Before the Moon Falls

Lyrics

Shhhh

We are private detectives onward back from a musical pilgrimage
We work under the name of the Fall.
Who would suspect this?
It is too obvious.
Our office is secluded.
Those there to suspect
Would not see the wood for the trees
We were six like dice but we're back to five (1)
Up here in the North there are no wage packet jobs for us (2)
Thank Christ
While young married couples discuss the poverties
Of their self-built traps
And the junior clergy demand more cash
We spit in their plate and wait for the ice to melt

I must create a new regime
Or live by another man's (3)
Before the moon falls (4)
I must create a new scheme
And get out of others' hands
Before the moon falls

I could use some pure criminals
And get my hands on some royalties (5)
Before the moon falls

A problem of this new scheme
Is answering obscene phone calls
Before the moon falls

Gotta stop drifting around
Kill this ugly duckling  (6)
We've got the power
And must not misuse it
Cos life is short and full of thought
I use the power

And will forever end this reign of terror (7)
Before the moon falls
Before the tide subsides
Before the moon falls for the fifth time (8)
Before The Fall swoons

Notes

1. This refers to the departure of keyboardist Yvonne Pawlett. The Fall who recorded this song were MES, Marc Riley, Craig Scanlon, Steve Hanley, and Mike Leigh.

^

2. The phrase "wage packet," literally a pay envelope, is sometimes used in Britain to mean wages in general. Thus, the lyric indicates the difficulty, in the North, of finding what is sometimes called a "straight job."

^

3. This paraphrases William Blake's lines in Jerusalem, spoken by Los: "I must Create a System or be enslav'd by another Man's. I will not Reason & Compare; my business is to Create." MES later adapted the famous "Jerusalem" section of Milton a Poem as "Dog is Life/Jerusalem," and the poet is the subject of the song, "W.B."  

^

4. In the Peanuts strip from 6/24/1979, Sally is sleeping in the back yard with a friend named Eudora. The latter is anxious that something is going to fall on her head when she's sleeping, and at one point she asks "What if the moon falls out of the sky, and hits me right on the head?" The word balloon from this panel is reproduced on the sleeve of Dragnet.

This doesn't necessarily mean that the line was inspired by the cartoon, though; as Dan points out, it's just as likely that MES saw the cartoon after the line was written, and reproduced it on the album cover due to the resonance with his lyric. 

Dan speculates that the origin of the line is in a book MES is likely to have read:

"From The Morning of the Magicians (1960, Destiny Books, 2009 edition, p.207):

'It is certain, then, that the moon will end by falling on to the earth.'"

This is from my notes for "Hotel Bloedel," and conveys a bit of the character of the book in question:

In the pseudo-historical book about the occult The Morning of the Magicians, which contains, among other things, an account of occult tendencies in the NSDAP that is of dubious veracity, it is reported that a Tibetan monk nicknamed "The Man With The Green Gloves" lived in Berlin and headed a group called "The Society of Green Men," which was in consultation with Hitler about a secret underground city ("Agarthi") from which Buddhist adepts ruled the planet. Interestingly, the authors themselves seem to have openly acknowledged that their book is fanciful, but this hasn't stopped some of its claims from being perpetuated

^

5. Mark weighs in:

I seem to recall that the "pure criminals" line was a dig at Step Forward Records for their lack of royalty payments. MES makes another dig at them (specifically Miles Copeland) in "What You Need ."

^

6. I assume most readers will be familiar with the fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen of this name. Spoiler alert: the duckling was a swan.

^

7. nairng: "I have just watched the Hammer version of Dracula (Christopher Lee in title role); Harker writes in his diary, 'With God's help, I will forever end this man's reign of terror.'"

^

8. The Morning of the Magicians (p.210) (see note 4 above):

"And so, according to Horbiger, the Moon, the one that we can see, is only the last, and fourth, of the satellites captured by the Earth"

^

Comments (23)

dannyno
  • 1. dannyno | 07/04/2013
"And the junior clergy demand more cash"

Pay rises for the Church of England clergy were in the news 1977-1978, not least because they were in the context of a wider incomes policy. I found articles from 1978 where the increases were said to be fundable by voluntary donations to the Church.
dannyno
  • 2. dannyno | 19/06/2013
From "The Morning of the Magicians" (1960), Destiny Books 2009 edition, p.207:

"It is certain, then, that the moon will end by falling on to the earth."

See also Hotel Bloedel for more "The Morning of the Magicians" references.
dannyno
  • 3. dannyno | 19/06/2013
Before the moon falls for the fifth time


Again, "The Morning of the Magicians" (p.210):

"And so, according to Horbiger, the Moon, the one that we can see, is only the last, and fourth, of the satellites captured by the Earth"

