Poor Nigel doesn’t get any say in the plans bveing made around his life.
THE STORY IN THE SONG XTC MAKING PLANS FOR NIGEL 1979
Writer – Colin Moulding. Album – Drums And Wines. Running time – four minutes and thirteen seconds.
One of the best punk songs ever recorded, though it sadly only reached Number 17 in the UK charts. This number addresses peer group pressure with a hint of barbed satire over the spiraling decline of British industry.
It is not clear who is making plans for Nigel’s career. Family? Friends? The education system? Careers officers?. The State? The song was written as unemployment was soaring to record levels in Britain.
XTC (Ecstasy) don’t give Nigel any say in these plans. His working life and happiness are decided for him. We are told that while he likes to speak, he enjoys having people speak to him more – in other words, the authorities like to address him and speak for him. His vote, or a nod of his head gives them the power to rule over him.
A telling line comes in the career path chosen for everyman Nigel – work in British Steel’. Note that use of ‘a’. The steel industry was (and remains) in ruins following the decline of the industry, especially in steel towns like Sheffield. The song begins to suggest a state regime offering a manifesto promise of a revival of the industry and a promise of a job and secure future for Nigel – it begins to sound like an empty, hollow, unworkable promise. The plans are likely to amount to nothing. Nigel’s happiness is far from assured. If anything, being manipulated, shaped, given little say in the plans being made for him, and not gaining a respectable steady career are likely to be quite detrimental to him.
XTC were too poetic and their lyrics too filled with hidden complexity to really capture the punk mood of their day and their music lacked the vibrant energy drive of anger of youth given in many punk numbers of the period, preferring a careful precise use of social observation that meant their intentions often got overlooked. They were applauded by music critics and have a strong fan base but never captured hearts and minds as the Stranglers and Sex Pistols did.
Robbie Williams and The Rembrandts have done cover versions of the song. .
The lyrics to Making plans For Nigel http://www.lyricsfreak.com/x/xtc/making+plans+for+nigel_20147713.html