Melodrama there in my kitchen sink
This Is My Truth is full of hidden treasures. Songs of jawdroppingly amazing quality that are never mentioned or performed live. The acoustic miniature epic Black Dog on My Shoulder is one of the biggest victims of this crime.
There’s a few factors to why this song is so brilliant, outside the lyrics and the general superb songwriting.
First off, the strings. Strings on Manics songs are often of the most generic quality, a more high-pitched version of a steady background organ that’s found in most MSP songs. This Is My Truth in general has some fantastic usage of strings, but in Black Dog they are at their most beautiful. They live with the music, they swoop down and climb back up, shining brightly at all over the shuffle.
Then there’s the outro. It’s over a minute long climax where James’ gives one of his most gorgeous guitar moments while the rhythm section pounds steadily on the background and the aforementioned strings soar off into the skies and embrace the air. It always makes the hair on my back stand up.
The few times it has been aired live have been James solo acoustic moments. It still sounds gorgeous, even if a bit bare and lacking in the outro.
The black dog saying comes from Winston Churchill (namechecked in the lyrics too) and how he defined his depression.