Released on: The Holy Bible (Album #3) Epic Records, 29 August 1994
Also on: She Is Suffering (Single #16) Epic Records, 3 October 1994
Peak UK Chart Position: #25
Band Ranking: #38
‘She Is Suffering’ is easily and frequently misunderstood; its title doesn’t refer to a female person who is undergoing suffering; instead, the “she” is a feminine personification of the concept of desire, and “suffering” is meant not as a verb but as a noun. In short, “Desire = Suffering”. The song was written by Edwards and was inspired by the idea contained in a number of religious texts and teachings that divesting oneself of desire is a necessary step towards salvation. The song makes the reasons for this clear: in encouraging desire, beauty is “a flower attracting lust, vice and sin”, it drives people to negative behaviour and is best avoided.
All of this is clearly bound up to some extent in Edwards’ particular views on love, relationships and sex, as seen in previous Manics recordings. The line “nature’s lukewarm pleasure” was thought by Wire to refer to sex, something Edwards was known for being fairly unimpressed with. In sum, ‘She Is Suffering’ is what Wire called a “a simple song, both musically and lyrically” but one which is rich in quite powerful images. The slow, ponderous style of the music does offer some relief within the context of The Holy Bible on one level, but the dark nature of the lyrics actually keep up the tension on another level entirely. Significantly, this track was the only one on the album produced by Steve Brown, who previously worked on Generation Terrorists. Given its similarity to the rest of the LP, Brown was probably either very much in tune with the aesthetic of the wider record, working closely with the band, or both.
‘She Is Suffering’ was released as the third and final single from The Holy Bible (and the only one to be released after the album) in October 1994. In reaching just #25 in the charts it was the worst-performing single from the album, which will have had much to do with the fact that it was a fairly desperate rather than natural choice for a single and it had a video the band described as “absolute shite beyond belief” in the music press at the time. In 2011, they recalled it as “the worst video [they] ever did”. Although it does include some puppets (or rather artist’s mannequins) moving around in a creepy way, it really isn’t as bad as it has been made out to be. In fact the Adolfo Doring-directed video contains more (admittedly rather bored-looking) band performance footage than anything else.
The video’s worst crime, really, is drastically cutting down the length of Bradfield’s despairing solo, perhaps the strongest moment in the song.
Choice Lyric (Full Lyrics)
“the less she gives the more you need her”