Released on: Forever Delayed (Compilation) Epic Records, 28 October 2002
Besides the promotional single [A148] ‘There By the Grace of God’, the Forever Delayed compilation only contained one newly-recorded song. Fans might well have felt little reason to get excited about that one song, as other bands’ fresh compilation tracks are so often hastily-assembled throwaways of little lasting merit. ‘Door to the River’ was different; inspired by a painting by Willem de Kooning – of [T89] Interiors (Song For Willem De Kooning) fame – and apparently written for inclusion on Know Your Enemy, it was a fully-fledged work in its own right, which has never received its due recognition thanks to the stigma of being included as a compilation sweetener.
As befits its title, ‘Door to the River’ is one of the most beautifully melancholic tracks that even the Manics – so known for the rich vein of melancholia that runs through much of their work – have ever recorded. This feeling is exuded by almost every element of the composition, from the relatively vague but poignant lyrics (especially “all my best wishes are just lies”, a sentiment we can surely all empathise with occasionally) and Bradfield’s sleepy delivery of them to the perfect mix of electronic and natural sounds. The highly ornate quality that comes from the presence of harp and strings brings to mind either Everything Must Go or This Is My Truth, even as the more electronic sound does date the composition to the more recent Know Your Enemy period.
The lyrics play out on a grander scale than almost any other Manics track, seemingly dealing as they do with some of the most universal aspects of life; a certain spiritual quality and the heavy weight of mortality looms large over most of Bradfield’s lines. The grandiose but crisp arrangement makes total sense in this case, and produces a truly special recording that may well have sounded out of place on KYE but should surely still have received high billing somewhere else.
Choice Lyric (Full Lyrics)
“all my best wishes are just lies”