"Manifesto" as written by Bryan Ferry and Phil Manzanera....
I am for a life around the corner
That takes you by surprise
That comes leaves all you need
And more besides
I am for a life and time by numbers
Blast in fast 'n' low
Add 'em up, account for luck
You never know

I am into friendship and plain sailing
Through frenzied ports o' call
O shake the hand to beat the band
With love is all

Or nothing to the man who wants tomorrow
There's one in every town
A crazy guy, he'd rather die
Than be tied down

I am for the man who drives the hammer
To rock you 'til the grave
His power drill shocks
A million miles away

I am for the revolution's coming
I don't know where she's been
For those who dare because it's there
I know I've seen

Now and then I've suffered imperfection
I've studied marble flaws
And faces drawn pale and worn
By many tears

I am that I am from out of nowhere
to fight without a cause
Roots strain against the grain
With brute force you'd better
Hold out when you're in doubt
Question what you see
And when you find an answer
Bring it home to me.

Lyrics submitted by bonepaper

"Manifesto" as written by Phil Manzanera Bryan Ferry

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

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Manifesto song meanings
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  • +4
    My InterpretationMANIFESTO

    MANIFESTO, song and album.
    Roxy Music have had their share of accolades for their music, but are vastly underrated as lyricists.

    I'm starting with "Manifesto" for the sole reason that I believe it did not have the critical acclaim it deserves.

    MANIFESTO ( Ferry/Manzanera) title track and album.

    I was a Roxy fan from the outset, and even into the "crooning years" but initially could not get along with "Manifesto". But persistence has its rewards. The title track "Manifesto", which critics dismiss as too long, is in fact a perfect example of form reflecting content. The insistent drum beat in the long preamble, overlaid by a discordant guitar is ominous and tells us we are not about to hear about some boy meets girl thing.

    The whole song ( and indeed album) is an examination of opposites, a juxtaposition of determinism/free will. A "life around the corner, that takes you by surprise" is pitted against a "life and time by numbers". A safe life following societal norms is pushed against the man "who will not be tied down"

    In the conclusion we have,
    "I am that I am from out of nowhere
    to fight without a cause,"
    - the absolute essence of the human condition- we know not how we came to this life, yet there is the compulsion to question and to strain to break our chains. If there is a deity, then according to the song it is not a beneficent one:
    "I am for the man who drives the hammer
    To rock you 'til the grave
    His power drill shocks
    A million miles away,"

    Ultimately there are no answers to these questions. There is just the compulsion to ask them:
    "Question what you see
    And when you find an answer
    Bring it home to me."

    And so it is for much of the remainder of the album. "Trash" is the next track, immediately followed by "Angel Eyes", two very differing interpretations of women, one idealised, one outright rebellious. ( "Trash" is harsh and grating, the overly smooth "Angel Eyes" is harmonious- content dictating form yet again.)

    To return to "Trash" we have the dichotomy yet again:
    "Are you customised or ready made?" ,
    which I take to mean are people born with a certain destiny which predicts their behaviour, or are our actions a result of our experiences?
    (Interestingly, Bowie in "Rebel Rebel" embraces the woman described in "Trash", whereas Ferry has neither encouragement nor judgement)

    And so to the final song in this "trilogy"- "My little girl"- a melodious, almost elegiac sound. But we are tricked because "my little girl" is possibly "a woman of the world"- the angel/ whore dichotomy yet again.
    I am aware that "Manifesto" had lukewarm critical reception, but I would urge everyone to give it another try.
    jill102096on September 25, 2016   Link
  • +1
    General CommentNo comments?

    I dont think 'Manifesto' was their best album, but this song is really weird...in a good way.

    This and 'Angel Eyes' are very very decent.
    mirandajuneon August 11, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General CommentFor some reason this is my favourite Ferry lyric - I haven't got a clue what it's about, but the words are pure perfection
    Severinon January 14, 2014   Link
  • +1
    General CommentGiven Ferry's preoccupation with Dylan, I wonder if the last line of the song:-
    "And when you find an answer/ Bring it home to me "
    is a nod, subconscious or not, to Dylan's masterpiece "Bringing it all back home"?

    I'd be interested in reading other opinions.
    Jillgiannottaon January 10, 2017   Link

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