2 x 4

Lyrics

 (1)

He was agin the rich
He was agin the rich
He was agin the poor
He was agin the poor
He was agin the rich
He was agin the poor
He wa agin the rich
He was against all trepidation

He was agin the rich
On the loose again
He was agin the rich

There's a new fiend on the loose
On the back of the exhaust clip (2)
Clipped on rich and poor alike
Come to roost again once more

Ol' Nick doesn't go from digs to digs no more (3)
Hit him on the head with a 2 by 4
Nowadays he has a Georgian glazed porch (4)

He was agin the rich
He was agin the rich/poor (5)
He was agin the poor 
He was agin the poor

There's a new fiend on the loose
On the back of the exhaust clip
Clipped on rich and poor alike
Come to roost again once more

He said, hit 'em on the head
With a 2 by 4
He said, hit 'em on the head
With a 2 by 4

He was agin the rich
He was agin the poor

Used a table leg to club son-in-law (6)

Hit me again, my friend
Fiend in your home again
Fiend in your home again
New friend in the home, my fiend


He said show me my quarters and glasses
He said show me my quarters and glasses

There's a new fiend on the loose
Jolting in his tradition
It's a fear of the obtuse
He's got patents on the moaning
 

Notes

1. Dan reminds us that this song appeared under the title "Fiend With a Violin" on the 1996 Fall compilation of the same name, and provides a link to a fascinating article about the history of the association of the violin (or "fiddle") with the Devil. And of course, don't forget Johnny...

^

2. The "exhaust clip" line is odd--all I can imagine is a clamp on an automobile. The general idea seems to be someone (or something) who follows one around unbeknownst.

From Karl b: "On The Wonderful and Frightening World of the Fall omnibus edition ('New Fiend [rough mix]'), Mark sings 'There's a new fiend on the loose/Haunted one star restaurant/It's a zip stream from up stairs/Come to roost again once more.'"

^

3. "Old Nick" is a common epithet for the devil (see also "there's a new fiend on the loose"). Here's a quote from co-writer Brix Smith, courtesy of the Reformation site: "'2 by 4' was my words. My mental reference point was an American cartoon like Road Runner, where he would take a 2 x 4 which was a plank and whack 'em on the head. Tom and Jerry with the frying pan."

In this regard, Dan has found something significant: Rob Waite's article, "Notebooks Out," in "The Biggest Library Yet" issue #18, January 2000, p7, draws attention to a lyrical borrowing from the Woodie Brothers' song "Chased Old Satan Through the Door" (1931), without specifying what had been borrowed. Turns out that it's a significant borrowing: "Now I run old Satan through the door/And I hit him in the head with a 2 by 4."

^

4. Georgian architecture is not something from the southern USA or the Caucasus region, but is an 18th-19th century British style named after Kings George I-IV. A "Georgian glazed porch" is a small entry-way porch encompassed by glass. 

^

5. The double tracking on the vocal line splits here, with one MES singing "rich" and the other singing "poor." 

Dan:

According to Leckie in conversation with Brix, the main vocal here is a guide vocal. And there's a different MES take with different lyrical choices running through it as well (which explains the rich/poor thing).

^ 

6. It has been suggested somewhere or other that MES tips his hand here, and he's writing about Brix's (step)father (compare "What You Need": "And to meet your horrible new dad/with a grudge against me"). It could be (although I doubt the actual clubbing is factual), who knows? As usual, these background facts (if they are such) are interesting, but only mildly so.

In a Sounds magazine interview from 1986, MES briefly mentions Brix's stepfather:

I know Brix loves her stepfather and I get on really well with her real father, he comes out with sick jokes all the time.

^

More Information

Comments (26)

John
  • 1. John | 01/08/2013
This is about Brix' father, who hated MES. See also "and to meet your horrible new dad, with a grudge against me" from What you Need. And "her father was much worse, can't say why in this line" from Sing! Harpy.
dannyno
  • 2. dannyno | 12/08/2013
I don't think this is about Brix's father. Brix's mother, by the way, brought up Brix as a single parent with help from a grandparent until the age of 6 when Brix's stepfather moved in. Her genetic father hadn't been around since she was a baby.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/home/you/article-2184940/Emotional-ties-original-frock-chic-Brix-Smith-Start.html
dannyno
  • 3. dannyno | 12/10/2013
I've been listening to this again for concordance purposes.

