Brillo De Facto



He got no man
Don't say
Brillo chin
In cake shops
President dumps
To Tecumseh
I am celestial 
Tiny tears of blame
We all know 
Where he came from
Gay cruiser, a
Brillo chin

Brillo chin
Brillo chin

The Kennedy
The Kennedy
I asked her
He said,
"I wanna tell you
How pale he is"
I said
"He's got noblesse"

The blue...

He give no man
Got no de facto plan
Brillo chin
Brillo chin
Got no 
Little elf (2)

Tails up!
Face down!

And the asphyxiation of the troll will finally be
All salute at the altar of filo pastry
At the altar of Kennedy joy
And whimsy
In Victoria Station
Monty    (3)
The James Fennings  (4)
And the infants
To suckle him



1.  This seems to have something to do with facial hair. It first appeared on setlists as "Brillo Filo." Some have suggested a connection with Lee Brilleaux, of the band Dr. Feelgood, and this seems to be borne out by MES himself (who will be quoted on the subject later in this note).


"Worth noting that the band 'Dr. Feelgood' got their name from the Johnny Kidd and the Pirates version of the blues song 'Dr. Feel-Good,' originally by William Perryman (aka Piano Red, aka Dr. Feelgood).

Aretha Franklin's song 'Dr. Feelgood (Love is a Serious Business)' is different.  

Theodore Morell, Hitler's doctor, has also been referred to as a 'Dr. Feelgood.' Of course Morell has been mentioned in Fall songs in the past."

The Latin "de facto" means, basically, "in fact," generally in opposition, whether implicitly or explicitly and particularly in English use, to "de jure" which means "by right" or "by law," but also can imply something a bit looser like "by title." For instance, one might say "I am the de facto foreman of this crew," where one holds no title, but functions as such. In this case, one would be in a de jure sense (according to title) a mere crew member, but function as a foreman, and thus foreman would be one's de facto position.

The Latin "Filo" in Latin is a form of "filum," meaning "thread" but also "texture," and, by extension of the latter, the nature of a thing (Wiktionary has "texture, style, nature" and thus I am assuming it is this sense of "nature" and not the kind with chirping birds and trees). But it is also a kind of pastry dough, and it is in this way that it is used in the song; nevertheless, it would be remiss to totally ignore the Latin, bumped up against "de facto" as we are.

But the title may also have been "Brillo Nilo" at some point, according to Mojo (and note the reference to Dr. Feelgood and Brilleaux):

"'You wanna know my problem?' (reaches into his man-bag for a green manila folder of lyric sheets: visible on one are the scrawled words, 'Homeric night, second one today, brillo-nilo'). 'It's Lee Brilleaux out of Dr. Feelgood, but this track's better than Dr. Feelgood. Imagine it played by Motörhead, with Pete [Greenway]'s guitar... The house is full of lyrics, I'm not fucking short of words. There's too many.'"

"Brillo (Pad)" is a brand name for steel wool scouring pads that are pre-saturated with soap. Andraes reminds us of Andy Warhol's 1964 Brillo box artworks, which were plywood boxes painted to look exactly like the mass marketed cardboard boxes in which Brillo Pads were sold. Some of the lyrics, Andraes points out, could refer to Warhol, and perhaps to his sexuality ("He got no man"), although this is speculative.

"Nilo" is the Latin name for the Nile, but here it may be nonsense syllables coined to rhyme with "Brillo" (although "nillo" would be expected, sort of like saying "Brillo Schmillo").

Brillo is often used to refer, metaphrically, to hair that is stiff and short, like facial hair (or, in the case of Frank Zappa's "Camarillo Brillo," pubic hair--David Abby makes the Zappa connection in the comments below).


2. An elf is also mentioned several times in "Couples vs Jobless Mid 30s." Here it could be a descriptive epithet for Andy Warhol if the lyrics refer to him (see note 1 above, and Andraes's comment below). Note that I am not suggesting this is likely. 


3. See "Leave the Capitol":  "...the monty/Hides in curtains/Grey blackish cream". As MES explains on the version of the latter from Tut's, Chicago, 1981-07-16, "monty" means "the real thing." Particularly note here, however, that transcriptions of these late-career songs are highly speculative. In other words, it's possible he doesn't say "monty" here...


