Bury Pts. 1+3


I'm not from Bury (1)
I'm not from Bury, man
I'm not from Bury
I'm not from Bury, man

Stop messing around, clown
I'm Wolverine (2)
I'm from Bury
A French Prince, I said

This song means something
Every song means something
Automatic (3)
Swap again
I got bills
I got bills
On my elbows
And two kids to go with it

I'm On
I'm On

All that road is battle
Battle plan
I'm from Bury, as in Bourée
A French composition
On a fluted instrument (4)
I can, I can

I can make strong lands
Rendering, writing off
Of the milk of my elbow
Re: folders left-handed CD

And you will suffer all the seasons
On the sides of municipal buildings
And used to stop drafts
In glass fronted AERT homes (5)

Then one day a Spanish king
With a council of bad knaves 
Tried to come to Bury (6)

A new way of recording
A chain round the neck (7)
Ding, off he trots (8)
You can't say anything nowadays
I said "if"      (9)
I'm from Bury

Stop messing around, clown
I'm Wolverine
I'm from Bury
A French Prince, I said

This song means something
Every song means something
Swap again
Hit it!

And two kids to go with it

I'm not from Bury
I'm not from Bury, man
I'm not from Bury
I'm not from Bury, man

Is the artistic Mark in fact
Got rid of vermin
Like the grey squirrels
By reading out
Ben Marshall's articles (10)
or user recordings
on his vile manufacturing community (11)

I'm from Bury


1. Bury is a town in northern England. According to Mark E. Smith, "This song is really about Bury, a city ten miles to the north of Manchester. In Manchester we hate the people from Bury, an old...where nothing has happened for the last 400 years. All those who go to Spain come from there, ha ha!" 

From another interview:

Cumming: "I’m not from Bury"- what is the thing about Bury? The mythology of Bury?
MES: Well… [pause, clears throat], it’s a specific thing. It’s like – it wasn’t particularly Bury, you have to find a title for these songs. It could be anywhere, but it just happens to be a place. I almost regret it. Well, I don’t regret it but the shit will actually hit the fan because I am actually a part of Bury, where I live.
Cumming: So it’s your local council?
MES: Not at all, it’s just like… me and the rhythm section actually live in Bury, or we‘re adjacent to it. I’m actually Salford. But… for some reason I’m in Bury. It’s much more a comment, a Lancashire comment, cos the drummer’s from Burnley, and the bass player’s from Ramsbottom, and we were laughing about the attitude of Lancashire, you know. It’s our "California über Alles" [laughter] of Lancashire. One thing we did unite on mentally – "Bury - fuckin' shit!" [laughter].
Cumming: I  live near a place called Berrylands, in south-west London.
MES: [Whispers] Say it’s about Berrylands. Berrylands. There’s a lot of Burys, isn’t there? Shrewsbury…. Thank you, I can say it’s about all Burys. We’re all made up of Burys."


And from the Quietus in 2010:

"So, I was very amused to see that Bury Council got the exclusive first showing of the 'Bury 1+3' video.

MES: Really! Someone told me about that but I just thought they were taking the piss. People in Bury seem to like it... they're from Bury! [much laughter]"

According to a news item from May 6, 2010 on the Domino records site, "The [Bury] video is being premiered in the UK on the Bury council website, as a nod to the town that inspired the song."

This all points to one of the greatest mysteries in Falldom--where the fuck does MES live? Not that we want to stalk him or take a tour his home, it's just that it comes up sometimes when discussing these lyrics. But the man seems to sometimes live in Salford, sometimes Prestwich, sometimes Bury, and sometimes "I'm not from Bury, man!" Well, as you all know by now, when one needs to know something like this, one needs to call on Dan:

"If you consider what MES says about Bury, it is clear he considers where he lives in Prestwich to be in Salford. Others would agree. However, his local authority is the metropolitan borough of Bury - Prestwich became part of Bury in the 1974 local government re-organisation . There were proposals in the early 20th century to merge Prestwich with either Salford or Manchester - but they came to nothing as far as I can tell..."