These lyrics seem incomplete. This is what I hear (towards the end there's some indistinct stuff that I can't do anything with):

"He was agin the rich
He was agin the rich
He was agin the poor
He was agin the poor
He was agin the rich
He was agin the poor
He was agin the rich
He was against all trepidation
He was agin the rich
On the loose again
He was agin the rich
There's a new fiend on the loose
On the back of the exhaust clip
Clipped on rich and poor alike
Come to roost again once more
Ol' Nick doesn't go from digs to digs no more
Hit him on the head with a two by four
Nowadays he has a Georgian glazed porch
He was agin the rich
He was agin the rich (poor )
He was agin the poor
He was agin the poor
There's a new fiend on the loose
On the back of the exhaust clip
Clipped on rich and poor alike
Come to roost again once more
He said hit him on the head with a two by four
He said hit him on the head with a two by four
He was agin the rich
He was agin the poor
He was agin the poor
Used table leg to club son-in-law
New Fiend again in your home my friend
New fiend in your home again
Two by four
He said show me my quarters and glasses
He said show me my quarters and glasses
There's a new fiend on the loose
Jolting in his tradition
It's a fear of the obtuse
He's got patents on the moaning"
Mark
  • 4. Mark | 29/04/2014
At 3.00: "New friend in your home, my fiend."
Martin
  • 5. Martin | 14/10/2014
Does anyone know what is referred to by "quarters and glasses"? There is a drinking game called quarters, which obviously needs (drinking) glasses as well, but I don't think it's this. Maybe living quarters? Not sure.
dannyno
  • 6. dannyno | 07/12/2015
"He was against all trepidation"

What does it mean, in the context of the song, for the subject to oppose dread, apprehension, fear or anxiety? Assuming MES is using the word correctly, it's a very unusual line.
bzfgt
  • 7. bzfgt | 13/12/2015
Yes, it is odd although not in an unheard-of-for-MES way. At times I'm not sure if he doesn't just spit out words he's not always sure of the meaning of, or just as likely knows it's a little off but just likes the way it sounds.

It could mean that he is against acting hesitantly or fearfully rather than the feeling itself.

On the other hand if "he" is Old Nick, perhaps it does make sense for the devil to oppose one of the building blocks of human nature, since perhaps he is in a position to debate such metaphysical decisions made by Yahweh..."Why'd you make them so wimpy"?
dannyno
  • 8. dannyno | 04/05/2016
From Brix Smith-Start's The Rise, The Fall, and The Rise


In England, they don't have '2x4's, which is a non-metric term for a wooden plank. That image is from watching so many cartoons as a child - Road Runner hitting Wile E. Coyote with a two-by-four. It was that kind of imagery. When I listen to the lyrics now, for his part, it's evident that Mark was talking about my family's perception of him. There's a line where he goes 'used table leg to club son-in-law'.


Note, however, that this is Brix listening to the lyrics now - so may not be completely true.
dannyno
  • 9. dannyno | 17/04/2017
"Pigs to pigs" has been suggested here and there instead of "digs to digs", because of the story in Mark 5:12. Digs works better, I think, not least because there are multiple demons in the story rather than the de'il hi'self. Trouble is, once someone has suggested "pigs", that's all you can hear.
bzfgt
  • 10. bzfgt (link) | 13/05/2017
Yeah, both make sense but I kind of like "pigs" more. You could see Legion as his avatars or something.
bzfgt
  • 11. bzfgt (link) | 13/05/2017
We have nothing but our ears for evidence on this, right? We should scare up a few live versions...I like "pigs" much better, I hope that's it.
dannyno
  • 12. dannyno | 25/07/2017
Re: note 5, relevant quote from Sounds magazine, 19 July 1986:

http://thefall.org/gigography/86jul19.html


I know Brix loves her stepfather and I get on really well with her real father, he comes out with sick jokes all the time.


May or may not be true. But relevant.
dannyno
  • 13. dannyno | 12/08/2017
Rob Waite's article, "Notebooks Out" in "The Biggest Library Yet", issue #18, January 2000, p7, draws attention to a lyrical borrowing from the Woodie Brothers' song "Chased Old Satan Through the Door" (1931), without specifying what had been borrowed.

