Why Courteeners' Not Nineteen Forever is more than just an indie banger

31 March 2024, 14:00

Liam Fray tells the story of Not Nineteen Forever

Radio X

By Radio X

Find out what Liam Fray has to say about Courteeners' biggest anthem.

Not Nineteen Forever was Courteeners' fourth single, released on 31 March 2008.

Taken from St. Jude - the Manchester band's debut album, which was released in the same year - the track went on to reach number 19 in the UK chart and become their highest charting single to date.

But what's the story behind the band's biggest and most successful anthem? Find out more here.

Courteeners' Not Nineteen Forever single
Courteeners' Not Nineteen Forever single. Picture: Artwork

What is Courteeners' Not Nineteen Forever about?

The infectious indie anthem written by Liam Fray evokes images of messy nights out, drunken hook-ups and bad behaviour, while waving goodbye to one's fleeting youth.

"You're not nineteen forever, pull yourself together/
I know it seems strange but things, they change"

Watch the official video for Not Nineteen Forever here:

The Courteeners - Not Nineteen Forever

Simple in its construction and vivid in its imagery, the song takes us through an encounter between an "older woman and a younger man," who have met on a night out.

Though they seem to be going home together, things seem pretty bleak for the pair - with the woman being less than impressed by the young man's antics.

Despite it all sounding very dismal, the song itself is strangely upbeat.

Liam Fray of The Courteeners in 2010
Liam Fray of The Courteeners in 2010. Picture: Shirlaine Forrest /Getty

Speaking about the meaning of the track, Liam Fray told Radio X: “It’s about, I guess, growing old, not wanting to grow up."

Hinting at Britain's binge drinking culture, the frontman mused: “Well, the first lyric is: ‘She tried to peel me off the pavement,’ so if you want to know why it’s connected with the British public I would guess… [it's because of this].

“I don’t know if that’s a great representation of who we are, but maybe. I guess there’s a lot of honesty.”

On their St. Jude album in general he said: "It’s quite an honest album. I think It’s overlooked because people think it’s just about going out and getting smashed and forgetting it.

"But a lot of it is probably: ‘Why are you doing that?’"

Watch Liam Fray's stripped-back and acoustic version of the single here:

Liam Fray - Not Nineteen Forever (Acoustic for Radio X)

While most of us could probably guess what the track was about, not everyone knows it came about from a mistake Fray made while trying to learn the guitar part to one of The Strokes' biggest hits.

"I wrote it on the end of my bed, revealed The Middleton rocker. "I think I was trying to work out Someday by The Strokes. I kind of got it wrong and ended up with that.".

Listen to The Strokes track, which is taken from their 2001 debut album Is This It:

The Strokes - Someday (Official HD Video)

READ MORE - Liam Fray: The Strokes playing live brought a tear to my eye

Despite the song's huge impact, it seems that Fray is still keen to play down its success.

“We’ve got a few songs that have sort of taken on their own thing live," he mused. We just thought it was another one in the set."

The Middleton rocker concluded: “I still don’t think it is a huge hit”.

We'd beg to disagree Mr. Fray...

Liam Fray - Disco 2000/Not Nineteen Forever LIVE | Radio X Session | Radio X

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