I remember hearing “St. Louis” as a b-side of “Charmless Man,” and being worried that Blur was falling apart. Despite the (somewhat thrilling, trilling) guitar line, this is clearly a song in trouble, with lyrics that literally tell the listener “St. Louis song/Something is wrong” before talking about a man “dreaming himself to Hell” and giving us a chorus that goes “I don’t want to be/I don’t want to be here/Because there’s nothing/Here to be.”
All of this was happening as Oasis had hijacked Britpop’s steering wheel from Blur, and the latter seemed to be becoming at best a national joke and, at worst, something akin to an embarrassment to pop music and national culture in general. The music papers would splash headlines about how the band was fighting, missing scheduled appearances, and generally collapsing into a drug- and drink-soaked mess, and clearly weren’t long for the world, and it had a weird feeling of… glee, almost? Of the need for there to be losers to Oasis’ winners. Clearly, something was about to happen; it’s just that no-one knew what it was going to be.