Song Meaning Bitter Sweet Symphony – The Verve

The famous producer Allen Klein, who died in 2009, entered the history of modern music as a manager with an iron grip, who knows how to get his own way at any cost. Only now, fans of the groups with which he collaborated, as a rule, do not remember him in the most flattering way.

He is accused of breaking up The Beatles. He got the rights to almost all the early songs of The Rolling Stones. And he actually took away from the British rock band The Verve their main hit – the song Bitter Sweet Symphony.

History and Meaning of Bitter Sweet Symphony

However, the history of the track Bitter Sweet Symphony should begin with a hit by The Rolling Stones called The Last Time, which topped the British charts in 1965. Some time later, Andrew Oldham, the Rolling Stones’ first manager, recorded an orchestral version of the track as part of his The Andrew Oldham Orchestra project and included it on The Rolling Stones Songbook.

This composition was not particularly successful. Perhaps she would have quietly gone into oblivion, but in the late nineties, The Rolling Stones Songbook was acquired by Richard Ashcroft, the frontman of The Verve. Succumbing to the vogue for samples from old songs, Richard used an excerpt from the orchestral version of The Last Time in the melody of Bitter Sweet Symphony.

I must say that he acted legally and immediately turned to Allen Klein’s company ABKCO Records for permission. He gave the go-ahead in exchange for fifty percent of future earnings from Bitter Sweet Symphony. The lyrics of the song, which are a sober look at the routine life in which everything is ruled by money, were already ready. The band recorded the track and in June 1997 released the first single from the Urban Hymns album.

It would seem that everything is fair. However, it is unlikely that Klein would have become a world famous producer if he always acted in accordance with generally accepted ideas about morality. When it became clear that Bitter Sweet Symphony was a real international hit, Allen stated that The Verve used The Last Time tune to a greater extent than was stipulated in the contract.

Simon Jones explained the situation this way:

We were told it was going to be a 50/50 split and then they saw how well the recording went. They called and said: “We want 100%, or remove it from stores. You don’t have much choice.”

The trial ended with ABKCO Records giving the go-ahead for the performance of the song by The Verve, and in exchange received all the rights to Bitter Sweet Symphony (that is, all proceeds from the song still go to Allen Klein), and Mick Jagger and Keith Richards became official song co-authors.

The Verve’s manager tried to reach out to the Rolling Stones for help, but they flatly refused to contact their former manager. In particular, Keith Richards disowned the showdown as follows:

I’m not good at these things. This is serious lawyer shit.

He then wished The Verve to write a better song if they needed money.

At first, Richard Ashcroft reacted quite calmly to what happened. At least, that’s how it seemed. He remarked that it was nothing more than a name on the writers’ lists and quipped that “this is the best Jagger and Richards song in twenty years”. However, over time, Ashcroft’s discontent manifested itself more and more. He began to make tough jokes about The Rolling Stones during concerts and repeatedly urged them not to buy cars that advertised the Bitter Sweet Symphony against his will.

Many fans of The Verve believe that this trouble was one of the reasons for the group’s breakup.

Bitter Sweet Symphony is ranked #392 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time, as well as many other ratings compiled by authoritative print media, radio stations and TV channels.

Video clip of Bitter Sweet Symphony

Let’s watch the online clip of Bitter Sweet Symphony by The Verve, inspired by the video Unfinished Sympaty by Massive Attack.

Interesting Facts

  • The song is featured in the movie Cruel Intentions.
  • The Bitter Sweet Symphony has been featured in several well-known commercials for Nike, Vauxhall Motors and other companies.
  • She could be heard on ITV opening the 2010 World Cup and 2012 European Championship qualifying matches against England.

Bitter Sweet Symphony Lyrics

‘Cause it’s a bittersweet symphony, this life
Try to make ends meet
You’re a slave to money then you die
I’ll take you down the only road
You know the one that takes you to the places
where all the veins meet

chorus:
No change, I can’t change
I can’t change, I can’t change
But I’m here in my mold
I am here in my mold
But I’m a million different people
from one day to the next
I can’t change my mold
No, no, no, no, no

Well I never pray
But tonight I’m on my knees
I need to hear some sounds that recognize the pain in me
I let the melody shine
Let it cleanse my mind
I feel free now
But the airways are clean
And there’s nobody singing to me now

‘Cause it’s a bittersweet symphony, this life
Try to make ends meet
Try to find some money then you die
I’ll take you down the only road
You know the one that takes you to the places
where all the things meet

Bitter Sweet Symphony Lyrics

Because our life is a bittersweet symphony
Try to make ends meet
You are a slave to money and then you die
I’ll take you down the only road I’ve walked myself
You know, the one that leads to the place
Where do all veins join?

Chorus:
No change, I can’t change
I can’t change I can’t change
But I’m here, patterned
I’m here, patterned
But I’m a million different people
From day to day
I can’t change the template
No no no no no

Well I never pray
But tonight I’m on my knees
I need to hear some sounds that recognize the pain in me
Let the melody shine
Let her clear my mind
Now I feel free
But the airways are clear
And nobody sings to me now

Because our life is a bittersweet symphony
Try to make ends meet
Try to find some money and then you die
I’ll take you down the only road I’ve walked myself
You know, the one that leads to the place
Where everything ends

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