Released on: Everything Must Go (Single #18) Epic Records, 22 July 1996
Peak UK Chart Position: #5
Band Ranking: #24
The Everything Must Go era produced a few B-sides that in another reality, might have challenged their way onto the album itself. Two of these appeared on the title track single released in July ’96 – ‘Hanging On’ and [B93] ‘No One Knows What It’s Like To Me’. There a couple of reasons why these songs were probably destined to be B-sides, however: one is that they are too repetitious (a factor quite common to Manics B-sides, as repetition simply requires writing less lyrics) and the other is that they are too similar.
The similarities are many: both songs are fairly simplistic rockers, both rely heavily on repetition, and both are quite good – certainly superior to their counterpart [B91] ‘Black Garden’. It’s definitely possible to see either of them on the album if they were lengthened a little and made somewhat more dynamic compositionally.
What marks out ‘Hanging On’ is its consistently rocking style and its real sense of fun; although its simple theme is trying to persist with living a hollow life without attachments, its generally buoyant feel and enjoyable chorus lighten the mood a great deal. Given how often the line “hanging on to nothing” is repeated, the crucial small differences in inflection Bradfield uses on his vocals is essential to preventing the song from becoming an outright dirge and it is a real success.
A number of common EMG hallmarks can be detected in this song, from the combination of acoustic and electric guitars to the increased emphasis on backing vocals (especially on the verses). The overall effect certainly isn’t a recipe for all-time Manics classic B-side and it’s hardly surprising that the song didn’t make an appearance on Lipstick Traces, but it’s a truly fun and listenable B-side nonetheless. Definitely worth plucking from obscurity and having a listen.
Choice Lyric (Full Lyrics)
“I’m not real / but I’d like to have a chance to feel”