Sunday Suggestion – Manic Street Preachers – If You Tolerate This Then Your Children Will Be Next

Here’s a little fun fact for you. In 1998 the Manic Street Preachers scored their first number one album with This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours, despite the highly successful Everything Must Go in 1996. But they also grabbed their first number one single with If You Tolerate This Then Your Children Will Be Next and it is the longest song title ever for a number one single (Have fun with that…). This was the first time since Richie’s disappearance back in February 1995, that none of his material featured on a Manics album, yet the political messages were still there. If not a little less brutal. I’ve always loved this song. I based my entire GCSE Art exam on the songs title and now the songs lyrical content leads me back to it in a more coincidental fashion with my university coursework I’m doing at the moment. It is based on the issues of the popular resistance of the Republican side of the Spanish Civil war as they tried to defeat the brutal fascist: General Francisco Franco. The Manics took the song’s title from a Republican poster warning about the aerial bombing raids Franco was using on the Republicans with great support from Hitler and Mussolini. The line ‘If I can shoot rabbits/then I can shoot fascists’ was taken from a remark made by one of the Republican fighters in a later interview; and it showed just how ill prepared they were in comparison. It also touches on the International Brigades full of people around the world who volunteered to try and stop the rapid spread of fascism that was taking over Europe in the 1930s. In particular the song looks at the Welsh miners who volunteered; relating to the working class ideals of the Spanish militias fighting Franco. George Orwell was one of those International Volunteers and his book Homage To Catalonia also plays a part in the songs lyrical structure. The laser like flashing of the reverbed guitars, the lightly layered solemn tune from the synths with the more fluctuating bass line all convey the sad and depressing atmosphere of the topic they are singing about. The song also gives lots of respect to those fighting that doomed conflict in the name of freedom, working class ideals and against tyranny. Will someone write a song about The Syrian Civil war in sixty years time? I doubt that they will. In many was though; the song and the conflict it is about can be used in the context of today’s doomed war. The fact of the matter was that the governments of the world did not care to help back in 1936. Apart from the reverb driven melody; maybe regret at the subject matter was part of the reason it went to the top of the charts. It wouldn’t today as the simple fact of the matter is that people don’t care anymore. They are more interested in clinging on to the hope that One Direction want to truly be their boyfriend, the size of Robin Thicke’s manhood or Rihanna’s sex life. A dying freedom fighter in Aleppo wont ever enter their minds ahead of that.

http://youtu.be/cX8szNPgrEs

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