Everything Must Go,
Manic Street Preachers
Sony, May 20, 1996
Track Listing: 1. Elvis Impersonator: Blackpool Pier, 2. A Design for Life, 3. Kevin Carter, 4. Enola/Alone, 5. Everything Must Go, 6. Small Black Flowers That Grow in the Sky, 7. The Girl Who Wanted to Be Good, 8. Removables, 9. Australia, 10. Interiors (Song for Willem De Kooning), 11. Further Away, 12. No Surface All Feeling
Music withers under the quiet still of a Sudanese desert baked crisp, and cracks lining browned earth are parched lips, thirsty to suckle the slightest hint of hydration. Searing heat evaporates anything fluid upon the world’s vast plane with the sizzle of a lone water drip disappearing off a flaming griddle. Nowhere, even under the shade of distant shrubs, is relief remotely in sight.
A limp shuffle in the brittle topsoil attracts attention. Motion is life, so a circling vulture swoops down, landing on the scorched surface. Two talons perch upon barren land, withstanding temperatures steadfast to sear everything except Teflon claws. The hungry bird waits.
“Hi Time magazine hi Pulitzer Prize
Tribal scars in Technicolor”
-from “Kevin Carter”
Toppled over, unable to support bones shrouded by nude darkened flesh, a helpless, desperately young child—belly puffed with the recognizable bloat of malnourishment—looks to kiss the ground ready to ingest her whole. Creation seeks a meal, while the winged beast patiently sits behind, elongated neck and beak projected directly toward its skeletal prey, a quick lunge away. The phrase “survival of the fittest” is captured valiantly and trivially, but what ultimately endures is a slow reveal, especially because another predator looms inches out-of-frame.
“Click click click click click
Click himself under”
-from “Kevin Carter”
The artist snaps a photo, later translated to song, heard around the world. In its aftermath, the dubious fate of the little girl falls into question, along with the judgment of the person behind the shutter. Known with certitude is the tragic end of the photojournalist, and that a band plays on with a member vanished. Voices struggle to sing out forever. Such is life’s chain, which eternally elongates, as those seeking sustenance feed off the pickings scattered about. Meanwhile, determining a single fate remains a fool’s game.
“And if you need an explanation
Then everything must go”
-from “Everything Must Go”
That is all. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, the clergy preach. Consider, though, that kicking up even the slightest dust storm during the carnivorous plight from womb to grave is a respectable way to depart. Celebrate the nobility inherent in bequeathing a physical incarnation of meaning across a treacherous terrain of starved scavengers.