An Older Lover Etc.

Lyrics

You'd better take an older lover (1)
You'd better take an older lover


You'll soon get tired of her
 

To take an older lover
Get ready for old stories
Of teenage sex
From the early sixties
Under cover
Behind office desks
Old divorces
Children's faces

 

You'd better take a younger lover
You'd better take a younger lover
Or take an older lover
You'll soon get tired of her
(She'll shag you out on the table)

Dear girls
Doctor Annabel lies! (2)
Doctor Annabel lies!
Doctor Annabel lies!
You raced before
It's been done
Tripped and stepped on

You'd better take an older lover
You'd better take an older lover
Or take a younger monster
But deserve better

You'd better take a younger lover
You'd better take a younger lover
You'll miss your older lover
Her love was like your Mother's
With added attractions
You'd better take a younger lover 
You'd better take an older lover
You'd better take an older lover
You'd better take a younger lover

 

Doctor Annabel lies!
Doctor Annabel lies!
Doctor Annabel lies!
Doctor Annabel lies!
On the colour page (3)
French fries spread on her face
On the future autolytic enzyme son (4)

Notes

1. Mark Smith's lover at the time was Fall manager Kay Carroll, 11 years his senior; reportedly, she was not amused.

From Dan:

From the back cover of Slates:

"AN OLDER LOVER ETC.

real Bert Finn stuff"

In her book, Brix picks this out as something that intrigued and baffled her. Well, who is "Bert Finn"? Could it be a reference to Albert Finney?

Commenter "oates" on the Steve Hoffman forums points out "This is a reference to Salford actor Albert Finney who in his most iconic role in the film Saturday Night And Sunday Morning has an affair with an older woman."

 

According to Jonder:

I watched Saturday Night and Sunday Morning and enjoyed it, but found no clues. The female lead is a housewife with a young son. Her husband works in a factory with Finney's character. Nobody works in an office, and there's no shagging behind desks or on tables. Finney then takes a younger lover, but she is no monster, and it cannot truly be said that he deserves better. Nor did he get tired of his older lover; they were found out by her husband, and were forced to end the relationship. There was no divorce.

There is no doctor in the film. No characters named Annabel, and no french fries. The film came out in 1961, so no tales of teenage sex from the sixties. One interesting bit: near the end of the film, Finney says, "Whatever people say I am, that's what I'm not."

Dan mentions a book called In Praise of Older Women, which according to Wikipedia is "a bildungsroman whose young narrator has sexual encounters with women in their thirties and forties in Hungary, Italy, and Canada. 'The book is dedicated to older women and is addressed to young men--and the connection between the two is my proposition' is the book's epigraph."

^

2. Doctor Annabel may be a real person, but I have not figured out who she is. From the context she seems to have been some sort of provider of advice. Some have suggested that she is Alan Wise, a promoter sometimes associated with the Fall, although in context I don't know what he would be doing in the song. Supermercado points out that it sounds like a pun on "Doctor, analyze!"

Again from commenter "oates" on the Steve Hoffman forums (see note 1 above):

"The line 'Doctor, Annabel lies' challenges the women's magazine of the 1970s-1980s." 

Annabel was indeed a women's magazine, which was published from March 1966 to May 1994. According to Dan "it was first subtitled 'the new magazine for the young wife.' By the late 1980s [hence, after our time] it was subtitled 'the magazine women really enjoy.'" This is a neat interpretation of a recalcitrant line, and seems plausible enough; however, it creates a new problem--if Annabel is intended, who is being addressed as "Doctor?" On the other hand, Dan has discovered that there was a page dedicated to people writing in about medical problems called "The Annabel Doctor," which could be the inspiration for the lyric indeed.

Note there is also an Annabelle magazine from Germany which covers fashion, but also women's issues with a feminist slant. "An Older Lover, Etc." does not appear in a lyrics book, and thus the spelling of "Annabel[le]" cannot be determined with 100% accuracy; even if it could, this would hardly be dispositive, as MES is hardly fastidious about such things. So both magazines would seem to be in play (but the former seems more likely in light of "The Annabel Doctor").

