Fol de Rol



Human dog
To start playing
Homeric Fol de Rol

She glides, she slides
In kitchens Homeric
Giant Hail Mary
Fol de Rol
Fol de Rol


Check waistband, laughing
With helper in high-vis yellow coat
With nothing
Heigh Ho metal! (2)
Homeric metal (3)
Fol de Rol

We're gathering in the... 
She strides
Horrible facts
You blocked hotel area
with a wedge potato
Fol de Rol
Fol de Rol

With green and yellow 
So-called wheels
There he stands
Homogenous bone and head

Fol de 
Heigh Ho
Fol de 
Fol de
Fol de Rol
de Rol

Homeric cogs of steel
Excite plastic wheels
Cogs of steel
You block
You block
It glides
You are
Electric wheels out
Cogs of steel Homeric!
Cogs of steel Homeric!


1. It seems that with every album that goes by, transcribing becomes more difficult. The above lyrics are highly speculative, and are the result of my intently listening and making revisions to a transcription by Buy Kurious!, whom I heartily thank. 

Fol de rol--or folderol, fol-de-rol, falderal, etc.--seems to have originated as a nonsense refrain in English ballads. It subsequently came to mean nonsense, or fuss or ado about something trivial, or a bangle or useless trinket. 

I found a very helpful, and helpfully short, account of the origin of the word which I will quote in full:

There are many traditional rhymes and songs with variants of “fal-de-ral” in them somewhere. For example, Robert Bell noted these words of an old Yorkshire mummer’s play in his Ancient Poems, Ballads and Songs of the Peasantry Of England of 1857: “I hope you’ll prove kind with your money and beer, / We shall come no more near you until the next year. /Fal de ral, lal de lal, etc.” And Sir Walter Scott included a few lines of an old Scottish ballad in  The Bride of Lammermoor (1819): “There was a haggis in Dunbar, / Fal de ral, etc. / Mony better and few waur, / Fal de ral, etc.” Charles Dickens had gentle fun with this habit in his Sketches By Boz of 1836-7: “Smuggins, after a considerable quantity of coughing by way of symphony, and a most facetious sniff or two, which afford general delight, sings a comic song, with a fal-de-ral — tol-de-ral chorus at the end of every verse, much longer than the verse itself.” It was around 1820 that this traditional chorus [sic] is first recorded as a term for a gewgaw or flimsy thing that was showy but of no value, though it had to wait until the 1870s before it started to be widely used.​

I hope the reader will indulge me here, as I was not able to convince myself to forbear from including the entirety of this wonderful entry in the Yale Glee Club songbook, certified a "Traditional Yale Song" (I think SATB must mean "Soprano, Alto, Tenor, Bass"):

Eli Yale

The solo is traditionally sung by the Glee Club president.
The following is the original version.

(SATB) Arr. Fenno Heath ‘50

As Freshmen first we came to Yale,
Fol de rol de rol rol rol!
Examinations made us pale.
Fol de rol de rol rol rol!

Eli Eli Eli Yale,
Fol de rol de rol rol rol!
Eli Eli Eli Yale,
Fol de rol de rol rol rol!

As Sophomores we have a task;
Fol de rol de rol rol rol!
‘Tis best performed by torch and mask.
Fol de rol de rol rol rol!

Repeat Chorus.

In Junior year we take our ease,
Fol de rol de rol rol rol!
We smoke our pipes and sing our glees.
Fol de rol de rol rol rol!

Repeat Chorus.

In Senior year we act our parts
Fol de rol de rol rol rol!
In making love and winning hearts.
Fol de rol de rol rol rol!

Repeat Chorus.

And then into the world we come,
Fol de rol de rol rol rol!
We’ve made good friends, and studied—some.
Fol de rol de rol rol rol!

Repeat Chorus.

The saddest tale we have to tell,
Fol de rol de rol rol rol!
Is when we bid old Yale farewell.
Fol de rol de rol rol rol!

