for the safe return.
    The families hardship about sending a loved one off to fight and wondering if they will come back.
    After getting home he has to learn to deal wit PTSD, going into battle mode when his child starts crying.

    Pain of going through PTSD and the feeling of being alone with no one to talk to.

    Family and fried time is difficult to transition into and has become foreign to them.


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    Oct 3rd, 2015 10:26pm report

    I watched an interview with James and he said it was about the media, whatever that means. But I like your guys' views about soldiers returning home from war and suffering from PTSD. Seems a lot more logical


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    Mar 22nd, 2015 3:47pm report

    This song is about white kids getting into rap and hip hop music and acting like blacks , (wiggers). The parents let their kids go as they have to, but no matter what they always have home to go back to. The parents are very frustrated and can't relax, ( the deserved easy chair)


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    Jan 10th, 2015 1:40am report

    James clearly suggests the day that he was injured by pyro, Axl Rose could be the hero of the day although James was helpless, he could do nothing but scream and cry.


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    Jan 9th, 2014 1:27pm report

    The song is about the influence of t.v. And media on our children. How the young make heroes out of non important people. The burning window is representing a television. the angst that is described is parental frustration. James described the meaning briefly as about children seeking heroes outside the home when the real heroes are right in front of them.


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    Dec 2nd, 2013 12:45pm report

    I think it's about a war veteran telling how he feels about war.


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    Mar 15th, 2013 3:10pm report

    It's obviously a song about a foreign war veteran dealing with post traumatic stress disorder. You can hear his despair regarding trying to return to his former level of comfort and the disillusionment he has for all the hype and glorification he (and others) received upon return from war. "Excuse me while I tend to how I feel, these things return to me that still seem real," illustrate his need to deal with the (PTSD) images that still plague him from his war experiences. I can't even begin to understand how these guys deal with what they experienced there.


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    Aug 10th, 2012 8:26pm report

    This song is about the struggles of war and the struggles veterans have with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It vividly paints pictures of a veteran reminiscing (


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    Jul 23rd, 2011 7:45pm report

    the wife is out cheating while the dad is at work


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    Jul 13th, 2011 7:45pm report

    I have a feeling that this song is about a desperate cry for help. Just think about it! This guy has gone and done bad things in his life, and needs guidance. Also, Mothers call their children their baby's.
    "Can't you hear your babies crying?"
    Is most likely saying,
    'hey mom, can't you hear me calling for you?'
    Also, watch the video. It may make sense that way.


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    Apr 28th, 2011 4:07pm report

    this song sounds like i child in highschool or any school that is being pressured and bullied into doing things that he doesnt want to do. the lyrics " cant you hear your babies crying " could relate to mothers and fathers being ignorant to that child and saying that they need to stand up for themselves when it just gets them into more trouble.


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    Jul 6th, 2010 7:34am report

    To whoever else interpreted this song before me: I don't think you can interpret a song incorrectly. A good song has multiple meanings so it can speak to all of the different people that listen to it. To me, this song is about someone that has moved on from a loving family. ('The holder of the flame' is a parent that will always take in their child) While this person is away from home, they they are hangin' around with the wrong crowd, getting into trouble, falling into peir pressure(Mama they try and break me) and feeling guilty about it. So their parents 'hear their baby crying', knowing something's not right. The child then comes home and is celebrated for coming home instead of being punished for their poor actions. [to me, this story relates to the story of the prodical son (The Parable of the Lost Son) in the Bible.]


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    Jan 5th, 2010 1:40pm report

    This is probably wrong, but it is about a guy who goes around doing bad things "Mama they try to break me..."
    And then some guys who knew him go to rat him out but he hides and wants to go back home.

    I don't know because Load and ReLoad were so crazy...

    This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway


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    Aug 11th, 2009 8:38am report

    This song includes the imagery of the "keeper of the flames" about how in the olden times someone would keep a flame going to light the way for those who ventured out after dark, no doubt able to follow some paths and tracks but able to see the light from some distance to guide them. It is also an imagery for the tarot maybe queeen of wands or fire. To me this is a song about a person who goes off on such a long adventure, looking to be heroic or find heroic things, and he is nearly broken, and is having trouble remembering or seeing the home flame, he needs to hear his inner child is crying, and to remember to return to his own inner world to recharge, that is to recharge his own inner flame. He might be a guy in a band who is adulated, he might be someone who has taken on a quest, but there is a time when he needs to retreat to nurture his own inner light.

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