Cab It Up


Cabbing it uptown
You're moving it uptown
You taxi it uptown uptown

And you're moving it southwest 
You're cabbing it uptown
You're moving up sideways sideways

And you're cabbing it uptown uptown

Cabbing it uptown

Your business friend
Your business friend's Australian
And when he comes it's cobber-dämerung! (1)

But you're cabbing it uptown
You're moving up south now
You're moving it uptown uptown
Sideways sideways

Main strips! Main strips!

People going, people going
Moving it uptown

And locked in the door bins (2)
Slowly slowly

Jump in! Jump in!

You're cabbing it uptown uptown

But you know the best, Dan (3)
I dunno where I am
I feel like crying

But cabbing it uptown
You're moving up sideways
Moving up slowly
You're cabbing it uptown

(Taxi! .....)

You'd better cab it up slowly

Moving in circles
A Shepherd's Bush man (4)
Eats from a can
He taxi it southwest southwest
He moving it uptown uptown

Uptown Uptown

You'd better cab it up slowly
You'd better taxi it slowly
You'd better cab it slowly
You'd better cab it up

Jump in! Jump in!
Michael! Michael! (5)



1. A pormanteau of "cobber" and Götterdämmerung. "Cobber" is Australian slang for "mate" in the English sense, i.e., friend. Götterdämmerung means, in German, "twilight of the gods." It comes into German as a rendering of Ragnarok, which literally means "fate (or 'end') of the gods," or Ragnarøkkr, which means "twilight of the gods." In Norse mythology (our knowledge of which is mostly derived from the Eddas), Ragnarok is a final cataclysm, including battles and natural disasters, that heralds the end of the current cycle of world history. Richard Wagner may have coined the term (it's hard to say, since German is particularly amenable to combined terms such as this); in any case, he brought it into common usage in 1876, when his Götterdämmerung premiered (it is the fourth and final installment of his four-opera cycle The Ring of the Nibelung [Der Ring des Nibelungen]). The term often refers to a tragic doom or a final cataclysm, and is often used in a humourous or exaggerated manner, as Smith seemingly does here. Friedrich Nietzsche, who early in his career was a friend and disciple of Wagner's, lampooned Wagnerian (and, in general, German) bombast when he entitled one of his last works Götzen-Dämmerung ("Twilight of the Idols").

On the Peel version, we learn that the business friend "looks like Charles Atlas" and "worships Bob Dylan." And, although in context the bodybuilder Charles Atlas seems to be the obvious reference above, the Michael Clark Company has included, since about 1984, a filmmaker and lighting designer of that name.

In the 1980s there was a Dutch TV show which showed music called Gotterdammerung 2000. I have not yet been able to find much information about this. But in comment 3 below, Pster links to a performance by the Birthday Party on this program, which was broadcast September 12, 1982.. This was of course an Australian band. It is possible, then, that the "business friend" is Nick Cave.  The picture at the head of this blog post seems to be of Michael Clarke's Charles Atlas. If that's the case, he does seem to look a bit like Cave (or vice versa). "Business friend" would then seem to be some kind of dig at Cave, with whom MES was known at times to have a somewhat adversarial relationship...note that Bob Dylan is discussed in this interview, and MES utters the immortal words "I respect Dylan. The only good thing I've heard of his is that LP he did with George Harrison and Roy Orbison."


2. In British English, a "bin" is a trash receptacle.  


3. A mysterious "Dan" also appears in "Hip Priest."  


4. Shepherd's Bush is in western London. In Fall lyrics, anything from southern England, particularly London, often carries a negative connotation.  


5. Refers to Fall collaborator Michael Clarke, the choreographer behind the ballet I Am Curious, Orange. The Fall accompanied the dancers live, and the album I am Kurious Oranj is the soundtrack of the ballet that almost shares its name.

Dan reports this statement from MES in the New Musical Express:

"Like there's a song 'Cab It Up' in there which was originally intended to be about William Of Orange living it up after he'd got to London. But it's turned into a song about Michael Clark and his mates, full of gross insults. They haven't realised that yet. Ha ha!" 



More Information

Comments (30)

  • 1. dannyno | 13/05/2016
From NME, 17 September 1988 (

"Like there's a song 'Cab It Up' in there which was originally intended to be about William Of Orange living it up after he'd got to London. But it's turned into a song about Michael Clark and his mates, full of gross insults. They haven't realised that yet. Ha ha!"
Fit and Working Man
  • 2. Fit and Working Man | 19/05/2018
On the Gotterdamerung bit it sounds to me like MES makes a pun on Aussie slang; "It's Cobber-damerung"

Plus "And locked in the door bins" heard here as "I'm lost in the daubings"
  • 3. Pster | 07/02/2019
It's just an aside - here are some Australians on Gotterdammerung
  • 4. bzfgt (link) | 21/03/2019
Damn it Pster, I don't believe I ever knew about that Gotterdammerung or had it in my notes...
  • 5. bzfgt (link) | 21/03/2019
What the hell is it? What the hell does "Live Gottendammerung 1982" mean?! I thought maybe it was a TV show like Dick Clark, but not according to the internet. I can't find a record of a club of that name, but not unless it's so far buried by Wagner it's on the 10,000th page (and even searching "-Wagner" barely helps). It's not a live album by Birthday Party that I can find. Anybody know what this is?
  • 6. bzfgt (link) | 21/03/2019
Also I always feel kind of guilty that I don't like Nicholas Cave, like I should or something. He's just so histrionic and Jim Morrisonny, but people who like good stuff like it. But man that is a horrible racket.
  • 7. bzfgt (link) | 21/03/2019
OK a youtuber tells me Gotterdammerung 2000 was a German TV show. Still trying to track it down on the internet.
  • 8. bzfgt (link) | 21/03/2019
OK. I wish I knew if that was Atlas in the picture, or what he looks like. And that stupid interview is "excluded from Wayback Machine," whatever that means, so we have to hope the Quietus keeps it up. Is this plausible note 1 though? I think it is, but it's a little sloppy.
  • 9. dannyno | 23/03/2019
Gotterdammerung 2000 was a Dutch TV show (VPRO, you see), not a German one.

