Upon first listening to The Stone Roses’ mammoth self-titled debut album, one track, in particular, stands out from the rest. It’s not the psychedelic pop catchiness of ‘Waterfall’ or its backwards-running counterpart ‘Don’t Stop’, nor is it the extended breakdown jam of ‘I Am the Ressurection’. Of all the songs on the album that are the most distinct, ‘Elizabeth My Dear’ is clearly the most different.
That’s because, for less than a minute, Ian Brown and John Squire transform the Manchester dance-rock greats into a twee English folk band. Interpolating the central melody to ‘Scarborough Fair’, ‘Elizabeth My Dear’ is The Stone Roses at their most Simon & Garfunkel. It’s the only major use of acoustic instrumentation on the album, and none of the LP’s other songs replicates or returns to that particular sound.
‘Elizabeth My Dear’ is only momentarily jarring, as it’s over and done in 50 seconds time. Once the band kicks into ‘(Song For My) Sugar Spun Sister’, the brief folk interlude quickly fades from memory as the guitar licks and baggy rhythms once again invade the sonic space. But who was the titular “Elizabeth”, and why did she get her own song on the group’s debut?
That would be England’s, and the world’s, most famous Elizabeth: Queen Elizabeth II. Not unlike the Sex Pistols before them, The Stone Roses weren’t just going to dedicate an enthusiastic ode to Her Royal Highness. The single stanza of ‘Elizabeth My Dear’ lays out exactly how much menace and threat Brown is coming at the crown with.
“Tear me apart and boil my bones
I’ll not rest ’til she’s lost her throne
My aim is true, my message is clear
It’s curtains for you, Elizabeth my dear”.
Who knows what specifically inspired Brown to take aim right at the very top of the British monarchy, but dissent among the British populace towards The Queen isn’t exactly a new thing. Just as he’s getting warmed up, however, Brown drops the subject like a bad habit and switches course to a more traditional love song on the following track. However, a little bit of anti-authoritarianism still reigns as Brown fantasises about when “every member of parliament trips on glue.”
Check out ‘Elizabeth My Dear’ down below.