My Top 20 Songs of 2012 #10: Blur – ‘Under The Westway’


This next song, we wrote… just imagining what the last day of the Olympics would feel like, being here and really this song is just written for you… so it’s your song

So said Damon Albarn just before Blur played their best song in over a decade in Hyde Park on the last day of the Olympics. It’s a gloriously sad, swooning, sing-along anthem, encapsulating Damon’s undying love for London. Not only was it a lighters-aloft-hug-the-nearest-stranger massive tune, it also had some of Damon’s best lyrics.

Unlike the gaudy Closing Ceremony, bizarrely dominated by Jessie J (seriously, she must have some truly depraved pictures of a top-level executive in the music business), Under The Westway at Hyde Park would have been a perfect end to the Olympics, fit to sit alongside the glory of the Opening Ceremony.

The lyrics perfectly sum up both the stellar glory of the Olympics, whilst acknowledging the sadness behind the fact that we’d have to get back to the humdrum of the real world once it was over: “Upon the Westway/Where I stood watching comets’ lonesome trails/Shining up above me the jet fuel it fell/Down to earth where the money always comes first/and the sirens sing.” It was about losing yourself in a truly beautiful moment, despite knowing that there will be a comedown. Never has the A40 sounded so romantic.

Although it’s clearly a Damon song, Graham’s guitar work is absolutely gorgeous, working perfectly alongside the vocals. The short riff at 1:24 (reminiscent of Battery In My Leg, the only song on which Graham played on Think Tank) is as beautiful and brilliant as anything in their whole back-catalogue.

If this is the last thing Blur ever release*, then it will be amongst the greatest of swansongs.


*ignoring the b-side, ‘The Puritan’, which was frankly a bit naff.

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