According to, the Birthday Party's appearance was recorded on 21 July 1982 and first broadcast 12 September 1982.

You know what i'm going to say, don't you? We're supposed to think a 1988 song is referring back to something that happened 6 years ago?
  • 10. dannyno | 23/03/2019
Charles Atlas, including a photo:
  • 11. dannyno | 23/03/2019
Surely the obvious Australian in the context of Kurious Oranj/Curious Orange is... Leigh Bowery?
  • 12. bzfgt (link) | 09/06/2019
Yeah, pretty sure that's the same dude.
  • 13. dannyno | 12/06/2019
Bowery is the Australian business friend, I mean.
  • 14. dannyno | 12/06/2019
Atlas/Bowery is not the same person.
  • 15. bzfgt (link) | 03/07/2019
No I am saying the photo is Atlas.
  • 16. bzfgt (link) | 03/07/2019
What's the deal with Bowery, and why would it be he? Who's Bowery again?
  • 17. dannyno | 13/09/2019

He appeared in Fall videos.

He collaborated with Clark on Kurious Oranj.


We were close to Michael Clark, the dancer, and because of that we were close to Leigh Bowery
  • 18. dannyno | 13/09/2019
Also, back to my first comment here, MES said the song was based on Michael Clark and his mates, so plausible candidates come out of that circle. Nick Cave wouldn't seem to fit at all. I mean, he's Australian too, and it's not impossible. But in context, doesn't seem likely. And Bowery was of course a club promoter and fashion designer - "business friend" seems a more apt description of him than it would Cave.
  • 19. Tom | 13/10/2020
live recording of Mere Pseud Mag Ed from Gaskessel, Biel, Switzerland Feb 1st 1983 sees Hanley chuck in a bass run very much like the one that crops up a couple of times in Cab It Up. note the rhythmic similarity of the main riffs in these two tunes...
  • 20. Ant | 17/12/2020
@bzftg, regarding your Birthday Party/Nick Cave comments--the former band always seemed like the sort of group I'd like "on paper", going by various critics/fans descriptions of their records and live shows...but when I actually heard them my reaction was basically the same as yours--a real formless racket! And not the GOOD kind, if you know what I mean! I have a couple of The Bad Seeds later CD's but Cave's histrionics don't sit well with me. He's written/curated some bloody good film soundtracks in his time, frequently with Warren Ellis--and his script for Gladiator 2 sounds absolutely mental, in the best way (I've looked for a copy online but can't find one). Terrible thing to endure the grief of losing his only (?) son, though. Awful tragedy.

Also regarding Leigh Bowery--he was immortalised in oil paint several times by one of the U.K's greatest ever portraitists, Lucian Freud as There's a wonderful full-figure reclining nude of him by Freud, I believe he was something of a "muse" figure to him for quite a few years.
  • 21. egg | 13/03/2021
I know everyone above has talked about Götterdämmerung, but does MES actually sing that? It sounds like "cover dämmerung".

Also, maybe the Australian is Trevor Stuart, who was in "Hey Luciani"? He's the person talking at the start of "Australians in Europe".

(btw I think the Birthday Party were great until they left Melbourne, where Leigh Bowery is also from)
  • 22. bzfgt (link) | 20/03/2021
Fuck shit crap. Tonight it sounds to me like "cover gamma rung"
Ex ex worker man
  • 23. Ex ex worker man | 20/03/2021
See comment two - the business friend is Australian therefore "cobber- dammerung".
  • 24. bzfgt (link) | 27/03/2021
Seems totally plausible although I don't feel confident enough to change it to that. Still, it doesn't sound like "gotter"...this one might have to stay in limbo for the nonce...
  • 25. egg | 28/03/2021
yep, "cobberdammerung" is a great suggestion. I definitely hear it that way now!
  • 26. bzfgt (link) | 03/04/2021
Yeah I listened to it a bunch of times and I now am convinced.
  • 27. bzfgt (link) | 03/04/2021
The fucking site lies to me and says all the text is the same size if I highlight it all; I have to highlight sections to normalize it, and it still has two different fonts that, when I highlight, it tells me is all "default font."
Portsmouth Bubblejet
  • 28. Portsmouth Bubblejet | 14/11/2021
Very much agree with it being 'Cobber-dämmerung' as a pun on 'Götterdämmerung', but note that there should be a double 'm' in the word.
  • 29. Chris | 30/07/2023
I just started watching 1940's 'Angels Over Broadway' on YouTube. A man gets into a taxi and when the cab driver asks the passenger "where to, mister?", John Qualen replies "uptown, uptown". It's unlikely/possible that Mark watched this film too but it's an odd way for a character to speak; saying his destination twice.
  • 30. Ian | 31/01/2024
The riff is TV Eye?

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