If that wasn't all confusing enough, apparently "I'm not from Bury" is precisely what most people from Bury say about themsevles. From the Manchester Evening News, via Dan:

"We asked people from Prestwich if they live in Bury or Manchester - here's what they said"

The town is geographically closer to Manchester city centre than Bury, reflected by the number of professionals who commute into the city, while its houses also have Manchester post codes.
However, residents pay their council tax to Bury Council and are represented in parliament by Bury South MP Christian Wakeford.
More than 1,000 people had their say on the matter in a poll on our Facebook page this week.
And 72pc of respondents said they saw themselves as living in Manchester, compared to just 28pc for Bury.

Dan points out that the 2005 Howling Hex song "Now, We're Gonna Sing" has a riff that is pretty much the same as "Bury." The album it comes from, All-Night Fox, is one of 10 "Mark E Smith Approved Albums" listed by the remaining members of the Fall (now Imperial Wax).


2. Wolverine is one of the X-Men in the Marvel series of the same name, although that's probably not be what MES has in mind here. Otherwise, all I can say is "have a bleeding guess"...a dreaded phrase here at the Annotated Fall, and one I'm forced to resort to all too often. In any case, wolverines are a small but persistent theme for the Fall; he seems to drop one in every ten years or so to see if anyone's paying attention. In addition to "Bury," wolverines are also mentioned in the songs "Cary Grant's Wedding," "Session Musician," "Service," "Arid Al's Dream" and "Clasp Hands."  


3. There's a pub in Bury called Automatic (thanks to DJ Ash on the Fall Forum). This could suggest that, if you are using language, it is automatic that it will mean something; this fits with the different, but complemantary, connotation of "automatic writing," which usually implies some sort of spiritual source for the written content. However, the chief idea is to write in such a way that the conscious mind is circumvented; once it's out of the way, whether the spirits, the unconscious, or even language itself writes is, I think, not a metaphsical question MES would be overly exercised about. The notion that, one way or another, language is not merely the medium but in a sense the author is arguably consonant with MES's approach to lyrics. The original, literal meaning of a lyric often appears to be treated as a jumping-off point, and MES seems to delight in permutations introduced as a song develops, or even by others who mistranscribe his words (as the lyrics books seem to attest). At times he seems to substitute words whose overt connection to their context is that they sound like the words they come to replace...this is particularly evident in song titles (for instance, "Spider" turning into "Kinder of Spine"). The press release for Hex Enduction Hour mentions, in connection with the lyrics to "Winter," something called "the 'Clang' process of speech, whereby the sufferer during speech makes sentences containing similar sounding words."

Joincey, who introduced the idea of automatic writing in the comments below, also suggests a connection with the "cut-up" writing technique most commonly associated with Brion Gysin and William S Burroughs, noting that "Bills, I got Bills" could somehow obliquely nod to Burroughs...if it does, it's too oblique to affirm with any confidence, but I suppose it's worth mentioning.


4. In fact, a bourée is a French dance. However, Jethro Tull recorded a song called Bourée (an adaptation of Bach's Bourée in E Minor) which is an instrumental that heavily features Ian Anderson's flute (thanks to dannyno and misterrogers on the Fall Forum).

Carl says that bourrée is also a French slang term for drunk, and rightly points out that MES may or may not be aware of this...


5. If this lyric is correct, it may refer to a company called Advanced Environmental Recycling Technologies, Inc., which manufactures building materials.


6. This is one of those lines where one feels one must do something, if one is to remain a self-respecting annotator of Fall lyrics. I don't have much to offer here, however. Philip II of Spain was king of England from 1554 until his wife's death in 1558.  Dan mentions Philip V who, it will be remembered, was the first member of the House  of Bourbon to be king of Spain. Even more tenuously, the context of the ensuing lines ("a new way of recording...") perhaps suggests a swipe at the record company, Domino Records. "Dominus" means "Lord" in "Latin," and "Domino" sounds like it could be the Spanish equivalent...except it isn't.  Isn't that enlightening?  Unless, of course, he says the Fresh Prince...he does not.


