Released on: The Holy Bible (Album #3) Epic Records, 29 August 1994
The first of two consecutive songs on The Holy Bible dealing partly with the subject of childhood memories, ‘This Is Yesterday’ is the most calm and musically pleasant moment on this tortured album and, significantly, is the only song entirely written by Wire. Being sandwiched between two of the heaviest, fastest songs on the record only serves to increase the impact of a song which has a tender, mournful sadness to it which just cannot be found anywhere else. ‘This Is Yesterday’ is beautiful.
Described by Wire as the simplest song on the album, it is based around a concise little guitar figure from Bradfield which has a curiously content bounce to it which feels very out of place on The Holy Bible and has a kind of ironic connotation. It could be suggested that Moore’s fairly constant use of hi-hat is a little intrusive or excessive, but at the same time it does add to the unique atmosphere of the song. Top billing must go to Bradfield, however, for his phenomenal guitar solo before the final chorus – brief but brilliant, it is possibly the single finest example of his ability to imbue a solo with huge emotion and is undoubtedly one of the greatest solos on any Manics record.
Wire’s straightforward lyrics explore in a very concise way the feelings of someone apparently staring oblivion in the face and feeling regretful and apologetic for the way they have lived their life (bringing to mind Hubert Selby Jr.’s quote used at the start of an earlier Holy Bible song). ‘This Is Yesterday’ is one of the few songs on the album to not include a recorded quote, which gives it a certain degree of separateness which is quite appropriate given how well the song works outside of the album context – something that cannot be said for all of the songs on this LP.
Tom Lord-Alge’s attempt at working with this song is probably one of the weakest parts of the US mix of The Holy Bible. Applying echo and other effects to Bradfield’s vocals is one of his core strategies but on this song it backfires badly, severely compromising the emotional honesty of what is being sung.
Choice Lyric (Full Lyrics)
“I repent, I’m sorry, everything is falling apart”