Released on: This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours (Album #5) Epic Records, 14 September 1998
After the fairly weak and very unrepresentative distraction that was [A104] ‘You Stole the Sun From My Heart’, This Is My Truth continues with a song which exemplifies very well the style that dominates the superior parts of the album; it is beautiful, spacious and rich with melancholy.
Keyboards dominate this very impressive effort. A somewhat retro Stax-style Hammond organ bookends the song superbly, while a somewhat “watery” sounding organ and echoing piano make up much of what comes in between. Bradfield’s guitar comes into play during his angry flourishes and the solo.
That an organ should sound watery and the guitar angry makes sense given the themes of ‘Ready For Drowning’, which Wire has explained is “very complex” lyrically. This isn’t so much due to the language used, but the themes hinted at. The key historical event that inspired the song is the destruction of the Welsh village of Treweryn; this was flooded in the 1960s in order to create a man-made reservoir to supply water to the English city of Liverpool. This core idea seems to be extrapolated out to make a wider statement about Welsh identity; the lines “consign it to its future / deny its history” are surely a reference to the suppression of Welsh cultural identity and aspirations within the UK. Wire explained that R.S. Thomas was also an inspiration for the song (as he was also for the previous track).
Although it is now not played live, ‘Ready For Drowning’ was at one time in Manics setlists and three notable video versions exist. The first is of the performance at the Manic Millennium concert at the end of 1999, one is a studio version also released on the Leaving the 20th Century DVD, and another is actually arguably one of the most special recorded Manics performances ever – it consists of an acoustic version of the song played by Bradfield with fellow Welshman and Velvet Underground member John Cale.
Choice Lyric (Full Lyrics)
“I’ll do anything to prove I care”
Patagonia – the region of South American made up of Argentina and Chile. Possibly included in the lyrics as a reference to Welsh emigration to Latin America in the 19th century.
Not Waving But Drowning – the title of a 1957 poem by British poet Stevie Smith, published as part of a collection with the same title.