4. James Fennings also appears in the Peel session version of "Blindness." I am indebted to Smudger from the Fall online forum for unearthing the following information: 


And so we spent a day in the company of Marshall Jefferson, one of Bacardi’s ‘ambassadors’, who are on hand to take the great tracks that today’s up-and-coming talents have produced to the next level. The winner of the Bacardi Remix competition (in the funky house genre) was James Fennings of Prestwich, Manchester. James, already a tour DJ for The Fall for the best part of a decade in his non-house guise, won himself the chance to remix his track – which had been composed with elements laid out on the Bacardi DJ website – with Marshall’s fabled assistance. 


Prestwich is in Bury, in Greater Manchester, and is where MES hangs his hat.


Comments (48)

  • 1. bzfgt (link) | 11/08/2017
This is the hardest Fall song yet to discern the lyrics of. There is speculation on the Forum about "Jacobson" but I only left that in because I can't get closer to what it is, I don't think that word is even in the song.
  • 2. bzfgt (link) | 11/08/2017
I put something wrong in instead of Jacobson. My idea is it's better to have wrong ordinary words than a wrong proper name. I am willing to listen to any arguments made on behalf of "Jacobson" though.
  • 3. bzfgt (link) | 11/08/2017
I may have violated my own principle with "Astor." "Kennedy" seems likely.
  • 4. bzfgt (link) | 11/08/2017
Some of the transcriptions say "He got no mare" but the 'n' sounds distinct to me. I think I'm the only one who has "tears of bling," it might not stand.
  • 5. bzfgt (link) | 11/08/2017
Deruntergeher's explanation for "Jacobson" is ingenious, though; now I hope we can put it in:

"'Jacobson' appears to refer to Max Jacobson, 'Dr Feelgood' of President Kennedy. Dr Feelgood being the Lee Brilleaux/brillo link."
  • 6. dannyno | 30/08/2017
Worth noting that the band "Dr Feelgood" got their name from the Johnny Kidd and the Pirates version of the blues song "Dr Feel-Good", originally by William Perryman (aka Piano Red, aka Dr Feelgood).

Aretha Franklin's song "Dr Feelgood (Love is a Serious Business)" is different.

Theodore Morell, Hitler's doctor, has also been referred to as a "Dr Feelgood". Of course Morell has been mentioned in Fall songs in the past.
  • 7. dannyno | 30/08/2017
Note 1: in fact it originally appeared on set lists as "Brillo Filo", not "Brillo de Filo". See for example Aberdeen 2 October 2016. Often in 2016 (Edinburgh 3 October 2016 for example) and throughout 2017 it was just "Brillo" (see Liverpool, 21 Jan 2017 onwards).

In fact, I can't find an example of it appearing as "Brillo de Filo". Confusion with Fol de Rol?

See the Fall Online gigography
  • 8. dannyno | 30/08/2017
Since "Brillo" suggests "Brilleaux" to some, I played with "Filleaux" (Brilleaux Filleaux, see). "Fille aux" could be a corrupted "the girl", couldn't it? Brille is French for "shines". You could play with this all day.

"Filo e brillo" gets translated by as Spanish for "Edge and brightness". There was a classic British TV series called "Edge of Darkness". Here we have "Edge of Brightness".

Brillo can mean "brightness" but also "shine", "brilliance" and similar shades (clever, cheers) of meaning. It can refer to lip gloss (

"Filo" can mean "edge"/"cutting edge" or or "blade" or "wire" or "thread" or "string" or "flex", and so on.

So "shining edge" of a knife, the brightness of a blade, or the shining edge of the horizon?

"Facto" isn't a word in any language, but suggests "facts", which fits with the album title. "Brillo de Facto" could mean "the brightness of facts" or "shining facts" something?

According to, "de filo" means "resolutely".

Colloquially it can also mean "partner" (i.e. boyfriend or girlfriend):
  • 9. dannyno | 30/08/2017
From the September 2016 issue of Mojo:

You wanna know my problem? (reaches into his man-bag for a green manila folder of lyric sheets: visible on one are the scrawled words, "Homeric night, second one today, brillo-nilo"). It's Lee Brilleaux out of Dr. Feelgood, but this track's better than Dr. Feelgood. Imagine it played by Motörhead, with Pete [Greenway]'s guitar... The house is full of lyrics, I'm not fucking short of words. There's too many.

