Richey Edwards, An Intellectual In A Rock Band

Richey Edwards, a lyricist and rhythm guitarist of a Welsh rock band Manic Street Preachers, disappeared on 1 February 1995, aged 27, on the day when he and lead singer - guitarist James Dean Bradfield were due to fly to the US on a promotional tour.

On 23 November 2008, Richey was officially declared dead (in absentia). Richey's younger sister, Rachel said:
“I had to go into the solicitors’ and put my hand on the Bible and declare that I believed he was dead.

“That was surreal. I didn’t really think that. You presume the death to wind up their financial affairs. I hope people don’t think we have given up on him because we haven’t.”

Richey was born in December 1967 and grew up in Blackwood, Wales. He went to the local comprehensive school and then attended Swansea University, graduated with a 2:1 degree in political history.

Richey and bassist Nicky Wire were Manics main spokesman. Although Richey showed little musical talent, his real contribution to Manics was in the design. And along with Nicky, as lyricist.

Richey displayed a love for literature. He chose many of the quotes that appear on Manics record sleeves. This interest in literature has remained integral to the Manics music and lyrics.

Albert Camus, Philip Larkin, Yukio Mishima, Primo Levi, Arthur Rimbaud and Fyodor Dostoyevsky are known to have been among his favourite.

Richey's lyrics have often been of a highly poetic nature, and at times they reflected his knowledge of political history.

All lyrics in the album Generation Terrorists, Gold Against the Soul, and The Holy Bible were written by Richey Edwards and Nicky Wire, all music composed by James Dean Bradfield and Sean Moore, except "Damn Dog" (a song in Generation Terrorist).

Generation Terrorists

Generation Terrorists is Manic Street Preachers debut album. It was released in February 1992. The album's lyrics regularly switching from a critical focus on global capitalism to more personal tales of despair and the struggles of youth.

"Motorcycle Emptiness"
...censorship'll stop your excess thought
check your billboard for my tour

be a tourist in the warzone
interrogate scriptures and not your stinking home...

"Crucifix Kiss"
...all they leave behind is money
paper made out of broken twisted trees

no god reached me, faded films and loving books
black and white TV
all the world does not exist for me...

"Little Baby Nothing"
...drugs come out of boredom babe
UN exports it everyday
their armies feed the ghetto lame
government approve it just the same

we need and we will always need
another invented disease
we need and we are taught to need
another invented disease

healthy bodies in empty minds
only exists in advert time...

"Another Invented Disease"

Gold Against the Soul 

Gold Against the Soul is Manics second album, released in June 1993. The lyrics on the album are less political than Generation Terrorists. Gold Against the Soul is more reflective of the despair and melancholy of their later work.

"La Tristesse Durera (Scream to a Sigh)"
___________________________ go on day after day
dreaming on a lie
that you keep locked inside
of yourself

you look at ad's all day
everyone is perfect and you're so lame
free scent burns your skin
but no smell can really cover sin...

...I write this alone on my bed
I've poisoned every room in the house
the place is quiet and so alone
pretend there's something worth waiting for

there's nothing nice in my head
the adult world took it all away

I try and walk in a straight line
an imitation of dignity

words are never enough
just cheap tarnished glitter...

"From Despair to Where"
...somebody told me to vote conservative
tragedy is not known under this dimmest of lights

fossilize - make Yorkshire into a tourist resort
and dream of new ways to humble the poor...

"Gold Against the Soul"

The Holy Bible 

The Holy Bible is the third album by Manics, released in August 1994. It was Manics last album released before Richey's disappearance on 1 February 1995.

The album's lyrics deal with subjects including prostitution, American consumerism, British imperialism, freedom of speech, the Holocaust, self-starvation, serial killers, the death penalty, political revolution, childhood, fascism and suicide.

Whereas lyric-writing on Generation Terrorist and Gold Against the Soul was split fairly evenly between Richey and Nicky, the lyrics on The Holy Bible were 70-75% written by Richey.

However, on later reinspecting his notebooks, Nicky was surprised to find he had contributed more lyrics than he had previously remembered, having also written significant portions of "Of Walking Abortion" and "Mausoleum" and a number of lines from "Faster", believing himself to be responsible for around 30% of the words on The Holy Bible.

"The Intense Humming of Evil"
Mr. Lenin - awaken the boy
Mr. Stalin - bi-sexual epoch
Kruschev - self love in his mirrors
Brezhnev - married into group sex
Gorbachev - celibate self importance
Yeltsin - failure is his own impotence

___________________________ not listen to a word I say
just listen to what I can keep silent
the only way to gain approval
is by exploiting the very thing that cheapens me...

"This Is Yesterday"
___________________________ is for the cold made warm and they are just lizards

I know I believe in nothing but it is my nothing

sleep can't hide the thoughts splitting through my mind
shadows aren't clean, false mirrors too many people awake
if you stand up like a nail then you will be knocked down
I've been too honest with myself I should have lied like everybody else...


Journal For Plague Lovers

In 1995, Richey gave Nicky a folder containing lyrics, poems and collages:

Journal for Plague Lovers is the ninth studio album by Manics, released on 18 May 2009. It features exclusively posthumous lyrics by Richey. It is the only Manic Street Preachers album in which the lyrics for every song were written solely by Richey Edwards.

The lyrics are taken from a folder of songs, haikus, collages and drawings Richey gave to Nicky a few weeks before he disappeared.

The Manics posted the following message on their official website:

"All thirteen songs on the new record feature lyrics left to us by Richey. The brilliance and intelligence of the lyrics dictated that we had to finally use them. Topics include The Grande Odalisque by Ingres, Marlon Brando, Giant Haystacks, celebrity, consumerism and dysmorphia; all reiterating the genius and intellect of Richard James Edwards."

The band have described the Rymans folder as having a picture of Bugs Bunny drawn on the front emblazoned with the word 'opulence' in capital letters.

In promotional interviews for the album, James and Nicky have revealed that the folder contains around twenty-eight songs. Four of these appeared on the 1996 album Everything Must Go.

James commented that Journal for Plague Lovers was an attempt to finally secure the legacy of their former member, Richey Edwards.

Richey Edwards and Nicky Wire interview in 1992