A Past Gone Mad

Lyrics

The Infotainment Scan

(1)

Serial killers were always a bore in my book (2)
Along with Spangles and soccer books (3)
Rid us of old fogeys
Scuttling and swerving over the roads,
Comma,
Kids in pubs
(Passable)

Why is Pete Gabriel always following us? (4)
(Passable)
And before the grub comes a moralist (5)
Dissonance of infotainment (6)

A past gone mad!
Alive and well, he is on all channels
(Kiki Dee) (7)
Dwelling in craven environment

If I ever end up like Ian McShane slit my throat with a kitchen tool (8)
And if I ever end up like U2 slit my throat with a garden vegetable (9)

A past gone mad
(Passable)

Take a look back
Rear-view mirror: it's all behind you

A present gone mad
Tra-tra-la, follow, track that lava
Past, present gone mad.
Passable
A past gone mad.

Mark Goodier Session May 17 1993

Roaming over the road
Camper van
Serial killers were always a bore in my book

Passable
Passable

Roaming around they go down the deep deep deep streets
What is he talking about now

Passable

Fucking square meals are useless for you
Out of thin air, big night, old house
It's that time again
It's the time of the fall

Bowing to a tyrant, incorrigible horrible hotel
In a suit marked 1948
Indicative of a blinkered attitude
That suit is now in the bucket

If I ever end up like Ian Mcshane cut my throat with a garden tool
If I ever end up like Ian Mcshane cut my throat with a kitchen tool

It's a good life in Europe
Passable
Passable

If I ever end up like that twat from Points of View I'll cut my throat with a tool (10)
If I ever end up like Richard Madeley cut my hands off with a axe-wheel  (11)

Passable
Passable
​Passable
Ahh Ah ah ahh

​Passable
Ahh ah ah ahh
​Passable

[See, the rocks in Spain look like the ones 'round the lochs in the Highlands]  (12)

Notes

 1. The title seems to come from the same Marvel Spiderman storyline (1976) that partly inspired "Various Times," which consists of "Marvel Team-Up" #41--#44. The cover of #43 proclaims "A Past Gone Mad!" (thanks be to Dan).

 

MES, in Select magazine is asked whether the song takes aim at the House scene. He replies, "Those lyrics are more about blokes in their mid-30s trying to swing out. Always makes me laugh, that does. I'm not against dance. What I'm having a crack at is all these guys in their mid-30s who're married with kids, and because they've seen The Hitman and Her once, they're going out to clubs and ruining it for the young kids. Get my drift?"

10-4. 

"There's a lot of fellas in this country who won't grow up..."A Past Gone Mad" is like, you turn on the telly or listen to the radio and it's all '60s music or '70s music. And they go, It's because they don't make the tunes the same anymore. It's niot that it all (heated) it's because the fuckin' people in charge want to wallow in their past...Really good groups just got an LP out get three lines, and then you get three pages on who Yes' drummers were."

^
 

 

2. The song is an attack on nostalgia; serial killers seem an odd object to remember with wistful fondness, though (on at least one live version they're lumped in with Marc Riley, who reliably comes in for knocks any time MES can't think of anybody else).  Are there people nostalgic for serial killers? Or is this a sarcastic reference to politicians or other prominent historical figures, many of whom are technically serial killers in some sense, such as Churchill or Stalin?

Dan: "In his 'Portrait of the Artist as a Consumer' (NME, 15 August 1981) feature, MES lists under 'Reads': True Crime Monthly."

From Matt Tempest:

Interesting to note that 18 March 1979 The Fall played Bradford's The Royal Standard - the Yorkshire Ripper's favoured pub, at the height of his killing spree. Highly possible he was in the audience.

Sutcliffe's case differs from the UK's most high-profile other serial killers - Shipman and the Wests - in that the latters' crimes were only discovered retrospectively. Sutcliffe sparked something close to mass hysteria and paranoia in West Yorkshire in the late 1970s, with the ongoing killings, and the police's inability to catch him.

^

3. It's notably odd that MES says "soccer" rather than "football" here. Spangles were a hard candy that was discontinued in the early 1980s; nostalgia for these is also proscibed in "Paranoia Man In Cheap Sh*t Room" and "It's a Curse."  

^

4. Gabriel had a top ten album the previous year but, although MES couldn't have known this, he was to take a ten year break between that album and the next one. Here he is presented not exactly as an object of nostalgia, but more like an item from the past that refuses to go away.   

^

5. This alludes to Bertholt Brecht's line from Threepenny Opera "Erst kommt das Fressen, dann kommt die Moral" ("first comes the food, then the morals"); Fressen means something like "feeding" rather than eating, as it is usually said of animals (thanks to Reformation for tracking this down). Neither MES nor Brecht see this as a bad thing; latter's point is that basic needs must be taken care of before a certain level of humanity can be expected of people, whereas formers' is that Gabriel's do-gooder mug keeps putting him off his supper.  

