Crop-Dust

Crop-Dust

(1)

It is cruel and blind
And does not compensate
The brutal fracture
Leaves sprout all over
Out in the heart of the garden

Your liver is one
Your brain is a twelfth of thought off
Your liver is one
Your brain is a twelfth of thought off  (2)

A quarter of the brain is left
To seed in 25 lines   (3)
On your mindset
Infra-skunk structure  (4)

The editor bedraggled, stumbled
Some hurt, some dazed with film crew
Their equipment strewn on the new development
As the rain tumbles down over the riverside complex
Still not covering up the ominous thunder of the hymn

[backing vox: Deep in the cells of your mind
You feel there's lost time but there's no turning back
You've been counting those days... etc., through next verse]

Shattered by skyscraper, tall...
Skyscraper tall, World War One
Soldiers in green coats and Pickelhaube (5)
Joined by old...the old singer from Manchester
In the 1990s      (6)

Brutal fracture, leaves sprout in the heart of the garden
A quarter of brain is left to seed in 25 lines... 25 lines (7)

From the Touch Sensitive Box Set, Disc II:

 And 25 fractured in the garden

And the brutal fractured [take fall] 25 line
And the fracture is one quarter of your mad, parallax liver
And the endless forkout is not looking good in the garden  (8)

Sober [so step] and can fracture the brain
25 and a quarter
And the roses aren't too good in the garden  

Down on the new riverside, sober developers
As the rain hurtles down on the fleeing business project,
But still not covering up the ominous thunder
Of the hymn “Holy, Holy, Holy”   (9)
Chanted by 12 foot tall
World War One German soldiers in green coats and Picklehaube
Materialize from the rubble
I had just received my second notice of bankruptcy 
It was in parts falling on the floor and getting messed up
I tried to read it but the rain-spattered envelope
Dissolved its myriad changes
Getting mixed up into scarves discarded by the fleeing executive
Through crop dust
Through crop dust  

The brain is eight twelfths of twenty five fractured
25 lines
25 fractured
One quarter 

And it’s not looking pretty good in the garden  

And a brutal fracture of 25 lines
And a myriad fracture clogging up the garden
And dust
Crop dust
Crop dust
Crop dust
Crop dust

 

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Notes

1. This masterpiece from Are You Are Missing Winner is built around the opening guitar strumming from the Troggs' song "I Just Sing," which appears here as an apparent (uncredited) sample. The lead guitar hook, furthermore, plays an eastern-sounding lick similar to the guitar solo on the Troggs number. Live versions, which were often much faster, omit the Troggs riff altogether. Crop dusting involves spreading fertilizer or pesticides on a crop via airplane. Although it is arguable that false and/or trick endings have been used ad nauseum in Fall songs and elsewhere, the temporary fade, return, and sudden cut at the end is nevertheless very effective. And, that's enough editorializing for now...

The Fall may also have written "Fiery Jack" around a riff from the Troggs.  

Some interesting comments appear below: Tom points out that "Immediately after 9/11, the US media was filled with all kinds of speculation about possible future terror attacks. One I remember getting a lot of play was that terrorists could use crop dusters to spread chemical weapons. Given that AYAMW was released just two months after 9/11, that seems like a reasonable source for the title (although the lyrics don't provide much support, apart from a reference to skyscrapers)." And Y. Rdrbilbst adds, "The annotation and [Tom's] comment together are suggestive, in that you could consider 9/11 as a fraction, and one that would have a relationship to 8/12, numerator and denominator each being off by 1, the other number figuring in the song, maybe giving a reason for using eight-twelths instead of three-quarters. 

Likely not, but maybe?"

These guys are probably wearing tin foil hats, but I dig it nevertheless. This kind of speculation captures something about the song, with its air of paranoid psychedelia; even if the content above is not exactly what MES had in mind, it's basically a tin foil hat type of song. But some cold water: Dan provides the following interview which seems to imply the song was already done by September:

From the October 2001 studybees.com interview by Penny Broadhurst:
 


What do you think of all the Nostradamus stuff that going round because of September 11th?]/b]

He actually did say bombers over Paris 2002. It's weird.