Now, the interviewer may not have had a good look at the lyrics sheet, so "nilo" may be incorrect. But a clear steer towards Dr. Feelgood from MES here. Some of the lyrics appear to have ended up in other songs.
  • 10. Martin | 30/08/2017
"De facto" is certainly an expression which exists. So is "brilliant chin", though I have no idea what it means. "Pointed", maybe?. Also, we haven't really considered the kitchen and pastry connotations yet much.
  • 11. Martin | 30/08/2017
Brillo chin, stupid auto correction!
  • 12. dannyno | 30/08/2017
"De facto" is definitely your actual phrase or saying.

The impression I get is that this is one of those songs that starts in one place (or more than one place) and ends up in another.
  • 13. dannyno | 30/08/2017
So, yes, clearly not right to say that "facto" is not a word in any language!
  • 14. dannyno | 30/08/2017
Martin: comment #10.

There is a Lee Brilleaux/cookery & kitchens connection, although maybe not pastry in particular.

If you read Zoë Howe's 2015 book, "Lee Brilleaux: Rock 'n' Roll Gentleman", there are lots of references to Brilleaux enjoying cookery.

Lee's interest in food would blossom to the extent that he started experimenting in the kitchen himself, scribbling notes and his own diagrams inside the cookery books he worked with...

It even mentions his favourite cookbooks and correspondence with a TV cook.
  • 15. Martin | 01/09/2017

Also seems to be used in Italian:
  • 16. dannyno | 03/09/2017
Martin, #15 - yes exactly - that item is a "medieval sword" with a "brilliant edge" as per my comment #8.
  • 17. bzfgt (link) | 07/10/2017
I don't think "human garbage" is correct. I do not have something better to suggest.
  • 18. bzfgt (link) | 07/10/2017
Do you have a principled reason for omitting the period after "Dr[.]?"

And why is it worth noting where the band got their name? I did note it, mind you (note 1), on the strength of your commendation, but why did I?
  • 19. bzfgt (link) | 07/10/2017
"In fact, I can't find an example of it appearing as "Brillo de Filo". Confusion with Fol de Rol?"
William of Occam tells me it's more likely to be confusion with Brillo de Facto!
  • 20. bzfgt (link) | 07/10/2017
"Facto" is a word in Latin, Dan--it;s a form of "factum" (first definition usually "fact" but I am always suspicious of defining a word by a later permutation, also deed, achievement, something manifest then).

Thus "ipso facto," or even--er--"de facto."
  • 21. bzfgt (link) | 07/10/2017
And before I "er" you, I mentioned "de facto" not once in the notes!
  • 22. bzfgt (link) | 07/10/2017
Yes, MArtin, thank you, of course "de facto" is a word (or phrase rather), which I'm sure Dan knew but forgot. But "Brilliant chin"? You got a citation of that one? That's news to me, and to Google as far as I can tell...
  • 23. bzfgt (link) | 07/10/2017
Argh, I guess I should read all the comments instead of replying one by one. "Brillo chin" would imply stubble.
  • 24. bzfgt (link) | 07/10/2017
Martin's first link does not work for me--what's the story with "Brillo filo"? "Filo" is "sharp," as in "filed"?
  • 25. bzfgt (link) | 07/10/2017
"I don't think "human garbage" is correct. I do not have something better to suggest."

I don't even know where I got that, I have "human dog" in Fol de Rol" which I also doubt though...
  • 26. Andraes | 29/12/2017
I would suggest that the song has something to do with Andy Warhol, given that Warhol both made quite famous works with Brillo boxes and of course also a portrait of Kennedy. Some other parts could be read as references to his sexuality etc ?
  • 27. bzfgt (link) | 10/02/2018
Excellent, Andraes! Warhol has to at least be mentioned.
  • 28. bzfgt (link) | 10/02/2018
In fact I somehow omitted to even mention the brand name Brillo! Wow.
  • 29. mudshark | 22/04/2018
"President Dunce" surely?
  • 30. mudshark | 22/04/2018
The second line sounds to me like, "Don't say..." rather than "Go straight"
  • 31. bzfgt (link) | 09/07/2018
I agree with both! Excellent, progress--I think
  • 32. harleyr | 01/08/2018
>>Tales of Brillo!

Unlikely though it may seem, I'm pretty sure this is...

