C'n'C-S Mithering

Lyrics

(1)

Three days
Three months
Three days
Three months    (2)
A treatise
A treatise
To explain these
First was Cash 'n' Carry house dance (3)
In Lancashire there, eh
In King Nat Ltd. empire 
Kwik Save is there (4)
The scene started here
Then was America

 

Then was America
We went there
Big A&M Herb was there (5)
His offices had fresh air
But his rota was mediocre (6)
US dirge, rock 'n' pop filth
Their material's filched (7)
And the secret of their lives...

Is...

All the English groups
Act like peasants with free milk
On a route
On a route to the loot
To candy mountain (8)
Five wacky English proletariat idiots (9)
Californians always think of sex
Or think of death
Five hundred girl deaths
A Mexico revenge, it's stolen land (10)
They really get it off on
"Don't hurt me please"
Rapist fill the TVs
And the secret of their lives
Is S.E.X.  (11)

I have dreams, I can see
Carloads of negro Nazis
Like Faust with beards
Hydrochloric shaved weirds

[Applause from audience at Cyprus Tavern ] (12)

This was supposed to be called crap rap fourteen, (13)
But it's now Stop Mithering
The things that drain you off and drive you off the hinge
Boils, dirty socks, the ceilings collapse
The Sunday morning loud lawn mower,
The upstairs Jewish girl damn hoovering every thirty minutes, 
From valium cig withdrawal
She wants communal, fluent flat household
I want privacy
The bastard dentist doctor's surgery,
Clip, clop, ring, knock, ring (14)
Stop mithering 

The estates stick up like stacks
The estates stick up like stacks (15)
The residents keep wild dogs
And on that father's bedroom closet top,
Electric blanket boxes
Surplus johnnies, demob pictures (16)
To their children they sing
Stop mithering

You think you've got it bad with thin ties,
Miserable songs synthesized, or circles with 'A' in the middle  (17)
Make joke records, hang out with Gary Bushell, (18)
Go on Roundtable. "I like your single," "Yeah, great!" (19)
A circle of low IQ's.
There are three rules of audience. (20)
My journalist acquaintances, go soft, go places,
On record company expenses
I lose humor, manners become bog writers, don't know it.
The smart hedonists, same as last verse, allusions with
H in electronics, on stage false histrionics,
Dogs mauling dicks, pose through a good film, him, him
Stop mithering

I'm not joining conventional rock band
The conventional is experimental, the conventional is now
Experimental, (21)
And is no way noble, and I'm no choc-stock thing (22)
So stop mithering
Engineers save up for cars
I try to let down their tyres with matches to make them molten
Ouch! Ouch!
They say I rip off Johnny Rotten (23)
They always strike for more pay
They say "See yer mate..Yeh...see yer mate"
"See yer mate..Yeh...see yer mate"
"See yer mate..Yeh...see yer mate"
"See yer mate..Yeh...see yer mate"
To their mothers they sing
Stop mithering

He even did fail the penile tissue test (24)
He hangs out for sex
He enters magazine contest
White tan horror in the mirror
Spotty exterior hides a spotty interior
He's not your enemy
He is not your enemy, his name is not Harry (25)
The secret of Cash and Carry

SaveSaveSaveSave

Notes

1. "Mithering" is a northern British slang term which means "To bother, pester, worry, irritate" (OED). It also connotes to make a fuss or moan or complain. As for the rest of the title, in a handwritten note reproduced on the Fall online forum, MES explains:

"C 'n' C= Cash and Carry, abbreviated as that sounds too corny. S. = stop. N.B. C 'n' C is like that too as it's a pun on C 'n' N or C 'n' W."

"C 'n' N" stands for "Country and Northern," a play on "C 'n' W"/ "Country and Western." Country and Northern is a term MES was using to describe the band's music at this time, as they were beginning to incorporate elements of both country music and rockabilly into their sound.  

The song's title is also a cipher: "C 'n' C-S Mithering."

The song is concerned with the vapidity and hypocrisy of the music business; indeed, the lyrics are deeply conflicted about the fact that music is a business at all. Smith is vitriolic toward anyone, whether fellow musicians or business people, who treat music as a route to fame and wealth. On the one hand, the Fall make music for a mass audience, and in that role they have never been truly indifferent to the way their music is received, even if they have never sought widespread success. At the same time, Smith, who has never been averse to expressing his contempt, reserves an entire separate genre of contumely for musicians who treat their craft as a means to an end. The ends for which musicians are most commonly coöpted are, of course, fame and wealth; and even as he has amassed a modicum of each over the decades that the Fall has been active, it is very clear that, for Smith, these are goals that are "in no way noble" (see note 16 below). The ambiguity between the genuinely creative popular musician and the charlatan or "plagiarist" is like the conflicted kinship that is identified in Plato's texts between the philospher and the sophist, and arises for exactly the same reason: the sophist or the "plagiarist" is only distinguished from the philosopher or the musical artist with regard to ends. In the case of the sophist, the end is power rather than the Good, whereas in the case of the would-be pop star striving for fame and wealth, what has been lost sight of is--what? If MES calls it "the unutterable," this isn't a cheap mystification (although there are some who say that it is) but rather an acknowledgement that the goal of the Fall's music is something you can only know when you are there. Which is to say that whatever the purpose of making music is for Mark E. Smith, whatever the Good is for the Fall, it is not an extrinsic purpose, and thus it cannot be measured, much less embodied, in the amount of records one sells.

Thus, it should be clear that MES is so concerned with charlatans (elsewhere he calls them "plagiarists," which is deeply misleading because it suggests that identifying them is as easy as recognizing a stolen riff) because they are so close to the real thing that rooting them out is not merely a matter of finding and rejecting what is false and embracing what is true; instead, the true is only found in the process of rooting out the false. The agon with musical charlatans (who are rarely named, although we will see some exceptions below) is at the same time the work of self-discovery, and I mean the latter not in the superficial sense of mere recognition but in the deepest sense as the process of becoming who and what one is and must be. This is so not least because a certain concern with one's reception and one's audience, a certain more or less conscious attention to one's image, indeed a certain amount of fame and wealth are necessary conditions for the kind of popular creative artistry that stands under the name the Fall. Above all the music of the Fall seeks to communicate, and when you communicate by selling records the amount of records you have actually sold is not an entirely irrelevant measure of success. 

In performance, this song originated as a sort of introductory rap at gigs, and performences feature lot of lyrical variations, as well as segues into a variety of other songs: Reformation lists "Fiery Jack," "Gramme Friday," "Prole Art Threat," and "Look, Know" as well as "Hassle Schmuck," "Stars on 45," and "Black Night". These last three named require close attention.

