Wire – “One Of Us”

Wire – “One Of Us”

Object 47 – so named because it was the 47th entry in Wire’s official discography – came at an interesting time in the band’s existence. Coming five years after Send and the Read & Burn EPs heralded their return and relevance in the 21st century, it found the band in unknown territory with founding guitarist Bruce Gilbert having left the band. This wasn’t the first time they were operating as a trio, but when original drummer Robert Gotobed left in 1990, they consciously rebranded themselves as Wir for one record – 1991’s The First Letter – before disbanding.

This time, they remained Wire and while Object 47 isn’t a career highlight, it’s not a forgettable footnote either. It is notable, however, for featuring one of the band’s most pop and lyrically direct compositions in album opener, “One Of Us”:

Can I make it plainer?
I misjudged your intentions
Misread behaviour
That beggars many questions
What happened to our plan
The one that we began?
Are you an also-ran?
Finished? Inconsequential?

Wire – “One Of Us”

Given the timing, there’s an obvious conclusion to be drawn about the song’s inspiration, but in conversation with self-titled, Colin Newman denies it point blank:

Who is “One of Us” about?
Well it’s obviously about someone we don’t like very much but it most definitely isn’t about Bruce.

The s/t interview: Colin Newman of Wire

So that’s that? Stay Thirsty also asked about the circumstances around Gilbert’s departure in December 2008, to which Graham Lewis’ reply was:

Four years ago in 2004, he resigned by email and said he didn’t want to discuss it.  We can’t really give you a comprehensive answer why he did.  There were several parts of it.  One of which was the manager which we consequently fired.  It caused a lot of trouble within the group.  The other thing was Bruce never really liked playing live so much and he became increasingly reluctant to do that.  Also, he’s like seven years older than everybody else.  We did some tours which the schedules were pretty tough.  And also, he’s a contrary bugger.  Sometimes he does what he wants to do.  When he quit, the band was in a real hiatus.  It was very close to dissolving.  Until 2006, which kicked off the arc of work which was Read & Burn 03 and Object 47.  What we decided to do when we developed the material quiteaways, was to corral all the material which Bruce made a gesture at.  Cause some of this material was started in 2001, 2002.  When we decided which four tracks they were, we gave Bruce a CD and said, “are you interested?”  And he said, “no.”  He didn’t have his heart in it.  So I guess it’s official.  That was that.  But as to completely why, I’m afraid you’ll have to ask him.

Graham Lewis, Wire
Interview with Colin Newman and Graham Lewis of Wire @ Stay Thirsty Media

“One Of Us” also got the music video treatment, again uncharacteristically featuring the band members walking around New York City filmed through a fisheye lens and Newman lip-synching the lyrics. It’s almost like they were a regular rock band.

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