Dktr Faustus

Lyrics

(1)

(parts in brackets are Brix)

[Yeah... yeah...]
Doctor Faustus
Horseshoes splackin'
Swallows hay cart, cart horse
Of the peasants blocking his path

Doctor Faustus
Power showin'
Spits out hay cart, cart horse, hay and box, 
Outside the gates of the town of Anholt (2)

[Had your chances... you've had your chance
You've had your chances... you've had your chance
Yeah....]

Doctor Faustus
At the court of the Count
Made fruits exotic pleasure-licious
Appear behind curtains in Winter (3)

[Banana! Apple... Plum...]   (4)
Faustus
[Exotic fruits]
At court of decadent Count [yeah]
Made animals from sunny lands appear [banana!]
In the sparse gartens
[Straw-berrieees... exotic fruits
You've Had your chances... you've had your chance
You've had your chances... you've had your chance--
Banana!!]

Doctor Faustus
Horseshoes splackin'
Swallows hay cart, cart horse, 
Hay and box [cherry]
Of the peasant blocking his path [banana]
Had to leave (apples... cherries)
His drinking student friends (exotic fruits)

[Doctor Faustus... Doctor Faustus]

[Yeah... exotic fruits... strawberry]
LEMON!
[Doctor Faustus... Doctor Faustus
Had your chances... you've had your chance
Had your chances... you've had your chance
Had your chances... you've had your chance
Had your chances... you've had your chance]


There's a blood silhouette through the ceiling sky (5)
There's a blood silhouette through the ceiling sky
There's a blood silhouette through the ceiling sky
There's a blood silhouette through the ceiling sky
[Banana!]
Had your chance... you've had your chances [banana!]
[There's a blood silhouette through the ceiling sky]
Had your chance [banana!]
There's a blood silhouette through the ceiling sky
[Doctor Faustus, Doctor Faustus]

[Banana!]
There's a blood silhouette through the ceiling sky
There's a blood silhouette through the ceiling SKY!!!!
Banana!]

[Doctor Faustus
Had your chance
Banana
Had your chances
Banana
There's a blood silhouette through the ceiling sky
Banana]

Notes

1. In a radio interview with Steve Barker (On The Wire, BBC Radio Lancashire, 1986), MES said that the riff was "one of Craig's standard ones. San Quentin type...me and the wife got together over this really good story book I had...and it sort of came out from that." (thanks to Dan)

Doctor Faustus, or Faust, is a character from German folklore whose story appears in numerous permutations in German literature. It seems from the above that MES had a version in a fairy tale book, although as we will see below he also had a version of Goethe's Faust at some point before or after writing the song, but this was not, according to MES, the inspiration for the lyrics. 

 

In the story, Faust sells his soul to the devil, in exchange for unlimited knowledge. The story has been treated both as a cautionary tale of a vain and hubristic man and also as a Promethean fable of the scientific spirit. It's most famous retellings by Goethe and Marlowe are philosophically and theologically ambiguous, in contrast to the original legend which takes a straightforwarldly negative view of Faust's contract. The expression "Faustian bargain" denotes a deal or decision in which someone cedes something esential, such as their integrity or independence, for a tangible increase of property or power. 

From the NME, MES weighs in:

"I don't really like working with other voices but 'Faustus' is OK because the mix is fucked up - the backing vocals are at the level the lead vocals should be. It works because it sounds like hell straining to break through.

People go to me, 'Is that Faustus by Goethe or Faustus by Mann?', but I read it in a fairytale book. Somebody gave me a copy of this Goethe book and the drawings of Faustus are the spitting image of me. But I couldn't cope with the book, too hard. Not that I'm a simple fellow or anything but you have to give those things a lot of time."

Harry Clarke's illustrations of Goethe's Faust are indeed generally considered to bear a strong resemblance to MES, particularly the one at the top of the page here.

Thomas Mann's Doctor Faustus is a novel about a fictional 20th century composer (modeled on Arnold Schoenberg) who, his wits addled by syphilis, strikes a deal with a demon who proclaims "that you can only see me because you are mad, does not mean that I do not really exist." Aside from Goethe and Mann, the most famous literary treatment of the Faust legend is the play The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus by Christopher Marlowe. 

