Deer Park

Lyrics

(1)

I took a walk down West 11 (2)
I had to wade through 500 European punks (3)
In an off-license I rubbed up with some oiks (4)
Who threw some change on the Asian counter
And asked polite if that covered two lagers
A hospital discharge asked me where he could crash

Have you been to the English Deer Park?
It's a large type artist ranch
This is where C Wilson wrote Ritual in the Dark (5)
Have you been to the English Deer Park?

Spare a thought for the sleeping promo dept. (6)
They haven't had an idea in two years 
Dollars and deutchmarks keep the company on its feet
Say have you ever have a chance to meet
Fat Captain Beefheart imitators with zits? (7)
Who is the King Shag Corpse? (8)

Have you been to the English Deer Park?
It's a large type minstrel ranch
This is where C Wilson wrote Ritual in the Dark
Have you been to the English Deer Park?

The young blackies get screwed up the worst
They've gone over to the Hampstead house suss
In the English system they implicitly trust
See the A&R civil servants
They get a sex thrill out of a sixteenth of Moroccan
They get a sex thrill out of a sixteenth of Moroccan

Have you been to the English Deer Park?
It's a large type artist ranch
This is where C Wilson wrote Ritual in the Dark
Have you been to the English Deer Park?

Yes, dear chap, it hasn't changed that much
It's still a subculture art-dealer jerk-off
Yes, dear chap, it hasn't changed that much
It's still a subculture art-dealer jerk-off

Have you been to the English Deer Park?
It's a large type minstrel ranch
This is where C Wilson wrote Ritual in the Dark
Have you been to the English Deer Park?

Have you been to the English Deer Park?
It's a large type minstrel ranch
This is where loads of punks congregate in the dark
Have you been to the English Deer Park?

Have you been to the English Deer Park?
It's a large type minstrel ranch
This is where C Wilson wrote Ritual in the Dark
Have you been to the English Deer Park?

Hey tourist it wasn't quite like what you thought
Hey Manchester group what wasn't what you thought
Hey Scottish group that wasn't quite like what you thought
Hey Manchester group that wasn't what you thought
Hey Scottish group that wasn't quite like what you thought
Quite like what you thought

Hey Midlands, scooped yer, how d'you ever get the job?
Hey Manchester group from it wasn't quite like what you thought
Quite like what you thought
Guess what 
Guess guess guess...
Guess what

 

Notes

1. In medieval times deer parks were establshed by kings (and, later, other titled persons) in order to facilitate hunting and the enjoyment of nature by the nobility. Almost all the deer in Britain were at one time contained in such parks, so eating venison was considered a symbol of status (very little venison was sold, so the only people who could get it were the nobles). Norman Mailer, whom Mark E. Smith has expressed an appreciation for on at least one occasion, wrote a novel called The Deer Park (1955) about a resort town called Desert D'Or ("golden desert," a fictionalized Palm Springs) in which the upper classes behave quite badly, much like in medieval deer parks. The title, however, is thought to be a reference not to a medieval deer park but to the Parc-aux-Cerfs ("stag park") of Louis XV of France (1710-1774), a more modern version of the deer park in which the king kept a mansion where he installed various women with whom he had sexual liaisons. In a profile in the NME that came out a year or so before Hex Enduction Hour, MES listed both The Deer Park and Ritual in the Dark (see note 4) as novels he liked. The song is introduced by "Fortress" on Hex, but in live performance they were treated as separate entities, seldom being played in successsion.  

^

2. W11 is a borough in London where Rough Trade records, a label the Fall had just left, is housed. From a 1983 interview with Paul Hanley and Karl Burns (transcribed to the Fall online forum by anonyrena):

VO#3: What is “Fortress/Deer Park?”

KARL: Two different songs. (Everyone laughs very loudly.)

KARL: (Half-laughing himself.) Listen, we’re not going to give you an answer to a question like that! I mean, fuck you! Fortress…Deer Park…I’ll give you a clue: Rough Trade, London. That’s all. We’re not saying anymore. And don’t say Karl or Paul said it.

PAUL: And BBC.

KARL: BBC, Rough Trade, London. (Then in a posh accent) Notting-ham. (Back to his normal voice) Ever been there?

VO#3: No.

KARL: Then you don’t know what it’s about then.

^

3. Andy points out that "Sarnath in India (a Buddhist pilgrimage hotspot) gets it's name from a deer park, where legend has it, a stag 'King Banyan Deer' was born and grew up surrounded by 500 deer. Another legend goes that when Buddha was born it was announced to 500 holy men.
Fast forward to the 80's when MES has to wade through 500 europunks to get to the Asian counter."

If MES's mind was on this connection, he would doubtlessly have also appreciated that HP Lovecraft used the name for his story "The Doom That Came to Sarnath."

^

4. "Oik" is an English slang term for a crude and lower-class person.  