"Hassle Schmuck" is MES's take on "(Do) the Hucklebuck." Based on the Charlie Parker classic "Now's the Time," "The Hucklebuck" was a 1949 dance hit by Paul Williams; in fact, the song was such a success that he began booking himself as "Paul 'Hucklebuck' Williams and his Hucklebuckers." Despite Williams' name change, however, "The Hucklebuck" proved too big to be associated with just one artist. Initially just a slowed down version of "Now's the Time," the song acquired lyrics somewhere along the way which ran, in part:

Do the Hucklebuck, do the Hucklebuck
If you don't know how to do it, boy, you're out of luck
Push your partner out, then you hunch your back
Start a little movement in your sacroiliac
Wiggle like an eel, waddle like a duck
That's the way you do it when you do the Hucklebuck

As might be surmised from the lyrics, the song became one of those hits that have a dance craze associated with them, and in the case of "The Hucklebuck," there were actually several dance crazes (the dancing, at least in the beginning, was apparently rather scandalous). The song went on to be recorded by a formidable array of entertainers, among them Tommy Dorsey, Frank Sinatra, Lionel Hampton, Pearl Bailey, Louis Armstrong, Earl Hooker, and Otis Redding. Chubby Checker, always on the lookout for another chance to inspire a dance craze, had a # 14 hit with it in 1960. Brandan Bowyer and his Royal Showband took it to #1 in Ireland in 1963, which was perhaps the inspiration for the version by the Irish band Crystal Swing, who charted with the song in Ireland in 2010. On The Honeymooners, when Norton tries to teach Ralph how to dance he puts on Kay Starr's record of "The Hucklebuck." Throughout all of these incarnations, Charlie Parker's original melody remains constant, but the beat of the song undergoes numerous transformations according to what sort of music is in style at any given time. 

Most relevantly for our story, however, in 1981 an English rockabilly band called Coast to Coast had the vision to understand that a Hucklebuck for the Reagan-Thatcher era was what the world needed. Their version (now called "(Do) The Hucklebuck") purges any trace of swing from the rhythm, which now features a monotonously bleached-out New Wave beat with a corny Yakety Sax-quoting tenor perched on top (the same formula was deployed on their other hit, a similarly deracinated cover of Brenda Lee's "Let's Jump the Broomstick"). Mark Edward Smith heard it and, presumably, was not pleased (or maybe he was pleased, I'm not sure how to tell the difference), and "C 'n' C-S Mithering" became "C 'n' C-Hassle Schmuck." On the Fall's fourth session for John Peel, recorded on the 24th of March, 1981--the same month that Coast to Coast's "(Do) The Hucklebuck" went to number 3 in the UK--the Fall played "C 'n' C" for about a minute, at which point MES, insisting "I can't continue this," led them into a version of "Hucklebuck" that was neither the cold fish of Coast to Coast nor the hot fowl of Williams and the other Swing era renditions, but sounded, in fact, like the Fall. Here are the words from the Peel version:

Oh dear friends
I can't continue this 
Arthur Askey's just been shot (Oh my God!) (i)
Maybe we should do a tribute
And we'll do "You Got to Hassle Schmuck"
Will you let me play 
If I patronise you today

Oh, the Hassle Schmuck 
Get some babies' arms (six two)
Nineteen sixty-two (tartan)
Is well on it's way

You gotta hassle schmuck
Sex with no drugs
Get out the tartan
Ask for Hassle Schmuck

Get some pics off your old dad (old pics)
Pick up some old tartan (big spot)
And remember friends
The highland clearance 
(ii)

You gotta Hassle Schmuck
Sex with no drugs
Be able to make a man
Be able to trust your man
Hassle, Hassle Schmuck

Everything you know (treatment)
Is well up the creek (so you think)
Everything you know (is is)
Is half baked (video reach)

You gotta Hassle Schmuck
You gotta Hassle Schmuck

You dare to laugh at us (stereo bog) (iii)
You just want shimmering buttocks
You dare to laugh at us
But everything you know
Is well up the creek

Hard life, stereo bog, video reach
Nurse it, tartan, words, chats
Laugh, talk, nowt
Watch, reach, here
Cheeky, yeah

Tiswas  (iv)

Quick burst

Everything you know (treatment)
Is well up the creek (so you think)

i. Arthur Askey was a British television movie actor and comedian. Askey would indeed die within a year, "pre-cog" fanatics will be pleased to know.

The Fall's Peel session (their fourth) was on March 24, 1981, about 3 1/2 months after Askey's fellow Liverpudlian John Lennon was shot. 

^

ii. The forced displacement of peasants from the land in 18th-19th century Scotland, during the "clearing of the Commons" in Britain.

^

iii. We also find a "stereo bog" in the print version of "Prole Art Threat."

^

iv. Tiswas ("Today Is Saturday Watch And Smile") was a British children's television program that aired on Saturday mornings from 1974 to 1982.

^ 

So much for "The Hucklebuck." Stars on 45 was a Dutch novelty group that consisted of studio musicians playing medleys of other people's hits, which are generally also called "Stars on 45" for short, in order to keep the length of the title manageable. A typical example is their first number one hit: "Medley: Intro / Venus / Sugar Sugar / No Reply / I'll Be Back / Drive My Car / Do You Want to Know a Secret / We Can Work It Out / I Should Have Known Better / Nowhere Man / You're Going to Lose That Girl / Stars on 45." The formula was to lay down a disco beat, sing a perfunctory introduction, and then get down to business, which consisted of uncannily accurate 5- to 30-second reproductions of the original numbers, all set to the same driving disco beat, complete with synthesized hand claps. Finally, a short "original" section is inserted to wrap the whole thing up, reminding the listener of all that has been acheived over the previous four minutes (sample lyrics: "The stars on 45 keeps on turning in your mind/ Now we can work it out, remember twist and shout/ You still don’t tell me why and no reply-hy-hyyy..."). The Fall's take on "Stars on 45" consists of about forty seconds of the band playing something vaguely resembling disco or, more accurately, Paul Hanley playing something vaguely resembling a disco beat while Steve Hanley and Craig Scanlon go about scratching, scraping and plunking in the usual manner they do when MES wants to improvise spoof lyrics. Here are the lyrics to the version from A Part of America, Therein:
 

That's fame: Stars on 45! Stars on 45!!!
I keep my pockets lined
Stars on 45!
I keep my pockets lined
A postcard hasn’t arrived
A postcard hasn’t arrived
Stars on 45
I keep my pockets lined
We all want fame
Whip round and tell all the others:
Let’s get some fame!
For my brothers, and what about the others?
And on boogie night, it'll be all right
And boogie night
I'll feast on 45's. I'll keep my pockets lined.
I'll keep my 
pockets lined.

"Black Night" is a 1970 song by Deep Purple; it will surprise Americans my age, who all cut their eyeteeth on "Smoke on the Water," to learn that this was the band's biggest hit in Britain (#2). The band insists that they stole the song's riff from Ricky Nelson's version of George Gershwin's "Summertime," although this is hotly contested, with many Blues Magoos fans insisting that it is in fact a lift of the latter's "(We Ain't Got) Nothin' Yet." Since "(We Ain't Got) Nothin' Yet" is itself an overt copy of "Summertime," this may seem to be merely an academic question, but we all know how Blues Magoos fans are. Deep Purple's singer, Ian Gillan, added insult to injury by insisting that "We borrowed the title from the words of an old Arthur Alexander song. We stole the tempo from Canned Heat." Anyone who fails to detect an intentional slight of the Blues Magoos here simply isn't paying attention. The two camps are reportedly no longer on speaking terms...

