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Apocalypse Jukebox: James Dean Bradfield - Q Magazine, May 2006

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ARTICLES:2006



Title: Apocalypse Jukebox: James Dean Bradfield
Publication: Q Magazine
Date: May 2006



Q0506.jpg



The end is nigh. These are the final 10 songs James Dean Bradfield wants to hear.

10. To Have And To Have Not - Billy Bragg
This was the first song I ever busked, in 1985, and I still feel it belongs to me. It was apt at the time, because it's about that feeling of leaving school and not knowing what life has in store for you. I started busking while Nicky [Wire, Manic Street Preachers bassist] and Richey [Edwards, former Manics guitarist] were at university. I latched on to Billy Bragg because he was political and was doing it on his own. I used to make a bit of money as a busker but I got laughed at a lot, too.

9. See A Friend In Tears - Momus
Momus was big with die-hard indie fans in the '80s. See A Friend In Tears was written by [late Belgian crooner] Jacques Brel, but this version inspired me to cover it for my new solo album. It's written about the decline of post-World War II Europe, but it could have been written in the wake of the war in Iraq.

8. The Endless Plain Of Fortune - John Cale
This song is delivered in the vernacular of an old army general who's seen many wars in the Empire and, in a very strange way, its so quintessentially Welsh. I started getting into John Cale at 15 or 16, when I realised he was in The Velvet Underground and he was Welsh. It makes things easier knowing that you've got local heroes to look up to.

7. Sorry Somehow - Hüsker Dü
The first time I was dumped, I played this with the curtains closed for four months. There was something amazing aboutHüsker Dü despite the fact that they couldn't really play. They gave us confidence because we had all sorts of idiosyncrasies. In a better world, Nick or Richey would have been the frontman as they had the looks.

6. Mr Blue Sky - ELO
I'm the only person in the world who thinks ELO are better than The Beatles. They had everything you want in a band — absolute bombast, overblown introspection. I shared a room with Sean [Moore, Manics drummer] when I was a kid and we'd listen to Out Of The Blue together. It didn't end until I was about 16, when Sean decided that ELO were crap.

5. Midnight Caller - Badfinger
Badfinger were touted as the Welsh Beatles in the late '60s, but it never worked out for them. Midnight Caller is a lesson in songwriting. It gave me confidence when we came to do This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours. We wanted to write something that was classic without being staid. It's something that Badfinger pulled off every time.

4. Garageland - The Clash
The Clash had a huge influence on the Manics in the early days. I'd go to bed at night with the earphones on and listen to this over and over. It was a response to a review that said they should crawl back to the garage they came from, turn the engine on and stay there. It's an angry reaction, like a counter-punch. Our single The Masses Against The Classes was vaguely in that vein, but not so specific as a reply to one review. We've never been so eloquently put down as that.

3. The Cutter - Echo & The Bunnymen
The first gig I ever went to see was Echo &The Bunnymen in Bristol. I've had tinnitus ever since. I remember being overawed at how physical the sound was. It was like a punch in the stomach. When Will Sergeant played the intro to The Cutter we were all amazed that you could make that sound on a guitar. We got their autographs after the gig. I asked Will Sergeant for his and he said, "Fucking hell, I'm not God or something." His breath really smelt of Guinness.

2. Out There - Dinosaur Jr
J Mascis wrote this when his father died and it's a touching, powerful song. It feels like an ascension to heaven. I remember reading an interview with J Mascis where he was asked a question about the "4-Real" thing, when Richey scratched the words in his arm. He went, "Whoop-de-fucking-do, I know some people who tried to chop their heads off." Richey had a laugh about that one.

1. The Wonder Of You - Elvis Presley
This reminds me of my parents. They used to play it every Sunday morning. When Elvis died, Mum took a day off work and the curtains stayed closed all day. This song reminds me that music had a place in their lives, and makes me feel like we had more in common than I thought at the time. I do play Elvis quite a lot these days — I realise that they were right about him. He had the power of pure expression.