Thursday, November 27, 2008

And Now We Say He's Dead

I discovered today that Richey James has finally been declared legally dead. His parents asked for the court injunction so that they could take control of his estate, which is worth a little over a million Canadian dollars. One could say that it closes a chapter in UK rock history, but it doesn't really, because there will continue to be Richey sightings and cult obsessions articulating themselves as long as there are people who come to love the Manic Street Preachers.

For those who don't know, Richey was a member of the Manic Street Preachers, and even though he was a terrible guitar player, he co-wrote the lyrics of all their songs during his time with the band. On their third album, 1994's The Holy Bible, he wrote almost all the lyrics, poetic statements of a man on the verge of complete collapse. Richey was dangerously depressed, anorexic, and prone to self-mutilation. His car was given a parking ticket at a gas station in Severn on February 15, 1995. It's conventional wisdom that he committed suicide by jumping off a bridge near that gas station. But since his body was never found, he was always considered missing. The band wrote their best album, Everything Must Go, while grieving Richey, and have been a three-piece ever since. After almost 14 years, he's been declared legally dead.

Oddly, Richey came up in a conversation I had Tuesday afternoon with a friend who was researching articles about pro-ana websites for the women's studies course she's TAing. "4st 7lbs" from The Holy Bible is the greatest song ever written about anorexia and the twisted mental state from which it arises. This video I found of the Manics' singer/ lead guitarist James Dean Bradfield and bassist/surviving lyricist Nicky Wire lets you listen better to the lyrics in Richey's songs much better than the album versions, which are equally raw, but much less sparse.

"She Is Suffering" and "4st 7lbs," both from The Holy Bible

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