^

3. Robert points out that on A Part of America, Therein MES sings "on the problem page." As Robert says, this may support the "agony aunt" interpretation, but then again, who knows?

^

4. An autolytic enzyme is an enzyme that destroys the cell in which it was produced ("autolysis" is self-digestion); thus it may be that the son would be destroying his mother from the inside, but as Dan points out it is also possible that this could refer to "maceration" or the absorption of a foetus that has died in the womb.

The reference to a color page housing french fries again seems to point to a magazine, and perhaps Annabel magazine (see note 2) is lining a basket of fish and chips.  From Michael F: "I think this refers to the Sun (not son) newspaper who I'm pretty sure had a doc/agony aunt called Annabel. The Sun always referred to itself with superlatives in S 'super soaraway,' etc. I think the line may be a take off of that. It fits with the french fries (but they're not known as this in the North as you rightly point out)." I haven't found any evidence of a columnist for the Sun called Annabel, however; Dan points out that since 1980 the Sun's agony aunt has been named "Deidre" (née June Deidre Sanders).

^

Comments (39)

dannyno
  • 1. dannyno | 03/04/2013
I posted this on the Fall Forum some time ago... Kay Carroll is obvious, perhaps this less so:

In praise of older women: the amorous recollections of Andras Vajda.
Stephen Vizinczey

originally published in 1965, it became a best seller, and has recently come out as a Penguin classic.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/0141192062/

For more, see:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2010/mar/1...lliam-skidelsky

and

http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertai...en-1914793.html
dannyno
  • 2. dannyno | 03/04/2013
"On the colour page
French fries spread on her face"

It's obvious to interpret this as somehow being about someone called Dr Annabel who is a liar. But what about these french fries all over her face?

I think there's another plausible interpretation: newspaper fish and chips wrapping - and this Dr Annabel is either author of a dubious magazine advice column, or else "Dr Annabel lies" is a headline. This has the advantage of explaining what on earth the french fries are doing in the song. I did wonder if there was a magazine photo of a woman in a lying down pose with chips all over her face, but it seems less plausible.
bzfgt
  • 3. bzfgt | 03/04/2013
Re: fish and chips; that's what I was getting at in my note, I've made it more explicit above. Am looking into the other thing.
cdriver
  • 4. cdriver | 14/07/2013
Dr Annabel is Anna Raeburn (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anna_Raeburn). She had a phone-in programme on (I think) Capital Radio in London in the late 1970s and early 1980s. MES would have heard her when visiting London and obviously had her on his mind after exiting the roman shell.
dannyno
  • 5. dannyno | 19/07/2013
I don't think it's any more likely to be Anna Raeburn than it is to be Alan Wise, who has also been suggested as the real subject of that line. Anna Raeburn doesn't have a doctorate. although her Capital show was called "Anna and the doc". Nor is it necessarily the case that MES would have heard the programme. though certainly he could have done.
Martin
  • 6. Martin | 20/02/2014
I'm just wondering if the expression "french fries" was widely used in early 80s Salford. I never knew, at the time, any way to describe them other than "chips". But I probably grew up in the wrong circles...
bzfgt
  • 7. bzfgt | 22/02/2014
Yes, that would explain much.
Supermercado
  • 8. Supermercado | 31/10/2014
I've always taken "Dr Annabel Lies" to be a play on "Doctor, analyze"
Michael F
  • 9. Michael F | 20/08/2015
I think this refers to the Sun (not son) newspaper who I'm pretty sure had a doc/agony aunt called Annabel, the Sun always referred to itself with superlatives in S 'super soaraway etc' I think the line may be take off of that. Fits with the french fries but not known as this in the North as you rightly point out.
dannyno
  • 10. dannyno | 25/08/2015
The Sun's agony column has been "Dear Deidre" since November 1980 (i.e around the first live appearance of this song):

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dear_Deidre
dannyno
  • 11. dannyno | 12/02/2017
Just to note the thought that "Annabel" could be a surname, not necessarily a first name.