Nairng from the FOF has found a lot of relevant material in Marlowe's Doctor Faustus:

Act 4 Scene 6 does not seem to appear in the Project Gutenberg version of the text – the intro to my copy (Longman Study Texts) explains that there are 2 versions of the play, one of which omits a lot of the comic scenes. In this one, various ‘low’ characters complain how they have been ill-used by Faustus; they get drunk and decide to seek him out. They are presumably near the court of the Duke of Vanholt, where the next scene will take place (MES has ‘Anholt’). A hay-carter known only as ‘Carter’ says:

"As I was going to Wittenburg t’other day with a load of hay, he [Faustus] met me and asked me what he should give me for as much hay as he could eat. Now, sir, I, thinking that a little would serve his turn, bade him take as much as he would for three farthings. So he presently gave me my money and fell to eating; and, as I am a cursen [Christian] man, he never left eating till he had eat up all my load of hay!"

Faustus seems to have done this purely out of mischief. 

In Act 4 Scene 7, Faustus is at the court of the Duke of Vanholt, whose pregnant wife has a craving for grapes. Faustus produces some, explaining:

"Please it your grace, the year is divided into two circles over the whole world, so that, when it is winter with us, in the contrary circle it is likewise summer with them, as in India, Saba [Sheba], and farther countries in the east, where they have fruit twice a year. From whence, by means of a swift spirit that I have, I had these grapes brought as you see."

At various points in the play, Faustus is advised by a ‘bad angel’ and a ‘good angel’ – in Act 2 Scene 2 the latter tells him it’s “never too late” to repent. Faustus, therefore, has his chances. 

Also in Act 2 Scene 2, Faustus quizzes Mephistophilis on the nature of the universe. He confirms the ancient belief that, if you go far enough, you’ll get to the ‘firmament’ – a solid boundary in which the stars are set. This could possibly be the ‘ceiling sky’ of Dktr Faustus…

 

See More Information below for a possible source for the lyrics, and note this also includes interpretation of some the lyrics.

^

2, Some versions of the Faust story place him in "Anholt," which is a district of Isselburg, Germany, but the original name was "Anhalt," a duchy in the German state of Saxony-Anholt.

^

3. In some versions of the story, Faust magically produces a dish of fruit out of season for the Duchess of Anhalt/Anholt, or, in some cases, for some other person or persons. See note 1 above.

^

4.  Brix wasn't pleased about the lyrics MES gave her to sing:

"Mark asked me to shout 'banana, strawberry and exotic fruits' in 'Dktr Faustus'. I cringe when I hear it. I hated having to say those stupid lyrics." (The Rise, The Fall, and The Rise)

From the booklet to the 2019 Beggars Banquet reissue of Bend Sinister (thanks to Dan):
 


BRIX: Mark made me sing and scream 'Banana' - I wonder if it was a reference to the Velvet Underground, because there is something about that song that reminds me of the Velvets. Mark was very emphatic about me singing it. It was my idea to put the other fruits into it to try and give it some kind of context.

Sumsiadad remarks that this may be a subtle tribute to the German band, Faust:

"The recurring use of the word, 'Banana' makes me think of the Faust song, 'No Harm,' the entire lyric of which is, 'Daddy, take the banana/ Tomorrow is Sunday.'"

Considering the title of this song and the fact that MES is known to be an aficionado of krautrock (although I'm not aware of him ever discussing Faust in particular), it seems entirely plausible that the connection is intentional.

^

5.  From the booklet to the 2019 Beggars Banquet reissue of Bend Sinister (thanks to Dan):
 


BRIX: 'There's a blood silhouette through the ceiling sky' - the ceiling sky was my lyric - I had this weird thing about the ceiling. As a small child, I used to lay in bed and stay up all night thinking about what was past the ceiling, past the sky, past the galaxy, past the universe, where does it end, how far does it go? It used to torture me, and the ceiling sky is the opening to everything. His 'blood silhouette' was the body passing through the ceiling sky, then, what's left, the traces of the body.

A reader named Dan, who is not the usual Dan, remarks:

The "blood silhouette through the ceiling sky" may be a reference to Faust's final soliloquy in Marlowe's play, in which he is on the verge of repentence:
 

See, see where Christ's blood streams in the firmament!
One drop would save my soul, half a drop. Ah, my Christ!

