A Design for Life

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"A Design for Life"
Single by Manic Street Preachers
from the album Everything Must Go
Released 15 April 1996
Format CD, cassette
Genre Alternative rock, Britpop
Length 4:16
Label Epic
Manic Street Preachers singles chronology
"She Is Suffering"
(1994)
"A Design for Life"
(1996)
"Everything Must Go"
(1996)

"A Design for Life" is a single released by Welsh band Manic Street Preachers in 1996 and the first to be taken from the Everything Must Go album of May that same year.

Origins[edit]

The title was inspired by the debut Joy Division EP record An Ideal for Living. The opening line of the song 'Libraries gave us power' was inspired by the legend above the entrance to the former library in Pillgwenlly, Newport, some 15 miles from the band's home town of Blackwood in Wales: 'Knowledge is Power'.[1] The next line, 'then work came and made us free', refers to the German slogan Arbeit macht frei that featured above the gates of Nazi concentration camps and which had been used previously by the band in their song "The Intense Humming of Evil" on the album The Holy Bible. The single reached number two in the UK charts on 27 April 1996 and was the first in a run of five consecutive releases to be top ten hits.[2]

The song explores themes of class conflict and working class identity and solidarity, inspired by the band's strong socialist convictions. Its video included scenes of fox hunting and Royal Ascot to represent what the band saw as class privilege.

The CD single also included the songs "Mr Carbohydrate", "Dead Passive" and "Dead Trees and Traffic Islands", while the cassette included a live version of "Bright Eyes".

The song was the first to be written and released by the band following the mysterious disappearance of figurehead Richey Edwards the previous year and was used as the opening track on Forever Delayed, the band's greatest hits album released in November 2002.

Legacy[edit]

The song is referred to in the song "Slide Show" (alongside Beck's "Devils Haircut" and Oasis' "Wonderwall") on Travis' 1999 album, The Man Who: "'Cause there is no design for life, There's no devil's haircut in my mind, There is not a wonderwall to climb to climb or step around".

In May 2007, NME magazine placed "A Design for Life" at number 30 in its list of the 50 Greatest Indie Anthems Ever. In October 2011, NME placed it at number 75 on its list "150 Best Tracks of the Past 15 Years".[3]

Popular culture[edit]

The song featured in adverts for the supermarket Sainsbury's during the 2012 Summer Paralympics.

Sleeve quote[edit]

"The creation continues incessantly through the media of man. But man does not create... he discovers. Those who look to the laws of nature for support for their new works collaborate with the creator. Copiers do not collaborate. Because of this, originality consists in returning to the origin."

Track listing[edit]

All music by James Dean Bradfield and Sean Moore and all lyrics by Nicky Wire, except where noted:

CD1[edit]

  1. "A Design for Life" – 4:19
  2. "Mr Carbohydrate" – 4:13
  3. "Dead Passive" – 3:19
  4. "Dead Trees and Traffic Islands" – 3:43 (Music and lyrics James Dean Bradfield, Sean Moore, Nicky Wire)

CD2[edit]

  1. "A Design for Life" – 4:21
  2. "A Design for Life" (Stealth Sonic Orchestra Version) – 4:48
  3. "A Design for Life" (Stealth Sonic Orchestra Instrumental Version) – 4:35
  4. "Faster" (Vocal Mix) – 5:46 (music: James Dean Bradfield, Sean Moore; lyrics: Nicky Wire, Richey Edwards)

MC[edit]

  1. "A Design for Life"
  2. "Bright Eyes" (live) (Mike Batt)

Charts[edit]

Chart (1996) Peak
position
UK Singles Chart[2] 2

References[edit]