“If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next” by Manic Street Preachers for Britpop Tuesday
Manic Street Preachers are this week’s band in the Best of Britpop Music Tuesday Spotlight. “If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next” is this week’s song choice, the band’s biggest Britpop hit. The song was released in August of 1998 through Epic Records. It was the 1st single form their 5th studio album, This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours.
The song sold 156,000 copies in its 1st week of sales and reached # 1 on the UK Singles Chart the same month of release.
Are you ready to take a listen and explore some of the history of Manic Street Preachers, and their Britpop hit, “If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next”? Let’s have a look…and listen.
“If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next” by Manic Street Preachers
“Bullets for your brain today,
but we’ll forget it all again.
Monuments put from pen to paper,
turns me into a gutless wonder.
And, if you tolerate this,
your children will be next.”
The song’s theme is taken from the Spanish Civil War, and the idealism of Welsh volunteers who joined the left-wing International Brigades fighting for the Spanish Republic against Francisco Franco’s military rebels.
The song takes its name from a Republican poster of the time, displaying a photograph of a young child killed by the Nationalists under a sky of bombers with the stark warning “If you tolerate this, your children will be next” written at the bottom.
Various works on the Spanish Civil War were the inspiration for this song, and certain lyrics pertain directly to these works.
For example, the line “If I can shoot rabbits/then I can shoot fascists” is attributed to a remark made by a man who signed up with the Republican fighters to his brother in an interview years later. This was originally quoted in the book Miners Against Fascism by Hywel Francis.
Another work George Orwell’s first-hand account, “Homage to Catalonia“. “I’ve walked Las Ramblas/but not with real intent” brings to mind the account in Orwell’s book of fighting on the Ramblas, with the various factions seemingly getting nowhere, with the fighting and often a sense of camaraderie overriding the vaunted principles each side was supposed to be fighting for.
Nicky Wire has also acknowledged that he was also inspired by a song by The Clash, “Spanish Bombs”, which has a similar subject.
“Spanish Bombs” by The Clash
The single was released in August of 1998 and it secured the # 1 spot in the UK Singles Chart despite competition from “One for Sorrow” by Steps, which was released the same day and even topped the midweek chart.
It has sold more than 400,000 copies in the UK and has been certified Gold. It also became the group’s biggest success on the Irish Singles Chart reaching # 3 and is the only Manic Street Preachers track to be released as a single in the United States.
The single was also a success in Sweden where it reached # 21 and stayed in the chart for a total of 10 weeks. In Germany it reached # 79 and in Netherlands # 62; in both countries it remained on the chart for 9 weeks. In Norway the song only charted for 2 weeks, despite reaching # 19.
The recording was issued as two CD singles: the first included versions of “Prologue to History” and “Montana/Autumn/78”, and the second featured a remix by Massive Attack and a mix by David Holmes.
In March 2009, it was discovered that the song was used on the website of the British National Party as the soundtrack of an article describing “the violence, hatred, fragmentation and despair” wrought on London by the “great multicultural experiment”.
The choice of this song was considered ironic by many, considering the song contains lyrics such as “So if I can shoot rabbits/Then I can shoot fascists”. Record company Sony successfully had the song removed from the site on the grounds of unauthorised use.
The BNP later released a press statement claiming that “the song had mistakenly been automatically streamed on to its site and had nothing to do with the official party”, and that “you can interpret the lyrics any way you want”.
“If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next” was nominated in the category of Best British Single at the 1999 BRIT Awards. However, the award was won by Robbie Williams for “Angels”.
The song was covered by David Usher on his 2003 album Hallucinations.
“If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next” by David Usher
DJ Eric Chase also recorded a cover of the song in December 2009.
“If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next” by DJ Eric Chase
And, Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke occasionally sang portions of the song during live performances of “Everything in Its Right Place” during Radiohead’s 2001 tour.\
Thank you for joining us for another Best of Britpop Music Tuesday, this Week Featuring the Manic Street Preachers, and their Hit Song, “If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next”, a Definitive Best of Britpop Song from Manic Street Preachers, in 1998.
What did you think of the Song?
What did you think of the 2 featured cover versions/
I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.