William's Last Words

Album: Journal For Plague Lovers (2009)

Songfacts®:

  • Bassist Nicky Wire edited the lyrics of this sad and emotive farewell piece down from a long prose piece penned by Richey Edwards. The lyrics were in a folder that the Manics guitarist gave to Wire in early 1995, shortly before he disappeared presumed dead. On the face of it the words appear to be the suicide note that Richey Edwards never left behind. However Wire told The Guardian May 8, 2009 that he thinks the lyric isn't about Edwards, but nevertheless, the process of editing it down was "pretty choking."
  • The NME May 16, 2009 asked Wire if within the notebooks containing Edwards' lyrics, there were any sort of ambiguities of grammar, or moments where he was concerned that, by editing this, he might change the meaning. Wire replied that this song was "the only one really," as it "is probably two pages of A4, and it was obviously condensed into a very short lyric. And when you hear it now, it obviously sounds very autobiographical, and very sad and like some kind of goodbye." He added: "The original does seem to be about a character, Richey was fascinated with the film The Entertainer with Laurence Olivier, Archie, you know, the sad music hall kind of thing. There's obviously huge analogies when you're reading it, because it does seem to relate to him. But to edit that down…"
  • Wire told the NME that "Richey was a master of the lyric and he treated it as his art form." He added that this song, "perhaps, maybe that could have been the next step that he was going for."
  • Wire wrote the music for this song and also sings it. In an interview with Q magazine June 2009, the interviewer commented that he'd recorded a very vulnerable vocal. He replied: "It is. It's a proper goose-bumps moment. I'm not looking forward to singing it live. Just that line, 'Leave me go, Jesus, I love you/ Yeah, I love you, just let me go/ I even love the devil, even though he did me harm/ Don't keep me longer cos I'm really tired/ I just wanna go to sleep and wake up happy.' What poetry that is. It's beautiful."
  • Mojo magazine June 2009 asked Wire why he sang this song, rather than the Manic's usual vocalist James Dean Bradfield. He replied: "The main reason is that I wrote the music. James said, 'I think you should sing this one, it's going to resonate much more.' There's no catharsis involved, it just felt really sweet."
  • Wire told Mojo: "It's the one lyric (on the album) I've looked into. Richey was obsessed with Archie Rice in The Entertainer, the Olivier film about the showman who's just on his arse. Whether it's autobiographical or some kind of analogy, I don't know, but it obviously sounds like it is."

Comments: 1

  • Peter from Plymouth, United KingdomRichey often looked closely at why people act the way they do and I think this song is about the notorious gang leader Stanley Tookie Williams III who spent many years on death row. Over the years he gradually renounced his former life (some say to get out of execution by lethal injection) by "turning to Jesus" and setting up a group to help people involved in gang warfare who wanted to break free from hat way of life. Although Richey disappeared in 1995 and Williams was executed eventually in 2005, Williams spoke no words at his execution but just shed a tear
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