Tracks of my yearsSuede – Picnic by the Motorway

By | posted on 16th October 2014

"Picnic By The Motorway" is not one of the poppy, "attractive in an obvious sort of way" songs on Coming Up. It's probably the least new-Suede song on the album. And yet it was one of the first songs that fledgling guitarist and Bernard Butler replacement / look-alike Richard Oakes wrote with Brett Anderson.

It's a signpost pointing both ways: to the old mystical Suede, and the new potential Suede. Confusingly, Anderson provided the new, while the backwards-looking part came from Oakes. Perhaps being the new Bernard Butler wasn't such a bad dream after all, or perhaps that was just what being the guitarist in Suede did to you.

There's an unreal quality to the verse, the delayed echo on Anderson's vocal for the first verse sounds like it's been fed back in on itself over and over again before finally emerging, distorted to the point of wordlessness. The acoustic guitar wobbles hesitantly. Suddenly a chorus rushes in. "Hey! Such a lovely day." In isolation it sounds heavenly, but the song already inhabits a world where "there's a gap in the fence down by the nature reserve". This is no rural idyll, the motorway is not a fast track to freedom or a concrete dream. It's something to be walked over, looked down on. It's purely for voyeurism, not voyages.

I'm so sorry to hear the news today,
Don't you worry,
There's been a speeding disaster so we'll go to the motorway,
I'm so sorry to hear about the scene,
Don't you worry,
Just put on your trainers and get out of it with me,