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Lead singer Richard Ashcroft wrote the lyrics, which are a somber look at the ennui of everyday life: "You're a slave to money, then you die."
This samples an obscure orchestral version of "The Last Time
," a 1965 song by the Rolling Stones. This was recorded before they got permission from the Stones to use the riff, so the Verve had to sign away most of the royalties from this in order to release it.
The publishing rights to this went to Allen Klein, The Rolling Stones' former manager. The Stones signed a very lopsided contract with Klein early in their career, and had to make huge concessions in order to get out of it. Part of the deal gave Klein the publishing rights to all of the Stones' songs through 1969. He made far more money than anyone else from this song.
Nike used this in commercials. Klein got royalties from those.
This was the only hit for The Verve, who broke up in 1999 and reformed in 2007, releasing the album Forth in 2008. Their previous albums were A Northern Soul, which was released in 1995 and featured a darker side; A Storm In Heaven, released in 1993 was a psychedelic rocker; and No Come Down is a collection of the B-sides from A Storm in Heaven. After Urban Hymns, Their lead singer, Richard Ashcroft, launched a successful solo career. (thanks, Seth - stuttgart, Germany)
Because this sampled the song from The Rolling Stones, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards get composer credits along with Richard Ashcroft. Upset that he lost the royalties, Ashcroft said this was "The best song Jagger and Richards have written in 20 years."
The video featured Ashcroft bumping into people as he walked down Hoxton Street, a crowded shopping area in London. It was inspired by the video for Massive Attack's 1991 song "Unfinished Sympathy
," which was showed the singer walking down a street in a similar manner.
This was featured at the pivotal end scene in the 1998 movie Cruel Intentions. It is meant to portray Sebastian's ups and downs in life: his sister's cruel antics that nearly destroyed him and the beautiful girl who showed him how to love and redeemed his life. (thanks, Kristy - La Porte City, IA)
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