1991 | Metal
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“So be it. -- Threaten no more. -- To secure peace is to prepare for war. -- So be it. -- Settle the score. -- Touch me again for the words that you'll hear evermore. -- Don't tread on me."
- Vocalist & guitarist James Hetfield said the song was a reaction to the anti-American tone of their album "...And Justice For All."
- The instrumental introduction uses an eight bar phrase from "America", a popular song from West Side Story.
- In 2019, Dee Gallant of Duncan, British Columbia, Canada, was walking her dog on a logging road when she realized a cougar was approaching them. After shouting did not make it go away, she selected "Don't Tread on Me" as the loudest song on her cellphone, and when played, the cougar left.
THE HOT TAKES
A dictum of self-defense, Metallica-style. If you need a jam to match your bumper stickers, a winner waits for you here. I love the idea of portraying "freedom" as the snake. Now, there is one issue: "To secure peace is to prepare for war." I don't agree with this, but there seems to be some kind of ill-defined crisis presented for the setting of the lyrics. If it's boogaloo time, then so be it. But we mustn't start a war.
Ok, so maybe I’m a basic metal bitch, but I do love me some Metallica. And Justice For All was one of the first cassettes I bought for myself as a young teen. Shut it! I know i’m old. Anyways, there is a great principle of self defense in this song, “to secure peace is to prepare for war.” Prepare for, not go to. Each individual should be prepared to protect themselves and their property, and to work together as a militia if collective interests of the community are attacked. The problem comes in when that preparation is done by The State, with money taken by force, using indoctrinated people who believe the interests of a political elite are their own, and use that force as a bludgeon to others around the world to meet it’s ends. That is not self defense, it’s murderous bullying and works to keep the world a less safe place, which in the end, works to increase State power.
This theme appears a few times on the list. I'm personally always a bit torn on it. There is something inspiring about imagining a bunch of revolutionaries flipping the bird to a state and saying "we're gonna piss off, thanks for getting the ball rolling." But let's not pretend they weren't slave owning elitists that got right to forming a new state. Trading one tyrant for another is never on my list. I like these songs at the very least because they drive home that liberty is something that is perpetually under attack and you need to decide the degree to which you are willing to defend yours.