366 Songs 150: The Man Don’t Give A Fuck

There are songs you here, and just know that – no matter what else – you’ll always love their creators for. Such it was with “The Man Don’t Give A Fuck,” a song that should, by all rights have disappeared into limbo, but instead became the song that made Super Furry Animals’ reputation.

The song was originally meant to be a b-side to “If You Don’t Want Me To Destroy You,” the final single from the band’s first album, but was pulled at the last minute when Steely Dan refused to approve the sample that’s the basis for the song’s chorus (That “You know they don’t give a fuck about anybody else”? That’s from Steely Dan’s “Show Biz Kids”:

“Showbusiness kids/Making movies of themselves/You know they don’t give a fuck/About anybody else,” it goes, in a lovely 1970s accusation of a culture that’d really take root a decade later. Oh, friends, you were so far ahead of your time, and no-one really listened anyway). Weirdly, wonderfully, the band persisted in trying to get the sample cleared, eventually giving Dan’s Donald Fagan an impressive 95% of the songwriting royalties and releasing the track as their Christmas single for 1996, complete with a sticker telling listeners with sensitive ears “Warning! This track contains the word **** 50 times!”

It also contains doo-wop harmonies, sleigh bells and the first sign of the anger that would come to the fore in later releases: “Out of focus ideology/Keeps the masses from majority,” the second verse goes before it complains about “Experts, brainwashed, tumble-dried.” The result? A protest song that’s never entirely explicit about what it’s protesting, and so becomes a wonderfully versatile fuck-you to authority and oppression in general, an expression of anger as an energy that you can dance and shout to as much and as loudly as you want. Wonderfully, despite being entirely unsuited to radioplay – There were edited versions that either removed the numerous “fuck”s, or in one great instance, replaced them with someone saying “monkeys” – it made it to #22 in the top 40.

Never underestimate people’s desire to have a revolution they can dance to, apparently.

Worth pointing out: When this song was played live, at least for the period where I’d be seeing the band as often as possible, this would be the final song of the night, and would last somewhere in the region of 10 minutes or so at least, with the band leaving the stage after the song as it sounds here, but Cian Ciaran keeping the Steely Dan loop going and seeing where he could take the song from there. We’d dance for as long as we could.