Chicago, Now!

(1)

Do you work hard? (2)
Do you work hard?
You don't!
You don't!

You don't! Chicago, now!

Do you work hard?
Do you try hard?
You don't! Chicago, now!

All is commission time
Commission C.T. time (3)
Set down, setting down
C.T C.T. time

Chicago, now!

Work hard.
Do you try hard?
Dear crew
Try hard.

Chicago, now!

That's it: you don't.
That's it: you don't.

Chicago, now!
Chicago, now!

Step down
Setting down, just setting down
See their butt all over the street
You just go up and meet
Just setting down.

Chicago now.

Hi-de-hi-de-hi-de-ho. (4)

 


Notes

1. Speculation has it that many of the songs on Extricate are about Brix Smith, MES's recently estranged wife (although both Smiths have denied this); M. Smith met B. Smith in Chicago, which may or may not have something to do with this song.

Dan has found a painting called Chicago Now by one George Becker. It is somewhat obscure, but cannot be ruled out.

 

^

2. This line was resurrected in 2005 on "Blindness."  

^

3. Maybe the Chicago Crime Commission, a private watchdog group dedicated to educating the public about crime in Chicago. "C.T." could be "Central Time," Chicago's time zone. A literal interpretation would have it that the singer is setting down in a plane in Chicago, to work ("hard?") on commission. The Peel session version mentions "M.T." Perhaps at that point MES thought Chicago was on Mountain Time.  

According to harleyr:

CT time / commission time etc. - a year or so after Extricate came out I believe I saw a billboard poster along the North Circular which had similar phrases. I never saw it again and can't find any evidence that it existed so perhaps I dreamed it.

Whatever the case, it strikes me as something you might find in a key to explain abbreviations on a timesheet for sales people. 'Put your commission hours in the column headed CT.'  Making people fill in time sheets is sometimes perceived as being a way of getting them to show that they don't work hard. 'Do you work hard? That's it, you don't and we have the time sheet to prove it.'

The Peel version has the lyric 'MT is Mission Time' which might be related to the corporate mission statements that I think were becoming popular in the late 80s when this song was written. 

With all that in mind, might 'hi de hi de hi de hi de ho' have more to do with the Seven Dwarves and 'hi ho hi ho... It's off to work we go' than Cab Calloway? Perhaps Smith got the two songs mixed up? (See note 4 below)

^

4. A nonsense phrase associated with Cab Calloway, who was not, however, a Chicagoan. The scatted lyrics first appeared in Calloway's signature song "Minnie the Moocher" (see note 3 above). Dan points out that a version of "Minnie the Moocher" by the Reggae Philharmonic Orchestra reached a high of #35 in the UK singles charts on 12 November, 1988.

^

More Information

Chicago Now: Fall Tracks A-Z

The Story of the Fall: 1990 mentions that the Peel version sounds exactly like the studio version, but in fact the radio session is slightly faster, with a choppier beat.

Comments (15)

dannyno
  • 1. dannyno | 29/10/2013
Chicago: "the city that works": http://chicago.straightdope.com/sdc20090903.php
harleyr
  • 2. harleyr | 08/08/2014
CT time / commission time etc - a year or so after Extricate came out I believe I saw a billboard poster along the North Circular which had similar phrases. I never saw it again and can't find any evidence that it existed so perhaps I dreamed it.

Whatever the case, it strikes me as something you might find in a key to explain abbreviations on a timesheet for sales people. 'Put your commission hours in the column headed CT.' Making people fill in time sheets is sometimes perceived as being a way of getting them to show that they don't work hard. 'Do you work hard? That's it, you don't and we have the time sheet to prove it.'

The Peel version has the lyric 'MT is Mission Time' which might be related to the corporate mission statements that I think were becoming popular in the late 80s when this song was written.

With all that in mind, might 'hi de hi de hi de hi de ho' have more to do with the Seven Dwarves and 'hi ho hi ho... It's off to work we go' than Cab Calloway? Perhaps Smith got the two songs mixed up?
dannyno
  • 3. dannyno | 27/08/2014
Well, if MES had the seven dwarves in mind it would fit the song, but the problem is that what he actually sings is not "hi-ho-hi-ho", and I find it difficult to believe anyone - even MES - could get that wrong. But it remains a possibility.

In a UK context it's also impossible to not think of the holiday camp sitcom "Hi-Di-Hi"

Another link for "the city that works" slogan associated with Mayor Daley: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_nicknames_for_Chicago
dannyno
  • 4. dannyno | 27/08/2014
Also, Calloway did live in Chicago for a while.

See his timeline: http://www.cabcalloway.cc/timeline.htm
Simon
  • 5. Simon | 17/10/2014
OK, I may not be able to add anything worthwhile here, the annotations and lyrics here seem right, but... I thought, at least as a play on words, Mark sings ('sings'?) 'sitting down' and 'setee time' (I may have watched too much Lee & Herring and made a mistake; Mark would make a good 'lord of the dance setee though, wouldn't he?) and there was a general concern with people sitting down rather than working hard. That was my initial impression, C.T. time and everything makes more sense but I still think it is possible that there is some word play going on...
George
  • 6. George | 01/08/2018
The whole feel of this song makes me think of the Great Depression. "Minnie The Moocher" was a hit from that time. And there's an instrument - an oboe? - which churms out this gloomy twisted tune and a bit that sounds like massed brass snarling. Both of these touches sound like something from the 30s. This, for me, meant that MES was saying that we are heading for another crash and it doesn't matter how hard everyone works, they won't be working hard enough to avoid it.
bzfgt
  • 7. bzfgt (link) | 06/08/2018
Yeah, great point about the reed instrument/Calloway/Depression feel.
Joe Totale
  • 8. Joe Totale | 19/11/2019
I always thought this was a paranoid reference to nervously waiting for Taxis:
Car-Go-Now
dannyno
  • 9. dannyno | 13/05/2021
Note 1.

Re: the significance of Chicago in MES and Brix's relationship. The year before this song was first recorded, on 17 May 1988, the Fall played Cabaret Metro in Chicago. Which was where they first met on 23 April 1983.

That 1988 gig was the most recent time The Fall played Chicago before the debut of this song, I believe. For all we know, it was the last time MES was there at all.

However, if this is a song that is in any way related to MES/Brix, there's nothing in the lyric to make us think so, other than the reference to Chicago.
dannyno
  • 10. dannyno | 13/05/2021
I feel like this is too far away from the debut recording of the song, but I might be wrong.

But a version of Cab Calloway's Minnie the Moocher by the Reggae Philharmonic Orchestra reached a high of #35 in the UK singles charts on 12 November 1988 https://www.officialcharts.com/search/singles/minnie-the-moocher/
dannyno
  • 11. dannyno | 13/05/2021
dannyno
  • 12. dannyno | 30/05/2021
"Chicago Now" is an artwork by George Becker. It was turned into postcards etc.

http://dannyno.org.uk/fall/pics/chicagnow.jpg

Source: https://www.worthpoint.com/worthopedia/vintage-signed-lithograph-george-1865406502
bzfgt
  • 13. bzfgt (link) | 05/06/2021
10: this has to be the ultimate manifestation of your temporal logic--it must be inspired by a song from 1931 because 1988 is too far in the past...
dannyno
  • 14. dannyno | 05/06/2021
I've never been wrong yet!

Have I?

bzfgt
  • 15. bzfgt (link) | 12/06/2021
No... but have you been right?

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