(Birtwistle's) Girl in Shop
Idea formulated through sheer travel boredom
Largest bed, largest bed
And a kid
The biggest dick ever you've seen
He divines the cause for injuries
He employs all chances to his own advantage
What does not kill him, makes him
And a pussy (4)
Queen of Bozos
Strike the world
No refusal or refuse (6)
He's alright anyway
Bert Millichip (7)
Left him alone
Let him fuck
Relive the Pope
Cheap flights with bright light lights
Holy cigarette case for the jews (8)
Hey Lord, Blackpool - have played this place
Can't miss the derivative
Resident again in the bedroom
In hazed English
He's got the Broadway vampires right round him (9)
He is British
He is worm
His failure from the East and the West End
Now suddenly feel the Broadway
October Sunday Halloween
And idea of double bass bluaah gg
Partied with himself
For only 80 pence
Fifteen people off on where holidays go
Fifteen people off on where holidays go
And where do holidays go?
I cannot make it up
Need more time
1. Spencer Birtwistle is credited with writing the music to this. Thus, the possessive form of "Birtwistle's" presumably means this is his song; see also "Stephen Song" (Hanley), "Craigness" (Scanlon), "The Quartet of Doc Shanley" (Doc S. Hanley), "Jung Nev's Antidotes" (Neville Wilding), "Jim's 'The Fall'" (Watts), and "Greenway" (Peter, that is), which are all seemingly titled after the main author. As far as I know, however, "(Birtwistle's) Girl in Shop" is the only one named after someone not actually in the band at the time of recording (although, as one last twist, Birtwistle apprarently played all the instruments on the recording, which according to Reformation is all synths). Birtwistle, who was in a band called Laugh in the 1980s which scratched the indie charts, occupied the drum stool for part of 2001--long enough to put Are You Are Missing WInner on his resume. He was, reportedly, canned shortly after that album's release, but came back in 2004 and stuck around until 2006, logging in on Fall Heads Roll and kicking off the iconic Peel version of "Blindness" with some "Superstition" drumming. "(Birtwistle's) Girl in Shop" came during the off period, after an encounter between the two men in a pub led to MES dragging Birtwistle into the studio to catch lightning in a bottle. This may explain some of the lyrics below, such as "Don't ask or refuse/The colonial/Slave for Smith" (the slashes are arbitrary and included for consistency with my enjambment above, as I am not sure of the syntax, but I take these lines to be a suggestion that, even out of the band, Birtwistle is at MES's beck and call).
It is not clear whether the "girl" is also Birtwistle's, but my guess is no; for a moment I thought that the placement of the parentheses might be a clue, but "(Birtwistle's Girl) In Shop" would be a very odd name, because the main title would then be "In Shop."
This was never performed live.
2. This line echoes "Backdrop," which contains the line, "The stars drip from the sky/ In a race upside down." Dan points out:
MES will probably have been familiar with the Albert Camus line:
"Sometimes at night I would sleep open-eyed under a sky dripping with stars. I was alive then."
Whether he nicked the line we are not in a position to say, but it's possible he remembered it. The image of a sky dripping with stars is not unique, at any rate.
3. Zack points out that a reference to "track 31" also pops up in "Backdrop," in this case a 1983 version from the Austurbaejarbio album.
From the hymn, O Lord, Our Heavenly King, words by Isaac Watts, music by Samuel Wesley:
Out of the mouths of babes
And sucklings Thou canst draw
Surprising honors to Thy name
And strike the world with awe.
Seems possible at any rate that "strike the world" has a Christian religious meaning, given the use of "forgiveness" and "compassion" in the immediate vicinity.
To attempt an interpretation, if I may, it's like we have the narrator reading through a book of hymns or psalms or something - so he sees something about compassion, something about forgiveness, reads further, and then finds "strike the world". So a kind of irony at work, perhaps?
7. Bert Millichip was an English football player who later served as Chairman of the Football Association, the national governing body of football in England. Millichip is also mentioned in "Kicker Conspiracy," which came out in 1983--which gives us a possible clue to the lyric "An idea from 1983" a couple of stanzas back, if there can be said to be "stanzas."
9. Dan points out that the phrase "Broadway Vampires" appears in the song "Rose of Washington Square." The song was written by Ballard MacDonald (with music by James F. Hanley) and popularized by Fanny Brice, probably beginning in 1920, in the Ziegfield Follies, the enormously popular revue performed on Broadway from 1907 to 1931. In 1939, a film loosely based on Brice's life, Rose of Washington Square, featured Alice Faye, Al Jolson, and Tyrone Power, with the title song performed by Faye.
The chorus of "Rose of Washington Square":
Rose of Washington Square I’m withering there
In basement air I’m fading
Pose, with or without my clothes
They say my Roman nose, it seems to please artistic people;
beaus, I’ve plenty of those
With secondhand clothes and nice long hair
I’ve got those Broadway vampires lashed to the mast
I’ve got no future, But oh! what a past...
Since it was never performed live, it's hard to guess when the song was written. This was released on the "(We Wish You) A Protein Christmas" in December 2003, and seems sort of off the cuff. In any case, in January 2003, the Broadway musical Dance of the Vampires closed after little more than a month, and was reported to be one of the costliest failures in Broadway history. The music was written by Jim Steinman of Meat Loaf renown...thanks to Macula for this.