Dktr Faustus



(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

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

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

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]
[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
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]

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

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


1. Doctor Faustus, or Faust, is a character from German folklore whose story appears in numerous permutations in German literature (see note 2 below). 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…


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. Sumsiadad acutely points out 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.

Brix, for her part, 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)


5. See note 1 above.



Comments (19)

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
  • 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'.
  • 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!)
  • 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.
  • 5. bzfgt | 24/06/2016
Funny, I always assumed the fruits were her contribution, not that I really thought about it much.
  • 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`..."
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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...
  • 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
  • 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.
  • 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...
  • 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."
  • 14. bzfgt | 04/01/2017
Cool reference, I actually read that (though probably not the whole thing!).
  • 15. Canada | 25/01/2018
Does this make anyone else think of "The Banana Question" by Royal Trux?
  • 16. LucyFerocious | 26/10/2018
  • 17. dannyno | 27/10/2018
The FOF thread on the song is worth reading re: that image:
  • 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.
  • 19. bzfgt (link) | 15/11/2018
Man those Waybacked links are glacial sometimes.

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