7. QuietusAnd when you sing "a new way of recording... a chain around my neck", is that referring to the fact that you thought the album was done months before it came out but they thought it needed more work.

MES: [laughs] Yeah, but it would have been nice to have been told. I think it's just par for the course these days. It takes some people two fucking years to do an LP and it's just fucking alien to me. You worry. It ruins your flow. You get rusty.


8. This may just be onomatopoiea, but it may also be an allusion to Simon "DIng" Archer, the former Fall member and sometime collaborator who co-produced the album. Albtwo interprets the action here as "Mark suggests a possible change in the sound landscape, and Ding is unhappy with the idea and goes off in a huff" which is just as likely as anything else...


9. In placing quotation marks here, I'm following nairng's interpretation, that MES said something Ding took offense to, but which MES inisisted was only said as a hypothetical. Note that a more minimalist, non-interventionist transcription would omit the quotation marks, but this, it seems to me, is also an interpretation--something has to be done, even if that something is nothing...


10. Ben Marshall is a journalist. In 2008, he interviewed MES for Uncut magazine, and the latter landed himself in hot water with the RSPCA by proclaiming, for some reason, that he would "'happily set about an endangered red squirrel with a set of professional hedge-clippers.'

He added: 'Squirrels mean nothing to me. I killed a couple last weekend actually. They were eating my garden fence.

My sisters are animal lovers and they had been leaving food out for these squirrels. They've got rats in the bloody house now. Serves 'em right.'" Apparently, the RSPCA suspected he was referring to endangered red squirrels, and duly launched a "probe":


11. Buy Kurious! on the Fall Forum helpfully suggests: "[M]aybe 'user recordings' are the tapes of the interview and 'manufacturing' is more about making stuff up than production, ie. 'vile manufacturing community' = journalists?"




More Information

Comments (48)

  • 1. dannyno | 24/10/2013
"vile manufacturing community": VMC? I have this vague feeling that this might be a dictaphone model?!
  • 2. buzby | 26/10/2013
To my ears MES is saying 'used to stop drafts in glass-fronted Barratt Homes' - Barratt were one of the big housing developers from the late 70s onwards, famous for their TV adverts (which had Patrick Allen flying round their sites in a helicopter), 'rabbit hutch' starter houses and poor timber-framed construction methods.
  • 3. bzfgt | 27/02/2016
"According to a news item from May 6, 2010"

Is that definitely the right date? When you people write dates, it's always day/month not the other way round, right?
  • 4. dannyno | 27/02/2016
Definitely the correct date, see the date on this:
  • 5. nairng | 26/03/2016
It's surely "Ding, off he got"...
To "get off" meaning to leave (in the north west uk, if not beyond)
I can't believe mes would use the word "trot" here
Ding has been offended by something that was said, but it was only hypothetical: "i said 'if'!"
  • 6. bzfgt | 30/04/2016
It surely isn't though. I still here "trots" but even if it is a 'g' it definitely ends with a clear, sibilant 's.' In other words, I hear 't', more or less, but am willing to admit the possibility I'm wrong about it, but if I'm wrong about it it has to be "gots" because the 's' is definitely there...
  • 7. dannyno | 14/08/2016
I'm fascinated by the wolverine theme in Fall lyrics. I guess it comes from the comic books, but I was wondering if there's some other link or links.