Gurdjieff is cited too.
Martin
  • 4. Martin | 21/02/2014
It may be slightly interesting to know - at least so we can see how MES was constantly rewriting lyrics between live and studio versions - that the line "We were six like dice but we're back to five" was absent in the first known live performance of the song (25 March 1979) as Yvonne Pawlett was still a member of the group.
Mark
  • 5. Mark | 22/06/2014
I seem to recall that the "pure criminals" line was a dig at Step Forward Records for their lack of royalty payments. MES makes another dig at them (specifically Miles Copeland) in "What You Need".
Mark
  • 6. Mark | 22/06/2014
I seem to recall that the "pure criminals" line was a dig at Step Forward Records for their lack of royalty payments. MES makes another dig at them (specifically Miles Copeland) in "What You Need".
bzfgt
  • 7. bzfgt | 24/06/2014
That's great, but what do you mean you "seem to recall"? Do you think MES said this in an interview or something?
nairng
  • 8. nairng | 27/10/2014
I have just watched the Hammer version of Dracula (Christpher Lee in title role); Harker writes in his diary, "With God's help, I will forever end this man's reign of terror".
Wrt the "pure criminals", MES is surely suggesting that he feels the unpaid royalties can only be his if he can arrange for them to be stolen?
nairng
  • 9. nairng | 28/10/2014
Ok i realise now im not disagreeing with mark about the pure criminals...think i read that with undue haste last night! The whole issue of step forward royalty non-payment is discussed with an mes quote on p33 of the "paintwork" book by brian edge...i think he got all his quotes from old nme/melody maker/sounds interviews, but didnt give dates or owt.
dannyno
  • 10. dannyno | 20/12/2015
On the FOF, I wonder if the "pure criminals" line comes from a comic book:

http://z1.invisionfree.com/thefall/index.php?showtopic=39570&view=findpost&p=22533529
dannyno
  • 11. dannyno | 30/04/2017
"Kill this ugly duckling"

Hans Christian Andersen, of course.
bzfgt
  • 12. bzfgt (link) | 13/05/2017
Thanks, that's something I never would have noticed should have a note but, of course, it should.
dannyno
  • 13. dannyno | 29/06/2017
The implication of note #4 is that the Peanuts cartoon is in some way the source of the "moon falls" imagery. People have certainly expressed this belief on the FOF.

They are wrong. I think the Peanuts cartoon was appropriated for the Dragnet cover because of its coincidental echo of the "moon falls" line, and not because it was the source of the lyric or the title. As previously commented, I think the source of the "moon falls" line and song title is the book "The Morning of the Magicians".

Why do I think the Peanuts-origin idea is wrong?

Well, first of all, the line doesn't actually appear in the cartoon.

Secondly, the cartoon was published on 24 June 1979. Dragnet was released on 26 October. But the song was performed as early as March.

Crucially, in the UK Peanuts was published by the Daily Mail. 24 June 1979 was a Sunday, so the Mail on Sunday was published that day instead of the Daily Mail. I don't know if the strip appeared in the Mail on Sunday - I'm assuming it did. I searched through the Daily Mail from June through to October 1979, and the strip does not appear. So perhaps it was in the Mail on Sunday, which I haven't searched. It's possible. However, the Daily Mail was not publishing the strips in the same order as they were published, in which case the Mail on Sunday maybe wasn't either.

At any rate, given the dates it seems clear that the Peanuts strip post-dates the song title and lyric.
dannyno
  • 14. dannyno | 30/06/2017
Ha! Overnight a thought occurred which I've just checked out. The Mail on Sunday didn't exist in 1979, only being launched in 1982!

So, unless another paper was printing Peanuts on Sundays, that means that the cartoon in question definitely did not appear in the UK on 24 June 1979 - it must have been after that date or not at all.

Dan
bzfgt
  • 15. bzfgt (link) | 15/07/2017
Dan, what do you mean the line doesn't appear in the cartoon? Is it altered on the cover of Dragnet? I feel like there's an obvious meaning to what you're saying that I'm missing.
bzfgt
  • 16. bzfgt (link) | 15/07/2017
Or you just mean it's not the line that appears in the song itself?
bzfgt
  • 17. bzfgt (link) | 15/07/2017
You love to put book titles in quotation marks...
bzfgt
  • 18. bzfgt (link) | 15/07/2017
Thanks, Dan, I got a good note and discovered a typo in the "Hotel Bloedel" notes.

The note could be better, though, and so could the one from Bloedel--what is the specific evidence that MES read MOTM? It seems right to me, and so familiar, that he has, but I don't seem to have a source here, or at HB, or in the notes for "Hittite Man," that connects him with that book in particular...
bzfgt
  • 19. bzfgt (link) | 15/07/2017
There I just say "MES is known to have read The Morning of the Magicians". If it were Wikipedia, it would say "How? By Whom?" above it. Not that we hold ourselves to quite Wikipedia standards, but still...
dannyno
  • 20. dannyno | 15/07/2017
Comment #15

The "Peanuts" line is "What if the moon falls out of the sky, and hits me right on the head"?
The song title is "Before the moon falls", which is not in the strip.
And the lyric is "Before the moon falls" and "Before the moon falls for the fifth time", neither of which are in the strip.

The common bit is just "the moon falls".

The moon falling for the nth time is fairly obviously a "Morning of the Magicians" thing.

That's what I mean.
dannyno
  • 21. dannyno | 15/07/2017
How do we know MES has read "Morning of the Magicians"? We don't. There is no direct reference to the book anywhere in his interviews or writing that I'm aware of. However, there are so many references to the notions in the book in interviews, writing and song lyrics that it is a reasonable inference that he has read it. He could have read about it, of course. But it's not like the book is difficult to find, or not famous, or not the kind of thing he would have read.

See the FOF http://z1.invisionfree.com/thefall/index.php?showtopic=35539 for more discussion.
bzfgt
  • 22. bzfgt (link) | 22/07/2017
OK, I fixed the [/i]Bloedel[/i] note although I could almost swear we had a reason to think he'd read it beyond "he would." Maybe not, though.
bzfgt
  • 23. bzfgt (link) | 22/07/2017
Sorry I acknowledge re:^ it's a bit more than that. I will fix my note here too. I see the relevance of your second MOTM quote now.

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