[b]Loads of people are buying books of his now out of paranoia. Does that amuse you?


Ha ha ha ha! On the new LP, yeah, it's quite frightening. 'Cause there's a track on it called Cropdust. Spencer the drummer wrote it. And what I'm saying on it...I can't, it's too weird...and there's another track as well where it says "You are flying, got to abseil into a foreign land". And you think about it and it's all a bit much. Because there's also one about twin towers...but it's too late now to change it because it's already pressed.

Does it scare you a bit?

It does scare me, very much. The band are like this (jaw drops).

Reformation comments: "To a lesser or greater degree the lyrics comment on the embourgeisement[sic]/repopulation of central Manchester as a result of the regeneration post the bomb attack outside Marks and Spencers on Cross Street. MES would return to this theme during Crop Dust on the same album (reflecting on the canalside developments at St Georges Island in Manchester and at Salford Quays.)"

Then there's the following ad-lib:

14 November 2001 The Knitting Factory, Los Angeles: 

"Strewn on the new riverside Salford development as the rain hurtles down." (thanks to Martin)

^

2. This could possibly be "eight twelfths of thought off." Eight twelfths is an unusual fraction, since it would ordinarily be reduced to two thirds unless there were a reason for twelfths to be emphasized.

The cerebral cortex, which is wrapped around the outside of the brain, contains roughly three quarters of the brain's neurons, and is thought to be responsible for many of the brain's conscious functions. It has been speculated that this part of the brain contains or comprises the seat or organizing center of consciousness, but this has also been contested, and the thalamus is thought by some to play this role, to the extent that consciousness can be identified with a single part or region of the brain at all, which is very controversial. Whatever the scientific facts may be in this matter--a question far beyond my competence--one possible interpretation is that here Smith is identifying the cerebral cortex with conscious organization, and invoking the more primitive state of mind that this insistent, droning musical tour de force seems to be directly summoning, or even inducing. The liver, on the other hand, which is here said to be "one," is the only organ in the body which can make up for a significant loss of mass by growing new cells. Interestingly, the liver, unlike the brain, can grow back to its original mass after as much as 75% of it has been destroyed. Thus, the liver is not partitioned into specialized and more or less irreplaceable zones the way that the brain is (although many parts of the brain are very versatile and lost brain function in one sector can often be compensated for in others), and in this sense the liver is, in comparison with the brain, "one." In Greek mythology, Prometheus, punished by Zeus for giving fire to humans, was chained to a rock, and his liver was eaten by a vulture during the day; at night, it would grow back, and the process was repeated.    

Marc Balance points out that this may also be somehow (obliquely, given the math) referring to the myth that humans only use 10 percent of the brain...

The second time also sounds like "...fuck off."

^ 

3. Or possibly "to see it in 25 lines." "To seed," which is what it sounds like, seems to suggest the brain is destroyed, but part is left from which a new one will sprout...compare with the sprouting leaves in the garden of the previous line (thanks to microplastering in the comments below).


^

 

4. I'm not prepared to say what "infra-skunk structure" means, but it remainds me of the following remarks MES made in an interview with Pitchfork:

[T]here's a lot of skunk damage in Manchester, I'll tell you that.

Pitchfork: Skunk damage?

MES: Yeah, skunk. The weed, yeah.

Pitchfork: Did you say skunk damage, though?

MES: Yeah, there's a lot of damage there.

Pitchfork: How do you mean, "damage"?

MES: Well, I've got a lot of young mates, and the skunk is like 30 times more powerful, isn't it... I'm not a pothead, you see, so I don't fucking know about it, I'm just commenting on it. It's weird, that thread, though.