^

 

More Information

Dktr Faustus: Fall Tracks A-Z

The Story of the Fall: 1985

 

Dan has located a version of the Faust story that may be the same as in MES's source. Note the chart below, which juxtaposes elements of the Faust story from Dan's source and MES's lyrics. The book Dan found was originally written in Czech, and if it is not the source it is nevetheless possible that the version MES read was similar. Dan's information and comment below:

Folk Tales and Legends
Retold by Michaela Tvrdíková
Translated by Vera Gissing
Illustrations by Vojtěch Kubašta
Cathay Books, 1981
ISBN 0 86178 056 6

 

Just to set lyric and story text side by side [note Anholt is the spelling found in the book, so that works with the way MES pronounces it]:

Lyric Story
Doctor Faustus
Horseshoes splackin'
Swallows hay cart, cart horse
Of the peasants blocking his path
'If you don't get out of my way, I'll swallow that stack of hay, cart, horses and all,' Faustus threatened.

'Help yourself,' laughed the farmer, but the smile froze on his face when the magician opened his mouth 
wide and swallowed the lot in one gulp.
Doctor Faustus
Power showin'
Spits out hay cart, cart horse, hay and box, 
Outside the gates of the town of Anholt 
Not till he reached the town's gates, did Faustus turn round and spit out the stack of hay, the cart and the horses. 
The guards, terrified out of their minds, eyed this spectacle with amazement, but the farmer let out a cry of joy and
jumped up on his box, whipped into the horses and drove off as quickly as he could...
Doctor Faustus
At the court of the Count
Made fruits exotic pleasure-licious
Appear behind curtains in Winter
The count welcomed his guest warmly, and held a feast in his honour.  The table was laden with many special dishes, 
but as it was early spring, there was no fruit on the silver trays, except nuts and apples.

'We have no other fruit here at this time of the year,' the countess said in excuse.

Faustus did not comment, but picked up two empty silver trays and put them behind the window.  
Half an hour later they  were laden with delicious, wondrous foreign fruits, oranges, apricots, grapes
and strange fruits no one present had ever tasted or seen.  The countess looked upon such a windfall
with astonishment, while Faustus only smiled.

'My most gracious lady,' he said in the end, 'when it is cold and wet here, other parts of the world bask in 
sunshine and lovely fruits ripen there...'
Made animals from sunny lands appear At his request, Mephistopheles built him a beautiful castle on a hill.  When the count and his party arrived, they 
marvelled at the exotic birds, swans and pheasants which lived there, and at the numerous animals from foreign lands,
such as monkey, elephants and tigers, which ran freely in the yard.
Had to leave
His drinking student friends
Then came the very last day of Faustus' life. The unhappy magician invited his student friends to his rooms...  
'My dear friends, brother students!' he said. 'I have asked you here not just to dine and wine and entertain you.  Today
we are seeing each other for the last time...
There's a blood silhouette through the ceiling sky The whole chamber was tainted with blood, yet there was no corpse to be seen. Only a gaping hole in the ceiling 
showed that the devil had carried Doctor Faustus away.
   

 

Return to Note 1

Return to Lyrics

Comments (29)

sess. muscn
  • 1. sess. muscn | 23/07/2014
when Brix sings... [Yeah... exotic fruits... strawberry... ] in-between exotic fruits & strawberry MES says "LEMON" and it is brilliant.

Please note that
Sumsiadad
  • 2. Sumsiadad | 30/01/2016
The recurring use of the word, 'Banana' makes me think of the Faust song, "No Harm", the entire lyric of which is, 'Daddy, take a banana/ Tomorrow is Sunday'.
bzfgt
  • 3. bzfgt | 12/03/2016
Thanks, S. I've always heard it as "Take the banana, " and I changed it in your quote; let me know if that's too heavy-handed, or if you want to argue for "a" (I didn't go and check the song, it's 5 in the morning!)
dannyno
  • 4. dannyno | 07/05/2016
in The Rise, The Fall, and The Rise, Brix writes:


Mark asked me to shout 'banana, strawberry and exotic fruits' in 'Dktr Faustus'. I cringe when I hear it. I hated having to say those stupid lyrics.
bzfgt
  • 5. bzfgt | 24/06/2016
Funny, I always assumed the fruits were her contribution, not that I really thought about it much.
Martin
  • 6. Martin | 27/06/2016
The word "splacking": first, I'm not completely sure that this is the word sung. To my cloth ears it could be "blacken", or maybe something else. I simply don't know.

