Released on: This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours (Album #5) Epic Records, 14 September 1998
Also on: The Everlasting (Single #22) Epic Records, 30 November 1998
Peak UK Chart Position: #11
Band Ranking: #30
The tracks included on the If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next single may have formally inaugurated the new era represented by the fifth Manics album, but it was actually the first track of This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours which indicated the main changes in direction the band were undertaking. While the famous #1 A-side and its B-sides added subtle new layers of experimentation, they were still upbeat rock tracks not too dissimilar to what the Manics had done before. ‘The Everlasting’, however, is grand, elegiac and in some ways quite profoundly sad; this, much moreso that ‘If You Tolerate…’ was the new sound of Manic Street Preachers.
Like the title of its parent album, ‘The Everlasting’ reflects what could be seen as the declining feeling of certainty within the band. It wasn’t that the band’s politics would never be aggressive in their usual firebrand sort of way ever again; it was just that an element of doubt was creeping in, something which would be referenced again later. All this was probably caused to some extent that the band were maturing not just as a unit but as people; indeed, Wire’s ruminations on ageing are said to be the main inspiration behind the song. The title was lifted from a poem by Wire’s brother Patrick Jones; Wire had been wanting to create something in the same vein as ‘The Universal’ by Blur or ‘The Eternal’ by Joy Division.
One of the things which makes the song so striking is its new uses for instrumental touches the band had deployed before. Drum machines been used throughout Generation Terrorists but only in emulation of Moore’s actual live drumming; during ‘The Everlasting’ they are used as a deliberately synthetic element. The Manics had also used both live and simulated string sections before, but never for something quite so grandiose and sweeping as ‘The Everlasting’. When combined, both were in tune with Wire’s idea of an “organically futuristic” sound, a term he had used to describe ‘If You Tolerate…’ but which actually influences the bulk of This Is My Truth.
The lines “the world is full of refugees / just like you and just like me” is, oddly, one of the most widely criticised lines in the history of the band. What is clearly intended as a simple metaphor has been taken as if it is some kind of incredibly poor line, which is certainly is not by comparison to the kinds of clunkers that had shown up years before in songs like [B16] ‘Soul Contamination’ or [B74] ‘Love Torn Us Under’. Even the band themselves have expressed their distaste for the line which, however you feel about it, is delivered – as with the rest of the song – with heartbreaking majesty by the ever-reliable Bradfield.
‘The Everlasting’ was released as a single in November 1998, the second to promote This Is My Truth and their twenty-second overall. This demanded a huge cut in the song’s length from 6:09 (the album version; Wire joked that the song’s title “just about sums that song up”) to 4:07. It just barely missed out on a top ten placing in the UK singles chart, hitting #11.
The very dull video was directed by Mike Lipscombe and features the band looking glum at London’s Euston railway station while various people are engulfed in computer-generated flames. Due to a fire death-related story in the news at the time, these flames were edited out in the version that many people actually saw, thus rendering the video even more pointless. It’s a very poor reflection on a single which is one of the Manics’ most yearning, honest and heartfelt moments of the ’90s.
Choice Lyric (Full Lyrics)
“oh you’re old I hear you say / it doesn’t meant that I don’t care”