^

5. A Pickelhaube (literally "pointed headgear") is a spiked helmet designed by Kaiser Friedrich Wilhelm (1795-1861) and originally worn by Prussian infantrymen, and later adopted by other German forces and by the militaries of numerous other countries in the 19th and 20th centuries. Such headgear is sometimes referred to with the more generic term "pith helmet," but a pike on top is not a necessary feature of the pith helmet, which is named after the substance of which it was originally composed (pith is material from the stems of plants).

^

6.  Dan: "First world war: the Battle of the Somme started on 1 July 1916. So 2001 was the 85th anniversary, and was marked by various events. I haven't found anything specific in Salford/Manchester, but the lyric may not be realistic in that respect anyway."

^

7. As I've transcribed it above, the lyrics sung by MES comprise 25 lines (in other words, not counting the backing vocals). Of course, I don't know how Smith wrote it down, and thus the line breaks are somewhat arbitrary. In any case, the song is at least roughly 25 lines long, so it is not unreasonable to speculate that this lyric refers, at least on one level, to the song itself. 


^

8. The "endless forkout" recalls the "eternal forkout" in The Last Commands of Xyralothep Via MES, and is also echoed in "Jim's 'The Fall'" where the lyric is "The next fork is endless/Fork out--I can't cover..." 

MES repeatedly draws out the word "garden," melismatically stretching it over several beats. Zack points out that the melody here is borrowed from "Evil Hoodoo" by the Seeds, and is the same melody that appears in "Ten Houses of Eve." 

^

9. "Holy, Holy, Holy" is a 19th Century hymn by the Anglican Regnald Heber extolling the Trinity:

Holy, Holy, Holy! Lord God Almighty!
Early in the morning our song shall rise to Thee;
Holy, Holy, Holy! Merciful and Mighty!
God in Three Persons, blessed Trinity!

Holy, Holy, Holy! All the saints adore Thee,
Casting down their golden crowns around the glassy sea;
Cherubim and seraphim falling down before Thee,
Which wert, and art, and evermore shalt be.

Holy, Holy, Holy! though the darkness hide Thee,
Though the eye of sinful man, Thy glory may not see:
Only Thou art holy, there is none beside Thee,
Perfect in power in love, and purity.

Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty!
All thy works shall praise Thy name in earth, and sky, and sea;
Holy, Holy, Holy! merciful and mighty,
God in Three Persons, blessed Trinity!

 

MES sings the title words more or less to the melody of the hymn.

^

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Comments (49)

Tom
  • 1. Tom | 18/07/2013
Immediately after 9/11, the US media was filled with all kinds of speculation about possible future terror attacks. One I remember getting a lot of play was that terrorists could use crop dusters to spread chemical weapons. Given that AYAMW was released just two months after 9/11, that seems like a reasonable source for the title (although the lyrics don't provide much support, apart from a reference to skyscrapers).
bzfgt
  • 2. bzfgt | 15/02/2014
I agree that's very suggestive. I would love to get more of a handle on what's going on here and it sounds like you may be on the right track...
Y. Rdrblbst
  • 3. Y. Rdrblbst | 02/04/2014
The annotation and the comment together are suggestive, in that you could consider 9/11 as a fraction, and one that would have a relationship to 8/12, numerator and denominator each being off by 1, the other number figuring in the song, maybe giving a reason for using eight-twelths instead of three-quarters.

Likely not, but maybe?
bzfgt
  • 4. bzfgt | 08/04/2014
Maybe, maybe not, but brilliant either way.
Zack
  • 5. Zack | 13/01/2015
Listening to the phenomenal live version on Disc 2 of the Boot Box (as I always do), I think "visage / Fortunate" might be "business / Projects."