As usual, MES doesn't simply play it straight, so here are the lyrics from the version that is on The Fall Box Set (from Christchurch, New Zealand, 8/18/82; thanks to Reformation for the transcription):

Ritchie Blackmore has had a haircut and he's just been shot
It's a black night for all this punk schtuff 
A black night for it - hit it 
Der der der der 
Let's have it off and then go to work 
Let's have it off and then let's rock 
Derr - still! 
Der der - unit! 
Let's have it off and let's go downtown to Sydney 
Smoke a joint and lie on our backs 
Der der der der 
Then let's go home and watch some animals 
Being tortured on the box box box boxing 
[intentionally muffled line] Der der 
Oh well let's get our hair cut New Wave is it 
Big grey hair big wig grey fair 
Der der der der 
Ah - Now let's know our alphabet 
[Sausage Auckland] 
Let's all laugh at one or two for 
Boom Tch Tch Boom Tch Tch 
Boom Tch Tch Boom Tch Tch 
Boom Boom Tch Tch

The first line, about Richie Blackmore being shot, repeats the first line of "Hassle Schmuck," which announces that Arthur Askey has been shot (Blackmore is doing much better than Askey, however, having proven to be remarkably adept at dodging angry Blues Magoos fans).

It might be objected that all three spoofs are based on a ridiculously unacceptable premise: that MES is talking to colleagues who should know better, rather than taking easy potshots at entertainers who couldn't be further from the Fall's aesthetic sensibilties and convictions about what it is to be a recording artist (especially when we reflect that Deep Purple is actually the closest thing to the Fall on the list). A talentless band remaking an old hit for the zillionth time, a band of studio musicians daring to cash in on others' material, and a greying New Wave haircut on Ritchie Blackmore'shead hardly seem like worthy recipients of Mark Smith's bile. 

However, what all three of these songs have in common is that they are attached to "C 'n' C." MES's real targets are not the (aesthetically, if not financially) unfortunate actual perpetrators of the songs covered by the Fall, but the "English groups" that (anonymously) populate "C 'n' C." Stars on 45 are indeed beneath contempt, but they function here as a sign: just as Hosea's wife may have been an actual prostitute, but she signifies Israel, Stars on 45 stand in for the English musicians who appear on Roundtable seeking fame and fortune.

"The Hucklebuck" is the perfect song for MES's purposes. It is a song which has appeared again and again, charting over and over, over the last 65 years, and it has been recorded in a variety of styles, depending on what's in; take "The Hucklebuck" and add whatever beat is playing this year and you seem to have a decent chance of scoring a hit. It is easy to see why MES decided to pair it with "C 'n' C": clearly Coast to Coast just got caught in the line of fire.

For the sake of symmetry I should probably say something about "Black Night" before wrapping this up. The lyrics are admittedly as inane as pop lyrics get: "Black night is not right/ I don't feel so bright/ I don't care to sit tight..." In fact, the group was well aware of this: according to Roger Glover "the band was doing as stupid words as possible." In any case, if MES wanted to mock vapid pop lyrics it isn't clear why he chose "Black Night" since, alone among the three songs we've considered, it genuinely rocks (I don't know a more dignified way to say that). And it must be noted that the Fall were far from immune to its charms, as it is undeniable they really lean into it on In A Hole. The real crime actually seems to be New Wave haircuts, and frankly I am skeptical that there ever were such haircuts. It seems likely that MES was watching the Grammies in a drunken stupor and mistook the Thompson Twins for Ian Gillan and Ritchie Blackmore. 

^

2.  Dan bids us consider the Good Book:

2 Samuel 24:13: "So Gad came to David, and told him, and said unto him, Shall seven years of famine come unto thee in thy land? or wilt thou flee three months before thine enemies, while they pursue thee? or that there be three days' pestilence in thy land? now advise, and see what answer I shall return to him that sent me."

^

3. A cash and carry is, appropriately enough, a store where customers pay cash and tote their own goods; the term usually refers to a wholesale warehouse but can be used also in retail. Evidently there was a house dance on the premises of a Manchester cash and carry which provided the peg on which the song's lyrics are hung. We can imagine the name striking MES as appropriate for its connotation of aspiring pop stars trying to carry off a bunch of cash. 

^

4. Kwik Save is a chain of discount supermarkets in the U.K., and King Nat Cash and Carry Ltd. was a Manchester business until 1994. 

A note from the Lyrics Parade

MES writes this about C'n'C in the Lough Press book: "C'N'C Stop Mithering contains references to i.e. free adverts for Kwik Save and King Nat Ltd, an area of cash and carry warehouses near Manchester town centre--see we advertise free for these, so don't try the anti-commercial crap bit on us, sonny boy. It's post-Hollywood, a place described by actor Robert Donat as one big Ideal Home Exhibition."

Robert Donat starred in Hitchcock's classic The 39 Steps. The Ideal Home Exhibition (now called the Ideal Home Show) is an annual event in London in which the latest innovations in home living are showcased. Apparently, Donat did make the remark attributed to him by MES, and although it isn't entirely clear in the above quote, Donat was referring to Hollywood rather than Manchester. It is instructive to place Donat's comment in context:

At the point at which he returned back to the UK to appear in The 39 Steps, Donat was fresh from the transatlantic success of his appearance in The Count of Monte Cristo. Yet the making of this film had been an arduous experience for Donat and a crash course in the place of the actor in the Hollywood studio system. He was publicly unimpressed with Hollywood, describing it as "Bungalows, boulevards -- the whole place is just an Ideal Home Exhibition," a comment which implied the phoniness of the place against the more authentic creative environment to be found in Britain. The fact that he made this comment in the British fan magazine Film Weekly, suggests that he was keen to impress a specifically British audience with his loyalty to his home country. Donat also had agreed to appear in a stage play and so had to return to England. Yet his refusal to sign up to a Hollywood contract was met with incredulity by the studios and ever more frantic battles to attract him to various film projects. 

Donat embodied the same tension between attention to craft and the quest for mass popularity that MES is so concerned with in this song. For MES, for Donat, and presumably for a good number of those performers who work as "popular artists," it isn't merely a question of not "selling out," since their art is deliberately made for a public. Donat was an actor who became very popular in Britain for embodying many of the same characteristics as American matinee idols, yet was at the same time concerned with distinguishing himself from actors who are merely concerned with fame and money. He strove to become a star at least partly on the basis of his artistry, as the above quote demonstrates, but as the quote also shows, his motivation in making these remarks was to make an impression on British moviegoers.

Similarly, MES would hardly need to be concerned with the ethics of pop musicians if he wasn't one himself. In this context, his remark about "anti-commercial crap," while clearly meant to be humorous, is at the same time revealing; how a musician conducts his business, what he does to pay thr bills and perpetuate the conditions in which he can continue to make music, is too superficial to be a way of determining whether he is or is not a genuine artist. Again, we must look to the end rather than the means in order to understand whether we are dealing with a philosopher or a sophist (see note 1 above).  

^

5. Herb Alpert, the trumpeter who is famous for his work with The Tijuana Brass, is also the 'A' in A&M, a label he founded with 'M,' aka Jerry Moss. The implication is that the Fall auditioned for A&M, although I don't know this to be true. Marc balance points out that A&M distributed I.R.S. records in the US.

^

6. The Lyrics Parade has "his roster was mediocre." It sounds like Smith actually says "rota," however. Rota is another word for roster, in the sense of a schedule or list of employees. 

^

7.  These imputations of plagiarism are always a red herring. The Fall have borrowed as many riffs, lyrics, and even whole songs as any band in the music business. Again, for MES the only true measure of the worth of a song is the end result, and the components of a song are just the means by which this result is attained.  

^

8. "Big RockCandy Mountain" is an old song (first recorded by Harry McClintock in 1928) that gives a hobo's perspective on paradise; here it is being used as a mocking way of saying "Easy Street" or the like.

