Blur’s Beetlebum: behind the meaning of the lyrics

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Chasing the beetle is the English slang to describe the act of smoking heroin. Although it seems a heartbreaking love song, one of Blur’s most famous single is mainly the tale of a drug experience. But the romantics won’t be disappointed: the single came out in 1997, after the end of the troubled relationship between Albarn and former leader of Elastica Justine Frischmann. In an interview of the period, Damon explains the frustration of the couple in not being able to get out of their Portobello house to buy cigarettes without meeting paparazzi. At the age of 28, the two are captured by the Beetlebum.

What you’ve done
She’s a Gun
Now what you’ve done
Get Nothing Done
You Beetlebum
Just Get Numb
Now what you’ve done

It’s like a lethal weapon. You’re not able to do anything, anesthetized – just get numb — after you’ve given that wriggle called “flash”. The apex of the effect of the drug is often described as comparable to the sexual ecstasy. There’s a moment when you turn on and forget everything, and you feel nothing but that thrill of uncontrollable pleasure. She turns me on and all my violence’s gone, nothing is wrong.

The lyrics become very ambiguous, almost erotic: She’ll suck your thumb, she’ll make you come... But, like everything with such a level of intensity, it ends, and it is too late to prevent the consequences. With his evocative kind of writing, every Albarn’s phrase, however simple, seems to be chosen as the most suitable one to represent worlds and induce sensations. The suffering of the ending, the failure to resist the temptation followed by the urge to start again. The thrill disappears in order to give space to a gloomy reflection. Whether it’s love or a dose, every story comes to an end.

Causes she’s your gun
Now what you’ve done
And when she lets me slip away…

In the video, Albarn sings gloomy with his crooner, silky voice, his gaze almost fixed at the camera. Then some shots of Alex James, always with a cigarette between his fingers, and Coxon, melancholically playing guitar. Graham’s alcoholism was apparently the main cause of the band’s breakup as well as extremely difficult moments during the recording of 13Coffee And Tv describes this experience.

Justine and Damon split in 1998, both starting a detox process. Laying an addiction is laying a lover whose danger has crossed the threshold of fascination. The relationship must be interrupted because of its self-destructive power.

Blur was the flagship band, along with the rivals Oasis, of the 90s’ Britpop scene. Albarn’s melodic aptitude combined with Coxon’s indie devotion gave rise to unforgettable albums such as Blur and Thirteen. Twenty years later, let us remember how three British boys gave life to a splendid creature,  whith angular muscles-guitar chords, blunted by the velvet of the vocals. Beetlebum is one more reason to remember that a musical light makes its way by splitting even the most tenacious plot of darkness. The one and only drug it’s worth being addicted to.

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