It's also worth mentioning that when MES draws out the word "garden" ("GAAA-a-AAA-a-AAA-a-AAAh-Dehhhn"), he's borrowing the vocal melody from "Evil Hoodoo" by The Seeds, just as he did on "Ten House of Eve."
bzfgt
  • 6. bzfgt | 31/01/2015
Great, especially concerning 10 Houses! I did not know that.
bzfgt
  • 7. bzfgt | 31/01/2015
I think I have that Crop-Dust but it's unmarked...is it 5:32 in length?
bzfgt
  • 8. bzfgt | 31/01/2015
Whichever one I have is the one I transcribed, so that is Disc II? I just listened and thought it was "fleeing/visage" again but I'm going to listen again, it is such a great performance anyway...
bzfgt
  • 9. bzfgt | 31/01/2015
No, on second listen I think you're right...I've changed it.
MerelyGifted
  • 10. MerelyGifted (link) | 08/03/2015
Thank god/s someone else has noticed how great this track is. I just love it when The Fall find a riff I love and bash away at it for ages!
Jordan
  • 11. Jordan | 27/03/2016
Eight twelfths would actually be rounded down to two thirds, not three quarters. NINE twelfths would be three quarters.
bzfgt
  • 12. bzfgt | 30/04/2016
Shit, you're right! There goes the innumeracy we're all so proud of around here...it just takes one.
bzfgt
  • 13. bzfgt | 30/04/2016
Well, that shoots that whole note 2 to hell. I took the bad math out and what's left doesn't really make sense any more. I don't know what to do with it, I'm leaving it for now but maybe I should just scratch the whole thing...
paul
  • 14. paul | 22/05/2016
This is a great fall song. Wonderfully allusive but incomprehensible lyrics.

The lyrics on the "Live in San Francisco" LP are very different from either of the versions set out here.

To me, this is one of the classics, like Squid Law or Loadstones, where he has properly composed the lyrics rather than trying to come up with something around the riff in the studio. (Something he increasingly does less, sadly).

Like those other two, he presumably started out from some direct inspiration (or two) and then deconstructed it and collapsed other elements in. I don't think we've identified the start point yet.

Is one of the elements simply about taking too much drugs wastefully? Listening to the LISF version..

25 lines of coke or speed. Endless fork-out =cost
Confused calculations about dividing the cos in quarters etc
Crop-dust = too much, wasted, excess.

He's spent too much money on drugs for him and others. Some is wasted, blown around. Then he walks out in the rain and see the executives with their scarves and imagines German soldiers.
PTSN
  • 15. PTSN | 22/05/2016
Here are the lyrics on the LISF version as I hear them:

Well there's a quarter to twenty-five lines in the gar-den
And the endless fork-out is going down
Twenty-five lines! Twenty-five lines
And it's not so nice in the garden

Quarter fracture, quarter fraction, only twenty-five lines
And it's all so nice in the gar-den

Fraction twenty-five lines quarter brain endless fork-out
And a [lot of them] looking good in the garden
Twenty-five lines at least

Plan - all foreigners are the.. {non-verbal fade out}

And the crop looking pretty good in the gar-den
Crop-dust!

Besmirched and bedraggled
Wandering down the [sober] development
As the rain hurtled down
But still not covering up the ominous thunder of the hymn:
"Holy, holy, holy" chanted by ten thousand feet tall
World War One German soldiers in a great coat and picklehaube
Come out of the slope, come out of the ruins
[Motivate] by a judgment received
My second bankruptcy notice
I couldn't read
Because the paper was soaked it dropped
Into the debris
Left by the thousand bedraggled executives with scarves
Coming out of the rubble - heroic!

Crop-dust! Crop-dust! Crop-dust

I have [said dust]
Crop dust really doesn't look very good in the garden.
bzfgt
  • 16. bzfgt | 24/06/2016
Thanks for the comments, and the transcription. At some point I'll maybe put that one above too, if I see things there to annotate. As of now it's 7 AM and I'm worn out, just registering my appreciation.
bzfgt
  • 17. bzfgt | 24/06/2016
Ha, I just noticed I have that "skunk damage" quote in three different songs (Shake-Off! and Pacifying Joint). He is concerned about the youth...
Martin
  • 18. Martin | 07/04/2017
I'm not sure that the Manchester connection for the song has been sufficiently emphasised so far. The Reformation! commentary for Bourgeois has this to say:

"To a lesser or greater degree the lyrics comment on the embourgeisement/repopulation of central Manchester as a result of the regeneration post the bomb attack outside Marks and Spencers on Cross Street. MES would return to this theme during Crop Dust on the same album (reflecting on the canalside developments at St Georges Island in Manchester and at Salford Quays.)"