^

9. 

Regarding this section:

All the English groups
Act like peasants with free milk
On a route
On a route to the loot
To candy mountain 
Five wacky English proletariat idiots

there is a prevalent theory that this is about The Teardrop Explodes, the "post-punk/neo-psychedelic" band (as Wikipedia has it) fronted by Julian Cope in the late 70s/early 80s. According to Dan (who is responsible for the remainderer of this note):

Julian Cope is supposed to have acknowledged the connection in his autobiography, Head-On: Memories of the Liverpool Punk Scene and the Story of The Teardrop Explodes (1976-1982).

Here's what Cope says [p121 in the 2005 Head-On/Repossessed edition]:
 


I was in America and feeling out of touch with any real world. You see, I was expected to act cool and lead the group and all this heavy stuff. You know, it really didn't seem so long since I was the asshole holding everyone back. Now i was dragging everyone behind me and hadn't a clue how to control it.

Every day, I'd teach them new songs. Every day, we'd pull songs to pieces on stage and operate on them. I recorded everything.

If someone said something interesting, I wrote it down. I took in constantly. But I had no real idea what we were doing. It was not exciting to be high in the British chart. I was in New York being hip as hell, man. Fuck the charts, we're going to be enormous and get cooler.

"All the English groups act like peasants with free milk."

That's a Mark Smith quote. It struck me hard in the chest.

America is a place to consume. When you first go there, it makes Britain seem Third World. Excitement is so immediate that the turn on is quite different. You don't sit around, like at home in Britain. You get up and go out. All the time. It's so easy to be taken in. To believe it's better. It's not, though, it's just different. That's why I was freaking out. I mean, I didn't know what was normal here.



Now, I read that as Cope recognising his situation in the Fall lyric. I don't think there's any indication that the lyric was written about The Teardrop Explodes, or that Cope thinks it was written about The Teardrop Explodes. He certainly doesn't say any such thing. But it does speak to his experience.

Is there any other reason for thinking the line reflects MES's opinion about The Teardrop Explodes' behaviour in America? Not that I can see.

Indeed, the "five wacky English proletarian idiots" could be a reference to The Fall themselves, if we're playing the guessing game.

[see the comments below for more]

^

10. California was indeed part of Mexico until 1846, at which point it was briefly an independent state; it became one of the United States in 1850. Smith's Californians seem to get off on paranoid fantasies about Mexicans pouring over the border on a vengeful rape and murder spree.

^

11. The secret of their lives is "M.I.S.E.R.Y." on A Part of America, Therein.  

^

12. The attribution for the applause here comes from the orange Lough Press book of Fall lyrics that appeared in the 1980s; the track is otherwise a studio recording. The Cyprus (now the San Siro restaurant) was a pub in Manchester. The Fall played the Cyprus on May 14, 1980. No set list survives, so it isn't clear if they actually played "C 'n' C-S Mithering," but the song debuted in March, so it is possible.

There is a long tradition of fake live albums in popular music. For some reason this seems more dastardly than re-recording all the instruments from an actual live show, which is if anything a more common phenomenon (see: The Ramones, It's Alive). MES seemed to have had this idea for a long time, Dan points out:

In one of MES's letters to Tony Friel (date-stamped 5 November 1976), as published briefly on Friel's website, is the following:
 


I see in N. York bands there finance their own singles, recorded in front rooms and garages - now that is street music - why don't we do that, imagine hows this for a pseudo-live ep? (we would put applause of a live album on it!)

^

13. This song is a direct descendent of the various "Crap Rap"s (so-called because of MES's frequent proclamation "We are northern white crap"), beginning as an onstage rant that served to introduce the proper opener.

^

14. This line echoes "It's The New Thing": "I wonder what is next year's thing?/ Crash smash crash ring!" This would be an apposite allusion for the "C n' C" half of the song, and it serves here to sound a harmonic with the latter, as the clamor from a dentist's office has as much musical resonance in the ears of an annoyed bourgeois neighbor as the songs played by an aspiring pop band do for the sleazy and tone-deaf would-be manager in "It's The New Thing."

^ 

15. This line also appears in "The N.W.R.A." from the same album.  

^

16. "Johnnies" are condoms in British slang; "demob" refers to demobilization. The post-World War II population glut and consequent changes to the British landscape and way of life as a result of the demand for jobs and housing is a theme that crops up in Fall lyrics of this era fairly often. Condoms were indeed issued to British (and American) soldiers during World War II.  

^ 

17. Thin ties were a New Wave fashion at the time, especially popular among (miserable or not) bands that featured synthesizers. Anachism, whether actual or adopted as a fashion, was more common on the punk side of the New Wave family than on the synthesizer side, although of course there was some overlap. Thin ties and circle 'A's are two opposite sides of the burgeoning scene of the time ("New Wave" was sometimes used as an umbrella term that covered both sides before it became exclusively associated with the effete pop of the thin tie crowd). For MES, these were two manifestations of the same thing. A small musical efflorescence was subsequently trampled in the rush to cash in, and the Fall were quick to distance themselves from both the 'punk' and the 'New Wave' labels. 

As for the details, in general anyone who had the temerity to be playing music (especially if they were from Manchester) and to not be the Fall comes in for a helping of ridicule, but the exact targets are not always immediately clear all these years later. According to Smith:

I mean, you're talking about a time when Elvis Costello was
considered really weird. You're talking about a time when fuckin'
I'm turning fuckin' Japanese [sic] was considered a decent tune. In them
days if you didn't have a skinny tie you were fuckin'... otherwise
you had to have a symphony orchestra behind you. We were dead
against it. And we used to get hit from all sides. Intellectuals
didn't like us because we weren't, like, college. Longhairs didn't
like us cos we didn't sound like heavy rock. Punks didn't like us
cos we didn't have safety pins.

"Turning Japanese" was a top 40 hit for The Vapors in 1980; it came out at a time when New Wave and punk were becoming more and more distinctly disambuguated, with the former becoming goofier and more mainstream, and the latter growing more political lyrically and, musically, becoming 'hardcore.'  

^

18. Gary Bushell is a journalist who was at the time a musician in the Oi! band the Gonads and a socialist, although he has since drifted into some kind of English nationalism. The Gonads made mostly joke records, as MES accurately remarks, although they occasionally ventured into left-wing political criticism in their lyrics, which is never a good route to MES's heart.  

^

19. Roundtable was a Friday night BBC radio show. Famous recording artists would go on the show and discuss the records released that week. The orange lyrics book has, "Join round table. 'I like yer single yer great!'"

^

20. "Three rules of audience" makes another apearance on "What You Need" from This Nation's Saving Grace. What the rules are isn't clarified there either. At least once, however, MES reportedly stated the rules as foilows: "'No requests - you do not pay us enough to dictate our actions,'  'we do not play for the ghost dance' and 'if you don't like it, it's already too late.'" The Ghost Dance was a Native American religious movement which spread throughout various tribes in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It was based on a prophecy that performing the dance would unite Indians with their dead ancestors, unify the tribes, and bring an end to white colonialism.

A more pedestrian version of the rules is found in the Fall gigography entry for March 28, 1979:

"MES introduced the set with: 'We are The Fall. Rule One: no-one gets on stage. Rule Two: no spitting. Rule Three: no requests...'" 

