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"Motorcycle Emptiness"
Single by Manic Street Preachers
from the album Generation Terrorists
Released 1 June 1992
Format CD, Vinyl record (7"/12"), cassette
Recorded Mid 1991
Genre Alternative rock, Hard rock
Length 3:35 (short edit)
5:06 (edit)
6:02 (album version)
Label Columbia
Producer Steve Brown
Manic Street Preachers singles chronology
"Slash 'N' Burn"
"Motorcycle Emptiness"
"Suicide Is Painless"

"Motorcycle Emptiness" (About this sound sample ) is a single by the Welsh rock band Manic Street Preachers, released on 1 June 1992. It was the fifth single to be lifted from their debut album Generation Terrorists. The track is slower paced than most others on the album. Its lyrics are inspired by S.E. Hinton's book "Rumble Fish," about biker gang culture. The lyrics have been interpreted as an attack on the hollowness of the consumer lifestyle offered by capitalism, describing how society expects young people to conform.

The song reached number seventeen in the UK charts on 13 June 1992. It remained there for another week and spent a total of six weeks in the top 75, two weeks longer than any other Generation Terrorists single, and a record not surpassed by the Manics until 1996's "A Design for Life."

Some of the lyrics are taken from the poem "Neon Loneliness" (the first line of the chorus, "Under neon loneliness," is a direct lift) by Welsh poet Patrick Jones, the brother of MSP bassist and lyricist Nicky Wire. "Motorcycle Emptiness" was also included on Forever Delayed, the Manics' greatest hits album, in October 2002, and released as a reissued single from the compilation in February 2003.

The song was remixed by Apollo-440 under their alternative name Stealth Sonic Orchestra as a piece of classical-style music. This remix was available as a track on the single "Australia" (taken from their seminal 1996 album Everything Must Go); and was also used by T-Mobile for an advertising campaign in 2003, much to the derision of some fans.

The song was derived from the early Manics songs "Go, Buzz Baby, Go" (with which it shares the chord structure and the phrase "Motorcycle Emptiness" late in the song over the verse chords), and "Behave Yourself Baby," a rough demo with a similar structure, that has the lines "All we want from you is the skin you live within."

In 2006, Q Magazine readers voted the song as the 88th Best Song Ever.[1]


Sleeve quote

"I talk to God but the sky is empty." -Sylvia Plath

Track listing


  1. "Motorcycle Emptiness" - 6:02
  2. "Bored Out of My Mind" - 2:57
  3. "Crucifix Kiss" (Live) - 3:10
  4. "Under My Wheels" (Live) - 3:01

12" picture disc

  1. "Motorcycle Emptiness" - 6:02
  2. "Bored Out of My Mind" - 2:57
  3. "Under My Wheels" (Live) - 3:01

7" / MC

  1. "Motorcycle Emptiness" - 6:02
  2. "Bored Out of My Mind" - 2:57

2003 reissue CD

  • Released in Europe as promotion for the Forever Delayed hits compilation.
  1. "Motorcycle Emptiness" - 6:02
  2. "4 Ever Delayed" - 3:38
  3. "Little Baby Nothing" (Acoustic) - 4:54

Other appearances

  • The Saturday Sessions: The Dermot O'Leary Show (2007)


  1. ^ Q Magazine issue 243, October 2006, Page 71.

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