It could be "Dr Barry Annabel".
bzfgt
  • 12. bzfgt | 18/02/2017
But my dear chap, everyone knows it's Alan Wise.
dannyno
  • 13. dannyno | 19/02/2017
pfffffft.
bzfgt
  • 14. bzfgt | 25/02/2017
That has to be the ultimate in "It's true because everyone knows it's true." I have no idea why the first person who said "This is about Alan Wise" said it, except for the presence of the sounds "'Ah'" and "'Ize,'" which is just slightly too thin to be a solid reason for the conjecture. It's the kind of thing that someone like Son of Always would get really mad at me for questioning.

For all that, it may be about Alan Wise...
dannyno
  • 15. dannyno | 25/06/2017
From the back cover of "Slates":


AN OLDER LOVER ETC.

real Bert Finn stuff


In her book, Brix picks this out as something that intrigued and baffled her.

Well, who is "Bert Finn"? Could it be a reference to Albert Finney?
Robert
  • 16. Robert | 22/10/2017
Spotted this elsewhere online:

This is a reference to Salford actor Albert Finney who in his most iconic role in the film Saturday Night And Sunday Morning has an affair with an older woman
dannyno
  • 17. dannyno | 23/10/2017
So who's going to volunteer to watch Saturday Night and Sunday Morning for clues? Bearing mind that it will likely completely destroy your appreciation of a cinematic landmark.
jonder
  • 18. jonder | 09/11/2017
I watched Saturday Night and Sunday Morning and enjoyed it, but found no clues. The female lead is a housewife with a young son. Her husband works in a factory with Finney's character. Nobody works in an office, and there's no shagging behind desks or on tables. Finney then takes a younger lover, but she is no monster, and it cannot truly be said that he deserves better. Nor did he get tired of his older lover; they were found out by her husband, and were forced to end the relationship. There was no divorce.

There is no doctor in the film (although the young adults call each other "doc"). No characters named Annabel, and no french fries. The film came out in 1961, so no tales of teenage sex from the sixties. One interesting bit: near the end of the film, Finney says, "Whatever people say I am, that's what I'm not."
dannyno
  • 19. dannyno | 10/11/2017
Arctic Monkeys, right?

Thanks to jonder for watching the film for us. So I think we can say that although we can connect the song to the film because of the back cover annotation, the film is not a direct source for the narrative of the lyric. It's perhaps more just the thematic link that is being referred to, then.

Likewise with Stephen Vizinczey's In praise of older women. I read the book and found no smoking guns. And in that case there is no explicit reference to the book by MES or in any publicity or sleeve notes either.

But that's fine, we can say the song brings all these things to mind. And the link to Saturday Night and Sunday Morning was made, presumably by MES, on the back cover of the record, so.
jonder
  • 20. jonder | 10/11/2017
Agreed: a thematic link, but without correspondence in the lyrics. Wikipedia says that dialogue from the film was quoted by both Arctic Monkeys and the Smiths. And IMDB tells me that the characters call each other "duck" (not "doc"). I suppose I've watched too many Bugs Bunny cartoons!
dannyno
  • 21. dannyno | 11/11/2017
Yeah, it would be "duck". Pretty common. Where are you from, jonder?
bzfgt
  • 22. bzfgt (link) | 18/11/2017
Robert, do you remember where you saw it?
bzfgt
  • 23. bzfgt (link) | 18/11/2017
I have heard people call each other "doc," but never in my life have I heard them call each other "duck"...
bzfgt
  • 24. bzfgt (link) | 18/11/2017
Interestingly, perhaps, the WIkipedia entry for In Praise of Older Women quotes a review of the book in a magazine called Saturday Night, but there is no apparent connection between the magazine and the film.
Robert
  • 25. Robert | 18/11/2017
The quote was from someone on the stevehoffman forum. Here.
dannyno
  • 26. dannyno | 19/11/2017
bzfgt: comment #23.

It's completely natural as way of addressing strangers in some parts of England, particularly the midlands, but not only there. Where I live, "love" is more common.

