Can Can Summer

Lyrics

(1)

The town is anti-life
Time to change back
The town is anti-life
Time to change back
Time to change back
Turn the radio off
Catch up
Change back
You are no dog
Stop twitching
(My boss he has the imagination of a gnat) (2)
No shard up   (3)
No yard up
Slowly cooking
Catch up
Change back
You are no dog
I'm shouting
No shard up
No yard up
Slowly cooking
Catch up
Change back
You are no dog
I'm shouting

(And it's a Can Can summer)
It is melting
I'm finding
Streamlined
(Ten pounds can ensure a lead for your dog)
No shard up
No yard up
Turn the radio off
Catch up
Change back
You are no dog
Turn the radio off
The town is anti-life
Time to change back
Time to change back
Turn the radio off
Time to change back, baby

Notes

1. A very polished and funky track, this blasts along nicely. I'm not sure what the message is, if there is one. According to John Coan, on the Fall online forum, the music is taken from a jam by Can. This would explain the title, which is otherwise mystifying...Mr. Marshall points out that the music resembles "I Want More."

^

2. The parenthetical bits are interjected by MES in a different, growly voice. At this point, the whole song halts; the interjection breaks the flow in a jarring way, and I'm unsure what is being conveyed--is MES mocking the boss, the complainer, both, or neither?  If he's playing it straight, the line seems a bit tired, the sort of thing that aims to signal cleverness without actually being clever (although Reformation finds it "marvelous"). Lines like "The town is anti-life" and "You are no dog" suggest the song may be an exhortation to kick up one's heels a bit, but this is all seems kind of banal for the Fall. However, I have learned that there is usually something interesting going on, even if I haven't found it yet (and see Brendan's comments in note 3 below). 

^

3. According to Russell '"shard' may well be the 'new' tall building in London - a chilly symbol of new capitalism... and the continued exhortations fit in well with a non-racist and slightly despairing patriotism, or patriotic (idealistic) pride as against soul destroying (anti-life) unmarked futurism, not what is wanted or what is needed?" Dan points out that construction on the Shard didn't begin until 2009, but I'll leave the comment here on the chance that MES knew of plans for the building, and knew that it would be a chilly symbol of capitalism...after all, man would rather will to believe in nothing than not believe, or whatever it was Nietzsche says, and what the hell does...wait, update! From The Times, 13 March 2002, p11:

"London has moved a step closer to having Europe's tallest building after a 1,016ft office block dubbed 'the shard of glass' was approved by Southwark planners. The London Bridge Tower would dwarf the Commerzbank AG Tower in Frankfurt, which is currently the tallest building."

Brendan comments:

"Maybe it's not just about London, but Modern city architecture in general. Glass monstrosities like the 'Shard' are being vomited forth all over the UK. Maybe he's contemptuously imploring careerist architects and planners to 'catch up' with the rest of us, and 'change back.'

The faux-interesting architecture might be equivalent to the music of aforementioned Talking Heads and LCD Soundsystem. I can envisage all of the above having employees who secretly think their bosses, while thinking themselves creative pioneers, really have the imaginations of gnats."

^

Comments (10)

Martin
  • 1. Martin | 24/01/2014
I've no idea what MES means by "shard" in this song. According to wordreference.com, it has two meanings: "a broken piece or fragment of a brittle substance, esp of pottery", or "a tough sheath, scale, or shell, esp the elytra of a beetle." The word also appears in the Fall track "Ten Houses of Eve".
Leon Massey
  • 2. Leon Massey (link) | 02/05/2015
Bear in mind the dislike MES has for groups such as Talking Heads and LCD Soundsystem,which he considers to be ?too middle class or unreal, and consider the list of negatives in this track. 'Stop twitching', 'turn the radio off'. Like Can or Beefheart The Fall again come off more naturally funky and honest. The real
russell richardson
  • 3. russell richardson | 15/07/2015
'shard' may well be the 'new' tall building in London - a chilly symbol of new capitalism... and the continued exhortations fit in well with a non-racist and slightly despairing patriotism, or patriotic (idealistic) pride as against soul destroying (anti-life) unmarked futurism

not what is wanted or what is needed

?
dannyno
  • 4. dannyno | 17/07/2015
They didn't start building The Shard in London until March 2009, almost a year after this song's release on Imperial Wax Solvent.
dannyno
  • 5. dannyno | 24/11/2016
Following up on "the shard", I have found a references to the planned building from the early 2000s.

For example, The Times, 13 March 2002, p11:

London has moved a step closer to having Europe's tallest building after a 1,016ft office block dubbed 'the shard of glass' was approved by Southwark planners. The London Bridge Tower would dwarf the Commerzbank AG Tower in Frankfurt, which is currently the tallest building.


And there are plenty of later articles,and the indications are that plans started two years prior to 2002, so there may be earlier coverage in other newspapers.

So that makes the building interpretation more plausible.
dannyno
  • 6. dannyno | 24/11/2016
Although, it ought to be said, there isn't actually any textual indication that "shard" means the proposed building, or that the song is about London, or anything.
Zack
  • 7. Zack | 04/03/2017
Elini sings some backing vocals during the uptempo sections. The parts that I can make sound something like "No catch up, no love set, no harder, no darkness, in silence...".

Also these (the ones in parentheses):

Catch up (exactly)
Change back (exciting)
You are no dog (exactly)
Brendan
  • 8. Brendan | 28/04/2017
Maybe it's not just about London, but Modern city architecture in general. Glass monstrosities like the "Shard" are being vomited forth all over the UK. Maybe he's contemptuously imploring careerist architects and planners to "catch up" with the rest of us, and "change back".
Brendan
  • 9. Brendan | 28/04/2017
The faux-interesting architecture might be equivalent to the music of aforementioned Talking Heads and LCD Soundsystem.

I can envisage all of the above having employees who secretly think their bosses, while thinking themselves creative pioneers, really have the imaginations of gnats.
bzfgt
  • 10. bzfgt (link) | 29/04/2017
Thank you, Brendan, excellent points.

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