Making Plans For Nigel
by XTC

Album: Drums & Wires (1979)
Charted: 17

Songfacts®:

  • This was XTC's breakthrough single. It was written by bassist Colin Moulding, who shared vocal and songwriting duties with guitarist Andy Partridge.
  • Moulding: "Partly biographical, this one. My dad prompted me to write it. He wanted a university future for me and was very overpowering in trying to persuade me to get my hair cut and stay on at school. It got to the point where he almost tried to drag me down the barber's shop by my hair. I know the song tells of a slightly different situation, but it all boils down to the same thing - parental domination."
  • Partridge: "Quite early on it had been decided that Making Plans For Nigel was going to be the single. We spent five times longer messing with that song than any of my tracks. At one point I was fuming because my songs were being ignored."
  • The Rembrandts, Primus and Robbie Williams all covered this. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Christian - Copenhagen, Denmark, for all above
  • This was covered by Nouvelle Vague, a bossa group, and included on a chillout compilation album known as Breakfast Club: Milan. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Erik - Fairfield County, CT
  • Colin Moulding recalled to Uncut magazine March 2014: There were no Nigels at school. I wasn't bullied, but I think I had a natural empathy for people that were. 'Nigel' was my song for the bullied, I suppose."

    He added: "British Steel was just a bit of naughtiness. What I hadn't bargained on was the union boss later ringing me up and asking me to join the cause! I had the devil of a job to convince him it was an organisation I chose at random."
  • Andy Partridge told Uncut: "The things that sound like sheets of metal being struck, that's a white noise patch on a monophonic Korg synth we had. We decided to do it with this industrial sound and glories, so it hinted that British Steel, which is where Nigel works."

Comments: 6

  • Rachel from ColoradoI relate to this song as a parent of a teen on the autism spectrum who's reaching adulthood and needs assistance. IEPS, therapy sessions, and work programs all part of the planning process. "We're only making plans for Nigel, we only want what's best for him. We're only making plans for Nigel, Nigel just needs a helping hand. And if young Nigel says that he happy, he must be happy in his work" In this case "work" is "world" for our Nigel.
  • Chefpaulo from PennsylvaniaI always had a different take on this. It sounds like two parents talking to an admissions director at an elite school and trying to have their intellectually challenged/autistic son accepted. Nigel is happy in his world but needs a helping hand. Just saying.
  • Rebekah from Mcalpin, FlShucks!
    I thought sure this song was about Nigel Farage and his fight for true liberty in the UK & the world against the one world banker enslavement hell bent on destroying sovereignty worldwide & enslaving you & your children's children's children to perpetual war & debt profiting only a central demonic banker government & poison pushing murderous global corporations...
  • Thegripester from Wellington, New ZealandListen to this song, then listen to The Police's song De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da of a year later. What's even more amazing is that Sting never got sued (even though I'm sure the resemblance is unintentional).
  • Amandass from Buckley, WaThis is a cool song, Primus' version was the first I heard of this song
  • Callie from Brauni, Otheri have always loved this song... it became even more special lately cuz i met someone really special, and XTC is his favorite band, and he named his son "nigel"... so now it's even more of a favorite ;)
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Richie Wise (Kiss producer, Dust)Songwriter Interviews

Richie talks about producing the first two Kiss albums, recording "Brother Louie," and the newfound appreciation of his rock band, Dust.

Charlotte Caffey of The Go-Go'sSongwriter Interviews

Charlotte was established in the LA punk scene when a freaky girl named Belinda approached her wearing a garbage bag.

Francesca BattistelliSongwriter Interviews

The 2011 Artist of the Year at the Dove Awards isn't your typical gospel diva, and she thinks that's a good thing.

Al Jourgensen of MinistrySongwriter Interviews

In the name of song explanation, Al talks about scoring heroin for William Burroughs, and that's not even the most shocking story in this one.

Greg Lake of Emerson, Lake & PalmerSongwriter Interviews

Greg talks about writing songs of "universal truth" for King Crimson and ELP, and tells us about his most memorable stage moment (it involves fireworks).

Donnie Iris (Ah! Leah!, The Rapper)Songwriter Interviews

Before "Rap" was a form of music, it was something guys did to pick up girls in nightclubs. Donnie talks about "The Rapper" and reveals the identity of Leah.