^ 

21. This line is also featured in "New Puritan"; some of the lyrics of the latter apparently developed during performances of this song.  

^

22. The Fall had released a song called "Choc-Stock" on Dragnet, with a chorus that goes "Pop stock try my pop stock/ Pop stock buy my pop stock." Like "C 'n' C," the song was aimed at pop stars who craft their music with the charts in mind, so Smith's defensiveness is legible, although oddly presented in private lingo. Experimental or avant-garde posturing had, by the end of the 1970s, become one more avenue for the pursuit of the ignoble ends of fame and wealth, even if the musicians who took this route had to be satisfied with a smaller amount of each than the ones who were topping the Billboard charts. Like Socrates, for whom the distinction between the philosopher and the sophist was supremely problematic because of the formal similarities between the two, it takes all of MES's subtlety as a lyricist to demonstrate the difference between a genuine musical creator and a charlatan. The ambiguity of this distinction, which may well be invisible to the naked eye, is most thoroughly presented in "New Puritan," a song which should be juxtaposed with this one, which provides the basic blueprint for MES's ethics of music. 

^

23. Smith sounded a bit more like the Sex Pistols singer on the earliest material, but he's always been pretty original. The famous "-ah" syllable appended to the end of words can be detected, in a bit less pronounced form, in some of Rotten's vocals, and MES even rolled a few Rs on Live at the Witch Trials.   

^

24. I'm not sure what this test is, or how one would fail it.  

^

25. "Old Harry" (like "Old Nick") is a nickname for the devil. The segue to the next song is particularly effective on the album, as the song suddenly cuts off and "The Container Drivers" kicks in.  

^

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More Information

C 'n' C-S Mithering: Fall Tracks A-Z

The Story of the Fall: 1980

Cash and Carry: Fall Tracks A-Z

Black Night: Fall Tracks A-Z

 

(Dan)Here is a flyer for The Fall's gig at Hope Street Hall, Los Angeles, 14/12/1979 (click to expand):

Image

C 'n' C-Hassle Schmuck (Peel Version)

[See note 1 above for notes on "Hassle Schmuck"}

{"Get your suits off/Get your jeans on" comes from a 1979 TV ad for the ferry service Townsend Thoresen:

Get your suits off
Get your jeans on
Feel that freedom right away
Driving to Europe Townsend Thoresen
The light-hearted way

Get the feeling, feel the feeling
You're on holiday right away
Cos you're driving and you're sailing
The light-hearted way}

Three months 
Three years
Three months 
Three years
More lectures
Yes it's them again
You've heard blob 59
We're gonna move on 3 years
Music centre irritant
Get yer suits off
Get yer jeans on
I can see, I have dreams
I was by the fireplace at home 
The date was two oh one oh
All England was a university town
All you could get was wine
I do brainless as energy alternative
But I don't go for this death on a plate stuff
So I'll cheer you up
Forget the act 
Read the lit-crit first
You wouldn't even know the sun was up
Unless there was a press release on it 

Oh dear friends
I can't continue this 
Arthur Askey's just been shot (Oh my God!) 
Maybe we should do a tribute
And we'll do "You Got to Hassle Schmuck"
Will you let me play 
If i patronise you today

Oh, the Hassle Schmuck 
Get some babies' arms (six two)
Nineteen sixty-two (tartan)
Is well on it's way

You gotta hassle schmuck
Sex with no drugs
Get out the tartan
Ask for Hassle Schmuck

Get some pics off your old dad (old pics)
Pick up some old tartan (big spot)
And remember friends
The highland parents

You gotta Hassle Schmuck
Sex with no drugs
Be able to make a man
Be able to trust your man
Hassle, Hassle Schmuck

Everything you know (treatment)
Is well up the creek (so you think)
Everything you know (is is)
Is half baked (video reach)

You gotta Hassle Schmuck
You gotta Hassle Schmuck

You dare to laugh at us (stereo bog)
You just want shimmering buttocks
You dare to laugh at us
But everything you know
Is well up the creek

Hard life, stereo bog, video reach
Nurse it, tartan, words, chats
Laugh, talk, nowt
Watch, reach, here
Cheeky, yeah

Tiswas  

Quick burst

Everything you know (treatment)
Is well up the creek (so you think)

 

Cash and Carry (A Part of America, Therein)

Three months
Three days
Three months
Cliches
Cliches
A 
treatise
Yes, it's them again
For about the fifth fucking time
In 
this god forsaken town
First was Cash 'n' Carry house dance  
In 
Manchester there, eh
In King Nat Limited Empire
You got a Safeway
You got a fucking Safeway everywhere
Even in Manchester

There's two types of factory there
One makes men old corpses
They
 stumble round like lost dogs
One lives off old dying men
One
 lives off the back of a dead man
You know which one
You know
 which FACTORY I mean
You know... you know...
Psychedelic
 brain mushes is honesty alternative
They're all good
 boys
Regular wages
The boss does the covers
They are OK by 
me  
They just don't talk to me
I can see, I have dreams
I 
can see, I have dreams
And the secret of my life...
Is...

Secretive.
Kennen Sie den weg nach? ["Do you know the way to...?]
Kennen Sie den weg nach?
The 
residents keep wild dogs
Yes, it's them again
Music CentraI irritant
Get your suits off
Get your Vanderbilts on
Get your 
Lee Coopers on
Have a shower son
Go out to the club, boy
In 
your father's bedroom closet pack
Contraceptives
Pru Plus
 Plan
Objectives
Demob pictures
Old train sets
Kennen Sie 
den weg nach?
Kennen Sie den weg nach?
Some food is so fast
Some food is so fast
Now...I never worked for, this death on a 
plate stuff
I am not here to cheer you up!
Video reach, stereo
 bog, video reach, stereo bog 
A quick buzz, a quick buzz
Video 
reach, stereo bog, video reach, stereo bog
Dissipates.
Are you 
a bit too late?
And the secret of their lives 
Is S. E. X.

Meet me here at 8pm
And we'll eat some meat in the rest room

That's fame: Stars on 45! Stars on 45!!! 
I keep my pockets lined 
Stars on 45! 
I keep my pockets lined
A postcard hasn’t arrived 
A postcard hasn’t arrived 
Stars on 45 
I keep my pockets lined 
We all want fame 
Whip round and tell all the others:
Let’s get some fame!
For my brothers, and what about the others? 
And on boogie night, it'll be all right 
And boogie night
I'll feast on 45's. I'll keep my pockets lined. 
I'll keep my 
pockets lined.


 

Comments (58)

dannyno
  • 1. dannyno | 14/04/2013
The bit from the Lough Press book about Robert Donat (where he compares Hollywood to the Ideal Home Exhibition - which he did actually do), originally comes from the press release for Grotesque:http://www.visi.com/fall/news/pics/80-grotesque-press.jpg
nochmal
  • 2. nochmal | 03/05/2013
I guess it is too obvious to be worth pointing out that the abbreviation of "Stop" in the title surely must have occurred just to get "s mith" in there? In which case it is an early instance (the first?) of self-naming of person or band in titles; "Mark'll Sink Us", "Win Fall CD" etc etc.
Huckleberry
  • 3. Huckleberry | 20/09/2013
"thin ties, miserable songs synthesized, or circles with 'A' in the middle" - I've always read this as referring to opposing factions in punk/post-punk/new wave at the time - "thin ties" are the bands at the poppier end of the spectrum (see, eg, the cover of Blondie's "Parallel Lines" album); "circles with A in the middle" are Crass etc. I'm less sure about "miserable songs synthesised": could this be Gary Numan, OMD etc?
bzfgt
  • 4. bzfgt | 19/10/2013
Nochmal,

If it was too obvious, it would have been in my notes. It is now!
dannyno
  • 5. dannyno | 26/08/2014
In the Cash and Carry version from A Part of America Therein, the line is "They stumble round like lost dogs", not "rust dogs".
dannyno
  • 6. dannyno | 26/08/2014
And it's "Pro Plus" he finds in his father's bedroom closet pack (i.e. caffeine pills, with obvious non-approved uses).
dannyno
  • 7. dannyno | 26/08/2014
... or so I'm hearing. "Pro Plus planner objectives" even makes some sense, although I'm less sure about "planner".

