Released On: Know Your Enemy (Album #6) Epic Records, 19 March 2001
Also on: Ocean Spray (Single #28) Epic Records, 4 June 2001
Peak UK Chart Position: #15
Band Ranking: #15
In addition to fulfilling the roles of second track and third single from Know Your Enemy, ‘Ocean Spray’ is also one of the most singular and profoundly personal songs in the Manics repertoire. The first of the band’s songs to feature lyrics written by Bradfield, it is inspired by the passing of his mother Sue. During 1999, the Manics delayed a US tour so that Bradfield could visit her when she was being treated for cancer. During the visits they would drink Ocean Spray cranberry juice together, hence the origin of the song. In 2011, Bradfield said he had doubted “whether you should convert those emotions” but he had obviously felt the need to at the time and the outcome is really quite a special song.
The simplicity of the lyrics clearly stem from Bradfield’s inexperience as a lyricist, but they also convey beautifully the scale and sadness of his loss. They also mean that for the first time, a Manics song was conceived both lyrically and musically by the same person. While ragged and slightly ramshackle throughout (Know Your Enemy‘s trademark), the song alternates between softer acoustic and harder electric modes. In place of a guitar solo, Moore instead contributes a brief but lovely trumpet solo, which underlines the fact that he had lost someone too – Bradfield’s mother was of course Moore’s aunt, also.
‘Ocean Spray’ also represents a high point in the visibility of the Manics quasi-official photographer Mitch Ikeda, who both speaks the opening Japanese dialogue (which translates to “you have very beautiful eyes… such beautiful eyes”) and appears in the music video. Said video was directed by James K. Frost Alex Smith and is a very solemn and simple effort.
The makers of Ocean Spray juice reportedly wanted to use the song in one of their adverts, but the band unsurprisingly declined.
Choice Lyric (Full Lyrics)
“it’s easy to breath / to breath only air where life should be”