"To Live Is to Die" is a mostly instrumental song by American thrash metal band Metallica from their 1988 album ...And Justice for All. Keeping up with the tradition of the band's previous three albums (Master Of Puppets, Ride The Lightning, and Kill 'Em All), the instrumental track comes late in the album and is lengthy. For over 2 decades, "To Live Is to Die" was the longest original studio recording to be released on an album by the band clocking in at 9 minutes 49 seconds, just a fraction of a second longer than "The Outlaw Torn" from Load clocking in at 9 minutes 48 seconds and change (note that the original recording of this song is 10:48, but the last minute was cut in order to fit the album within the length limitations of CDs at the time).Since the release of Death Magnetic, "Suicide & Redemption" claims the title for longest studio recorded Metallica song released on an album at 9:58, although "Mercyful Fate" from Garage, Inc. holds the title for longest studio song at 11:12, though not only is it a cover, it is a medley of 5 different songs.
"To Live is to Die" contains a few spoken lyrics near the end of the song, coming in at 7:35, that were written by German poet Paul Gerhardt and popularized in the 1981 film Excalibur. The song was written as a tribute to the band's bassist Cliff Burton, who was killed in a bus accident in 1986. The music consists of riffs Burton had written that had not been incorporated into songs prior to his death. The song title is a phrase that Burton was fond of.
Hetfield plays the second guitar solo during the slower midsection of the song. This is the last song Metallica released that Burton has a writing credit in, and is the band's only instrumental track with Jason Newsted playing bass guitar. It was performed live in its entirety for the first time ever, at the 30 Years of Metallica Festival on December 7, 2011. During the Load/Reload era Jason Newsted used to play parts of this song, Orion and My Friend of Misery during his bass solos.
Recently, the title was used in a biography about Burton.