Repeat Chorus.
Repeat Chorus Molto Allegro

Gappy Tooth on the Fall Online Forum points out that this song's riff is more than a little reminiscent of "On A Rope" by Rocket from the Crypt. This may or may not be a coincidence--the riff feels somehow inevitable--but it wouldn't be the first time the Fall has repurposed an already existing riff.

Some people feel strongly about this sort of thing--Google search "Led Zeppelin, plagiarism" and you will encounter some real invective--so I wish to say here that I think it is entirely legitimate. Essentially the entire history of music would not exist if artists did not borrow riffs and melodies, and to condemn this as unoriginal is to confuse the artistic value of a piece with its monetary value as legal property. MES has always rightly insisted that originality of any merit does not mean simply hitting on a hitherto unsuspected combination of notes.

Marvell78 on the Fall online forum points out that this is possibly an allusion to Captain Beefheart's "Big Eyed Beans from Venus," with its line "Ain't no SNAFU/No fol-de-rol."


2. Heigh Ho (or Heigh-Ho, Hi Ho, Hi-Ho, etc.): According to Wikipedia, "The phrase "Heigh-Ho" was first recorded in 1553 and is defined as an expression of 'yawning, sighing, languor, weariness, disappointment.' Eventually, it blended meanings with the similarly spelled 'hey-ho.' The phrase 'hey-ho' first appeared in print in 1471, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, which says it has nautical origins, meant to mark the rhythm of movement in heaving or hauling."

"Heigh Ho metal" is reminiscent of the "Hiyo Silver, away!" with which television's Lone Ranger used to motivate his horse. Some render this as "Hi Ho, Silver!" (although the former is apparently, despite my memory and maybe yours, better attested--if you want more, Google it yourself). As silver is of course a metal, MES's lyric may be a humorous paraphrase--and may be this while being other things besides, I hasten to add. 


3. Homer's works are thought to be set in the Bronze Age, when copper and bronze (a mixture of ten parts copper and one part tin) were the primary metals with which weapons and tools were made. See "Defensive Weapons in Homer" in Science and Technology in Homeric Epics (edited by S.A. Paipetis). However, don't sleep on "Iron in the Homeric Epics & Homer, a Sensible Ecologist" from the same volume...It is sometimes claimed that between the composition of the Iliad and that of the Odyssey, the transition to the Iron Age had gotten under way.



More Information

Comments (20)

  • 1. bzfgt (link) | 05/08/2017
"MES has always rightly insisted..." (note 1--yes, I know that's all there is so far)

This is slightly naughty, since as far as I'm aware he has never actually said this, but it is clearly his stance. At least for now I'm leaving it in... I always remember an anecdote according to which one of Lincoln's biographers wrote that one of his favorite books was Plutarch's Lives, and then told Lincoln to go get it and read it if this wasn't already true...
  • 2. bzfgt (link) | 05/08/2017
Apparently there is a website called "" which gives the definition of a word, and also its value in "Chaldean" and "Pythagorean numerology"...I'm a bit taken aback that there was a perceived need for such a thing.
  • 3. bzfgt (link) | 05/08/2017
Hmm...I have mixed feelings. The notes are already a little long, and they are good, but they don't tell us much about the song. If I need to start chopping--and I hope I do--I'll start by cutting out some of that Yale song, but I really find it amusing!
  • 4. bzfgt (link) | 05/08/2017
"It is sometimes claimed that between the composition of the Iliad and that of the Odyssey, ​the transition to the Iron Age had gotten under way"

This is very sloppy and will need to be revisited. I didn't actually find such a claim, just a claim that bronze is mentioned more in the Iliad vs iron in the Odyssey. It must be either as I say, or else Homer was consciously portraying a historical transition, ie. aware that there had been a shift within the time frame he describes, but the latter seems less likely (the second work follows chronologically closely on from the first). This will have to be researched or deleted I guess.
  • 5. bzfgt (link) | 05/08/2017
"You blocked hotel area
without a wedge potato"

"With" seems more likely, and is suitably MESian, but there's definitely another syllable in there of come kind.


