For Tomorrow :: Blur
Directed by Julien Temple
“We’re trying not to be sick again,
and holding on for tomorrow.”
For Tomorrow is the lead track to Blur’s second album, Modern Life is Rubbish. The album title appears in the the lyric, “Jim stops and get out of the car, goes to a house in Emperor’s Gate, through the door and to his room and then he puts the TV on. Turns it off and makes some tea, says modern life is rubbish.” The song was released as a single in April of 1993, and charted at #28 in the UK Singles Chart.
The song was written after Blur had gone on a tour of the United States, a tour that left them disheartened as they felt the country was the home of grunge and that the audiences had not been receptive to their music. After said tour, lead singer Damon Albarn started to write songs with a very British feel, as this one has. For Tomorrow was written on Christmas Day, in 1992, at the family piano in Damon’s parents’ house.
Damon Albarn spent Christmas with his parents and celebrated Christmas eve by getting himself drunk. His father woke up on Christmas morning to hear his son tinkering on the piano. John Harris wrote in The Last Party: “Somewhere from behind a hangover, its lyrics wound the existentialist notion of nausea around a panoramic picture of London that managed to be both beautiful and unsettling; its melody, built around chords that betrayed an enviable compositional talent, fitted the picture to perfection.”
For Tomorrow is about life in London, specifically life in Primrose Hill, a hill located in the borough of Camden, North London. From there one can see the whole of central London before them. Portions of the music video were filmed at Primrose Hill, as well. The end of the video, for instance, ends with Damon Albarn rolling down Primrose Hill with a girl, while other moments in the video feature the band in its entirety flying kites atop Primrose Hill.
The video also features recognizable spots in London, such as Trafalgar Square, the Palace of Westminster, Big Ben, the Nelson Column and London buses. This, along with the British fighter planes on the single’s album cover, are more efforts to bring a strong British feeling to the song.
The ending of the song has a line about a man, Jim, entering his house in Emperors’ Gate, SW7 (Kensington). When singer Damon Albarn’s parents first moved to London, they lived in a flat next door to The Beatles. In a 2005 interview, Damon stated that he used Emperors’ Gate in the lyric because of Emperors’ Gate was the first London-based home for John Lennon (where he lived in 1964). Damon found it “romantic” that his parents lived right next to these people.
The song, like the rest of the album Modern Life Is Rubbish, was produced by Stephen Street. Street instructed the female back-up singers to sing the “la la la” refrain like Thunderthighs on the classic Mott the Hoople singles. In reference to said “la la la” refrain, guitarist Graham Coxon has said “everyone, wherever they are in the world knows what la la la means.” Which may very well explain the shots of everyday people lip-synching the “la la la” parts of the song captured in the video.
Editor’s note: to my readers, what does “la la la” mean to you?