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As I sit here writing this, I have on the Forever Delayed DVD. I got that for Christmas this year. It was around this time last year that I heard Motorcycle Emptiness for the first time, and it stuck in my head for ages afterwards. I’ve never loved a band quite like I love the Manics, and it’s hard to believe that I’ve only been a fully-fledged fan for almost a year - it feels like I’ve known them my whole life. Actually, I kind of have. Let me track my journey to becoming a Manic Street Preachers fan here.
Sometime between 1996 and 1999
I’m sat in the back of my dad’s car, probably aged about 4 or 5. A Design For Life is playing on the radio. I remember hearing it vividly, particularly the line “I wish I had a bottle”. What did it mean?? This was a grown man singing about wanting a bottle.
Various times in between 2000 and 2005
I’m in HMV/a supermarket/somewhere selling CDs. I glance over the CDs on the rack. The name “Manic Street Preachers” is in there somewhere.
The 2006/07 football season
I become a real football fanatic, and supporter of Newcastle United. Living miles away from St James’ Park and not being able to afford a season ticket anyway, let alone transport to the matches, I watch the highlights from each of Newcastle’s matches on Match of the Day. I hear the music played over the Goal of the Month competition and like it. I look up who it is - the song is That’s No Way to Tell a Lie, by someone called James Dean Bradfield. Note to self - get hold of that song for my iPod.
2008 - on the way to a football tournament, receiving a lift from a friend
A song comes on. The song is Your Love Alone Is Not Enough. Catchy is this one; I like it.
Friend’s dad: “Who’s this?”
Friend: “Manic Street Preachers.”
Me (thinking): “Hmm. Had no idea this was them.”
No further thought on the matter on my part.
I sign up for a last.fm account. Remembering the song That’s No Way to Tell a Lie, I add James Dean Bradfield to my library. I play the song to a family member - my uncle’s partner. He says “that sounds like Manic Street Preachers”. I do a bit of research - he’s right; James Dean Bradfield is their lead singer! I’d never made that connection in my head. Yet still I don’t think of listening to the Manics. I’m listening to That’s No Way to Tell a Lie on repeat though.
I go to Warhammer World as part of a Young People’s Service project. Me and a few friends who have no real interest in Warhammer and have been coerced into doing it (well, we don’t have to pay for it) spend most of the time there in the cafe. As we walk out of the cafe, I for some reason begin to really hear the music playing for the first time since we’ve been there. The song is A Design For Life. I turn to my friend Sophie, and say “This is the Manic Street Preachers isn’t it??” and she smiles back, and Ed, our youth leader, says “Yeah, Warhammer geeks do listen to good music y’know.”
On the way down to Bath for the university open day. There’s just me and my dad in the car. We’re listening to a compilation called Music of the Millennium. One of the songs on it is If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next. While it’s on I’m singing to every word.
From then on, I start listening to If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next more and more often.
I’m in Frankie & Benny’s for a celebratory meal - it’s the end of year 12 at last! We’re talking about various things, and get onto the subject of music and gigs. My friend Jess says the Manics are touring later this year and she’d like to see them but doesn’t know if she’ll be able to afford it. My friend Sophie’s boyfriend, Ben, is involved in this conversation, and when I turn round to listen to him speak, I realise he’s wearing a Manics t-shirt.
I go home and for the next few weeks keep looking up things about the Manics, primarily about Richey Edwards & James Dean Bradfield. The Richey Edwards story fascinates me.
I realise that the Manics might have songs other than A Design For Life, If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next and Your Love Alone is Not Enough. I listen to Motorcycle Emptiness on YouTube and it stays in my head for days afterwards. It’s one of the best things I’ve ever heard. I watch the video for If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next and decide that I find JDB attractive.
19th August 2010 - my 17th birthday. I use this as an excuse to order Forever Delayed on Amazon. It comes the day before we’re travelling down to Birmingham for my cousin’s wedding.
The Manics completely take over my iPod while I’m down there, and Forever Delayed is practically all I listen to.
I go to the cinema to see Toy Story 3 with two friends and afterwards we go shopping in Huddersfield. One of them asks me what I want as a belated birthday present. I tell her I want The Great Western by James Dean Bradfield. I buy a compilation album called Just Great Songs Two for £2 purely because it has Your Love Alone Is Not Enough on it.
I watch the video for Your Love Alone Is Not Enough on YouTube. I hear Nicky Wire’s lines, and see him in the video, and I’m smitten (sorry JDB).
I go on a Geography field trip and have to force myself to listen to bands and artists other than the Manics - I’m aware that I’m beginning to become obsessed.
At school, all I’ll listen to is Forever Delayed, although every so often I’ll listen to a bit of Blur, as I’d got into them around the same time (although not in as big a way).
I realise that I still don’t own any of the Manics’ albums and Jess (mentioned earlier) asks if I’d like to borrow Journal For Plague Lovers and Everything Must Go, the two she owns, and later Postcards From a Young Man after it’s been released. JFPL is an instant hit; EMG takes a little longer, as does PFAYM.
I decide that I have to see the Manics live at some point and resolve to ask if I can go to the Leeds gig but when I get on the venue’s website I find that the tickets have sold out, and it’s on the week when I’ll be going on a Biology field trip and the year’s been split so I have no idea which end of the week I’ll be going.
19th September 2010 - my nanna’s birthday. A family gathering at my nanna’s house, with me providing the music on my iPod speakers. I keep playing songs by the Manics. My uncle’s partner starts a conversation with me about them. He’s not a massive fan but he does own Forever Delayed. He says that if I ever want to see them live he’ll happily go with me. I mention that actually, they’re doing a gig in Blackburn, near where he lives, in October. Before I have time to let it sink in, the tickets are ordered and I’m unable to contain myself - I’m going to see the Manics in a few weeks’ time! I’ve only really been listening to them for a month but I’ve crossed a boundary with them that I haven’t crossed with any other band.
I only own three of their albums, so Dad tries to find some of the others at the library for me. He comes back with The Holy Bible, Lifeblood and Send Away the Tigers. I resolve to listen to them all before I go to that gig.
I find out that our tickets have arrived whilst at school and start jumping around the common room excitedly, getting a few weird looks.
9th October 2010 - the day I see the Manics live for the first time and the only time thus far. I feel sick with anticipation as I stand waiting for the band to come on stage, and before I have chance to register that fact that THEY ARE STOOD ON STAGE A FEW METRES IN FRONT OF ME I almost get swallowed up in a moshpit but am rescued. What’s probably been the best night of my life so far follows. I get lost completely in the gig, and forget about almost everything except the Manics and their music. The gig’s told me what I already knew - this is my favourite band; and I love them more than most other things in my life. Nicky Wire is as gorgeous in the flesh as he is in photos. We wait around a bit afterwards but the tour bus is behind locked gates, so we figure there isn’t much chance of them coming out to meet people and go. There’s always next time (fingers crossed).
So that’s the chronology of my becoming a Manics fan. Maybe I was subsconsciously a fan before I ever consciously was. It probably doesn’t matter though - whatever the reason for my becoming properly obsessed with this band, they’ve had such an impact on my life this past year (as you can probably tell from the number of Manics-related posts on this blog). I struggle to remember what life was like before I discovered the Manics. I appreciated literature anyway but they’ve introduced me to so many authors and books that I’d never have thought of reading before, and they’ve helped me to appreciate the album as an art form - I now tend to listen to my music library as albums rather than individual songs.
Here’s to one remarkable band, and let’s hope they carry on for many years to come - I certainly haven’t had enough of them yet.