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 wanna 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 wanna 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 wanna 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 Lyrics as written by Sean Moore James Bradfield

Lyrics © BMG Rights Management

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A Design For Life song meanings
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55 Comments

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  • +6
    General Comment

    In 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
  • +5
    General Comment

    Greatest 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
  • +4
    General Comment

    I 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
  • +4
    General Comment

    i 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
  • +2
    General Comment

    Well, 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 Comment

    this 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 Comment

    thats 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 Comment

    The idea of A Design For Life is based on "designed for living", commercial slogan of american car company Ford, and on ''an ideal for living', title of Joy Division's 1978 ep. It is also the title of a biography of Joy Division, by Mark Johnson, called 'An Ideal For Living: A History Of Joy Division'.

    LaTragedieHumaineon April 06, 2005   Link
  • +2
    General Comment

    The verses are about a Auchwitz prisoner. They mentioned this in a few interviews.

    "Libraries gave us power, then work came and made us free. What price now, for a bit of dignity"

    "WORK MAKES YOU FREE" was the slogan of auchwitz. And libraries/education didn't give working class people the power they thought it would. It's a bit of dark humour about how screwed the working classes get, basically!

    The choruses, in contrast are about the modern day working classes, celebrating life, and their freedom.

    So, the lyrics are about the the persecution working class people survived (The Holocaust) and the freedom and hope they now enjoy. It's a celebration basically.

    cj11477193on July 04, 2016   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    To 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

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