Ed's Babe



Edward lived with Mary
Like sister and brother
Till one night
Men are this, men are that (DIY)
Women too (DIY)  (2)
Then there was three (DIY, etc.)
A new start
A weird wake 
It all changed after Ed's babe 

Ed's babe
Ed's babe
Ed's babe 

See Ed on a plane 
White bundle 
In his arms  
Ed's baby
See him working away 
In bar working  
Folly is the cloak of knavery (3)

Ed's babe
Ed's babe
Ed's babe 

Ed's babe
See him working away
Working in a bar
Folly is the cloak of knavery
Cause on each arm, girls, twenty one

Ed's babies
Ed's babies
Ed's babies
Ed's babies
Ed's babies
Ed's babies 

[female vocalist]:

Life up in smoke 
Babe rolled like a joint 
Hunger in their home 

Ed's babe
Ed's babe
Ed's babe 


1. When people have children in Fall songs, the results are never exactly positive (see "Married, Two Kids" and "My Ex-Classmates' Kids"). According to Reformation, the lyrics were "allegedly [here I can't help but imagine a Wikipedia-style 'by whom?'] written by Craig Scanlon." Maybe this is so; the lyrics are reasonably clear by Fall standards, I suppose.

I'm not sure what the significance of the "D.I.Y." refrain is; it could suggest that Ed and his lot are punk-ish sorts, or maybe it's meant to signal that the "babe" is not adopted, I don't really know. Dolores suggests that Ed may be having to make home improvements now that he's settled down, and also he may have to jerk off because he isn't getting any now that they have a kid. This all sounds plausible enough.

In certain parts of the track a child can be heard faintly crying out in the background, as I concluded after the second time I ripped my earbuds out and went to check on my daughter, who seems to be sleeping soundly.

There is a female backing vocalist, presumably Cassell Webb who appears on "The Knight, the Devil and Death" on the Ed's Babe EP.


2. Was this what Mary was saying? If so, she seems to be more of a misanthrope than a feminist; or maybe "Women, too" is Ed's rejoinder. In any case, it seems like an odd conversation with which to kick off a love affair.

RM opines that some of the "DIY"s sound like "Be my wife"; I'm not sure about this, I haven't made out an 'f' sound, but it could be swallowed...

Karlb says: "I'm thinking the DIY phrase is a bit of a cruel turn of phrase. Ed of the song seems to have exited the parental role and relationship. Could it be that he’s suggesting Mary was left to raise the babe on her own?"


It could also be addressed to Ed by Mary, and mean any number of things...


3. This line is one of the "proverbs of Hell" from Blake's The Marriage of Heaven and Hell. MES also quotes Blake in "Before the Moon Falls" and "W.B." (which is entirely based on Blake's "A Song of Liberty")  although in both cases he alters Blake's text. "Jerusalem" is also based on the famous hymn derived from the preface to Blake's Milton. See More Information below.


More Information

Ed's Babe: Fall Tracks A-Z


Dan points out that MES has quoted, or alluded to, the "Proverbs of Hell" from The Marriage of Heaven and Hell numerous times:

"The selfish smiling fool and the sullen frowning fool shall both be thought wise" (quoted in "So-Called Dangerous," also on Code: Selfish; also, in "Mere Pseud Mag. Ed.": "Beware the sullen smiling fool/And the shallow frowning fool/Both will be thought wise")

"He thinks at dawn / He acts at noon / He stays alone / And in the evening.." (paraphrased version of "Think in the morning. Act in the noon. Eat in the evening. Sleep in the night.", "Two Face!," from Code: Selfish)

"Folly is the cloak of knavery", ("Ed's Babe," 1992, the Code: Selfish era)

"The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom" (adapted for "Lost in Music," which is on the next album, The Infotainment Scan)

Also there are a bunch of references to Blake, including a reference to "Heaven and Hell" in "W.B.."

See also "That Man" and "A Figure Walks" for lines that appear to be nods at this source.

Anyway, it is interesting that so many lines emerged c1992.

Comments (14)

  • 1. Dolores | 29/10/2013

A dual reading springs to mind here. When in a relationship, men often take - or are forced by their partner/wife - to doing many home improvements, or DIY. Also, in a long term relationship, especially when children come along, sex becomes a casualty, and love is a solo affair, hence Do It Yourself. I hope this helps.
  • 2. dannyno | 12/11/2013
I hear rocking = working
  • 3. Martin | 25/01/2014
"Folly is the cloak of knavery" is a quote from William Blake's poem The Marriage of Heaven and Hell. The previous line in the poem is "If the fool would persist in his folly he would become wise." I'll leave it to others to interpret MES's use of Blake's words in the context of the song.
  • 4. Martin | 25/01/2014
You're right, by the way, about the lack of evidence for Scanlon having written the lyrics. No idea why it was included in the entry on Reformation, but will look into it, when I get the chance!
  • 5. bzfgt | 15/02/2014
Danny, I can go for that; he somehow manages to say it so it sounds equally like both, but "rocking" seems to be the wrong idea in context, so I'll spurn the Lyrics Parade and go with your ears on this.
  • 6. Mark | 29/06/2014
The femals vocalist is - I assume - Cassell Webb, since she also provided vocals to "The Knight, The Devil And Death" on this EP.
  • 7. dannyno | 11/03/2018
comment #4, Martin.

Rumours that Scanlon did the lyrics have been around for years. The most specific claim I've found so far is this:

Drjohnrock, 07 Mar 2004, 03:18Craig Scanlon gave an interview to a weekly entertainment paper in Cincinnati, Ohio prior to The Fall's September 1994 gig there. He claims to have written the lyrics to Ed's Babe because MES was having writer's block at the time. Don't know if there's any other confirmation of that.

Source: Fall Online Forum: https://www.tapatalk.com/groups/thefall/it-39-s-the-new-thing-t1252-s3.html#p766398

According to the Gigography, that would be this: Thursday, 15 September 1994 Bogart's, Cincinnati, Ohio

  • 8. RM | 29/12/2018
Re comment one, some of the "DIY" lines sound like "Be my wife..."
New Fall Fan
  • 9. New Fall Fan | 07/12/2019
Well, I guess this song is NOT about a polyamorous relationship or a threesome. In America anyway, for the most part, a baby is just called a baby and a "babe" is a chick. So I am forever frustrated by this song. Just call the baby a baby, MES, geez. Or I guess I can just blame Scanlon.
  • 10. Karlb | 18/09/2020
Im thinking the DIY phrase is a bit of a cruel turn of phrase. Ed of the song seems to have exited the parental role and relationship. Could it be that he’s suggesting Mary was left to raise the babe on her own..do it yourself.
Ted Mills
  • 11. Ted Mills | 26/05/2021
"See him working away
Working in a bar
Folly is the cloak of knavery
Cause on each arm, girls, twenty one"

I read this as Ed has gone back to work at a bar, while Mary's at home with the baby, but he has a "babe" on his arm, in fact, two of them, aged twenty one! So Ed's "folly" has allowed him to go out and continue to be a knave.
  • 12. bzfgt (link) | 05/06/2021
Yeah that seems plausible
  • 13. harleyr | 05/06/2021
I was never sure if he was singing '...on each arm - guns, twenty one' - as in a tattoo representing the military 21-gun salute (I've no idea what that would look like). It's probably 'girls' though.
  • 14. dannyno | 01/03/2022
On the Hanley brothers' podcast, Oh! Brother, Steve Hanley says this song was written by Craig Scanlon. cf comments above.

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