“Beetlebum” :: Blur :: Best Britpop Music Tuesday
“She’ll suck your thumb.
She’ll make you come.
Cause she’s your gun.
Now what you’ve done,
The Best of Britpop Music Tuesday begins with a favorite Blur song of mine, “Beetlebum”. One of the Best Britpop bands, Blur, one of my favorite’s from the Britpop set, seems to be the perfect start to The Best of Britpop Music Tuesday Series. So, have a seat, throw your headphones on, adjust your speakers, turn them up up up and let’s read up on one of the Best Britpop Bands and Songs with the Britop-B’s of Blur and “Beetlebum”.
“Beetlebum” :: Blur:
Blur’s song “Beetlebum” was released in 1997 as the lead single for the band’s self-titled album, their fifth full length release. “Beetlebum” debuted at # 1 on the UK Singles Chart, becoming Blur’s second track to reach the top of the charts (after “Country House”).
“Beetlebum” was composed by Damon Albarn, Graham Coxon, Alex James and Dave Rowntree. All lyrics to “Beetlebum” were written by Damon Albarn.
Damon Albarn has been quoted as saying that the song is about heroin, and the experiences he shared with in girlfriend at the time, Justine Frischmann, of Elastica fame. Justine and Damon have had a history of songs about each other, and their tumultuous relationship.
“Chasing the beetle” has been said to be a variation on “chasing the dragon”, which describes inhaling the vapor from heroin, or opium, heated over tin foil. Although Damon claims the song’s title is without specific meaning:
“It’s about drugs basically. I’m not sure what a Beetlebum is. It’s just a word I sang when I played the song to myself. I asked the others if I should change it, but they said no. If it felt right, we decided that we wouldn’t tidy it up like we’ve done in the past.” Damon Albarn
In the 2010 Blur documentary, No Distance Left to Run, Albarn confessed that the song is about heroin use and implies that he was personally involved. He said: “That whole period of a lot of people’s lives was fairly muddied by heroin. It’s in that place. A lot of stuff was at that time.”
On the other side of things, many music reviewers and several publications have slapped the label of “Beatles tribute” to “Beetlebum”.
The music video (see above) was directed by Sophie Muller, and shot in Islington, London, in December of 1996. It was a relatively simple production, combining a performance of the song in a room in a tall building with computer-generated zoom-outs from the set showing the Earth in the center of kaleidoscopic patterns. Notably, Alex James’ cigarette and Dave Rowntree’s Coke can are censored. At the end of the video, the camera zooms out of the room and the building and shows the surrounding area, ending with a shot of London’s skyline.
In some versions of the video the line “She’ll make you come”has been censored.