See this BBC programme transcript:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/learningenglish/thai/features/the-english-we-speak/ep-170117

and

http://www.bbc.co.uk/insideout/eastmidlands/series7/dialect_voices.shtml
bzfgt
  • 27. bzfgt (link) | 02/12/2017
OK, a call to arms: who can find out anything about Annabel magazine (note: not Annebelle magazine although maybe this should also be considered.

New in new note 2:

Again from commenter "oates" on the Steve Hoffman forums (see note 1 above):

"The line 'Doctor, Annabel lies' challenges the women's magazine of the 1970s-1980s." 

Annabel was indeed a women's magazine, which I have not as yet found a record of from later than 1974. This is a neat interpretation of a recalcitrant line, and seems plausible enough; however, it creates a new problem--if Annabel is intended, who is being addressed as "Doctor?"

It absolutely astounds me that this magazine existed and yet all I can find about it on the internet is a couple of copies on ebay How is this possible?!

Dan, your unique skills (and please forgive me for relying on them so much, I do not take them for granted however) may be called for here.
bzfgt
  • 28. bzfgt (link) | 02/12/2017
Added:

Note there is also an Annabelle magazine from Germany which covers fashion, but also women's issues with a feminist slant. "An Older Lover, Etc." does not appear in a lyrics book, and thus the spelling of "Annabel[le]" cannot be determined with 100% accuracy; even if it could, this would hardly be dispositive, as MES is hardly fastidious about such things. So both magazines would seem to be in play.
bzfgt
  • 29. bzfgt (link) | 02/12/2017
Why do we spell it "Annabel"? My impression (which may be very wrong) is that "Annabelle" is more common, although I have seen both.
dannyno
  • 30. dannyno | 02/12/2017
Annabel was published by D.C. Thompson, from March 1966 to May 1994 (issue 339). It was first subtitled, "the new magazine for the young wife". By the late 1980s it was subtitled "the magazine women really enjoy".

Sources: catalogues of the British Library, National Library of Wales, Cambridge University, London School of Economics and National Library of Scotland.
Robert
  • 31. Robert | 05/12/2017
I think "Annabel" has traditionally been the more common spelling in England.
Robert
  • 32. Robert | 05/12/2017
There is a live version of this song on YouTube ("Live at Tumbleweeds '81") where MES seems to sing "Doctor Annabel lies ... On the problem page..."

Now "problem" isn't what he sings on the recorded version but this perhaps provides more evidence for the agony aunt interpretation discussed above.
Robert
  • 33. Robert | 05/12/2017
And I just noticed he definitely sings "On the problem page" on the A Part of America Therein version.
dannyno
  • 34. dannyno | 12/12/2017
"On the future autolytic enzyme son"

Just to note that this might not be about a child digesting the mother. There is "maceration", which is the autolysis of a foetus which has died in the womb.
dannyno
  • 35. dannyno | 13/12/2017
We could probably do with getting hold of a copy of Annabel from c1980.
dannyno
  • 36. dannyno | 13/12/2017
Annabel magazine had the strapline "The magazine for young women of all ages" in 1970 (confirmed from Feb and March covers), and "Today's magazine for today's woman" from 1981 (Jan 81 cover, July 1988 cover). "For Today's Woman" is on May 1992 and July 1993 covers.

Not sure why I'm doing this strapline research, it's of no relevance. Completeness I suppose.

However, looking on ebay at the December 1980 issue (no cover strapline), the seller has included a scan of the contents page, which includes what seems to be a regular feature: "The Annabel Doctor's Page". In this particular issue it's on "digestive dilemmas".
dannyno
  • 37. dannyno | 21/12/2017
So I got hold of the December 1980 issue of Annabel magazine. It's pretty banal and dreadfully dated stuff. I could imagine MES reading a copy of the magazine and writing this song, but there are no particular echoes of the lyrics in this issue. The medical problem page is indeed headed "The Annabel Doctor". The doctor seems to be male.
bzfgt
  • 38. bzfgt (link) | 23/12/2017
The Annabel Doctor: explosive stuff!! Thanks, Dan!
bzfgt
  • 39. bzfgt (link) | 23/12/2017
I don't know about you but I feel like that is a hot clue, this matter is far from resolved but it is shaping up in any case.

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