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 that rhyme
One hundred blank faces mime

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."

Also from Dan:

From New Manchester Review, #53, dated 24 March 1978 to 6 April 1978, p8, interview with MES:
 


Mark: " 'Bingo Master's Break-Out' is about somebody who reads out bingo numbers, and how if it was me it would drive me round the twist."

 

From The Fall Stumble into the Void, by Ian Wood, Sounds 8 April 1978, p.26:
 


'Bingo Master's Break Out' for instance concerns a a visit Mark made with his parents to a bingo hall.

"It was incredible. There was this guy there with these balls going. It wasn't like a place you'd go for your leisure, it was a glorified works canteen. And people were going there straight from work..." In the song, the caller eventually goes berserk.

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. Duncandisorderly notes that Damien in the Omen bore the mark '666' over his ear.

^

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 (32)

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.
bzfgt
  • 15. bzfgt (link) | 07/10/2017
Yeah, maybe. Weird line, in context.
bzfgt
  • 16. bzfgt (link) | 07/10/2017
Damien: mentioned. I haven't seen the film in years and can't get a Google image, is it confirmed he bore '666' above his ear?
bzfgt
  • 17. bzfgt (link) | 04/01/2018
"Aerospaceage Inferno" by Robert Calvert mentions "Kelly's Eye" in the spoken that plays during the end ...
ex-worker man
  • 18. ex-worker man | 13/03/2018
Two friendly suggestions as heard here;

A light brown, which he fills out (i.e. the thinning hair)

Wasting time in numbers that rhyme
One hundred blank faces mime
bzfgt
  • 19. bzfgt (link) | 21/03/2018
"A light realm" does not seem to fit here. "Numbers that rhyme" makes more sense. I am going to have a listen and I hope I can incorporate that stuff, as it seems better than what I have.

All of those corrections jibe with my ears. Any objections?
bzfgt
  • 20. bzfgt (link) | 21/03/2018
That guitar is so sloppy and out of time it's unbelievable...
dannyno
  • 21. dannyno | 25/03/2018
I'll listen again, but if the line is indeed "A light brown which he fills out", then "a light brown" probably means a light brown suit, and filling out a suit suggests our bingo master is a little tubby in appearance.
Martin
  • 22. Martin | 27/03/2018
I agree more with comment no. 18 as regards the line "A light brown which he fills out" rather then comment no. 21, as there seems to be little to suggest, textually, that a suit is being referred to.

By the way, the lyrics were in place from early versions of the song and are the same as the corrected version above.
jensotto
  • 23. jensotto | 28/02/2019
Bingo-Master turning Private Eye (Bogart-style anno 1971) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gumshoe_(film)
Add Albert Finney, and author Neville Smith and a picture starts to form with some familiar elements.

Found when searching BBC Genome for Murder + Mayhem - first shown https://genome.ch.bbc.co.uk/schedules/bbcone/london/1985-01-14#at-22.25

Options Morecambe+Wise in That Riviera Affair, Man from UNCLE + older Gumshoes like Mr Magoo https://genome.ch.bbc.co.uk/schedules/bbctv/1963-03-10#at-16.45
jensotto
  • 24. jensotto | 28/02/2019
Hexen: Badlands (73) was shown on BBC Two 24th August 1980 and has some music by Orff, including Goethe's Hexen-einmaleins
dannyno
  • 25. dannyno | 24/04/2019
From New Manchester Review, #53, dated 24 March 1978 to 6 April 1978, p8, interview with MES:


Mark: " 'Bingo Master's Break-Out' is about somebody who reads out bingo numbers, and how if it was me it would drive me round the twist."
dannyno
  • 26. dannyno | 24/04/2019
In the same interview, the lyric is rendered as "A light realm which he fills out", not "A light brown..."
dannyno
  • 27. dannyno | 15/05/2019
I suppose if you can have a "realm of dusk", you can have a "realm of light".
dannyno
  • 28. dannyno | 13/06/2019
From The Fall Stumble into the Void, by Ian Wood, Sounds 8 April 1978, p.26:


'Bingo Master's Break Out' for instance concerns a a visit Mark made with his parents to a bingo hall.

"It was incredible. There was this guy there with these balls going. It wasn't like a place you'd go for your leisure, it was a glorified works canteen. And people were going there straight from work..." In the song, the caller eventually goes berserk.


Dan
dannyno
  • 29. dannyno | 04/11/2020
"Treble-six right over his eye"

I notice we haven't really got to grips with this line.

I think there's a tendency to assume it's all bingo related, but I'd suggest that this is taken from darts, where the "treble-six" (on the outer rim of the board) is (according to various glossaries) known as "the devil" (because it's "666" of course).

And if that's right, then to have "666" over your eye may be borrowed from Damian's birthmark in The Omen movies.

And then you have to wonder, is MES portraying the bingo master as satanic, or is he suggesting this is a delusion on the part of the bingo master. Or perhaps we need to sidestep what MES' intentions may have been (which we don't know), and any "literal" reading, and focus instead on the effect of the text, once understood, which is that it certainly points to something dark even if it's not hinting at anything 'demonic' at work per se. I mean, we can interpret it in terms of psychological horror rather than Lovecraftian horror, if you see what I mean.,
dannyno
  • 30. dannyno | 04/11/2020
The bit about Damian is already in the notes, I've noticed, but not the darts reference.

But just to take the occult/apocalyptic interpretation a bit further....

MES didn't ever explain the song in those terms. He just said it was a bingo caller who "goes berserk". And you interpret that fairly prosaically. And that still works.

But there are hints at something more. So the "666" bit for a start.

But then also lines like these:

"A big shot's voice in his ears".

A big shot? Not just any old voices, notice. A particular one.

"Worlds of silence in his ears"

This could suggest time before birth as one world, and after death as another. I don't know. But this could suggest nihilistic thoughts, suicidal thoughts.

"Came the time"

Came the time? What time? Might this mean the appointed time? A time he was expecting something to happen, or was expected to do something? Something commanded, perhaps, by the "big shot's voice"?

Anyway, so he kills himself ("with wine and pills").

And then:

"There's a grave somewhere only partly filled
A sign in a graveyard on a hill
Reads Bingo-Master's Breakout!"

A grave only partly filled? So are we to think, then, that the "breakout" is in fact a breakout from the grave? Has the bingo master escaped burial as some kind of zombie?
dannyno
  • 31. dannyno | 04/11/2020
I should say that I suggested a bingo-zombie idea 15 years ago, and I wasn't the only one (probably before or since):

https://www.tapatalk.com/groups/thefall/help-any-info-appreciated-t8911.html
dannyno
  • 32. dannyno | 04/11/2020
Forgot to finish off my thoughts in comment #30.

So there is a possible "breakout from the grave" interpretation. But the lines can be read differently.

"A hall full of cards left unfilled"
and
"There's a grave somewhere only partly filled"

So while a "partly filled" grave could be taken as indicating the absence of a body, it could also just be a poetic device to correspond to the "hall of cards left unfilled". Which points, then, to the emptiness of the bingo-master's tragic life.

Add a comment