Like this (2008): http://www.burytimes.co.uk/news/1976342.operation_wolverine_targets_drivers_without_insurance/

  • 8. bzfgt | 25/08/2016
Maybe but of course it would have to be something that goes back to at least 1992 if it ties them all together...
  • 9. dannyno | 22/02/2017
Musical similarities here to the song "Now, We're Gonna Sing" by The Howling Hex, from their 2005 album "All-Night Fox".
  • 10. bzfgt | 25/02/2017
Oh yeah, I have that album...
  • 11. bzfgt | 25/02/2017
That's funny, I love that song and I never paid much attention to the rest of the album it's on, but I never noticed the connection. It's the kind of riff that just sounds like it's hanging in the air all around us, at all times...
  • 12. Zack | 05/03/2017
Further swipes at Domino Records: "What D̶o̶m̶i̶n̶o̶ want they get" appears twice on the back cover of YFOC.
  • 13. bzfgt (link) | 19/03/2017
Thanks, Zack. I hope you don't mind that I omitted the video links--youtube music videos have shorter lives than butterflies, and this site is a veritable link graveyard already.
  • 14. Carl | 21/03/2018
As well as being a type of dance or whatever, "bourré(e)" is also an informal French term for "drunk2, maybe equivalent to "sloshed" or something like that. Obviously, I have no idea if MES would have been aware of that.
  • 15. dannyno | 25/09/2018
All the talk about French princes and Spanish kings suggests, does it not, Philip V of Spain, the first member of the House of Bourbon (he was formerly Duke of Anjou) to be King of Spain (leading to the War of Spanish Succession). What this has to do with Bury is not entirely clear.

But then "stop messing around clown" might, in the context of European royalty, suggest Crown Prince Friedrich Wilhelm, son of the Kaiser (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wilhelm,_German_Crown_Prince. The British in the first world war called him the "Clown Prince".

Not that there's any particular reason to think that's the reference.
  • 16. dannyno | 25/09/2018
"I got bills
On my elbows"

Does he mean "up to my elbows"?
  • 17. Doc | 27/03/2019
Afternoon Disco (Out-take) lyrics

There's official offal, manufactured unofficially
Paper and procedures from big wheels rolling
Plaque-ridden officials Keep swimming

I get through to them
You're not welcome here in this city
On a small island part of town
A bleachified played up so much that you could see the teeth falling out

Afternoon disco
Bald headed idiots
Wouldn't let 'em in a barn dance

Including this town is now a city
A small portion of the town, a corner of the city
He said: "I love you so I want to be sick, and go home slow."

Small part of town, now a city
Laughing at the rain
The Athenian buildings blending
The town, small, is now a city we can all rejoice
  • 18. bzfgt (link) | 04/05/2019
"French Prince" also sounds like "Fresh Prince" (see: Bel Air, of; also a song by MES faves Can).

I have "Stop messing around, clown" and then "Don't mess me around, clown." But it's the same vocal line both times, isn't it? This needs to be regularized if so.
  • 19. bzfgt (link) | 04/05/2019
Well I'm not 100% sure it's the same vocal track twice, but it sounds more like "Stop messing around." If it's anything else, it's "Don't messing around," but I think it's more likely to be the former, slightly garbled.
  • 20. bzfgt (link) | 04/05/2019
Thank you, Doc. I wonder if I should give "Afternoon Disco" it's own page? I haven't listened to this Outtakes album until now...in fact, I have it in digital files and don't remember where I got it. My itunes says I got it in 2016. There was one such dealt by a guy on the FOF but I don't remember this track and I remember listening to that, is it the sake one or something different? Anyway I wonder if there are other work-making outtakes on there...sad that that is my first thought rather than "Rejoice! More MES!"
  • 21. bzfgt (link) | 04/05/2019
Do we have reason to think it's an outtake from TFOC? Sounds like it, anyway.

