"A Design For Life" as written by James Bradfield, Nicholas Jones and Sean Moore....
Libraries gave us power
Then work came and made us free
What price now for a shallow piece of dignity

I wish I had a bottle
Right here in my dirty face to wear the scars
To show from where I came

We don't talk about love we only want to get drunk
And we are not allowed to spend
As we are told that this is the end

A design for life
A design for life
A design for life
A design for life

I wish I had a bottle
Right here in my pretty face to wear the scars
To show from where I came

We don't talk about love we only want to get drunk
And we are not allowed to spend
As we are told that this is the end

A design for life
A design for life
A design for life
A design for life

We don't talk about love we only want to get drunk
And we are not allowed to spend
As we are told that this is the end

A design for life
A design for life
A design for life
A design for


Lyrics submitted by Ice

"A Design for Life" as written by Sean Moore James Bradfield

Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

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A Design For Life song meanings
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  • +5
    General CommentIn the 10th anniversary edition of Everything Must Go Nicky says, in the DVD, that the "we only want to get drunk" line was "as much a criticism as it was an observation." He also said that A Design For Life was trying to say that the working class could be beautiful, literate, intelligent etc but also destructive and a "disgrace to their class".

    The line "and we are not aloud to spend" is, according to James, about the influence of consumerism on the working classes in the UK. "That fuck it mentality of, we are not allowed to [spend money], so therefore we shall", James said.

    Incidentally, anyone who has seen the video for the song with the images of the Poll Tax riots in London and George Orwell quote "Hope Lies In The Proles" would know this song IS about the working classes. Drinking is mentioned in the song, but so is love. It's not a love song either. Go figure...
    Smart Alexon April 23, 2007   Link
  • +4
    General CommentGreatest Manics song of all time! Well, maybe, it's hard to decide. Still brings me to tears everytime I hear it late at night. Anyone who says it's just a drinking song knows nothing about either the Manics or the British working class.
    It's a song for reflection, so it annoys me when I hear people play it in a shop or something knowing nothing of what the words mean. Ah sigh, I'm just a very over-protective Manics fan :>................
    my nothingon November 23, 2004   Link
  • +3
    General CommentI remember reading at the time it was released an interview with Nicky. He said the song was inspired by listening to an interview on the radio of someone from the band Gene. They were claiming how disgusted they were when they saw people getting drunk and fighting. I think this was Nicky's response to this kind of middle class spectating.
    Al_radioon July 20, 2008   Link
  • +2
    General CommentWell, put simply, you're wrong. It's about how working class identity has changed while perception hasn't. The lines "we don't talk about love, we only want to get drunk" is a comment on how the working class are perceived, not how they behave.
    mytwojakeson May 30, 2002   Link
  • +2
    General Commentthis song maybe seen as deperessing but its a good song to shout at the top of your voice.
    forever delayedon March 23, 2003   Link
  • +2
    General Commentthats all very nice, but we're missing the point,
    how f*ing well does he sing it??
    Mortonium Iceon November 16, 2004   Link
  • +2
    General Commenti cant believe peoples comments on the first page find this song depressing. the chorus is one of the most uplifting pieces of music the manics have ever done, especially with the string arrangement and james's voice.
    the song is about working class perception and how everyone thinks 'we dont talk about love, we only wanna get drunk' whereas in reality the working class can be intelligent and useful, a lot of writers musicians actors sports people etc come from a working class background. 'libraries gave us power' highlights how no matter your background you can always improve and learn and 'i waish i had a bottle...etc' just means that you can improve as a person without being ashamed of where you come from although the upper classes do not recognise this hence the 'what price now for a shallow piece of dignity'.
    unfortunately if you look at most town centres in the country at a weekend the 'we only wanna get drunk' line kind of stops being ironic as it is meant in the song.
    danhardwick77on November 22, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentTo be honest, if you think alcoholism masking pain is a far superior theme than working class identity and change then there is something wrong.
    How many alcoholics do you know?
    How many people do you know who are considered working class?
    I assume the latter will outnumber the former. The majority of people in the UK are 'working class', the working class secretly run the country while the 'middle' and 'upper' classes watch in slendour. This is a theme that you do not care about? Yet you think a song about alcoholism will 'stand the rest of time'? You are sadly mistaken and by the look of it, sadly very ignorant of the world around you. Sorry if any of that didn't make sense, bye.
    man_kills_everythingon October 11, 2002   Link
  • +1
    General CommentFrom manics.co.uk Decapitalisations mine.

    NICKY WIRE: A RADICAL RETHINK, IT'S THE FIRST LYRIC THAT MAKES SENSE TO EVERYONE. THERE'S A VERY SERIOUS MESSAGE, BUT THE AMBIGUITY OF THE CHORUS MADE IT I THINK, BECAUSE IT BROUGHT IN PEOPLE WHO THOUGHT IT WAS A DRINKING SONG, AS WELL AS THOSE WHO SAW THE MORE SERIOUS SIDE TO IT. I WAS INSPIRED BY THE LIBRARY MY WIFE WORKED IN, AND ITS JUST SUCH AN UNGLAMOROUS TOPIC, TALKING ABOUT LIBRARIES, CLASS STRUGGLE. POST-BRITPOP, IT REALLY SET US APART AGAIN. IT'S THE FIRST INSTANCE OF SOCIAL HISTORY IN OUR SONGS, RATHER THAN HISTORY FILTERED THROUGH SITUATIONISTS AND EXISTENTIALISTS. IT'S AMAZING THAT AT THAT TIME WE WERE SEEN AS GLAMOROUS WHEN WE WERE DEALING WITH SUCH GREY, SOCIALIST ISSUES.

    Note in particular "Class struggle" and "people who thought it was a drinking song." Alcoholic meanings? Nah.
    MercuryCobainon May 08, 2003   Link
  • +1
    General Commentthe answer: stupidly well. God it's so emotional and powerful, i actually tilted back in my chair the first time i heard it front to back. glorious
    pumkinhedon November 21, 2004   Link

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