Brillo De Facto
He got no man
In cake shops
I am celestial
Tiny tears of blame
We all know
Where he came from
Gay cruiser, a
I asked her
"I wanna tell you
How pale he is" (2)
"He's got noblesse"
He give no man
Got no de facto plan
Little elf (3)
And the asphyxiation of the troll will finally be
All salute at the altar of filo pastry
At the altar of Kennedy joy
In Victoria Station
The James Fennings (5)
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.'"
Dan notes that MES, who at this point apparently had lung and kidney cancer, would have been aware that Brilleaux died of lymphoma, and that "Homeric night" could mean death, as "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."
"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).
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.
3. 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.
4. 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...
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.