Released on: The Everlasting (Single #22) Epic Records, 30 November 1998
Peak UK Chart Position: #11
Band Ranking: #30
It’s well established that Nicky Wire has a conflicted relationship with the process of touring, and on a couple of occasions this has made its way into his lyrics. ‘Valley Boy’ – the title referring to Wire’s origins in the Welsh valleys, a far cry from the exotic locales the band had visited on world tours – is one of those songs. As you might expect from this topic and its associated time spent on planes and in hotel rooms, ‘Valley Boy’ is lyrically quite strongly focused on its writer’s inner world. This, combined with the fairly languid, sleepy feel, brings to mind songs like the Beatles’ ‘I’m So Tired’ which was very much a snapshot of John Lennon’s mindset just as this is a glimpse of Wire’s.
The song itself is a mixed bag. At 5:10 it’s particularly long for a B-side, but largely makes good on this due to a very long but consistently entertaining guitar solo provided by Bradfield. The really negative aspect of the song is the lyrics, which fall into the perhaps inevitable trap presented by the song’s subject – it comes across like a dull tour diary entry set to music. In particular, Wire’s banal references to various organisations and brands make it harder to take the song seriously. The band’s willingness to be “un-rock n’ roll” has often been an element of their appeal, but there’s very little to be gleaned from or enjoyed in the information that Wire is a Marks & Spencer fan.
While musically interesting in parts, ‘Valley Boy’ is too sluggish and mundane to be ranked as one of the better B-sides of this period.
Choice Lyric (Full Lyrics)
“and some of my dreams / they may have come true / but so have my nightmares”
BBC – the British Broadcasting Corporation, the UK’s national producer of TV, radio and online services founded in 1922.
Marks & Spencer – major British food and clothes retailer, listed on the FTSE 100 index on the London Stock Exchange.