I am just a fashion accessory
The second-most classic Manics bassline.
La Tristesse is my favourite off Gold Against the Soul. I simply love how it builds and builds and builds throughout the song. From just (mainly) James’ quiet vocals and the bassriff to the more ongoing verse (that explodes with fearsome force into the song’s stadium grand glory after the quiet start), which in turn transforms into the massive, rioting, jubilant rock glory of the finale. Add in some larger-than-life drum production, eery synths (I especially love them live as they’re much more louder in the mix on stage) and a summery, energetic atmosphere. It’s the only proper live staple of the Gold Against days still played live.
‘La tristesse durera’ means something along the lines of “the sadness will never go away”‘, said by Van Gogh after an attempted suicide and recovery from it. This also doubled up as the sleeve quote for the single, rather lazily. The lyrics themselves are about war veterans and how society bothers to care about them on a single day of the year.
La Tristesse is also one of the two songs in the entire Manics catalogue that features Richey’s guitar on the record. That’s him doing the singular power chords at the first chorus, folks.
Remix-wise it’s more Chemical Brothers remix work here which means more remixes to ignore. Although the Tristesse remix is probably the best of the Chemical Bros. MSP remixes, even if that’s a very faint praise.
The official video, viewable here because youtube’s a cunt with its country restrictions and thus I can’t embed it, is notable for being the only official video that captures James with his daft blonde hair of the Gold Against the Soul days. Otherwise it’s your fairly ordinary rock video, with some artsy shots of an old war veteran following the lyrics. The mandatory embedded video for a single on this blog is going to be a performance of the song from Glastonbury 1993 – not only featuring James’ blonde hair, but also Richey’s guitar amplifier actually being on. Be sure to pay attention to the band’s range of surprise faces, from Nicky’s “wtf” to Sean’s “trying to hold back laughter” and James’ brief annoyed look.