FIRST PUBLISHED: Q Special Edition, January 2003
By Chris Hunt


“It strikes me that a lot of people don’t know about real songs anymore,” said Lee Mavers in November 1988. “You know what I mean? Songs are all that there is, because at the end of the day a song is all you’ve got to take home with you. You sing when you’re happy and you sing when you’re sad, the songs are everything.”


A year after their debut with Way Out, and flying directly in the face of the prevailing trends for acid house brought about by the second summer of love, The La’s were set to release There She Goes, the kind of near-to-perfect pop song that Mavers could wax lyrical about for hours. Light years from the technological innovations fuelling the hit parade of the day, here was a single revelling in its retro simplicity. Uncomplicated and honest, in a world gone raving mad, There She Goes was a breath of fresh air.


In the 14 years since its release, this song more than any other has cemented the legend of The La’s, an incontestable validation of claims that cast Lee Mavers among rock’s truly great, lost songwriters. But Mavers always knew his own worth and was steadfast in his belief that The La’s would ultimately achieve greatness. “I know that it’s going to happen,” he said on the record’s release. “Even if it doesn’t happen in our lifetime, people later on are going to get it, because it’s it! You know what I mean? Like The Stones are it, like Elvis was it before ’58 – you put those things on now la, and they’re still it.”


The passing of time has seen the song achieve a far greater significance than its largely apologetic chart showings, The La’s sowing the seeds for the Brit Pop revolution to follow. For those who missed the connection, Noel Gallagher happily joined the dots just after the release of the first Oasis single, admitting that his masterplan was to “finish what The La’s started”.


A simple but captivating lyric wedded to an infectious guitar riff, the song’s timeless melody has returned time and again. Scraping into the Top 60 on its first outing, when re-issued and repackaged in 1990 it finally crept as high as Number 13, the band disowning the release until success started to bring its benefits. In the American Top 50 the following year, it returned to the UK charts for a third time in 1999 when re-issued on the back of Sixpence None The Richer’s film-soundtrack version, a sizeable hit on both sides of the Atlantic. While The La’s original and a spirited Boo Radley’s reworking have also served as movie soundtrack linchpins, Robbie Williams sneaked out a live rendition on the flip of No Regrets, his drummer Chris Sharrock having been in The La’s line-up that issued the song in the first place.


While the cover versions have added to the legend, the original remains the definitive reading – despite Lee Mavers’ protestations on its release. “It’s a much better song than the record,” he moaned. “It’s just not as we sound at all.” But it was his search for the “sound” that drove Mavers close to the edge, what made him change line-ups, recording studios and producers on a whim, leaving albums unresolved and unheard.

Like Brian Wilson he was searching for a sound that only he could hear, a perfection that represented the truth of The La’s. The irony of it all is that while Mavers finally drove the band to destruction in this quest for perfection, in many ways he had already achieved it with There She Goes.



Words copyright Chris Hunt 2007