The immediate assumption upon hearing Stone Roses' vocalist Ian Brown exhale "I don't have to sell my soul, he's already in me" over Mani's steadily humming bassline and John Squire's fibrous guitar is that he's speaking of some Satanic act. That Brown has traveled out to a dusty crossroads in the middle of night and traded everything for something as contrived as "stardom." Tired of being relentlessly pursued by the green monster, he's given in to its clawed embrace. A road to riches may lead straight to the bowels of hell for Brown, but he's willing to roll the dice anyhow.
And that's precisely the interpretation that you'll find scattered across websites like Songmeanings. Many are convinced that the Manchester-quartet, who had yet to reach world-conquering status, was hypnotized by the spotlight before the show had even begun. So when Ian Brown's repeating his need to "be adored," his focus is squarely on prospective fans. The reading remains viable until you consider just how much the entire band seemed to hate many of the trappings of fame, particularly the press.
But more than an outward disdain for journalists, its Ian Brown's inner-desperation that signals his true motivation. While fame can loom large in a person's life, it's hard to imagine the obsession being so overwhelming that you'd call out to the dark-lord for help. Not to mention such bids are rarely done in quietude. Throughout much of "I Wanna Be Adored" Brown's voice struggles to rise above a whisper. Hearing Brown make those opening confessions of "I wanna be adored" are agonizing, but also illuminating. The desire is far more "simplistic" than stardom. In reality, all Brown longs for is to belong. The "adoration" doesn't need to be excessive fawning or incessant praise, an "I love you" or a "good night" will suffice. Those brief statements speak volumes because they show that you are not alone. They're unimpeachable proof that life has a point; to connect. Without connections, everyone would be toiling away in isolation until the end of time. Yes, on a base level connections bring us together, but they also give us a sense of purpose. The type of purpose Brown insatiably craves.
Over the course of The Stone Roses LP, Ian Brown is able to find that purpose. In the infectious "She Bangs the Drums" he locates a love who can "describe the way I feel." John Squire's punctuated guitar blasts in "(Song for My) Sugar Spun Sister" provide Brown with room to lie down next to a "candy floss girl." A girl he can wake up to the sun with. Even "I Am the Resurrection", anchored by Reni's rallying drum part, is based on the premise Brown's character was once in love. Sure he now struggles to "hate you as I'd like," but those frayed lines still lead somewhere. "I Wanna Be Adored" is a lone outlier on the album, the one without any kind of connection.
The narrative of "I Wanna Be Adored" isn't all that stands in stark contrast to the rest of the album. John Squire's guitar tone on the track is closer to a cobweb than it is a jangle. As self-assured as it grows during the climactic solo, Squire's guitar still draws circles in the dirt floor of an abandoned basement. It reinforces what is going on instead of freeing you from it. The same can be said of Mani's bass playing which locks into a subtle chug and never strays far from the groove. Reni's content to ride hi-hat tics and snare hits off into an uncertain sunset. Where much of The Stone Roses firmly places the band in the danceable Madchester-scene they helped put on the map, "I Wanna Be Adored" heads for broody ground. A land where few dare to change course for fear of reprisal. Remarkably, Brown's the one who turns most drastically in "I Wanna Be Adored". By the end his hushed request has grown into a near roar of "I wanna, I gotta be adored." Some things can't wait forever and Brown's universal request belongs in that class.