Edinburgh Man

Lyrics

(1)

It's springtime but I still miss the streets at dawn
And in the morning walking your bridges home
As I sit and stare at all of England's sores
I tell you something
I wish I was in Edinburgh

I don't mind being by myself
Don't wanna be anywhere else
Just wanna be in Edinburgh
How I wish I was in Edinburgh

You can leave me on the shelf
I'm an Edinburgh man myself
I will always give you help

It's summertime but I still miss your spires so clear
Sitting and staring on a beach somewhere
I'll tell you something
I wish I was in Edinburgh

Don't give a toss about private wealth
And history just repeats itself (2)
Keep me away from the Festival
And just give a one-quarter-gill (3)

They say project yourself
But I'm an Edinburgh man myself

It's wintertime and I still see the cobble stones
Clacking over your streets at dawn
I was really poor since I left Edinburgh

I'm OK just by myself
Cause our miserable kinks won't protect us from ourselves (4)
How I wish I was in Edinburgh
How I wish I was in Edinburgh

I was always in good health
I'm an Edinburgh man myself
I will always give you help
I'm an Edinburgh man myself

Notes

1. MES plays it straight here--he briefly lived in Edinburgh, Scotland circa 1990, and he seems to have dug it. He later atoned for this burst of sincerity by claiming that he prefers Glasgow. A conventional rock ballad, but a masterful one; this is a beautiful song, and a unique one for the Fall. Smith later attributed his move to a distaste for the scene, and the drugs, in the late 1980s ("Madchester"), which is probably an exaggeration but may contain a kernel of truth:

“That’s why I moved to Scotland. It’s true. I’d rather drink whisky, thank you very much. I don’t relate to other groups. I never have. I don’t relate to a lot of musicians to be quite frank. I don’t relate to anything from Manchester and I never saw us as anything like that.” 

He had also just gone through a split with his wife at the time, Brix, and this may have led him to seek a change of scenery.   

^

2.This is of course a common notion. Marx famously wrote, in The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Napoleon:

"Hegel remarks somewhere that all great world-historic facts and personages appear, so to speak, twice. He forgot to add: the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce."

Equally ubiquitous is Santayana's "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it" which is often misquoted with "history" replacing "the past." Dan points out that Santayana also says "I like to walk about amidst the beautiful things that adorn the world; but private wealth I should decline, or any sort of personal possessions, because they would take away my liberty" which, in conjunction with the other quote, is certainly suggestive for our purposes. 

^

3. From the Lyrics Parade: "Most UK pubs, and all English pubs, used to sell spirits in fifths of a gill, an old-fashioned imperial measurement (4 gills to the pint). In Scotland a select few pubs sell 1/4 gill measures. (Thanks to Simon Fluendy for this info)"  

^

4. The Lyrics Parade has "miserable king"; there has not been a king of the United Kingdom since George VI died in 1952, and the current monarch is Queen Elizabeth II. To me this sounds like it could be "kings" or "kinks," but the blue lyrics book has "kinks" so that seems like the best option. This is presumably at least partly in reference to the Kinks, although it is uncapitalized. As for "miserable Kinks," MES is an avowed Kinks fan (the Fall, of course, had a hit with "Victoria"), so I take it that "miserable" is descriptive of the Kinks' own state of mind, rather than that which they induce in their listeners. In any case, many fans heart "king" and that could certainly be the right way but, in the absence of other evidence, we have to go with MES's own testimony.

^

Comments (12)

dannyno
  • 1. dannyno | 25/05/2013
"Cause our miserable king won't protect us from ourselves"

It's "kinks". It's also "spires so clear" and "England's sores", not skies or souls.

That's what the blue lyrics book says, and that's also what I hear on all the versions I've got: Shiftwork, Live at Phoenix Festival, etc,
dannyno
  • 2. dannyno | 31/05/2013
"Quarter gill"

This was also the size of the rum ration issued to troops in the first world war.
bzfgt
  • 3. bzfgt | 12/06/2013
consult "pre-MDMA years"
BennyM
  • 4. BennyM | 05/09/2013
"And just give me a ONE quarter gill," as written in the Fall's blue, second lyrics book.
dannyno
  • 5. dannyno | 20/09/2014
Ultimately what matters is what you can hear, not what is printed in the book.
Martin
  • 6. Martin | 21/03/2016
"Sores" is an interesting word, isn't it? It conjures up to me images of the Black Death, plagues in general. In fact, it reminds me of some of the lyrics in "Van Plague". All of which is not to put forward anything particularly new, but simply to record information. And also to say that the word "sore(s) hasn't to date appeared in any other Fall song. However, the phrase"England's sores", as you might expect, isn't a Mark E Smith creation, as a brief google search will show.
bzfgt
  • 7. bzfgt | 24/03/2016
Yes, and I found one use of the phrase not two lines from a mention of "Edinburgh" in the Atlantic Monthly of Feb. 1865...it seems to be buried in a long, sarcastic article about some Connecticut poets, and the connection is tenuous, and it is unlikely MES ever saw it. I thought I had something for a moment there...
dannyno
  • 8. dannyno | 25/06/2016
"I Wish I Was in Edinburgh..."

The Corries, "Barrett's Privateers":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7VKQ4qlZqm8

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barrett%27s_Privateers

Coincidence?
dannyno
  • 9. dannyno | 30/09/2016
"Don't give a toss about private wealth
And history just repeats itself"

Echoes of George Santayana?

"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

and

"I like to walk about amidst the beautiful things that adorn the world; but private wealth I should decline, or any sort of personal possessions, because they would take away my liberty."

But I'm not aware of any Santayana links to Edinburgh. So probably a red herring.
bzfgt
  • 10. bzfgt | 15/10/2016
No but the first quote is ubiquitous so maybe not so red or so fishy.
bzfgt
  • 11. bzfgt | 15/10/2016
Dan, do you happen to know if those two quotes appear near each other in Santayana, or otherwise are they often quoted together?
dannyno
  • 12. dannyno | 15/10/2016
They come from different books. Possibly they might be together in a book of quotations.

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