Turns out that it's a significant borrowing.


Now I run old Satan through the door
And I hit him in the head with a 2 by 4
Craig
  • 14. Craig | 24/11/2017
Sounds word for word a song about donald trump. Mark e smith is psychic man!
Dr X O'Skeleton
  • 15. Dr X O'Skeleton | 17/05/2018
First time I heard this song, on The Tube tv prog in 1983, I thought the lyric was "hit him on the head, we're the 2 bad boys". Wham! had a single called Bad Boys at the time. I assumed it was mocking them. I didn't know what a 2x4 was anyway, not being a carpenter. It may be a US expression.
dannyno
  • 16. dannyno | 20/05/2018
It's a non-metric expression, so widely used in the US I guess, but also well known in the UK. I mean, I knew what it meant and you wouldn't normally catch me doing anything with wood.
dannyno
  • 17. dannyno | 16/06/2018
The case of DeWitt Clinton Cook may also be relevant.

http://murderpedia.org/male.C/c/cook-dewitt-clinton.htm

At approximately 9 o'clock on the evening of February 24, 1939, at the campus of the Los Angeles City College, defendant, a young man twenty years of age, struck a young woman named Anya Sosoyeva on the head with a piece of two-by-four.
bzfgt
  • 18. bzfgt (link) | 15/07/2018
Wow, I never knew 2x4 wasn't universal in the Anglophone world. Note too that 2x4s aren't actually two by four and haven't been for many years...nowadays I think they're down to 1/5 by 3.5, although when last I did construction, in the 80s, I think they were a bit thicker than that...
dannyno
  • 19. dannyno | 31/01/2019
According to Leckie (https://www.mixcloud.com/BoogalooRadio/the-brix-show-special-guest-john-leckie-020119/) in conversation with Brix, the main vocal here is a guide vocal. And there's a different MES take with different lyrical choices running through it as well (which explains the rich/poor thing).
Nobody's Fall Guy
  • 20. Nobody's Fall Guy | 14/02/2019
Just rediscovering my love forThe Fall.
Don't know Jack about them, apart from listening to the music lyrics, living though, the shitetghiest of our times alongside them, etc.
2×4 seems pretty straightforward to my though.
Against rich and poor/devils and (possibly pigs?) Digs? (Little difference.)

He against trepidation as he's against waiting to end classes.
His freindly fiend, upseting parental authority etc, wants to smack piggy supports of a authoritarian class system he wants to abolish forthwith!?
Maybe has (personal familial) doublele/triple meanings?
But I also remember an early Fall No about "They've just given me their last orders!"
So maybe I'm onto something?
bzfgt
  • 21. bzfgt (link) | 16/03/2019
Dan,

For some reason that link can't be Waybacked. I'm going to put it in as is, but I feel gloomy about the future...
bzfgt
  • 22. bzfgt (link) | 16/03/2019
NFG, yeah there is a smack of class war rhetoric here, although such is rarely straightforward in Fall lyrics...
bzfgt
  • 23. bzfgt (link) | 16/03/2019
Or I guess that last statement doesn't really mean anything. What I mean is we can certainly hear a resonance of that, without me wanting to say that's "what the song means"
Karlb
  • 24. Karlb | 30/03/2019
I think the against all trepidation line is probabably refering to the over positive west coast attitude. Everythings good the sun is shining state of mind...that can go so far as to deny class difference. Agin the rich, agin the poor. See Baudrillard on his notions of the over production of positivity. I also hear Brix in her vocal sing 2 plus 4 . Her and Mark plus the rest of the band....Mark refers to their couple/ marriage status else where in Slang King.
Karlb
  • 25. Karlb | 05/04/2019
On The Wonderful and Frightening world omnibus edition, the New fiend 2x4 rough mix Mark sings "theres a new fiend on the loose, haunted one star restaraunt,its a zip stream from up stairs, come to roost again once more".
dannyno
  • 26. dannyno | 31/07/2019
2x4 appears on the Fiend with a Violin Receiver compilation under the title, "Fiend with a Violin".

For a consideration of the significance of this imagery, see:

Why the Devil Plays the Fiddle

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