Released on: Everything Must Go (Album #4) Epic Records, 20 May 1996
‘Elvis Impersonator: Blackpool Pier’ is, despite its excellent title (the only one in the discography to contain a colon, punctuation fact fans!), one of the least well-remembered opening tracks the Manics have recorded. It wouldn’t be surprising if a lot of listeners actually thought that [A76] ‘A Design For Life’ is the actual opening track of Everything Must Go, given the huge impact the song has on the first section of the album.
That being said, there are a lot of unusual and notable aspects to this track. The whole opening is curious: it begins quite beguilingly with a recording of waves lapping against the shore, segues into harp and from there into acoustic guitar, over which Bradfield sings the first few lines of the song twice – this in itself is quite an oddity in Manics terms. Then, the song finally launches into the fairly heavy rock component which makes up its bulk – even though harp still twinkles occasionally – and which represents the start of how the rest of the album will largely sound: a slick rock record, but with an orchestral touch.
Although somewhat open to interpretation, the lyrics are probably a return to the theme of American cultural infiltration of the UK. The twist is that an Elvis impersonator at Blackpool Pier represents the infiltration of an essentially dead part of American culture into an essentially dead part of the UK (Blackpool being frequently derided within the UK as one of its least desirable places to live). The song sums up the irony and absurdity inherent in this whole situation, and is interesting within the discography in the sense that the whole song essentially frames this one particular, laughable little scene – there’s a real specificity to it.
The outro consists of a distorted Bradfield singing part of ‘Dixie’, an old song which was the informal, de facto anthem of the Confederate faction during the American Civil War. The song forms a part of ‘An American Trilogy’, a medley of three songs related to US history that Elvis Presley recorded in 1970. On the tenth anniversary edition of Everything Must Go, a longer version of the recording of ‘Dixie’ can be heard.
Choice Lyric (Full Lyrics)
“it’s so fucking funny / it’s absurd”
Blackpool promenade – the beachfront area of Blackpool, seaside town in Lancashire, England. Dominated by Blackpool Tower, essentially a smaller copy of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France.
American Trilogy – reference to ‘An American Trilogy’, a medley of three songs arranged by Mickey Newbury and most famously recorded by Elvis Presley in 1970. The three songs are ‘Dixie’, ‘All My Trials’, a Bahamian lullaby, and ‘The Battle Hymn of the Republic’, marching song for the Union Army during the Civil War.