Tail's up... face down!
  • 33. bzfgt (link) | 06/08/2018
Crap, may be. I need to listen again. These late albums are frustrating from a transcriber's perspective.
  • 34. bzfgt (link) | 06/08/2018
"President dunce"

That's definitely wrong. "Dumps" I think, I don't know about "president." This is too loaded a lyric to have as a default placeholder...I'm going to try to listen to it a few times.
  • 35. bzfgt (link) | 06/08/2018
You're right
  • 36. bzfgt (link) | 06/08/2018
Every word of this is most likely wrong:

He got no man
Don't say
Brillo chin
In kitchen
President dunce

To kick himself
Tiny tears of bling
  • 37. quixto | 25/08/2018
Smith is obviously very loose in his delivery here, but I am pretty confident about most of this.

1st Verse:

You got no man
(Don’t say it)
Below chin
In ketchup

Says to Tecumseh
“I am celestial”

Sorry tiny tears of blame
We all know
Where can you trick us a
Gay cruiser
Brillo chin

2nd Verse:

The Kennedy
The candidate
Had a stoop
He said:
“I want a tail.”
How pale he is!
I said:
“He’s got noblesse.”

Then at 1:44 MES says either “dedication” or “gaycation” followed by “shock the blue celestial”

At 2:34 a background vocal says “Oh, watch us strut.”
At 3:16 it sounds to me like “At the altar of Kennedy joy/and whimsy/a moribund/Model T/Where James Pfennings/Had the ______/To supple him” I have no clue what the blank is, sounds like All-Popsch to me
  • 38. bzfgt (link) | 25/08/2018
I took some of that, some I can't hear at all (like "watch us strut") some is staying for now by default, but is definitely wrong
David Abdy
  • 39. David Abdy | 25/10/2018
I wonder if it's worth noting that there's a Frank Zappa song called Camarillo Brillo. The lyrics don't appear to bear much relation to this song, but it seems rather more than a coincidence to me, for whatever reason.
  • 40. Goylito (link) | 30/10/2018
Theres the John Doran interview I think it was for vice's masters series? where he asks him about the great british bake off and he says along the lines of 'why would anyone want to watch someone cook a fucking meal?'
I cant help but hear the 'All salute at the altar of filo pastry' as a really sarcastic dig at how popular cooking shows are.
  • 41. bzfgt (link) | 15/11/2018
Yeah, MES did have a sort of love/hate relationship with daytime TV, wouldn't surprise me if he's thinking of something like that here.

David: I guess the equation/comparison of hair with brillo?
  • 42. harleyr | 04/01/2019
>>And catch up
President dumps

Isn't that...?

In cake shop
Brillo dumps

...which would connect with the filo pastry line.
  • 43. harleyr | 04/01/2019
I also hear some 'Brillo tin's in amongst the 'Brillo chin's. Which made me think of the Andy Warhol boxes, as mentioned above. But, disappointingly, I understand the Brillo boxes they were based on were made of cardboard.
  • 44. harleyr | 04/01/2019
Although you can now buy Brillo tin versions of Warhol's boxes... art will eat itself.

Doubt these were what MES was thinking of though.
  • 45. bzfgt (link) | 26/01/2019
Crap Harley, these lyrics give me fits. I'll check that stuff though, and see if I can hear it.
  • 46. bzfgt (link) | 26/01/2019
I'm not sure about "cake shop," but it seems to make a little more sense, but it sounds way more like "president" than "brillo" to me.
  • 47. dannyno | 18/05/2019
Given MES' health, perhaps worth noting that Lee Brilleaux died of lymphoma.


"I wanna tell you
How pale he is"

Perhaps an echo of Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act 3, scene 4:


Alas, how is't with you,
That you do bend your eye on vacancy
And with the incorporal air do hold discourse?
Forth at your eyes your spirits wildly peep;
And, as the sleeping soldiers in the alarm,
Your bedded hair, like life in excrements,
Starts up, and stands on end. O gentle son,
Upon the heat and flame of thy distemper
Sprinkle cool patience. Whereon do you look?


On him, on him! Look you, how pale he glares!
His form and cause conjoin'd, preaching to stones,
Would make them capable. Do not look upon me;
Lest with this piteous action you convert
My stern effects: then what I have to do
Will want true colour; tears perchance for blood.
  • 48. dannyno | 18/05/2019
"Homeric night", from the lyric sheet noted in note 1. Could signify death. I learn that very often in Homer's Iliad, when a character dies, darkness or black night covers their eyes, see:

Morrison, James V. “Homeric Darkness: Patterns and Manipulation of Death Scenes in the 'Iliad'.” Hermes, vol. 127, no. 2, 1999, pp. 129–144. JSTOR,

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