Don’t Forget the Songs-365: Mach Dos: Day 98
Mon. April 16, 2012

“The Chemistry Between Us”

“♫ Class A, Class B/ is that the only chemistry between us? […] ♫”

I always heard “Chemistry” as a modern romantic retelling of Romeo and Juliet in the classroom. We knew those carnal aficionados from high school; they’re still around desperately trying to reignite their postmodern romantic lighter notion of nicotine love— before their amorous flame turn blue.

But my interpretation of “Chemistry” was not idea Brett Anderson was thinking of when he penned my favorite song from Coming Up. The inspiration for “Chemistry” was a little more chemical than I first imagined.

Brett told CMJ April 1997 explained the decadence and the infamous drug allusions in “The Chemistry Between Us—

And the decadence I celebrate is quite ordinary. I suppose [Coming Up] was meant to be an ordinary celebration of low-rent life, really honest, quite unglamorous […] Most of the songs are about my friends and the way I see life, coming from a much ordinary perspective than [Dog Man Star], which was written from an estranged, sort of ivory-tower perspective. [Coming Up] was written in London with a couple of friends around me and a cat and stuff like that—it wasn’t this big sort of paranoid pseudo-rock star thing.”

Although Anderson did admit—”The experience of taking drugs has definitely altered my mind, and my songs wouldn’t be the same without the drugs […]” Brett did agree that there are some hints of drug addiction in “The Chemistry Between Us” when he told the Telegraph UK in 1996— “That song is about the emptiness of it all. It’s like one day you wake up in this haze, lying next to some person you don’t even recognize, in some altered state, not being able to remember the past year, and you think ‘what’s going on?’. I’ve taken drugs in the past – but anyone who thinks that by dropping a tab of acid they are going to write “Strawberry Fields Forever” has got another think coming.”

The funny thing I never thought “The Chemistry Between Us” was about drug addiction. “Chemistry” was always about two people who thought they shared a deeper emotional connection whether it is in classmate, neighbor or co-worker. It turns out that “Chemistry” was a tender reflection of Anderson new recreational dependence to mind altering medicines.

Did you know that keyboardist Neil Codling co-wrote the music but “Chemistry” belongs to Brett Anderson? One of Suede’s most unheralded epics about addiction and love. This is the kind of classic that Bowie used to pen in the mid-1970s. Yes, “Chemistry” is this good. It’s time to re-experience the glory of one of my all-time favorite Suede compositions— “Chemistry Between Us.”