Secondly, if it is, then unless MES had the following definition in mind:

"verb getting "some" (some meaning sex)
Yo did you hear?
hear wat?
That i was splacking the buns!"

then he was inventing a verb to describe the sound which horseshoes make.

That said, the blue lyrics book contains the following:

"...Horshoes Splackin' Swallows Haycart...Horse-Shoes clackin`..."
bzfgt
  • 7. bzfgt | 29/06/2016
Martin, I always assumed it was an onomatopoietic coinage (and not "gettin' some" or whatever), it sounds like "splacking" to me. I will have to consult the book, looking at this I am extremely suspicious about lines like "Power show is..." so clearly this needs to be examined.
bzfgt
  • 8. bzfgt | 29/06/2016
Ah, the book has "Power showin'," which would be much better...I have to triangulate ears, book, recording and clean this up.
bzfgt
  • 9. bzfgt | 29/06/2016
I dont know whether to go with the cutesy "splackin' showin'" stuff from the book or leave the more dignified 'g's. This is clearly a lyric I got from the L. Parade and never got around to checking against the book. Ordinarily it would be an easy decision--just go with the book--but these Fall books have proven to be so divergent from the performed lyrics that they don't actually have much independent authority, so I suppose I'll go with 'g's if I hear them and if not, defer to the book...
bzfgt
  • 10. bzfgt | 29/06/2016
A relief, the lyrics are actually in pretty good shape. I made a couple of compromises with the book, one I don't like much--a dropped 'g' here and there--and one I do, although he says "Power show is" I went with the book's more meaningful version, "Power showin'," especially since MES gets 's' sounds in everywhere they don't really belong when he sings
Martin
  • 11. Martin | 29/06/2016
I listened to a couple of early live performances of the song and yes, the words "splackin(g)" and "power showin(g)" are fairly clearly said, even by MES standards.
bzfgt
  • 12. bzfgt | 02/07/2016
I think it's justifiable to use "Power showin'" here, for one thing it seems to be what is meant, so if he kind of garbled it a little on the record I don't think I have to follow suit here. For another, if anyone looked up the lyrics this way they'll see something meaningful and coherent, whereas insisting on "power show is" because it matches the phonetics of the album would be pedantry without any real benefit. And, the kind of people who get mad at me over divergent lyrics are also often those who insist I follow the book, so I'm covered there...
harleyr
  • 13. harleyr | 29/12/2016
The following section in The City in History by Lewis Mumford (1961) reminded me of Dr Faustus:

" 'Mind the carriages!' cried Mercier in his eighteenth-century Tableau de Paris. 'Here comes the black-coated physician in his chariot, the dancing master in his cabriolet, the fencing master in his diable - and the Prince behind six horses at the gallop as if he were in the open country.... The threateneing wheels of the overbearing rich drive as rapidly as ever over stones stained with the blood of their unhappy victims.' Do not fancy the danger was exaggerated: in France the stage-coach, introduced in the seventeenth century, killed more people annually than the railroad that followed it."
bzfgt
  • 14. bzfgt | 04/01/2017
Cool reference, I actually read that (though probably not the whole thing!).
Canada
  • 15. Canada | 25/01/2018
Does this make anyone else think of "The Banana Question" by Royal Trux? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4s-i5Cdrs6g
LucyFerocious
  • 16. LucyFerocious | 26/10/2018
dannyno
  • 17. dannyno | 27/10/2018
The FOF thread on the song is worth reading re: that image:

https://www.tapatalk.com/groups/thefall/dktr-faustus-t42086.html
bzfgt
  • 18. bzfgt (link) | 15/11/2018
Yeah I have a link to that but it is way down the page where it's linked, I tried to use yours but your link doesn't take me to that picture at all.

OK I found an article with that image right at the top and the link is waybacked, so that should be better.
bzfgt
  • 19. bzfgt (link) | 15/11/2018
Man those Waybacked links are glacial sometimes.
Robert
  • 20. Robert | 19/01/2019
Made animals from sunny lands appear [banana!]
In the sparse gardens


Seems like he's singing "gartens" here.
bzfgt
  • 21. bzfgt (link) | 26/01/2019
Yeah that's plausible I'll check it out
Dan
  • 22. Dan | 06/02/2019
The earliest version of the Faust story can be read online at Project Gutenberg (link) – I suspect this is the fairytale that MES referred to. It was the inspiration for Marlowe's play, and contains the haycart incident and the conjuring of exotic fruits, among other things.

