Have You Heard The Lemonheads’ Cover of ‘Fade to Black’?
With just his voice and acoustic guitar, he took on "Fade to Black," dropping the heaviness of the music in favor of the heaviness of the lyrics—and the result is a raw, gripping performance.
If you haven't heard the cover, check it out in the player below.
Listen to The Lemonheads' Evan Dando Cover Metallica's "Fade to Black"
There isn't much out there about this cover or about Dando's appearance on Radio Rock FM in 1996. The lack of information is a bit peculiar because this particular cover wasn't necessarily a private thing Dando shared with a small audience; The Lemonheads included it as the second track on the A-Side of their single for "It's All True" from The Lemonheads' seventh studio LP, Car Button Cloth.
For whatever reason, though, the Metallica cover is shrouded in a bit of mystery.
Poring over interviews with Dando from the last couple of decades, there is no indication that he's a big Metallica fan or a fan of Ride the Lightning or "Fade to Black." There doesn't seem to be any record of his time on Radio Rock FM either, other than this cover.
Dando is no stranger to covering other people's songs, though. In a 2019 conversation with Monster Children, Dando opened up about why he enjoys performing cover songs.
"I think a valid thing to do is to do other people's songs," he told the interviewer. "I don't think of it as anything less than doing your own songs, you know."
Dando and The Lemonheads have released two studio albums of nothing but cover songs, 2009's Varshons and 2019's Varshons II. Their most-famous cover is, without question, their take on Simon & Garfunkel's "Mrs. Robinson," though Dando never meant it to be released to the public.
In that same conversation with Monster Children, Dando said about "Mrs. Robinson":
We did it just to make a little bit of money. The Japanese bought the rights to The Graduate and they wanted to put it out on VHS, and we just thought it was going to be on the video cassette. The label heard it and they put it on the record and there was nothing we could do about it. It was just a weird thing because I take great pride in my cover versions and I choose them carefully and that was never a song I would have done. I mean I like that song, but I wouldn’t have covered it. At this point, it’s taken on a life of its own and it's fine. We never really played it. We played it on TV shows. To be honest, people don’t even ask for it anymore.
"Fade to Black" is one of the most-performed songs in Metallica's catalog. After debuting it live on Feb. 8, 1985, at the Eagles Ballroom in Milwaukee, they've played it more than 1,200 times. During many of their performances of the song in 2022, James Hetfield paused before the bridge to share a moment of vulnerability and hope with the audience.
In Ben Apatoff's Metallica: The $24.95 Book, Hetfield recalled about the release of the song, "We knew it would freak people out, but we also got hundreds of letters from kids telling us how they related to ["Fade to Black"] and that it made them feel better."