Bingo-Master

Lyrics

(1)

Two swans in front of his eyes
Colored balls in front of his eyes
It's number one for his Kelly's eye
Treble-six right over his eye (2)

A big shot's voice in his ears
Worlds of silence in his ears
All the numbers account for years
Checks the cards through eyes of tears (3)

Bingo-Master's Breakout!
Bingo-Master's Breakout!
Bingo-Master's Breakout!

All he sees is the back of chairs
In the mirror, a lack of hairs
A light realm, which he fills out
Hear the players all shout

Bingo-Master's Breakout!
Bingo-Master's Breakout!
Bingo-Master's Breakout!

A glass of lager in his hand
Silver microphone in his hand
Wasting time in numbers and rhyme
One hundred blank faces buy

Bingo-Master's Breakout!
Bingo-Master's Breakout!
Bingo-Master's Breakout!

Came the time he flipped his lid
Came the time he flipped his lid
Holiday in Spain fell through (4)
Players put it down to

Bingo-Master's Breakout!
Bingo-Master's Breakout!
Bingo-Master's Breakout!

A hall full of cards left unfilled 
Ended his life with wine and pills
There's a grave somewhere only partly filled
A sign in a graveyard on a hill reads

Bingo-Master's Breakout!

Notes

1. This was the first song the Fall released. Martin Bramah bursts onto the scene with some of the most ridiculously sloppy lead guitar I've ever heard on a studio recording (although in the age of punk this may not have been considered a sin), and MES starts penning inscrutable lyrics right off the bat. Una Baines claims to have written the music to this one. "Breakout" seems to refer to suicide here; why MES chose to write a song about a Bingo caller freaking out is a mystery, but it is a refreshing contrast to a lot of the less imaginative punk lyrics of the time. 

Dan submits: From the press release for Bingo Master's Breakout (Song is credited "Smith-Baines"): "The words to this were written out of actual stoned experience, composed about a month before recording. The only number which is a 2nd. take - the mis/tuned guitar being a deliberate rejection of the 1st. take which was much more melodic. Martin's guitar did not sound the same before or after. The tension in the band was at an all time peak and this shows through. The lyrics tell a good story also."

This is called "Bingo Master's Break-out" on the album Early Fall (otherwise known as Early Years 1977-1979) and "Bingo-Master" on the original EP, which covers more hyphen bases by calling itself Bingo-Master's Break-out. 

^

2. "Swan" in Bingo parlance is 2, so two swans (but more commonly "little ducks") is 22, suggested by the shape of the digits; a "Kelly's eye" is a one, although the origins of this are murky, with some sources suggesting a vague connection to Ned Kelly, and a helmet he wore that had a single slot for his eyes. Bingo drawings are a maximum of two digits at a time, so "treble six" isn't really a thing. It is possible that, as the caller began to freak out, he started to notice sinister combinations of numbers, and the number of the beast in whatever combination (like 66-6) jumped out at him. On the other hand, "over his eye" seems to suggest that he actually bore the mark of the beast, rather than just seeing it, although that seems like a bizarre interpretation.

^

3. I hate to put in a note in just for the sake of editorializing, but this hilariously bathetic line is an early indication of MES's sense of humor and way with words. This simple and even trite line is so perfectly placed and executed that it becomes a standout here, perhaps rivalled only by "A hall full of cards left unfilled." Such lachrymose scenes remind me of Lewis Carroll...as if you cared. 

^

4. Reported in the Daily Mail of 20 May 1974 is the case of John Goodall, arrested by Spanish detectives at a hotel on the Costa Brava on a request from Scotland Yard. He was wanted for questioning about a bank robbery, and was working as a bingo-caller in the Hotel San Marti Park. (Dan reporting)

^

 

Comments (14)

dannyno
  • 1. dannyno | 17/10/2013
It's Bingo-Master's Breakout! x3 at every chorus, if that can be made clear.
Colin
  • 2. Colin | 22/10/2013
There's only one "Bingo Masters Breakout!" at the very end
bzfgt
  • 3. bzfgt | 24/10/2013
Fixed it...that sounds right, I'll take your word for it since I don't want to listen to it right now.
Andrew Sutherland
  • 4. Andrew Sutherland | 10/04/2016
I definitely think the line is ;' A light realm, which he filled out' not 'a light room'.
bzfgt
  • 5. bzfgt | 19/05/2016
You're right Andrew, although I'm surprised. The line didn't really make sense to me to begin with, though, so I have no objection on that score...
dannyno
  • 6. dannyno | 13/09/2016
Note 3 typo: "hilariuously"
dannyno
  • 7. dannyno | 17/10/2016
There's a 1971 film starring Albert Finney and directed by Stephen Frears called "Gumshoe", in which Finney's character, a bingo-caller and comedian, becomes a private detective. While the narrative of the song doesn't follow the plot of the film, it's possible the film could have been an inspiration. There's a scene in which he "breaks out", kind of: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=srZgdloqrzE from 1:10

I've not seen the film in full yet.
dannyno
  • 8. dannyno | 17/10/2016
"Came the time he flipped his lid
Holiday in Spain fell through"

Reported in the Daily Mail of 20 May 1974,the case of John Goodall, arrested by Spanish detectives at a hotel on the Costa Brava on a request from Scotland Yard. He was wanted for questioning about a bank robbery, and was working as a bingo-caller in the Hotel San Marti Park.

I'm sure this is irrelevant as a lyrics source, but I like the echo. Goodall's Spanish holiday could be said to have fallen though, couldn't it?
bzfgt
  • 9. bzfgt | 21/10/2016
That is actually really suggestive at the very least. You think it's a dead end? It almost seems actionable...I'm going to print it, let the reader decide...
bzfgt
  • 10. bzfgt | 21/10/2016
I just noticed I had the title as "Bingo-Master." I couldn't remember how to spell the actual title so I looked it up, and that is the title; it's the single that's called "Bingo-Master's Break-Out" whereas the actual song is "Bingo-Master." I had forgotten that...
dannyno
  • 11. dannyno | 22/10/2016
I think it's one of those where because people confused the title of the single with the title of the song as it appeared on the single, it subsequently did get called by the title of the single when it appeared on compilations etc.
dannyno
  • 12. dannyno | 14/06/2017
From the press release for Bingo Master's Breakout:

Song is credited "Smith-Baines".


The words to this were written out of actual stoned experience, composed about a month before recording. The only number which is a 2nd. take - the mis/tuned guitar being a deliberate rejection of the 1st. take which was much more melodic. Martin's guitar did not sound the same before or after. The tension in the band was at an all time peak and this shows through. The lyrics tell a good story also.


http://thefall.org/gigography/image/78jun_bingo-press/index.html
duncandisorderly
  • 13. duncandisorderly (link) | 01/09/2017
could the '666' over his eye be like damien's "tattoo" in 'the omen', over his ear?
dannyno
  • 14. dannyno | 01/09/2017
duncandisorderly, comment #13 - suggestion is already in note #2!

We know from Renegade that MES thinks highly of The Omen, and we know from a letter to Tony Friel dated 28 October 1976 that he read the novelisation which was released just before the film.

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