^

5. Colin Wilson, who wrote novels and non-fiction books on the occult, among other things. Ritual in the Dark is a novel about a hunt for a serial killer who is portrayed as a modern Jack the Ripper, and is largely concerned with the inner development of its protagonist, Gerard Sorme. During the composition of his first book, The Outsider, a summary of, and meditation on, Existentialist thought, Wilson lived in a tent in Hampstead Heath, a park in London that contains section that serves as a deer refuge. This is where he apparently began Ritual in the Dark; after leaving Hempstead, Wilson moved into a flat in W11.  "Have you been to English deer park?" may be a response to the question asked by the "hospital discharge," who wanted to know "where he could crash."

^

6. This may be a reference to Rough Trade.  

^

7. Dave Thomas of Pere Ubu believes this to be about him (thanks to Zack):

I am told this follows on an incident decades ago when I was visiting Rough Trade Booking. Mark E evidently came into the room and stood there. I had no idea who he was, or rather what he looked like, so I continued on with my conversation. He took it as a snub. Years later we were at a festival. I thought, "Right, I'll repair this situation." So I kept a lookout for an opportunity to be nice. Of course not knowing what he looked like I ended up in conversation with someone backstage, again "ignoring" Mark E in a remarkably parallel set of events. All you humans look so much alike...

Unfortunately this appears on the "Fall News" page without attribution.

^

8. This line has prompted endless speculation; it is often thought to refer to Ian Curtis, the late Joy Division singer, and other theories have it pointing to Elvis Presley, known as the King. "Shag" is a British slang word that means "fuck," one which has gained a certain amount of traction in the United States in the wake of the Austin Powers franchise. There is also a bird native to New Zealand called a Rough-Faced Shag which is also often referred to as a King Shag, which probably has little to do with the song, but may have planted the phrase in MES's mind.  

^

Comments (25)

Jeff
  • 1. Jeff | 12/09/2013
Zoogz Rift was another, more directly-indebted "fat Captain Beefheart imitator" (and Ayn Rand fan) whose 1979 album was dedicated to Don Van Vliet.
martin
  • 2. martin | 27/03/2014
With reference to a recent question on The Fall Online, the line about "the King Shag Corpse" seems to have been first used in the song during the performance at Sheffield Polytechnic on 4 September 1981. At the same gig we have the first mentions of West 11 and of the thrill of a sixteenth of Moroccan, suggesting that some rewriting on MES's part took place between the mid-July of that year (the end of the US tour) and the subsequent tour of England.
dannyno
  • 3. dannyno | 28/03/2014
Thanks for that, Martin.
dannyno
  • 4. dannyno | 28/03/2014
Interesting to see mention of Zoogz Rift - does seem more likely than Pere Ubu as a Beefheart reference. And there's a connection with "Blind Man's Penis", which is a record noted in this article: http://thequietus.com/articles/08568-the-fall-mark-e-smith-record-collection.

See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zoogz_Rift
Martin
  • 5. Martin | 17/10/2014
Some words from the song ("Have you been to the English deer park?...i waded through 500 European punks...") first appeared (as far as my collection of recordings allows me to tell) during a performance of C'n'C,,,in Rotterdam on 9 May 1981, some 16 days before the official live debut of the song.
marc balance
  • 6. marc balance | 28/11/2014
..surely whole paragraph is about rough trade. there were rough trade departments in the us and in germany (dollars&deutschmarks). rough trade uk's serious financial troubles started around 1981. and pere ubu reference makes even more sense, since mayo thompson, who was a member of pere ubu '80-'82 (recorded two albums with them, both on rough trade), worked for rough trade uk. he was also brought in by geoff travis for co-production on 'fiery jack' and 'grotesque', which wasn't appreciated by mark e smith. (read neil taylors 'an intimate history of rough trade', it's all in there..).
russell richardson
  • 7. russell richardson | 20/10/2015
Yes, on that last point - I'd def. think it was a reference to Mayo Thompson, who was at that time part of Red Crayola, relocated to London, and dabbling in a lot of production work for Rough Trade. I don't think there were any fireworks, but The Fall made it known quite clearly that they could produce their own records, thank you very much.
Nairn Gordon
  • 8. Nairn Gordon | 05/12/2015
Deutschmarks is mis-spelt
Dollars & deutschmarks reminds me of the deutschmarks or dollars line from private dancer by tina turner - but i dunno which was first.
Also, according to the Steve Coogan film The Look Of Love, Soho was once Henry VIII's hunting ground, or deer park...but i dunno if soho is anywhere near w11.
bzfgt
  • 9. bzfgt | 06/12/2015
Thanks, Nairn, and welcome to the scene over here! (You are the Nairn from the FOF, right?)

"Private Dancer" was a couple years later...
dannyno
  • 10. dannyno | 09/08/2016
"Who is the king shag corpse".

On the FOF, someone made the wise observation that MES may not himself know who the king shag corpse is - it is, after all, asked as a question. Maybe it was graffiti, or something.
bzfgt
  • 11. bzfgt | 25/08/2016
Right, and he'd like that it's the ultimate white whale of lyric-chasing fans, whether he knows the answer or not...
PaulG
  • 12. PaulG | 04/09/2016
As this seems to be aimed at Rough Trade in large parts then the 'Scottish Group' could well be Orange Juice.

In 1981 Rough Trade paid for the recording of their first album 'You can't Hide Your Love Forever' but the band sold the album to, and signed for, Polydor.