"Music centre irritant", not "Music CentraI irritant"

I don't think it's "vinyl lids", which you can't even really put on unless I'm missing something, which I might be. It sounds like the first syllable begins with a "b", like "bannermans" or something, but not that.

It's "stereo bug" not "stereobog" or "stereo bog". The "stereo bug" is something you might be bitten by, isn't it? Makes sense as a phrase.

It's "a quick buzz", not "fuzz": cf Pro Plus pills.

"Eat some meat" would appear to imply oral sex, would it not? I would in my house.
dannyno
  • 8. dannyno | 04/09/2014
"First was Cash 'n' Carry house dance
In Lancashire there, eh
In King Nat Ltd. empire
Kwik Save is there
The scene started here"

At the moment the notes above limit themselves to speculating that there was a dance in a cash and carry warehouse, which is fair enough. But I wonder if there is more.

A historian of the Manchester music scene could no doubt tell us more, but my theory is that the old warehouses of Manchester were crucial to the nascent new music of the late 1970s and early 1980s - providing rehearsal space as well as performance space. The warehouses would have been, I would think, concentrated in particular areas, which would also be home to many cash and carry warehouses.

So The Fall and Joy Division and others famously shared TJ Davidson's rehearsal studios at 35 Little Peter Street, Manchester for a time. Davidson's was a former warehouse.

I'm thinking that a concentration of bands into such an area would then the "the scene" that "started here".
dannyno
  • 9. dannyno | 04/09/2014
so is "house dance" short for "warehouse dance"? That's what I'm thinking.
dannyno
  • 10. dannyno | 04/09/2014
Mick Middles' book, "Factory: the story of the record label", has a section on Little Peter Street and the area of Knott Mill, and notes the concentration of warehouses.

But, perhaps more in support of the "company dance" idea, I found a book about the Tiller Girls (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tiller_Girls) which says that in the 1890s he trained young girls working in factories to perform dances in company warehouses on a Sunday. So there would be a tradition there of doing that.
marc balance
  • 11. marc balance | 19/12/2014
...A&M records/Herb Alpert reference: the connection is via I.R.S.& Miles Copeland. just read this http://www.onamrecords.com/IRS_Records.html
..no auditioning but definitive a business-connection, since A&M did the distribution for I.R.S....
dannyno
  • 12. dannyno | 13/06/2015
Just posted on the FOF:

http://z1.invisionfree.com/thefall/index.php?showtopic=39568&view=findpost&p=22476903


The latest success in my relentless quest to destroy everyone's enjoyment of Fall lyrics.

C'n'C-S Mithering:



Get yer suits off
Get yer jeans on


1979 Townsend Thoresen advert:
https://youtu.be/LlM-G7ZOHOc



Get your suits off
Get your jeans on
Feel that freedom right away
Driving to Europe Townsend Thoresen
The light-hearted way

Get the feeling, feel the feeling
You're on holiday right away
Cos you're driving and you're sailing
The light-hearted way

etc

Joseph Mullaney
  • 13. Joseph Mullaney | 27/06/2015
To me `vinyl lids' from the A Part of America Therein version sounds like `Vanderbilts'. Apparently this is a store in America selling work boots?
dannyno
  • 14. dannyno | 05/01/2016
"Go on Roundtable. "I like your single," "Yeah, great!""

I think this is a sarcastic swipe at John Peel.

In "Rise of The Fall", Paula Hewitt's feature interview with MES from Melody Maker 29/11/1980, p10, there is this line:

Even the people who have helped, like John Peel who recently demanded to play the new Fall single on "Roundtable", and others who have been plugging away enthusiastically, aren't allowed to rest on their laurels.
Norbert D
  • 15. Norbert D | 08/03/2016
In "Hassle Schmuck", it's not "and remember friends, the highland parents", it's "and remember friends, the highland clearance," as in https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Highland_Clearances. Don't think it's relevant to anything much, but it's definitely what he says.
Zack
  • 16. Zack | 03/12/2016
Marc Riley chants "video reach, stereo bug" on the furious version of "Prole Art Threat" on Fall In a Hole.
dannyno
  • 17. dannyno | 25/01/2017

I try to let down their tyres with matches to make them molten
Ouch! Ouch!


Is it understood that what we have here is the miscreant's fingers getting burned by the matches they are trying to use to melt car tyres? It's an interesting image, of futility perhaps?
dannyno
  • 18. dannyno | 25/01/2017

..I never worked for, this death on a 
plate stuff


With the ersatz German in this part of the song, I got to wondering. And there is a German dish called "Schlacht-Teller" or "Schlachtteller", which translates as "slaughter-plate" (i.e. death on a plate) and seems to consist of various meats, or as one writer put it: (https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=r4nX4MtsI8YC&q=%22schlachtteller%22)


a dish which appears to be the result of a bomb attack on an abattoir, being boiled and pickled neck of pork, liver dumplings, bacon and blood sausage.
bzfgt
  • 19. bzfgt | 04/02/2017
I had thought so, it is humorous.

Man, the notes are too long. Should I chop some of that shit out?
bzfgt
  • 20. bzfgt | 04/02/2017
Death on a plate=a great note. I am hesitant to add anything to this mess right now though. Anyway I may be too fastidious about that in any case, as it is already here if it is down here. Probably more likely to be read, in this case.
Sumsiadad
  • 21. Sumsiadad | 24/02/2017
I don't know where you get "stereo bug" from, it's obviously "video reach stereo bog". In fact, the phrase is on the cover of "Slates":

dissipated and knacked
at home, video reach
stereo bog etc.


'Bog' being a slang word for toilet. Conjures up a picture of someone vegging out on the sofa in some flat, video and stereo close at hand, getting up occasionally to shuffle to the bathroom.

In reference to the A Part of America version:

Someone mentioned it previously but "vinyl lids" is Vanderbilts - as in Vanderbilt jeans

"You got a Safeway
You got a fucking Safeway everywhere
Even in Manchester
There's two types of factory there
One makes men old corpses
They stumble round like lost dogs
One lives off old dying men
One lives off the back of a dead man
You know which one
You know which FACTORY I mean"

Dead man = Ian Curtis.
bzfgt
  • 22. bzfgt | 25/02/2017
I don't know where I got it, I may well have transcribed that myself, as I don't think it would be on the Lyrics Parade (but if it is, apologies etc, etc, and also blame for "bug" of course).

