Cruiser's Creek

Lyrics

(1)

What really went on there?
we only have this excerpt:

There's a party going on down around here
Cruiser's Creek yeah
Watch the shirt-tails flapping in the wind
Sidewalk running
See the people holding from the back
Hat-boaters tilting (2)
There's a party going down around here
Cruiser's Creek now

uh Cruiser's Creek yea 

Got nice pink bubbles in my mouth
From what I've taken
There's a party come around annual
Cruiser's Creek now
And Bianco on the breath guaranteed (3)
Cruiser's Creek yeah
Cruiser's Creek now
Cruiser's Creek

Cruiser's Creek yeah

See the street-litter twisting in the wind
Crisp bags turning
See B&H cartons laughing in the wind (4)
Road-litter turning
Spent forty-five minutes last night
Parallel crease, pow!
There's a good mid-afternoon breeze
In the air now
Welcome treats from party
My brain is clear now
No more Red Wedge in the pub or ZTT stuff (5)
At Cruiser's Creek now
Cruiser's Creek yeah

 

Cruiser's Creek

There's a party going down around here

Next to Freedom street
Get the last of the poison off my chest
Cruiser's creek

I crave sex behind steel cabinets  (6)
It's for what I'm yearning
And there's a dim chance it's what I'm gonna get
At Cruiser's Creek yeah
At Cruiser's Creek now
At Cruiser's Creek

Workforce! Limited!
Cruiser's Creek yeah!

Somebody went and left on the gas
Checkpoint, main gate
As I lit a number 6 cigarette (7)
Like a wick, burning
Cruiser's Creek.

Stamp it out just before it's too late
Turn the tap off.
My name is Big Hero, mate
Cruiser's Creek
Avoid disaster 
And I imagine
The sound of its blast, yeah.

There's a party going down around here
Cruiser's Creek now

Watch the shirt-tails flapping in the wind
sidewalk running
See the people holding from the back
Hat-boaters tilting
There's a party going on around here
Cruiser's Creek now
Cruiser's Creek yeah
Cruiser's Creek 

Nuptial!
Annual!
Freaks limited!
Cruiser's Creek!

 

 

Notes

1. This seems to be about an office party, judging by the reference to "steel cabinets" and the "workforce," and in light of these comments from MES in the Record Mirror, 26 October 1985, quoted in the booklet with the box set reissue of This Nation's Saving Grace:
 


I got the title from a library on a ship we were on, but the song's about the time I worked in an office, really. The idea behind it is this sort of macabre office party where, at the end, you don't know whether the people are left alive or not or whether somebody left the gas on. It's a party lyric with an evil twist.

Fit and Working Again points out that the common usage of "cruising" to mean looking for sex. See "Cheetham Hill":

See the fleet of cruising cars
Go past the stations and the bars
Never stop to get out 
In case they choose to cruise about

Dan: In Brix Smith-Start's The Rise, The Fall, and The Rise, Brix tells the story of the time her grandparents took her 'entire family' on a fiftieth wedding anniversary cruise: 'Mark was fed up with my family, and the whole experience, and he escaped to the library. Every room had been given some kind of grand, nautical title, like the Pelican Perch Bowling Alley, and the Narwhal's Nebula Theatre. The library was christened Cruiser's Creek... ..When [MES] wrote the song, I assumed it concerned the Salenger family vacation. But his miserable voyage made him reminisce about his brief time working at the docks in Manchester... He had been fascinated by the office parties there, and remained curious about office parties in general... So "Cruiser's Creek" was about an office party that ended in disaster because somebody left the gas on and the whole thing blew up.'"

From the lyrics, however, it seems that the "disaster" was in fact averted ("Stamp it out just before it's too late/Turn the tap off").

Dan, as usual an outstanding sleuth, has determined that the cruise ship the Salenger family were on was the Royal Viking Sky, and the journey probably began on 21st December, 1984.
^

2. A boater is a flattish round-brimmed summer hat.

^

3. Bianco is a variety of vermouth.

^

4. B&H= Benson and Hedges.

^

5. Red Wedge was a group of musicians (including Billy Bragg and Paul Weller) who tried to get young people interested in voting for the Labour Party to defeat Thatcher in the late 80s. ZTT (for "Zang Tumb Tuum," a corruption of "Zang Tumb Tumb," the name of a sound poem by the Futurist Filippo Marinetti) is an independent record label founded by Paul Morley and Trevor Horn.