The "blood silhouette through the ceiling sky" may be a reference to Faust's final soliloquy in Marlowe's play, in which he is on the verge of repentence:

See, see where Christ's blood streams in the firmament!
One drop would save my soul, half a drop. Ah, my Christ!
dannyno
  • 23. dannyno | 08/02/2019
Comment #22. Could be. But do you mean Morley's anthology was MES's source? Or the version he reprinted, but not necessarily Morley's anthologising of it?

MES describes his source in these terms: "I read it in a fairytale book". Not much to go on. Could be a children's book, but could be an adult edition.

But good to have that information about what Marlowe's source probably was, feels like this is the way to go.

And just to observe that a "blood moon" might be a "blood silhouette" in a ceiling sky. We've focussed on the "ceiling sky" bit, and found reference to the "firmament". Which might be right. But then what is a "blood silhouette" in context? Something to do with the signing of the pact with the devil, or an astronomical feature of some kind? It feels like a kind of dramatic thing, doesn't it? "Wow, look at that up there!"

And is it "celling" or "sealing"? The Blue book has "cast me" or "pull me" blood silhouette thru the ceiling sky" but it's a typed version of unknown provenance that doesn't closely follow the recorded version lyrics.
dannyno
  • 24. dannyno | 08/02/2019
There are red moons, it appears, in both Goethe and Marlowe.
dannyno
  • 25. dannyno | 08/02/2019
The Reformation! site entry for Faustus has a quote that isn't yet found here:

https://sites.google.com/site/reformationposttpm/fall-tracks/dktr-faustus

In a radio interview with Steve Barker (On The Wire, BBC Radio Lancashire; date sometime in 1986), MES said that the riff was "one of Craig's standard ones. San Quentin type...me and the wife got together over this really good story book I had...and it sort of came out from that."


So MES twice referred to this "story book" or book of fairy tales, in which he first read the Faust story - some time before he was given the Harry Clarke-illustrated translated edition of Goethe's version.

It strikes me that we have paid less attention to this book that we should have. It feels like an illustrated book to me, maybe one aimed at children. I think what we need to do is track it down. How difficult could that be?
dannyno
  • 26. dannyno | 09/02/2019
I think I might have found a good candidate. Need a few days to get my hands on it and confirm or assess plausibility.

Dan
dannyno
  • 27. dannyno | 15/03/2019
From the booklet to the 2019 Beggars Banquet reissue of Bend Sinister.


BRIX: Mark made me sing and scream 'Banana' - I wonder if it was a reference to the Velvet Underground, because there is something about that song that reminds me of the Velvets. Mark was very emphatic about me singing it. It was my idea to put the other fruits into it to try and give it some kind of context. 'There's a blood silhouette through the ceiling sky' - the ceiling sky was my lyric - I had this weird thing about the ceiling. As a small child, I used to lay in bed and stay up all night thinking about what was past the ceiling, past the sky, past the galaxy, past the universe, where does it end, how far does it go? It used to torture me, and the ceiling sky is the opening to everything. His 'blood silhouette' was the body passing through the ceiling sky, then, what's left, the traces of the body.


Seems like Brix took the bit at the end of the Faustus story about him being taken by the devil up through the ceiling, and incorporated those childhood memories.
bzfgt
  • 28. bzfgt (link) | 21/03/2019
Damn, that page with the Harry Clarke illustrations takes forever to load, at least for me.

Dan, I am surprised at your reticence here considering what you came up with on the FOF! Your chart was too good to pass up. Please look at what I have in More Information and let me know if you have any objections to what I put there, or any further suggestions.
dannyno
  • 29. dannyno | 22/03/2019
Note 4:


although I'm not aware of him ever discussing Faust in particular


He did, see "Invisible Jukebox" feature, The Wire, January 2001:


FAUST
"It's A Rainy Day, Sunshine Girl" from So Far: The Wümme Years 1970-73
(Recommended) 1972

Many more to go now, Edwin? Are they all like this? Is it Can?
Close: it's Faust.
Oh right, right. Really? Is it new stuff?
No, old stuff. It's from So Far, their second album.
I prefer Faust Tapes or the first one to this.
Are there any other Krautrock groups you appreciate apart from Can and Faust?
I really liked both versions of Amon Düül a lot when I first heard them. Especially Amon Düül I, I thought they were very inventive.


https://thefall.org/news/010303.html

Dan

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