There are all manner of reasons why this song shouldn’t work – A piano that sounds like “Let It Be” (or, if you’re me, the opening of “That’s The Way God Planned It” by Billy Preston), lyrics that are too full and shoe-horned into spaces where they don’t quite fit – but this solo, piano-only preview of the already-mythical last Blur song “Under The Westway” sends shivers down my fanboy spine nonetheless. What makes it so thrilling for me is that the melody is so astonishingly pretty, something I don’t tend to think about Blur songs (To be fair, maybe the finished version won’t sound anything like this, the way that “Strange News From Another Star” differs between the keyboard-only version and the full-band version on Blur), and the lyrics are… well, more than I was expecting.
“Under The Westway,” you see, seems at first verse listen, to follow on from “Fool’s Day,” the reunion song the band did in 2010 that’s almost the very definition of “okay, I guess”; what was most disappointing to me about that song were Damon’s lyrics, which were pretty much a shopping list of what he’d been up to that day (“Porridge done/I take my kid to school” goes one particularly memorable couplet), and to begin with “Westway” sounds the same with Damon singing about “It was the bright sky in my city today/Everything was sinking, said snow would come on Sunday.” But, midway through this snippet, it… expands, and becomes something much more beautiful despite the awkwardness of the scanning:
Bring us a day that they switch off the machines
Cause men in yellow jackets putting adverts inside my dreams
A automated song, a whole world gone, fallen under the spell of
The distance between us when we communicate
It’s something akin to the old-man concern of “Out of Time,” but even more melancholic, somehow. Watching a live version from February whets my appetite even more:
I can’t really imagine what the finished song will sound like, but I know that I’m eagerly awaiting the discovery, if only to hear the “Hallelujah!” part at the end properly, and feeling the release that comes with that moment with the clarity and peace of actually knowing what is being said beforehand.