It sounds to me like it could easily be either, so I'll take your word for it. Neither entirely make sense to me but when you explain it I can kind of see it. Thanks for the corrections. And welcome back, if I'm not mistaken you've been gone for a while...
dannyno
  • 23. dannyno | 25/02/2017
Comment 21:

"I don't know where you get "stereo bug" from, it's obviously "video reach stereo bog". In fact, the phrase is on the cover of "Slates":"

I was just looking at the cover of Slates. It's not on the cover of Slates, as far as I can see. Nor is the song on Slates, though, so I checked Grotesque too. It's not on the cover of Grotesque either, as far as I can see.

Or am I missing something? It's possible.
dannyno
  • 24. dannyno | 25/02/2017
Vanderbilts were expensive designer blue jeans launched in 1976. Vanderbilt after Gloria Vanderbilt.
bzfgt
  • 25. bzfgt | 25/02/2017
Yeah I didn't think of that being something someone wouldn't know, sometimes I don't even realize there's something that should have a footnote. Vanderbilts and "oo la la, Sasson" were the go-to pants for people that at the time i regarded as aesthetically evil, keep in mind I was 12-14 years old or whatever. Then parachute pants came onto the scene...it's amazing how aesthetically alien the 80s were, and then around 1990 the clock just stopped or something. Not that there weren't things from the 90s that might look a little odd now, but every decade was another planet compared to the previous from the 50s through the 80s, and of those the 80s probably overlapped least with its neighbors.
bzfgt
  • 26. bzfgt | 25/02/2017
Seriously, there's probably too much damn text on this one, though. This is a mess. I mean I'm not even sure if it's all good or 70% bad--it's so much that I haven't been able to get myself to read it all since 2013 when I typed it all.

Sometimes I'm surprised, though, I go to chop out notes on a long one and find I like it all. That happened with "Blindness"...
bzfgt
  • 27. bzfgt | 25/02/2017
Ah, I don't know, Vanderbilts only appear in an appendix I haven't annotated. Unless and until I start finding other stuff in APOAT that needs annotating, I think the public is on its own with Vanderbilts (if'n they don't read these informative comments).
bzfgt
  • 28. bzfgt | 25/02/2017
I assume there's no independent source for "Hassle Schmuck" if this album cover isn't found, so "stereo bog" is as good as anybody's guess I suppose, and it'll make Sumisadad happy...so it's "bog" for now. I can't see as one makes any more sense than the other...a "stereo bug" could be slang for audiophilia, they've caught the "stereo bug," I mean I could go on and make "stereo bug" make at least as much sense as "bog," but I have no idea what the dude says. If anyone really thinks it's "bug" or if more evidence turns up, we'll reevaluate.

Wait a minute, though, I've convinced myself-- "Conjures up a picture of someone vegging out on the sofa in some flat, video and stereo close at hand, getting up occasionally to shuffle to the bathroom" does not really justify "stereo bog" by half, whereas "stereo bug" in fact makes perfect sense. Sumi, you will need to find your album cover, until then it's going back to "bug."
bzfgt
  • 29. bzfgt | 25/02/2017
Stereo bog--your music is shit.

Stereo bug--your music bothers me.

Stereo bog--it's like a swamp. There is a bathroom on each side of the living room.

Stereo bug--the stereo looks like a bug. I have a bug in each ear. Again, I have "caught the stereo bug."

This cannot be settled by semantics.
dannyno
  • 30. dannyno | 25/02/2017
Oh, wait, I've found it. Apologies for Sumisadad for doubting them!

It's on the back cover of Slates, bottom left of the "Spy Thriller" script.

Sometimes you can't see for looking.

I'm not convinced it's not a typo, though ....
dannyno
  • 31. dannyno | 25/02/2017
Here's a good quality image:

Image
dannyno
  • 32. dannyno | 25/02/2017
However, it does say "stereo bog", so unless we're really sure that isn't what we're hearing, I guess "bug" goes down the toilet.
dannyno
  • 33. dannyno | 26/02/2017
And of course, there needs to be a cross reference to the entry for Prole Art Threat:
http://annotatedfall.doomby.com/pages/the-annotated-lyrics/prole-art-threat.html
dannyno
  • 34. dannyno | 26/02/2017
"[Applause from audience at Cyprus Tavern ]"

This seems like its an idea MES had been mulling over for a long time.

In one of MES's letters to Tony Friel (date-stamped 5 November 1976), as published briefly on Friel's website, is the following:


I see in N. York bands there finance their own singles, recorded in front rooms and garages - now that is street music - why don't we do that, imagine hows this for a pseudo-live ep? (we would put applause of a live album on it!)
bzfgt
  • 35. bzfgt (link) | 03/03/2017
I would do a note about all the albums with fake crowd noise, of which there are scads, but the other thing there is scads of is notes on this song...I don't want to add to the pile so I will just hope people read the comments instead, I think in this case.
bzfgt
  • 36. bzfgt (link) | 03/03/2017
Fuck it, there's already a note, I just added a little.
bzfgt
  • 37. bzfgt (link) | 03/03/2017
Yes, "bug" is down the crapper and apologies to Sumi.
dannyno
  • 38. dannyno | 08/04/2017
"Three days
Three months"

Threes are significant, aren't they?

See 2 Samuel 24, 13 for an example:


So Gad came to David, and told him, and said unto him, Shall seven years of famine come unto thee in thy land? or wilt thou flee three months before thine enemies, while they pursue thee? or that there be three days' pestilence in thy land? now advise, and see what answer I shall return to him that sent me.


https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2+Samuel+24:13
dannyno
  • 39. dannyno | 26/06/2017
Note #7 and #8 are reversed.
dannyno
  • 40. dannyno | 26/06/2017
There's a theory out there that the following lines are about The Teardrop Explodes:


All the English groups
Act like peasants with free milk
On a route
On a route to the loot
To candy mountain
Five wacky English proletariat idiots


See eg The Mighty Fall Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/685989794770753/permalink/1115216761848052/?match=bWl0aGVyaW5n

Julian Cope is supposed to have acknowledged the connection in his autobiography, "Head-On: memories of the Liverpool Punk-scene and the story of The Teardrop Explodes (1976-1982)" (available separately or with the sequel "Repossessed: shamanic depressions in Tamworth & London (1983-89)").

Here's what Cope says [p121 in my Head-On/Repossessed edition]:


I was in America and feeling out of touch with any real world. You see, I was expected to act cool and lead the group and all this heavy stuff. You know, it really didn't seem so long since I was the asshole holding everyone back. Now i was dragging everyone behind me and hadn't a clue how to control it.

Every day, I'd teach them new songs. Every day, we'd pull songs to pieces on stage and operate on the. I recorded everything.

If someone said something interesting, I wrote it down. I took in constantly. But i had no real idea what we were doing. It was not exciting to be high in the British chart. I was in New York being hip as hell, man. Fuck the charts, we're going to be enourmous and get cooler.

"All the English groups act like peasants with free milk."

That's a Mark Smith quote. It struck me hard in the chest.

America is a place to consume. When you first go there, it makes Britain seem Third World. Excitement is so immediate that the turn on is quite different. You don't sit around, like at home in Britain. You get up and go out. All the time. It's so easy to be taken in. To believe it's better. It's not, though, it's just different. That's why I was freaking out. I mean, I didn't know what was normal here.


Now, I read that as Cope recognising his situation in the Fall lyric. I don't think there's any indication that the lyric was written about The Teardrop Explodes, or that Cope thinks it was written about The Teardrop Explodes. He certainly doesn't say any such thing. But it does speak to his experience.