(source 'Simply Thrilled - The Preposterous Story of Postcard Records' by Simon Goddard)
AndyG
  • 13. AndyG | 30/10/2016
Sarnath in India(buhddist pilgrimage hotspot) gets it's name from a deer park, where legend has it, a stag "King Banyan Deer" was born and grew up surrounded by 500 deer. Another legend goes that when Buhdda was born it was announced to 500 holy men.
Fast forward to the 80's when MES has to wade through 500 europunks to get to the Asian counter.
dannyno
  • 14. dannyno | 18/01/2017
Nobody has ever followed up Karl Burn's reference to Nottingham, I guess because we think we've got a London location for the Deer Park which fits the facts - Colin Wilson, Rough Trade and all that. And it does seem safe enough and everything fits. And it is Karl Burns speaking, so, you know.

But perhaps we should take it seriously for the sake of argument. In which case an alternative candidate for the Deer Park might be as a reference to Wollaton Park: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wollaton_Park. In which case the lodge might be Lenton Lodge: http://www.lentontimes.co.uk/images/gallery/derby_road/derby_rd_listener_26.htm,

But there seems little reason why MES would talk about things so local about Nottingham, and as noted these references don't seem to fit the rest of the facts. Lenton Lodge doesn't seem to have been used by artists. We can shoehorn Nottingham in, but at the cost of doing serious violence to other references in the song. At least we've thought about it.
dannyno
  • 15. dannyno | 18/01/2017
Ha ha! What lodge!!?!? There is no lodge! I'm going nuts!
dannyno
  • 16. dannyno | 18/01/2017
Let's see if I can redeem myself.

How about this for some echoes of the song: http://www.londonfictions.com/colin-wilson-ritual-in-the-dark.html


Ritual had begun life in 1949, when Wilson was just 17, as an unpublished short story: ‘Symphonic Variations’. After completion, he decided to turn it into a full-length novel. It was this that his friend, and fellow would-be novelist, Laura Del Rivo — whose own London novel, set in Notting Hill, The Furnished Room (republished by Five Leaves in 2011), heavily influenced by Ritual, was published in 1961 and filmed by Michael Winner in 1963 as West 11 — recalls seeing in manuscript in the Northumberland Avenue café where they first met in 1952...
dannyno
  • 17. dannyno | 04/03/2017
As noted above, the line about the English Deer Park first saw the light of day on 9 May in Rotterdam, during C'n'C.

Just flying a kite, in Rotterdam is Het Park, which was designed in the English landscape style. But I don't know if it has deer.
Zack
  • 18. Zack | 16/03/2017
There is an alleged quote (uncited, I'm afraid) from Pere Ubu's David Thomas stating that he was told ("by whom?") that he is at least one of the FCBIWZs: http://thefall.org/news/000326.html

"I am told this follows on an incident decades ago when I was visiting Rough Trade Booking. Mark E evidently came into the room and stood there. I had no idea who he was, or rather what he looked like, so I continued on with my conversation. He took it as a snub. Years later we were at a festival. I thought, "Right, I'll repair this situation." So I kept a lookout for an opportunity to be nice. Of course not knowing what he looked like I ended up in conversation with someone backstage, again "ignoring" Mark E in a remarkably parallel set of events. All you humans look so much alike..."

Besides the musical and vocal similarities, Thomas seems to have borrowed his stage mannerisms wholesale from Don Van Vliet, and former Magic Band member Eric Drew Feldman played in Pere Ubu from 1989 to 1992.
dannyno
  • 19. dannyno | 16/03/2017
I've never seen that quote from David Thomas before. It's plausible, isn't it? But we don't know where the quote comes from, and we don't know the status of Thomas's informant.
dannyno
  • 20. dannyno | 16/03/2017
I don't hear musical similarities between Beefheart and Pere Ubu or Thomas solo, really. Beefheart is an influence of course (https://www.elsewhere.co.nz/absoluteelsewhere/371/pere-ubus-david-thomas-interviewed-1999-fools-rush-out/)
Lloyd
  • 21. Lloyd | 19/03/2017
The "Nottingham" reference in the interview is surely a mistaken reference to Notting Hill is it not, home of Rough Trade?
dannyno
  • 22. dannyno | 19/03/2017
Lloyd: haha, now you say that, it's obviously got to be Notting Hill! Still, it was an enjoyable waste of time to search all of Nottingham for potential relevance.
bzfgt
  • 23. bzfgt (link) | 23/03/2017
There's so much shit on Fall News that, if we pored over the whole thing, we could probably all retire when we were done.
bzfgt
  • 24. bzfgt (link) | 23/03/2017
Yeah it is often noted that Thomas sounds just like Beefheart but I do not hear it either, even a little bit.
Mike Watts
  • 25. Mike Watts | 12/11/2017
'They get a sex thrill out of a sixteenth of Moroccan'

An eighth refers to 1/8 of an ounce of dope. You will almost always get a better price if you buy an eighth instead of a gram. Some people will also sell half-eighths, which should really be called a sixteenth, it’s 1.75 grams.

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