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Don’t Forget the Songs-365: Mach Tres: Day 024
Mon, Feb 18, 2013

“By The Sea”
Suede

1996

“♫ And
when I start
my new
life I won’t
touch the
ground
♫”
Brett 1996

When looking back at the glorious days of Brit Pop, Suede was the one band who went beyond their glam pop hits of “Metal Mickey” and “The Drowners.” Like The Smiths before them, before disbanding after Dog Man Star, Brett Anderson and Bernard Butler crafted some of the most splendid epic ballads in the post modern age.

Brett talked about the essence of the Suede sound when he said, “But beauty and songs like: Sleeping Pills, Wild Ones and Asphalt World, they were the message of Suede. A song like Metal Mickey was a great song and has an amazing energy of it’s own but that was never the song I really wanted to write. It was always the darker more atmospheric moodier murkier things that I wanted to write, songs that really dragged people into some sort of emotional landscape. There was always the duality seeing the world as an intensely beautiful place but also an incredibly threatening place at the same time, where you could find the murky corners of life too.”

Even after Bernard left Suede, Brett saved one of his earliest songwriting compositions for the mach two version of Suede, as he explained in David Barnett’s essential biography Suede: Love and Poison, “I’d written “By The Sea” and “Lazy” years ago. I pretty much knew Bernard wasn’t going to be in Suede for the rest of his life and I thought it would be good to have a couple of things knocking about. I remember writing [“By The Sea” when I was first leaning to play a few chords on the piano.” Composed during the original first album sessions, Anderson described the genesis of this Suede classic on his biggest extravagance when he explained, “When I bought my piano for £500 after we first started getting money from Suede records, it seemed like a huge amount of money. I’m not a piano player at all, I just tinker on it to write – I wrote By the Sea on there, and Sleeping Pills. I never had formal music lessons but my dad was an obsessive classical-music fan, the sort of guy that would go to Franz Liszt’s birthplace and bring back soil. It all seeped in.”

“By The Sea” was one of the few epic flourishes on the very Brit Pop flavored Coming Up, Brett discussed the evolved change in Suede’s sound when he said, “Dog Man Star was such an extreme album, without a doubt the most extreme album we ever made, that the last thing we wanted to do was something more in that direction.” Instead of dumping Suede and Dog Man Star producer Ed Buller, Anderson and his band mates decided to keep Ed as the producer explained, “Suede had done their Indie LP, and they’d done prog rock. It was time to do an accessible pop record.”

Brett agreed with the musings of Buller by further saying, “We were always very ambitious – that’s where the pop comes in. I never wanted to be part of the indie ghetto. We were keen to almost subvert the mainstream, not just be some weird indie band that the indie kids are into and not just be some obvious pop band. We wanted to say interesting things to real people and reflect the murkier corners of life. But to do it to an interesting tune.”

“By The Sea” captured the tortured longing aura of Dog Man Star blending it with a more hopeful pop sound of Coming Up. Unfortunately, there are two other vintage Suede grandiose ballads, “The Chemistry Between Us” and “Saturday Night,” on Coming Up that, on lesser bands albums, might have overshadowed Anderson’s triumphant ballad. But, “By The Sea” is so ageless, it’s one of the Brit Pop era’s more glorious epics that demands rediscovery. Feel the splashes of Brett Anderson and Suede’s piano based piece de résistance, dive inside the beautiful riches of “By The Sea.”

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