Released on: From Despair to Where (Single #10) Columbia Records, 7 June 1993
Peak UK Chart Position: #25
Band Ranking: #29
Perhaps oddly for lead single, the From Despair to Where release featured only one original B-side. The others were previously released and dated from way back in the Heavenly Records days – [B12] ‘Spectators of Suicide’ and [B13] ‘Starlover’. This mattered little, however, given that the one new B-side on offer was the enduringly wonderful and woefully under-recognised ‘Hibernation’.
Very much harking back to the best acoustic B-sides the band had already recorded, ‘Hibernation’ arguably outstrips them all. With virtually no percussion, some beautiful acoustic guitar work and vocals from Bradfield and a tender electric solo towards the end, the song is a tremendously accomplished composition and should be very near the top of the list of priorities for any fan seeking out strong acoustic Manics tracks.
In keeping with the tone of much of the Gold Against the Soul era, ‘Hibernation’ has a very personal lyric which was most likely written by Edwards, given his greater interest in personal relationships. At its core, the song is about the concept of marriage; far from being the love song the Manics promised never to write, though, it concerns the reduction of that institution to a form of loveless financial expediency. Rather than being an expression of devotion, the marriage depicted in ‘Hibernation’ serves only to mark time, to help in acquiring a mortgage, and to facilitate “easy access to the city”, the phrase Bradfield sings most memorably. The only minor letdown is the final line, which in adding nothing to the overall idea of the song simply has no business being there.
The song is one of the very finest examples of the growth of Manic Street Preachers as songwriters both lyrically and musically. Switching hard rock for beautiful melancholy and overtly political slogans for a narrative plucked from real life, the song makes its point as effectively, if not more effectively, than any of the firebrand anthems the band had previously recorded. Their growth in writing ability would certainly manifest in their heavier work also, but where acoustic recordings are concerned there are few efforts in the Manics discography that match this.
“this is above love / this is more than real”