OK, damn your eyes--all of you--here it is:


We're starting out small....
  • 22. bzfgt (link) | 04/05/2019
OK this site gives me fits enough, this worries me...they're starting to talk foreign:

Gérer le titre dans la première ligne
  • 23. bzfgt (link) | 04/05/2019
It may be that it has said that since 2013, but if so I certainly don't remember it.
MES Sage
  • 24. MES Sage | 30/05/2019
Ms Poulou sings "i'm not from bury, nar"
  • 25. bzfgt (link) | 03/07/2019
Time stamp? Or is it just all over? Sorry, I'm not listening right now and if you can narrow it down it would be helpful, but maybe not necessary
  • 26. bzfgt (link) | 03/07/2019
Never mind, obviously you're not listening whenever you read this either...
Ian F
  • 27. Ian F | 10/10/2019
It’s much funnier though if, as I heard it, he says “Bury, as in Baree, a French composition”. The joke being that English people with slight pretensions would pronounce it ‘Paree’ not Paris. And the idea of pronouncing it Baree, likening Bury to Paris, made me laugh out loud.
Ian F
  • 28. Ian F | 10/10/2019
...the lyrics from Afternoon Disco might be mildly corroborative.. ‘A small island part of town’ sounds like the Ile de La Cite.
  • 29. dannyno | 02/05/2020
"We asked people from Prestwich if they live in Bury or Manchester - here's what they said"


The town is geographically closer to Manchester city centre than Bury, reflected by the number of professionals who commute into the city, while its houses also have Manchester post codes.

However, residents pay their council tax to Bury Council and are represented in parliament by Bury South MP Christian Wakeford.

More than 1,000 people had their say on the matter in a poll on our Facebook page this week.

And 72pc of respondents said they saw themselves as living in Manchester, compared to just 28pc for Bury.
  • 30. joincey | 06/07/2020
is one of the "bills" William Burroughs ( who obviously MES was into ) , and the "automatic" perhaps an allusion to 'automatic writing'? "this means something .. " "everything means something ..." a la cut-up style. "swap again", he might be pasting the cut-up words in a different way.
  • 31. joincey | 06/07/2020
and , of course, it's a bit tenuous but BUR-y / BUR-roughs.

oh and the lyric "i'm not from Bury, man" always makes me think of , yno , the Burry Man

  • 32. bzfgt (link) | 12/07/2020
Thanks joincey, I said a little about "automatic" which makes me ask, does anyone remember which song it's in where someone introduced the notion of a "clang" method, or something like that?
  • 33. dannyno | 12/07/2020
Comment #32 - "clang" is in the notes to Winter, because it is mentioned in the Hex press-release.
  • 34. dannyno | 06/09/2020
joincey, comment #30:

is one of the "bills" William Burroughs ( who obviously MES was into )

In Renegade, MES says he wasn't into Burroughs:

Contrary to what a lot of critics think, I’ve never been influenced by him. I’m not such a big fan of his work. In fact, I don’t particularly like Naked Lunch. It’s almost unreadable, if you ask me. Cities of the Red Night is much better. But most of his stuff is boring...
  • 35. joincey | 08/09/2020
re. 34, Danny, interesting, yeah! i guess i'm going off this - but it was from '81, tastes change don't they .

  • 36. Albtwo (link) | 30/09/2020
Gents, on the rare occasion that I contribute here I do so nervously as I offer up wild speculation and conjecture. However I’ve listened to this one a LOT and I’m sure as eggs are eggs that the lyric in the 3rd ‘stanza’ of the intro is not as you have it (‘bills’ repeatedly) but as follows:
‘[aaaah] Bills... I got cereal ... I got milk .... on my elbow!!’
This is obviously consistent with the reworked ‘milk.. on my elbow in Bury pt III (or whatever part it is) later. But it is also internally consistent as a trope of the harassed working family man that runs thru this one alongside the anti-Domino references/rhetoric. Anyone who has two young kids will recognise the scenario of sitting down for a hurried breakfast before work, chaos all around you, to be greeted by a number of unpaid bills in the post - then compounded by the indignity of resting your elbows (in a freshly ironed work shirt!) on the edge of the table only to find you have put them in a puddle of milk spilt by one of your ‘two kids to go with it’
  • 37. Albtwo (link) | 30/09/2020
Less sure about these but for what it’s worth.. (6-8) definitely agree that Mark suggests a possible change in the sound landscape, ‘Ding’ (Simon Archer’) is unhappy with the idea and goes off in a huff!! Mark’s defensive ‘I said IF’ (... we were to record this section with the mike stuck up the drummer’s arse) is actually quite thrilling in its delivery. Following on from this ‘Spanish king with a council of bad knaves’ has I concur to reference the record company in some way but I can’t work out how. I can’t dig up any particular Obvious connection between the word ‘Domino’ and Spain; nor can I see any obviously Spanish names among the senior management at the label. But this surely describes a senior person at domino plus his/her retinue. Esp when you factor in the ‘this song/every song means something’ which sounds pretty defensive. These guys tried to come to Bury (figuratively, Mark’s creative space’) and it didn’t work out.