I think BK had the fragment "Christian/With...."

They seem equally likely....he often pronounces words with an extra sibilance, so this could be either....I thought instead of deciding between them, or else indicating uncertainty in the lyric, I'd make the ambiguity MESes and make like "Wit(c)h" is the lyric. VERY arbitrary I acknowledge, and it may not last.
  • 6. bzfgt (link) | 05/08/2017
“Fol De Rol” bursts in sounding vaguely reminiscent of Thee Oh Sees’ latest albums

Yes, good call, Martin.
  • 7. Antoine | 08/08/2017
We'd hoped that he'd hide his yellow coat = With helper in high-viz yellow coat?
  • 8. bzfgt (link) | 11/08/2017
I will check it tonight, Antoine, maybe so. Or maybe impenetrable...
  • 9. bzfgt (link) | 11/08/2017
Who was the one who pointed out "Big Eyed Beans" on the forum? If anyone can remember I need to give him a shout. I'm catching up on the forum now, maybe I'll come across it again.
  • 10. bzfgt (link) | 11/08/2017
OK here's the first line phonetically as I hear it:

"Waiting human galyed"
  • 11. bzfgt (link) | 11/08/2017
Yes, Antoine, that is precisely what I hear!

Well, that's nice, but it sucks extra when you're stumped on the first line.
  • 12. bzfgt (link) | 11/08/2017
OK I think it's "with a wedge potato" with an extra gargle thrown in, it doesn't sound like "without" to me though
  • 13. Brendan | 11/08/2017
I hear:

"Waiting - human dog"

Or possibly "human dung" but I think it's more likely a phlegmy "human dog".
  • 14. dannyno | 30/08/2017
"Homeric". See notes to "Brillo de Facto", especially my comment #9 quoting from MES' interview in the September 2016 issue of Mojo:

You wanna know my problem? (reaches into his man-bag for a green manila folder of lyric sheets: visible on one are the scrawled words, "Homeric night, second one today, brillo-nilo"). It's Lee Brilleaux out of Dr. Feelgood, but this track's better than Dr. Feelgood. Imagine it played by Motörhead, with Pete [Greenway]'s guitar... The house is full of lyrics, I'm not fucking short of words. There's too many.

"Homeric night" seems to have ended up here.
  • 15. wal | 04/09/2017
Giant Hail Mary! If it's not that then it really should be.
  • 16. bzfgt (link) | 16/09/2017
It very well could be; it seems like every review and note about this mentions "Homeric," but as you say it might not even be in there. What a quandary...every album gets harder to decipher.

Maybe I've just brainwashed myself but I can finally hear it as everyone else does, "Human dog"; that'll stay until someone comes up with something more convincing. It's still a lot like "gal-yit!"
  • 17. bzfgt (link) | 16/09/2017
I do seem to hear the "c" at the end of "Homeric," but the one you say may be "Hail Mary" very well could be, I don't hear the "c" there. I'll put it in, at least for now.
  • 18. harleyr | 17/09/2017
There's a 'Homer J S' in there early on, isn't there? As in Homer J Simpson presumably.
  • 19. dannyno | 18/09/2017
Comment #18. Hm. In which case.

The Simpsons, "Once Upon A Time In Springfield":

Mr Burns: Gentlemen... Please don't leave me!
Lenny Leonard: Sir, I'm afraid it's too late.
Mr Burns: Oh, I imagine Cap City's been wooing you with trips to the seashore, a Christmas goose, Spanish lemons, folderol I can't afford to match.
  • 20. dannyno | 18/09/2017
That's season 21, episode 10, first aired 10 January 2010.

Add a comment

You're using an AdBlock like software. Disable it to allow submit.