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"We have just enough religion to make us hate but not enough to make us love one another"
- Jonathan Swift
There By The Grace of God is the October 2002 single from Manic Street Preachers, as well as filler material for their Greatest Hits album, Forever Delayed.

First things first - it's a Depeche Mode song. Seriously, the guitars sounds like Enjoy The Silence, which is a hell of a departure for the band themselves.

The whole song is a rather large departure for the band, and possibly yet another fork in their ever-changing career. They've promised that their next album (their seventh) would be more introspective with a lot of stripped-down acoustics. Bruce Springsteen's Nebraska is the template they continually reference.

Hopefully this song is a taster of that new direction. It would be a relief. Know Your Enemy was a shambolic, and the visit to Cuba was, with hindsight, a really shabby piece of shallow student politics. There By The Grace of God sounds like a band who understand that the war, for them, is over. It doesn't mean they've given up fighting, just that the job of managing the culture of destruction and wiping out aristocracy NOW! will have to pass to a new generation.

The Manics have always hinted in their lyrics what their next move might be. "We destroy rock 'n' roll," they said, shortly before giving it a bloody good try. "We just hope you can forgive us, but everything must go," they sang as they swept away Richey's legacy and started a new era. "We're the only thing left to believe in," they yelled, before giving the political thing one last try.

And so the portentous line in this song is "Lay down all your guns / give them up and then move on / It doesn't mean that you are dead". Given their history, it's probably the bravest thing they've ever said.

I remember when I was a young teenage insurgent, I read an interview with Teenage Fanclub where they said, "we don't write political songs. You can't still be angry when you're 32." Stupid fuckers, I thought. There's always a time to be angry. There is always time to rage and hate and despise and demand change in everything. It's the people who give up the fight, there the ones who screw things up. They're the ones who let evil in.

10 years on, I think I'm still every bit as angry and revolutionary. I've just redrawn the battle lines a bit. I've realised that sometimes the empty sloganeering and posturing can float off into the void without having any real effect. The only way to truly change the world is one person at a time, starting with yourself. And in that battle, calm, love and forgiveness are far more effective weapons than hate and anger.

But there's still the teenager inside who screams that I've copped out, sold out, gone to the other side. I guess Nicky Wire is feeling the same thing which is why it's necessary for him to tell that inner teenager, "it doesn't mean that you are dead". You're not dead. That passion still burns bright. It's just that you've stopped trying to fight from the outside in, now you're trying ot fight from the inside out

And so, perhaps this is the beginning of a new Manics era, musically more subtle and melodic, lyrically and ideologically more introspective and optimistic. The fact that the b-sides are called Unstoppable Salvation and Happy Ending would certainly suggest this.
A minor masterpiece, in its own way.



And all the drugs in the world
Can't save us from ourselves
Victims with the saddest hearts
Passing by the grace of god
There by the grace of god


With grace we will suffer
With grace we shall recover
There by the grace of god
There by the grace of god

Lay down all your guns
Give them up and then move on
It doesn't mean that you are dead
Passing by the grace of god
There by the grace of god

With grace we will suffer
With grace we will recover
There by the grace of god
There by the grace of god


And all the drugs in the world...

With grace we will suffer
With grace we will recover
There by the grace of god
There by the grace of god


And all the drugs in the world
Can't save us from ourselves
Victims with the saddest hearts
Passing by the grace of god
There by the grace of god

-Words : Nick Jones, Music : James Dean Breadfield, Sean Moore

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