^

6. The pronunciation is "dis-own-ance," as if "Pete" Gabriel is disowning infotainment. "Infotainment," which is also mentioned in "Service" as well as in the title to the album (The Infotainment Scan), is a term of relatively recent coinage that is generally used to criticize the vapidity of television news programs.  The line on the surface suggests saying a prayer before eating ("grace"), and perhaps refers in context to television shows moralizing about the lurid horrors that they are selling (for instance I am reminded of the appalling To Catch a Predator).  

^

7. Kiki Dee (Pauline Matthews) is an English pop singer mostly known for the lightweight duet with Elton John "Don't Go Breaking My Heart."

^

8. Ian McShane played a loveably unscrupulous antiques dealer named "Lovejoy" on the show of the same name, which is certainly what MES has in mind, since on certain live versions he names the character rather than the actor; McShane can perhaps be forgiven now after his brilliant turn as Al Swearengen on Deadwood.  

^

9. It sounds like "If I ever end up like you..." for a moment. The Fall wound up opening for U2 at some point; MES claimed that the audience threw Bibles at them, a typically hilarious false-but-true claim, and one that is quite in keeping with the sentiments of this song.  

^

10. Points of View is a program on the BBC in which viewers letters about the programming are featured. It has been running since 1961. At the time when this song was probably composed, the host was Anne Robinson. Previous hosts, to that point, were Barry Took (1979-1986), Kenneth Robinson (1965-1969), and Robert Robinson (1961-1964, 1969-1971). Apparently none of these Robinsons are related to one another. It would be unusual, although not quiite unthiinkable, I am told, to call a woman a "twat" in the English of England.

As Dan points out, the line does not necessarily target a host, but possibly a guest...

^

11.  Richard Madeley is an English journalist. He and his wife Judy Finnigan hosted the chat show Richard and Judy. Finnigan is the subject of a possible allusion in "Is This New." As far as I can glean, an "axe-wheel" is a kind of rim for an automobile the edges of which could, I suppose, be sharpened...

On the version on The Twenty-Seven Points (passable) it's "If I ever end up like Judy Collins, cut my throat with a garden knife" at one point. 

^

 

12. From the beginning of the live "Glam Racket/Star" on The Twenty-Seven Points: "The rocks in Spain look like the ones around lochs in the highlands, on or on the continent."

^

Comments (30)

dannyno
  • 1. dannyno | 13/06/2015
Typo in note 5!!

"Ganriel" instead of "Gabriel".
dannyno
  • 2. dannyno | 10/07/2015
See the cover of Marvel Team-Up, feat Spiderman and Dr Doom (same sequence as inspired parts of Various Times)

Image
Martin Gammon
  • 3. Martin Gammon | 29/07/2015
Ian McShane has now basically re-invented and aquitted himself as a villain character actor including his roles in Sexy Beast and Kung Fu Panda!
C.Marshal
  • 4. C.Marshal | 17/03/2018
Re: Serial killers.

We do tend to be fascinated by stories, whether true or fictional, about serial killers; 'Silence of the Lambs', The Yorkshire Ripper, 'Seven' etc. I've always thought this might be MES having a pop at those who fetishize &/or glamourize people like The Krays, The Moors Murderers, or who write songs about 'the thoughts of Jack the Ripper' - step forward Stephen Patrick Morrissey.

Are you are missing hip priest? Always appreciated! MES RIP
C.Marshal
  • 5. C.Marshal | 18/03/2018
One other thought which coloured my thoughts on this lyric. Morrissey has always had an air of nostalgia about him, a harking back to an England that may only have existed in his mind.
dannyno
  • 6. dannyno | 21/03/2018
In his "Portrait of the Artist as a Consumer" (NME, 15 August 1981) feature, MES lists under "Reads": True Crime Monthly. I reckon if we tracked down some contemporary copies of the magazine (which apparently started publication in April 1981) we might find some lyrical inspiration.
Matt Tempest
  • 7. Matt Tempest | 04/04/2018
Re: "Serial killers were always a bore, in my book"

Interesting to note that 18 March 1979 The Fall played Bradford's The Royal Standard - the Yorkshire Ripper's favoured pub, at the height of his killing spree. Highly possible he was in the audience.

Sutcliffe's case differs from the UK's most high-profile other serial killers - Shipman and the Wests - in that the latters' crimes were only discovered retrospectively. Sutcliffe sparked something close to mass hysteria and paranoia in West Yorkshire in the late 1970s, with the ongoing killings, and the police's inability to catch him.
John Howard
  • 8. John Howard | 03/08/2018
Was listening to this song today, looked up Ian McShane and this line in the Lovejoy Wikipedia page struck me:
"Within the trade, he has a reputation as a "divvy", a person with almost unnatural powers of recognising exceptional items as well as distinguishing genuine antiques from fakes or forgeries."
So if he ends up like Lovejoy, arguing over the relative value of antiques or like U2 long past the sell by date living off of past glories we are to kill him.
its too late now obvs, but still...
bzfgt
  • 9. bzfgt (link) | 06/08/2018
Yeah, that is intriguing, I always took him to be dissing McShane himself rather than the character...
John Howard
  • 10. John Howard | 06/08/2018
sort of the opposite of pre cog: "post cog"
bzfgt
  • 11. bzfgt (link) | 16/08/2018
Much more common, too
George
  • 12. George | 07/06/2019
Maybe it's a long shot but the serial killer reference always made me think of those dodgy cash-in volumes from Colin Wilson - that "Encyclopedia of Crime" thing. I know that MES read CW cf. Deer Park from Hex.