Is there any other reason for thinking the line reflects MES's opinion about The Teardrop Explodes' behaviour in America? Not that I can see.

It's also worth considering the timeline. C'n'C-S Mithering first appeared in Fall sets back in March 1980, but the lyrics took a while to settle down. "Grotesque" was recorded towards the end of Summer 1980 and the album was released in November.

Cope was writing about The Teardrop Explode's second visit to the US in the first half of 1981, and in particular about the aftermath of their single "Reward" reaching no. 6 in the British charts (it first charted in January 1981) while they were there.

So that is obviously too late for C'n'C to be a comment on, or observation of, Cope's experiences around the time he's writing about in the quoted text.

However, The Teardrop Explodes' first visit to the US was their trip to New York in July 1980 (p95 of my edition). Which was also about when The Fall were recording "Grotesque". It's not impossible that MES might have heard something which fed into the C'n'C lyrics, but it doesn't seem terribly plausible and there is no other indication that Teardrop Explodes are the intended target, and Cope doesn't say he thinks they were.

Given that The Fall's first American tour was November-December 1979, it seems more likely, given the timeline, that MES was drawing on observations from back then. Indeed the "five wacky English proletarian idiots" could be a reference to The Fall themselves, if we're playing the guessing game.
dannyno
  • 41. dannyno | 26/06/2017

Five hundred girl deaths
A Mexico revenge, it's stolen land
They really get it off on
"Don't hurt me please"
Rapist fill the TVs


In late 1979 (The Fall toured the US in November-December 1979), Rodney Alcala [url]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rodney_Alcala[/i] was arrested on suspicion of the murder of Robin Samsoe. He had form. He also had a collection of 1000s of photographs, mostly of women. Many/most of the subjects remain unidentified, and the suspicion is that some of them at least were murdered. If this case was widely publicised, maybe it could be the basis of these lines?
dannyno
  • 42. dannyno | 26/06/2017
Sorry, that wikipedia link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rodney_Alcala
dannyno
  • 43. dannyno | 27/06/2017
Note 1:


"Mithering" is a northern British slang term which is basically equivalent to "whining," or to the still British but more familiar "whinging."


I hadn't noticed before, but this isn't quite right.

The Oxford Dictionary of English defines "mither" in this sense (there are other senses) as:


To bother, pester, worry, irritate


While someone who whines and whinges at you may well be mithering you, the meaning is not restricted to that form.

Chambers' Dictionary:


To pester, hassle
dannyno
  • 44. dannyno | 27/06/2017
Maybe we can distinguish between being mithered by another, and doing the mithering oneself. Perhaps there's a slight distinction of meaning to be found there.

For example, https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/mither captures a sense - not recorded in the full OED or Chambers:


Make a fuss; moan.
[/i]‘oh men—don't they mither?’[/i]


Again, this is not quite merely "whining" and "whinging". In the song, it's "mothers" who are told to "stop mithering", and irritating motherly fussing perhaps captures both angles of meaning quite well.
dannyno
  • 45. dannyno | 01/07/2017
Bit more relevant to comment #40.

Here is a flyer for The Fall's gig at Hope Street Hall, Los Angeles, 14/12/1979:

Image


Not on a Route To the Loot Or Here For The Food like Those Other U.K. Fools
dannyno
  • 46. dannyno | 01/07/2017
"And is no way noble"

Aristotle, "Politics" VII, chapter 3


For there is certainly nothing grand in using a slave as a a slave, since ordering people to do necessary tasks is in no way noble.


i mean, clearly it's not a unique phrase. i just liked this context because it seems vaguely relevant to that bit of the song.
dannyno
  • 47. dannyno | 01/07/2017
"kennen sie weg nach"

There's a translation of this in the lyric ("do you know the way to..."), but I don't think the translation is sung, is it? So it ought to be in a note.

Sounds like MES has been reading a German phrase book.
dannyno
  • 49. dannyno | 02/07/2017
Note #4, Robert Donat's comments were in Film Weekly of 10 August 1934, of course.
dannyno
  • 50. dannyno | 02/07/2017
Just to expand on my comment #49. The Donat quote is not desperately obscure, but I've always wondered where MES came across it. Surely not in Film Weekly of 10 August 1934.

It is in Kenneth Barrow's 1985 biography of Donat, "Mr Chips: The Life of Robert Donat".

And I believe it is also in a TV programme profiling Donat, presented by Barry Norman (who died on 30 June 2017). The programme was first broadcast on the BBC on 6 August 1980 as "The British Greats: Robert Donat", and an article based on the programme (which included the "ideal homes" line) was published in "The Listener" magazine of 21 August 1980 (p241).

There were four series of "Hollywood Greats" presented by Norman: Clark Gable, Errol Flynn, Spencer Tracy, Gary Cooper and Humphrey Bogart in 1977; Joan Crawford, Ronald Colman, Jean Harlow, Julie Garland and Charles Laughton in 1978; Edward G. Robinson, The Marx Brothers, Charlie Chaplin, Marilyn Monroe and Hollywood itself in 1979; and Bing Crosby, Henry Fonda, David Niven and John Wayne in 1983.

Between the third and fourth series of "Hollywood Greats", Norman presented "The British Greats" (1980): In addition to Donat, Norman covered Peter Finch, Jack Hawkins, Leslie Howard and Gracie Fields.

Both series were accompanied by books.

I think these might be of interest generally if MES watched them, or read about them.
dannyno
  • 51. dannyno | 02/07/2017
And the quote also appeared in occasional MES-source The Daily Mail of 7 August 1980, in Herbert Kretzmer's "TV Mail" review of the preceding day's profile (p19):


This most private Englishman loathes Hollywood, 'on the curious grounds,' said Barry Norman, 'that it reminded him of the Ideal Home Exhibition.'


So MES could have watched the programme, or read about it in the Daily Mail the next day or The Listener the following week. Or maybe he read Barrow's later biography (but would that fit with the orange lyrics book timeline?).
dannyno
  • 52. dannyno | 03/07/2017
Ack, I'd forgotten that although the Donat citation may be in the later Orange lyrics book, it originally cropped up in the press release for Grotesque: http://thefall.org/news/pics/80-grotesque-press.jpg. In which case, MES surely must have seen the Barry Norman profile of Donat - or read about it. We can discount the Barrow biography.
bzfgt
  • 53. bzfgt (link) | 09/07/2017
I wonder how long those notes have been like that!
bzfgt
  • 54. bzfgt (link) | 09/07/2017
Dan, is enormous spelled "enourmous" in Britain? I changed it because it doesn't even look familiar but if that's right, I'll change it back...
bzfgt
  • 55. bzfgt (link) | 09/07/2017
Yeah, I don't know why I got that translation, or why I had it is "know the way after..." the primary meaning of "nach" is "after" but in that context it's clearly "to."
bzfgt
  • 56. bzfgt (link) | 09/07/2017
It's in square brackets in the text because I don't have footnotes to that version, maybe I'll change it at some point.
dannyno
  • 57. dannyno | 09/07/2017
Comment #54: sorry, yes, "enourmous" was a typo. "enormous" is not only correct but also what is in the original text.
Brian Damage
  • 58. Brian Damage | 11/07/2017
Always thought "in Lancashire, Bury" but probably wrong.
"And lose it with hasty electronics"?

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