More briefly, I def hear ‘You fooled us.. left-handed CD’? Isn’t this like a band workplace joke that someone tried? Like factory/production line ‘hazing’ of new starters such as ‘go and ask the gaffer for a long stand’! I think that’s in the same tradition
  • 38. Joincey | 01/11/2020
If be surprised if MES wasn't a Nigel Kneale fan, what are the chances "a new way of recording" has some reference to The Stone Tape ? What's the line in it , something like " a new recording machine!" The "chain around the neck" conjures the image perhaps of the ghostly clinking of rattled chains -
  • 39. dannyno | 03/11/2020
Joincey, comment #38.

Re: Kneale. Oh yes, I think so. See the entry for Lay of the Land.

But I'm not convinced there's any Stone Tape content. Seems clear enough what's intended without reaching back like that. Which isn't to say I think it's impossible, just unlikely.
  • 40. dannyno | 03/11/2020
Comment #37, Albtwo.

I wonder if "Spanish king and a council of bad knaves" is metaphorically comparing the record company to a doom-laden tarot hand or something like that. "Council of bad knaves" definitely sounds like playing cards or tarot.

What would be good is to work out what the French prince and Spanish elements represent. It might of course just be a private meaning, perhaps directed at someone in particular - which we're never going to work out on our own.
  • 41. Albtwo (link) | 05/11/2020
Thanks Dan. Good idea. Just further on the lyrics, on the back of ‘bills...cereal..milk’ have just twigged that there’s actually a whole stanza missing in the above - the final one of the ‘intro’. After ‘and two kids to go with it’ there’s a further, admittedly fairly opaque section - ‘I quit! ... with a French prince..?’ etc that you haven’t captured in this entry.
  • 42. bzfgt (link) | 14/11/2020
Great comments, Albtwo...I need to sit with this
  • 43. bzfgt (link) | 14/11/2020
Also it's OK to be speculative, one virtue of the comment section is it puts everything on the record, whether it rises to the notes or not
  • 44. bzfgt (link) | 14/11/2020
OK it sounds like "cereal" may be right but I can't tell for sure, could other people listen and tell me what you think?
  • 45. bzfgt (link) | 14/11/2020
Burryman is tenuous, but a cool connection to keep in mind (31)
  • 46. Can | 20/11/2020
There's a live version from Chester which includes a nice rant about Guy Garvey and being presented to a cow, who was the mayor of the town.

Which tangentially brought me to: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Non-human_electoral_candidates haha.
  • 47. dannyno | 24/11/2020
Can, comment #46, had a listen, it's the 29 November 2011 gig for reference.

To be frank I can hear him mention Guy Garvey, but I can't make anything else out. So I don't know whether it's a "nice rant" or not. Can you hear it any more clearly?
Martin Peters
  • 48. Martin Peters | 28/02/2021

"At Bury you could get in for free if you went though the cemetery behind one end and jumped over the fence. They were always losing though, because they had the best pitch, this great lush grass that all the other teams liked to play on."

Add a comment