I think Ian McShane can also be forgiven through his connection with Game of Thrones - not his appearance thereon but for his comment that GoT was basically just "tits and dragons" - an observation which I'm sure MES would have appreciated.
bzfgt
  • 13. bzfgt (link) | 03/07/2019
George, in one way that's not a long shot, as that's precisely something MES is likely to have been influenced by...on the other hand, we don't have evidence of a direct line of influence.

I'm glad we've exonerated McShane!
Jb
  • 14. Jb | 27/01/2020
Mark Goodier session (an attempt at rendering)

Roaming around they go down the deep deep streets
What is he talking about now

Fucking square meals useless for you
Out of thin air, big night, old house,
It's that time again
It's the time of the fall

Bowing to a tyrant in incorrigible, horrible hotels
In a suit marked 1948
Indicative of a blinkered attitude
That suit is now in the bucket

If I ever end up like Ian Mcshane cut my throat with a kitchen tool
If I ever end up like Ian Mcshane cut my throat with a kitchen tool

It's a good life in Europe
Passable
Passable

If I ever end up like that twat from Points of View I'll cut my throat with a tool
If I ever end up like Richard Madeley I'll cut my hands off with and axe-wheel

Passable
Passable
Jb
  • 15. Jb | 27/01/2020
In 1993 Anne Robinson was presenter of the BBC's points of view.
bzfgt
  • 16. bzfgt (link) | 01/02/2020
Posted with additions and corrections
bzfgt
  • 17. bzfgt (link) | 01/02/2020
Can someone make out the missing word in the "rocks" section?
bzfgt
  • 18. bzfgt (link) | 01/02/2020
Points of View: isn't it unusual to call a woman a "twat" in England English? I seem to see it applied to men more often. So, the current host was Anne Robinson, but the previous were men and he could mean one of them (or a guest host?). Also, are all these Robinsons related? I mean, I could look that up, but it's not important that I can see, just idly curious.
dannyno
  • 19. dannyno | 01/02/2020
It is remarkable how many Robinsons are involved with Points of View; so far as I know they are not related.

It does feel unusual to call a woman a "twat", yes, though not I suppose impossible. It does strike me as a gendered word.
dannyno
  • 20. dannyno | 01/02/2020
But note that it is just an assumption that "twat" refers to the programme's presenter. This may not be the case, since the programme had interviews and voice-over reading of letters.
dannyno
  • 21. dannyno | 01/02/2020
In March 1993 (or thereabouts), ITV launched a viewer-opinion series of its own, called The View, presented by Loyd Grossman.

Perhaps MES was mixing up the two programmes.
dannyno
  • 22. dannyno | 01/02/2020
The version on The Twenty Seven Points (with the title Passable) has "If I ever end up like Judy Collins.."
dannyno
  • 23. dannyno | 01/02/2020
bzfgt, comment #17. The "rocks" segment in the Goodier session version is hard to hear but is presumably the same as the beginning of the The Twenty Seven Points version of Glam Racket-Star:

The rocks in Spain look like the ones round the lochs in the Highlands.
dannyno
  • 24. dannyno | 03/02/2020
The front cover image I originally posted in comment #2 isn't displaying any more.

Here it is again:

https://vignette.wikia.nocookie.net/marveldatabase/images/0/05/Marvel_Team-Up_Vol_1_43.jpg
bzfgt
  • 25. bzfgt (link) | 07/03/2020
Poor Judy Collins...last person I'd expect to swim into MES's bleary, reptilian gaze....
bzfgt
  • 26. bzfgt (link) | 07/03/2020
And I say that with affection of course!
bzfgt
  • 27. bzfgt (link) | 07/03/2020
Who gets the kitchen knife on Passable (27 poiints)? Full Nelson? Bull Nurse? I have terrible transcribing ears, I know.
bzfgt
  • 28. bzfgt (link) | 07/03/2020
After Judy Collins buys it, he almost sounds like he's doing Elvis on the U2 part...
bzfgt
  • 29. bzfgt (link) | 07/03/2020
OK now that I figured out how to paste images I put it in the note, I hope whatever killed it doesn't get it again....
imn
  • 30. imn | 23/09/2020
I'd guess that the reference to soccer books is a dig at the use of the word "soccer" rather than books about football themselves. Mark talked about his enjoyment of books by Malcolm Allison and Len Shackleton in interviews.

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