^

6. Zack notices a connection with "An Older Lover, Etc." which contains the lines "Get ready for old stories/Of teenage sex/From the early sixties/Under cover/Behind office desks."

^

7. No. 6 was a cigarette only sold in England and parts of Europe and, later, Canada.

^

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Comments (25)

dannyno
  • 1. dannyno | 04/05/2016
In Brix Smith-Start'sThe Rise, The Fall, and The Rise, Brix tells the story of the time her grandparents took her "entire family" on a fiftieth wedding anniversary cruise:


Mark was fed up with my family, and the whole experience, and he escaped to the library. Every room had been given some kind of grand, nautical title, like the Pelican Perch Bowling Alley, and the Narwhal's Nebula Theatre. The library was christened Cruiser's Creek...

..When [MES] wrote the song, I assumed it concerned the Salenger family vacation. But his miserable voyage made him reminisce about his brief time working at the docks in Manchester... He had been fascinated by the office parties there, and remained curious about office parties in general... So 'Cruiser's Creek' was about an office party that ended in disaster because somebody left the gas on and the whole thing blew up.
dannyno
  • 2. dannyno | 19/06/2016
Has anyone ever noted the incongruity of the word "sidewalk" in this song? Why didn't he use "pavement" instead? Same number of syllables. MES is a writer, after all, who has anglicised other lyrics: coffee to tea, for example, in "Ghost in my House". And it's the only time he uses the word in his lyrics according to my concordance.

Hm?
dannyno
  • 3. dannyno | 25/07/2016
And notice, too, that Brix's summary of the song is completely incorrect. The office party does not end "in disaster". The disaster is in fact averted, as is perfectly clear from the lyrics.
dannyno
  • 4. dannyno | 25/07/2016
"There's a party going down around here
Next to Freedom street"

Where is Freedom Street? Was it a corridor on the cruise ship? I've just searched google maps, and in the UK, perhaps surprisingly, there is only one currently-existing "Freedom Street" - in London. There have been others historically, and there are a couple more in the world: one in Garrettsville, Ohio, and a "Street of Freedom" in Algiers.
Martin
  • 5. Martin | 03/12/2016
With reference to Dannyno's comment above (no.2) I merely ask him to consider the evidence of the American pronunciation of "route" in the song Slang King, which was a more or less contemporaneous song {"In the UK, route is pronounced /ru:t/, rhyming with root. In the USA it's pronounced /raʊt/]. This song was released the year after I suspect a certain Brix influence here.
bzfgt
  • 6. bzfgt | 27/12/2016
Actually it is pronounced both ways in the US, I've always said "root" and it is not an unusual pronunciation, in fact I'd guess it's more common in the US to say "root" than "rowt."
bzfgt
  • 7. bzfgt | 27/12/2016
I had no idea one doesn't say "sidewalk" in England, no one says "pavement" because the street is pavement, whereas the sidewalk is usually concrete so I would think you meant you were on the street if you said that.
Brix
  • 8. Brix | 27/12/2016
"And notice, too, that Brix's summary of the song is completely incorrect. The office party does not end "in disaster". The disaster is in fact averted, as is perfectly clear from the lyrics."

Bazdad...
dannyno
  • 9. dannyno | 28/12/2016
Comment #7: ah hah. In British English "paved" means "laid with blocks of stone", and "pavement" means a usually paved or asphalted path for pedestrians. "Sidewalk" is never used to mean "pavement" and "pavement" doesn't usually refer to the surface material of the path.
Zack
  • 10. Zack | 11/01/2017
"Sex behind steel cabinets" echos a line from "An Older Lover": "teenage sex [...] behind office desks."
dannyno
  • 11. dannyno | 06/02/2017
There might be a seed of inspiration here in the story of the Flax Street, Lower Broughton, Salford (MES's stamping ground, in other words), B&R Hauliers warehouse explosion of 25 September 1982. Caused by arson - old tyres were set alight, which ignited 2,000 tonnes of chemicals including sodium chlorate. The building was destroyed, as were many around it. The Fall played Greece 18th September, but if were back home by the 25th they could hardly not be aware, and perhaps MES retained the germ of an idea!

https://archive.org/stream/op1276529-1001/op1276529-1001_djvu.txt
dannyno
  • 12. dannyno | 02/06/2017
Note 1: can we make it clear that Brix is incorrect - there is no explosion; the disaster is averted.
bzfgt
  • 13. bzfgt (link) | 09/07/2017
Unless the narrator is dead, and doesn't realize it--like the afterlife for him is an alternate reality where he turned the tap off in time...
dannyno
  • 14. dannyno | 04/04/2018
The cruise ship the Salenger family were on was the Royal Viking Sky. And the journey probably began on 21st December 1984.

