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 see it in 25 lines
On your mindset
Infra-skunk structure  (3)

The editor bedraggled, stumbled
Some hurt, some days with film crew
Their equipment strewn on the new development
As the rain tumbles down over the riverside complex
Still uncovering up the ominous thunder of the hymn

[backing vox: Deep in the sounds 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]

'chanted by skyscraper, tall...
Skyscraper tall, World War One
Soldiers in green coats and Pickelhaube (4)
Joined by old...the old singer from Manchester
In the 1990s

Brutal fracture, leaves sprout in the heart of the garden
A quarter of brain is left to see it in 25 lines... 25 lines (5)

From the Touch Sensitive Box Set, Disc II:

 Cough! Cough! Cough! Cough!  

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  (6)

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”
'Chanted by 12 foot tall
World War One German soldiers in green coats and Picklehaube
Materialize from the garden
I had just received my third bankruptcy notice
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, the temporary fade, return, and sudden cut at the end of this mesmerizing track are devastatingly 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. 

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.    

^ 

3. 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.

^

4. 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).

^

5. 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. Twenty five is also, it so happens, the percentage of a whole left over after subtracting eight twelfths.

It should go without saying, by the way, that all of my notes for this mysterious song are highly speculative, and I do not intend them to be taken as the final word, or even my final word, on the subject. I do not believe that Fall lyrics are generally intended to function as a code, or that my interpretation of this, or any other song, can function as an adequate paraphrase or explanation. The primary purpose of this site is to identify clear references and allusions, and only secondarily to explain the lyrics or to form loose associations on the basis thereof. If any of this is helpful or suggestive, I am glad of it; if not, I am very interested in reading other interpretations, no matter how fanciful, in the comment section below.   

^

6. 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." 

^

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Comments (24)

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.

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