Then there's the following ad-lib:

14 November 2001 The Knitting Factory, Los Angeles:

"Strewn on the new riverside Salford development as the rain hurtles down." (amended lyrics to "Crop-Dust")
dannyno
  • 19. dannyno | 14/04/2017
This is a bit tangential, but I just want to note that MES might, given his history of broken hips etc, be aware of the "Garden Classification", which is "a system of categorizing intracapsular hip fractures of the femoral neck".
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Garden_classification

it doesn't help make sense of anything at all, but....
dannyno
  • 20. dannyno | 14/04/2017
... I should have checked dates first, though, since MES first broke his hip in 2004, and then again in 2009. So forget comment #19!
dannyno
  • 21. dannyno | 14/04/2017
Worth noting as a weird coincidence that the Imperial War Museum North building was designed by Daniel Libeskind - but not opened until 2002 - as was the new World Trade Center in Manhattan.

The first world war soldiers in the lyric surely can't be separated from the Imperial War Museum context, can they, even if the building wasn't actually finished when the song was written?
dannyno
  • 22. dannyno | 29/04/2017
From the October 2001 studybees.com interview by Penny Broadhurst:


What do you think of all the Nostradamus stuff that going round because of September 11th?]/b]

He actually did say bombers over Paris 2002. It's weird.

[b]Loads of people are buying books of his now out of paranoia. Does that amuse you?


Ha ha ha ha! On the new LP, yeah, it's quite frightening. 'Cause there's a track on it called Cropdust. Spencer the drummer wrote it. And what I'm saying on it...I can't, it's too weird...and there's another track as well where it says "You are flying, got to abseil into a foreign land". And you think about it and it's all a bit much. Because there's also one about twin towers...but it's too late now to change it because it's already pressed.

Does it scare you a bit?

It does scare me, very much. The band are like this (jaw drops).


https://web-beta.archive.org/web/20050205084123/http://pennybroadhurst.com:80/mesinterview.htm
https://web-beta.archive.org/web/20011214015820/http://www.studybees.co.uk/mes1.htm
bzfgt
  • 23. bzfgt (link) | 06/05/2017
I fucked with the enjambment, only to realize the notes say I had transcribed it in "25 lines." Fuck, I reigned it in...too good a conceit.

I worked in the Reformation! Stuff, Martin.

And, Dan, that interview is mildly interesting, it can stay in the comments, but you buried the lede--confirmation for "abseil!" That is outstanding.
bzfgt
  • 24. bzfgt (link) | 06/05/2017
Study bees is out of business, I see, but you can buy the domain name for a mere 20,000 dollars:

https://www.domainmarket.com/buynow/studybees.com

The seller must be expecting a Fall vogue of the proportions of Beatlemania.
harleyr
  • 25. harleyr | 18/07/2018
>>Deep in the sounds of your mind

I think that’s ‘...cells of your mind’
bzfgt
  • 26. bzfgt (link) | 22/07/2018
Cool, I'll check and see if I can make a decision! I wish we could get more of it...
bzfgt
  • 27. bzfgt (link) | 22/07/2018
I'm 90% sure it's "Your brain is a tweflth of fuck off" but how could we have missed that?
marc balance
  • 28. marc balance | 24/07/2018
I must disagree. 'thought of/off' it is.
marc balance
  • 29. marc balance | 26/07/2018
..maybe the line 'your brain is a twelfth of thought of' is related to this
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ten_percent_of_the_brain_myth
bzfgt
  • 30. bzfgt (link) | 29/07/2018
Maybe "90% sure was too strong but the second time he said it I really thought so last week. I'll listen again tonight.