Detective work documented here:

https://www.tapatalk.com/groups/thefall/cruiser-s-creek-notes-and-queries-t6019-s48.html
Rich
  • 15. Rich | 19/04/2018
Re. the Freedom Street line. I've been hearing it as "Next to Frida's printer" which fits the theme (and the video!) but then that would raise the question who is, or why the name, Frida..
dannyno
  • 16. dannyno | 05/05/2018
Since we haven't found a "Freedom Street" (which might be metaphorical anyway of course), I welcome the new angle suggested Rich in comment #15.

Since the Royal Viking Sky was a Norwegian ship, and "Frida" is a Nordic name, I think it's worth further thought.
dannyno
  • 17. dannyno | 05/05/2018
Strait, rather than street? I dunno, the song isn't about a party on a cruise ship even if the cruise was an inspiration. But it's a line of inquiry, and I'd rather have one than none.
Rich
  • 18. Rich | 20/05/2018
I can now hear "strait", dannyno, and a subsequent search online turned up some references to a "Freedom Strait" located between China, Russia and N Korea...
Shawn Swagerty
  • 19. Shawn Swagerty | 01/06/2018
I have always heard an echo of William Burrough's "The Soft Machine" in references to shirts flapping.

Page 25 here:

"Return it to the white reader in stink of sewage looking at open shirt flapping and comes maybe five times his ass fluttering like---We sniff what we wanted pumping out the spurts open shirt flapping ---"

https://books.google.com/books?id=Aei26HlTs_YC&pg=PA25&lpg=PA25&dq=open+shirt+flapping+and+comes+maybe+five+times+his+ass+fluttering+like%E2%80%94We+sniff+what+we+wanted+pumping+out+the&source=bl&ots=bpD0iyM4g2&sig=MRJr2ptMncayLecF09v-2BKj_v0&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjR0L_41rHbAhVzIjQIHR1tD70Q6AEILTAB#v=onepage&q=open%20shirt%20flapping%20and%20comes%20maybe%20five%20times%20his%20ass%20fluttering%20like%E2%80%94We%20sniff%20what%20we%20wanted%20pumping%20out%20the&f=false
Shawn Swagerty
  • 20. Shawn Swagerty | 01/06/2018
Excuse "Burrough's" above, which should, of course, be "Burroughs'".
Fit and Working Again
  • 21. Fit and Working Again | 10/06/2018
"Welcome treats from party" heard here as "with quick treats from Clark, P" a ref back to Pat-Trip Dispenser/imitation speeds.

On all the versions of CC I've heard it sounds like he puns Red Ledge or Red Letch in the pub
Fit and Working Again
  • 22. Fit and Working Again | 10/06/2018
Perhaps too obvious to mention but cruiser/cruising could be used here as in cruising for random sex, Cruiser's Creek a place to go for such
bzfgt
  • 23. bzfgt (link) | 09/07/2018
Hmm, interesting shirt-tail bit, although "sidewalks running" suggests they aren't in in flagrante delicto, as it seems Burroughs's person is...

All the random lyrical suggestions above seem very plausible and possible, but I can't tell from listening, so we see kind of stuck for the moment.

FAWA, I can't believe I didn't note that meaning of "cruiser" above, I don't think it's too obvious to mention, just obvious enough that I didn't notice it needed mentioning...
dannyno
  • 24. dannyno | 15/08/2018
The video for the song doesn't help us understand the plot - i.e. whether the party is destroyed or saved. It doesn't really depict those events. However, it does seem to show the office before and after the party. But it also has some spectral/ghostly characters at the beginning and end, and the story of the party seems to be told in some kind of flashback. So, er, that leaves us none the wiser.
dannyno
  • 25. dannyno | 19/08/2018
Mark E Smith, Record Mirror, 26 October 1985, quoted in the booklet with the box set reissue of This Nation's Saving Grace:


I got the title from a library on a ship we were on, but the song's about the time I worked in an office, really. The idea behind it is this sort of macabre office party where, at the end, you don't know whether the people are left alive or not or whether somebody left the gas on. It's a party lyric with an evil twist.

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