There’s something charmingly whimsical about “Far Out,” as it appears on Parklife, Blur’s 1994 album that changed everything for the band and British music at the time. Unlike the singles from the album – “Girls and Boys,” say, or “End of A Century” – it’s much less self-assured, starting with the echoey fingerpicked acoustic guitar, before the organ comes in and settles into a fairground ride waltz and the song begins properly. It’s very tentative, very awkward in a winning way, weirdly in tune with the nerdiness of the lyrics, which basically consists of tracing the stars in the sky above us, before reaching the sun and… well, kind of burning out, in its own way.
What’s interesting, though, is hearing the original version of the song (Finally released, in only slightly altered form, as a DVD-extra track on a 1999 single, “No Distance Left To Run”) and discovering that the song was originally something faster, noisier and much longer. As much as I love the version on Parklife, I prefer the “original,” which is much more excitable, eager and – and this may be my own personal prejudices coming out here – confident in its nerdiness. It’s not tentative at all; it owns its nerdiness, as the saying goes, and it’s all the more fun for that.