Few albums had as weird of a backstory as the fourth album by Manic Street Preachers, Everything Must Go.
On the first three of their albums, they had an interesting way of divvying up the songwriting: all of the lyrics were by bassist Nicky Wire & rhythm guitarist Richey Edwards, and all of the music was by drummer Sean Moore & lead singer & guitarist James Dean Bradford. Using this combination, they had become quite big in the U.K., though I don’t know how much exposure they got here: I’m pretty sure that I’d read about them, but hadn’t heard them (though the cover art of their debut, Generation Terrorists, looks incredibly familiar, so maybe I bought it and didn’t like it?)
In any event, Edwards, who’d had a history of mental issues, disappeared on February 1, 1995, changing the trajectory of Manic Street Preachers forever. The response from the remaining three was 1996’s Everything Must Go, nearly half of which featured Richey’s final set of lyrics.
This was, of course, during the very height of Britpop, and the acclaim for Everything Must Go was so overwhelming on both sides of the pond that I eventually checked it out, and while I didn’t love it top-to-bottom, I was struck by the big massive anthems like the title track, “Further Away,” and most of all “Interiors (Song for Willem de Kooning)”.
Not being an art guy, I just had to refresh myself on the fact that de Kooning was a Dutch abstract expressionist painter who ended up with Alzheimers, and apparently would create paintings that he couldn’t remember painting. Well, dude, we’ve all been there.
Are we too tired to try and understand
That nothing is nothing on that we depend
Take my hand together and we will cry
It really makes no difference
To what you see inside to what you see inside
That’s the chorus to “Interiors (Song for Willem de Kooning)” and it is massive. With Bradford overdubbing bendy guitars over soaring guitars over crunchy guitars, and ending up with a beautiful gigantic anthem that was the equal to anything coming out of the U.K. at that time.
“Interiors (Song For Willem de Kooning)”
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