On the anniversary of his being declared dead, celebrate his genius
Andrew Trendell

12:49 26th November 2015

This week back in 2008, Manic Street Preachers' lyricist and 'guitarist' Richey Edwards was declared dead after being missing since 1995 when he abandoned his car by the Severn Bridge. While there have been many a rumoured sighting of Edwards since, there is still a vast chasm in music left by his lyrical genius. Nicky Wire remains one of the finest wordsmiths on the planet, but let's take a moment to appreciate the sheer calibre of Edwards' lyrics that made those early Manics' songs and lyrics so captivating. 

Edwards was at the height of his genius during The Holy Bible era, and while 'A Design For Life' and 'If You Tolerate This' would find the Manics' socially conscious bravado at the top of the charts, the class of their earlier material should never be ignored. 

While he has officially been declared dead, no one will ever know what truly happened to the wide-eyed genius that penned some of the Manics' most cerebral and seminal words. In remembrance of one of the greatest lyricists of the 20th century, we've gathered and reflected upon some of his finest moments. 

These are Richey Edwards' 12 greatest lyrics, ranked in order of greatness. 

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12. 'Revol': The ultimate Edwards idiosyncrasy. We challenge you to find a better or more infectious song about group-sex in the Kremlin, let alone one capable of charting at No.22.

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11. 'From Despair To Where': Co-written with Nicky Wire and packed with all of the Manics' autumnal, majestic misery - using pop to explore the weakening effect of modern life on the human mind, until "there's nothing nice in my head, the adult world took it all away", being left with just "an imitation of dignity".

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10. 'PCP': A relentless live favourite, loaded with so many words and references that you can't help but crack a smile at the closing "227 lears and I can't remember the first line." It also contains Edwards' exquisite mantra: "BE PURE, BE VIGILANT, BEHAVE."

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9. 'Marlon JD': "He stood like a statue, as he was beaten across the face with a horse-whip where the wounds already exist" opens this blistering gem from Journal For Plague Lovers, showing Edwards' intellect at it's most uncompromising as he squares up to the concept of ultimate self-discipline and living a life without clutter or luxury.

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8. 'Little Baby Nothing': Another Wire-Edwards partnership, tenderly assassinating our "culture of alienation, boredom and despair" and man's exploitation of women, leaving many "hopelessly passive and compatible".

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7. 'Me And Stephen Hawking': A lyric left behind by Edwards just prior to his disappearance, but the ultimate encapsulation of his vast consumption of high and low culture, blended with his often underrated wit: "Oh the joy, me and Stephen Hawking - we laugh. We missed the sex revolution when we failed the physical."

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6. 'Motorcycle Emptiness': The Manics' first bona fide universal anthem was inspired by the brilliant film Rumble Fish to create a very modern lament on how consumer culture actually ends up consuming us.

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5. 'This Joke Sport Severed': "Loose and guilty and whipped, sterility persecutes and I have plenty" - there are few more telling signs of one's eloquence in the face of torment.

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4. '4st 7lbs': "I eat too much to die, and not enough to stay alive," says the opening sample taken from anorexic documentary Caraline's Story - kicking off a military beat as the track delves into Edwards' warped stasis as he sought control through anorexia: "I want to walk in the snow, and not leave a footprint, I want to walk in the snow and not soil its purity."

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3. 'Archives Of Pain': "I would say that 'Archives Of Pain' is one of Richey's most chillingly brave lyrics," Wire told Gigwise, reflecting on The Holy Bible's most visceral moment. Touching on the glorification of serial killers and seemingly advocating capital punishment, it deals with human beings' fascination with murder and religion in place of reson, with Bradfield's crowning achievement of a backing track that sounds like boiling battery acid.

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2. 'Faster': The song that sets up the manifesto to the album. From John Hurt uttering "I hate purity, I hate goodness, I want everyone corrupt" to the band's deeply-ingrained drive to remain more cultured that anyone despite the ever-accelerating shallowness of modern culture: "I am an architect, they call me a butcher...I know I believe in nothing, but it is my nothing."

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1. 'Yes': "You crazy fucker, how do I write music for this?" thought Bradfield when Edwards handed him the lyrics to what would become one of the greatest opening tracks in rock history. An anthem for anyone who's ever felt cheapened by the self-prostitution by doing just what it takes to get by, the Manics crowning moment comes in this firey number that states we're all whores, and that 'everything is for sale'.


Photo: Press/WENN