I'm surprised i didn't mention the "10% myth," that's probably worth mentioning.
bzfgt
  • 31. bzfgt (link) | 29/07/2018
Yes, it's the second time he says it. I still hear it.
marc balance
  • 32. marc balance | 29/07/2018
hmm. just listened back, but I still hear 'thought of' both times... to me, he definitely pronounces the 'th' more like a broad 'f' ('fffought of') but this is probably due to his drinking habits and being avoid of full denture.. I'll play it to a guy I'm working with tomorrow, he's from Farnworth (between Manchester and Bolton), a native speaker of the Lancashire dialect ;-)
marc balance
  • 33. marc balance | 31/07/2018
..mr. native speaker lancastrian says 'thought of'....
harleyr
  • 34. harleyr | 03/08/2018
>>Some hurt, some days

I do believe that’s...

Some hurt, some dazed
bzfgt
  • 35. bzfgt (link) | 06/08/2018
Hmm, the native speaker testimony at the very least stays my hand for now.

Harleyr, that would be a much more likely line, I think. I'll change it.
microplastering
  • 36. microplastering | 22/02/2019
re: 5. I'd always heard it as "A quarter of brain is left to seed in 25 lines"
It seemed to go along with crops/garden/sprout etc. Just throwing the idea out there!
dannyno
  • 37. dannyno | 31/03/2019
Note 1: I think it's clear that the song was written before 9/11, not afterwards. The album was recorded mid-2001, for a start. And the interview with MES above seems to be clear about the chronology.
dannyno
  • 38. dannyno | 31/03/2019
First world war: the Battle of the Somme started on 1 July 1916. So 2001 was the 85th anniversary, and was marked by various events. I haven't found anything specific in Salford/Manchester, but the lyric may not be realistic in that respect anyway.
bzfgt
  • 39. bzfgt (link) | 13/04/2019
36: I always hear that too, such that when I saw your comment I was surprised that wasn't what I had. Hmm. How can this ever be settled though? It's one of those. I will put a note suggesting it anyway. And I've never listened to it trying to distinguish those....I'll see.
bzfgt
  • 40. bzfgt (link) | 13/04/2019
The song was debuted live in October, was this definitely recorded pre-9/11>
bzfgt
  • 41. bzfgt (link) | 13/04/2019
OK I quoted the interview, it's not definitive but does imply that it was done (but maybe he was relishing the "pre-cog" tag?) I did have those guys wearing tin foil hats you'll recall but as I also said, the song lends itself to it...
bzfgt
  • 42. bzfgt (link) | 13/04/2019
I love "still uncovering up..." but it's "not covering up." I hear "to seed" also.
bzfgt
  • 43. bzfgt (link) | 13/04/2019
When I listen to it in the background I hear "uncovering up." When I focus I hear "not covering up." Crap.
bzfgt
  • 44. bzfgt (link) | 13/04/2019
"Shattered by skyscraper," not "'chanted" which seems like a reach by whoever it was that came up with that
bzfgt
  • 45. bzfgt (link) | 13/04/2019
The second time is very clear--"seed"
bzfgt
  • 46. bzfgt (link) | 13/04/2019
I had some bad math in there...I thought someone pulled me up on that a couple years ago. If so, I guess I never changed it....
bzfgt
  • 47. bzfgt (link) | 13/04/2019
I don't know who transcribed the TS version--it seems like it should have been me as there's no attribution, but the lyrics don't match the album. I just got a good note in too...crap. This has to be invvestigated. I wouldn't have typed " 'chanted" on my own, it can't be me. Some matches, some doesn't...I suspect it's a different version. I see it's an excerpt but what's there doesn't entirely match.
dannyno
  • 48. dannyno | 16/04/2019
"chanted" is in the Fall Online lyrics parade, so it must have come up when first transcribed by fans.
Oblique
  • 49. Oblique | 21/04/2019
Reg Presley of the Troggs was well into such nonsense as aliens and crop circles.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i1aI8xtOYnk

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