I was wondering what does chrous of The Memory Remains mean? "Fortune Fame, Mirror Vain, Gone Insane, But The Memory Remains" I asked this because it doesn't mean what it looks.


Sachi speculates:

The first two lines probably go together in a sentence as “Fortune, fame mirror vain” and can translate to “both fortune and fame mirror what is vain.” So this basically says that fame and fortune reflect false pride, or baseless pride. That one who has those things and waves them around do so to express how proud they are, but to no avail (another definition of the word “vain”). And then it goes to the next line, “gone insane”, to express how one goes insane from their false pride of fame and fortune, or simply grows too attached to the fame and can’t stand to lose it. However, they can’t get over this anxiety of losing fame because “[…] the memory remains”.

BTW the correct lyrics are (note the comma in the first line):

Fortune, fame

Mirror vain

Gone Insane

But the memory remains

As shown in this lyric booklet that accompanies a Japanese release:

enter image description here

  • I have always thought vain was incorrect. Dec 14 '15 at 20:16
  • I'd have to agree whit BCdotWEB it makes more sense, plus when they sing the song they don't sound like their taking a pause between fortune and fame. Other wise it just wouldn't flow well.
    – David
    Jul 9 '16 at 20:30

I'm utterly convinced that the lyrics have been mis-transcribed and vain is actually its homophone vein. I believe this for two reasons:

  1. Mirror vain is nearly meaningless and not a phrase used in English. Yes, it can mean that if you're vain, you look into a mirror but that's pretty weak and not up to the standard of the rest of James Hetfield's lyrics.
  2. Master of Puppets has the lyrics "Chop your breakfast on a mirror" and "Needlework the way". The mirror is a reference to cocaine or other narcotics abuse and needlework almost certainly refers to heroin. The whole theme of Master of Puppets of manipulation in part refers to the behaviour of musicians in the mid 80s. This would be a strong recurring theme (mirror/vein) from one of Metallica's most famous songs and would also make sense in Memory Remains with the added reference "Another star denies the grave".

I think the actual lyrics are:

Gone insane 
But the memory remains

This would tell the age old story of someone getting famous, doing hard drugs, losing their minds but remembering most of the experience.

Doesn't that make a great deal more sense?

I've been a huge Metallica fan for nearly 25 years and the only thing that would convince me that these aren't the true lyrics, is if James Hetfield told me to my face.

If anyone has any YouTube footage of him stating that the lyrics are 'Mirror vain' I would love to see it but I will not accept written evidence to the contrary.

Sorry for being prolix but this has irritated me up for a number of years and I think it's the worst case of a mis-transcribed Metallica[1] lyric since So What? was claimed online to be "Well I've been to Hastings and I've been to Brighton, I've been to Eastport[2] too."

[1] Anti-Nowhere League

[2] It's really Eastbourne

  • MoP is not about musicians in the 80's, it's about manipulation. While I wouldn't ever normally link to Rolling Stone, this time they're on the mark: rollingstone.com/music/news/…
    – Johnny Bones
    Aug 16 '16 at 15:10
  • I said it relates to the theme. I have updated as I could've been clearer. What manipulates you can be the government, drugs, friends, foes. But my main point still stands, I'm nearly certain that the lyrics are mirror/vein. Aug 17 '16 at 14:59

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