Free Range

Lyrics

(1)

In 2001
A life code:
It pays to talk to no one. No one!

Proliferating across the earth
Also Sprach Zarathustra (2)
Faction Europa (3)
Free Range

2001
Also Sprach Zarathustra
Proliferating across the earth
Pressure guilt
Grudge match
12 cm flak unit (4)
Range 1 stroke 35 (5)

This is the spring without end
This is the summer of malcontent
This is the winter of your mind (6)

Free Range
Free Range 

By 2001
Also Sprach Zarathustra
It pays to talk to no one. No one!
Europa, faction
Proliferating across the earth

Free Range
Free Range

This is the spring without end
This is the winter of your mind
A life code
2001

Free Range 

Insect posse (7)
will be crushed

Moravia, trouble (8)
Moldavia
Europa
Every second third word
Europa
It pays to talk to no one. No one!

Free Range.

(I'm the one who's for you
I'm the one who is true) (9)

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Notes

1. A journalist named Ian McCann claims that he asked to pose with MES in a chicken suit when he met the latter to interview him at the time "Free Range" was released as a single. MES refused, since, as he quite sensibly put it, "Free Range" is "not about chickens." Rather, according to MES, "It's me first thoughts on the breakdown of the Iron Curtain, really. I don't want to go into it too much. We wrote 'Zagreb Day' [sic; actually 'Zagreb'] for the B-side of 'White Lightning' and three months later it all went off over there" (thanks to harleyr). "Free Range" is one of the finest examples of MES in prophetic mode; I suppose I'd say that the message is, as is typical, a little fuzzy if you concentrate just on the lyrics, but taken as a whole, the song cuts like a laser. 

Martin:

Typewritten comments regarding the song found on the Code: Selfish sleeve: "Sarajevo revisited. Anti-aircraft unit, Range, 120 metres."
 

^

 

2. Also Sprach Zarathustra: Ein Buch für Alle und Keinen (Thus Spoke Zarathustra: a Book for All and None) is Friedrich Nietzsche's celebrated and uncategorizable masterwork from 1885. Part novel, part work of philosophy and part collection of parables, the book contains many of Nietzsche's most famous themes, such as the Übermensch, the Eternal Return of the Same, and the Death of God. Zarathustra (usually known in English as Zoroaster) was the founder of Zoroastrianism, one of the world's oldest monotheistic (more or less) religions and thought to be an influence on Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Nietzsche's Zarathustra was intended to inaugurate a doctrine opposite to the one of his historical namesake: whereas Zoroaster posited a good and an evil principle at the root of things, Nietzsche's character preaches the human imposition of values, thus the metaphysical valuelessness of the world as it is in itself. He comes to herald the Overman, a new type of human being capable of rejecting supernatural justifications for morality and creating his own values. The Overman is contrasted with the "last man" ("last" because the Overman will no longer be human, strictly speaking, but a new kind of being); the name indicates modern people, especially Europeans, who valorize egalitarianism and comfort, and level all distinctions, making it impossible for greatness to emerge. In general, Also Sprach Zarathustra is a book that is concerned with the fate of Europe, which Nietzsche sees as sinking into nihilism; the Overman is the antidote that the philosopher proposes, a type of person who can accept the withering away of metaphysical justifications in the wake of the Death of God, and embrace the responsilbility of creating new values for civlization.

The more direct reference here, since the song begins with the phrase "In 2001...", may be Richard Strauss' symphonic tone poem Also Sprach Zarathustra: it became the theme for Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey, which seems to equate human evolution (puncutated, in Kubrick's reality, by leaps that are always accompanied by the appearance of a mysterious black monolith) with war and death. MES has proclaimed himself a reader of Nietzsche, however, and in my judgment both references are in play.  

^

3. Europa, of course, means Europe; here MES uses the original form of the name, from the Greek myth in which Zeus turns himself into a bull in order to make off with a Phoenician woman.  Thanks to PTSN, for recognizing this is an Arthur C. Clarke reference:

The moon Europa is a key part of the sequel to 2001, 2010 (and, even more so, the subsequent sequels). The word appears many times! I'm sure MES had been reading Arthur C Clarke.

^

4. "One two cee em flak unit." The 12.8 cm FlaK 40 was a German anti-aircraft gun used in World War Two. An anti-tank gun dubbed the 12.8 cm PaK 40 was dervied from it.  

^

5. Mark has made the following discovery:

Re: "Range 1 stroke 35" - I believe that the answer to this can be found on page 174 of the blue lyrics book. It shows the packaging of a 2cm Flak 30 anti-aircraft unit model, at 1:35 scale. "The box contains small pl... parts to make a 1/35 kit, but... not include cement or paint."

^

6. Shakespeare's Richard III begins: "Now is the winter of our discontent/Made glorious summer by this sun of York".  John Steinbeck adopted the phrase for the title of his last novel.

"This Will Be a Spring Without End" (Das wird ein Frühling ohne Ende) by Ilse Warner, released in 1942, was a hit song in Germany during World War Two (thanks to Vaci in the comment section). The Last Battle: the Classic History of the Battle for Berlin by Cornelius Ryan reports that "In this sixth year of World War II, Hitler's Germany was fighting desperately for survival. The Reich that was to last a millennium had been invaded from west and east. The Anglo-American forces were sweeping down on the great river Rhine, had breached it at Remagen, and were racing for Berlin. They were only three hundred miles to the west. On the eastern banks of the Oder a far more urgent, and infinitely more fearful, threat had materialized. There stood the Russian armies, less than fifty miles away. It was Wednesday, March 21, 1945 -- the first day of spring. On radios all over the city this morning, Berliners heard the latest hit tune: 'This Will Be a Spring Without End.'" Interestingly, the same claim is found in a passage that discusses the very same date in 1945 in Alex Kershaw's The Liberator: One World War II Soldier's 500-Day Odyssey from the Beaches of Sicily to the Gates of Dachau. I have not been able to confirm that this song was a hit three years after it's release; it may have been rereleased or covered at that time. On the other hand, it's possible that Ryan was mistaken, or even that he fudged his dates a little to make an ironic juxtaposition, and that Kershaw repeated the claim without confirming it independently. 

^

7. By this point (1992), due to hip-hop culture, the word "posse" had come into general usage as a term for one's group of associates, and it may be in this sense that it is used here. The line "insect posse will be crushed" also appears in "So-Called Dangerous," one remix of "So What About It?" and the Peel version of "The Mixer" (thanks to Reformation for catching this). 

^

8. Moravia is in the Czech Republic. Moldavia, which existed as an independent entity between the 14th and the 19th centuries, is a now divided between Romania, Ukraine, and the Republic of Moldova. Although the song is sometimes cited as a prophetic adumbration of the Yugoslav Wars of the 1990s, the geography is off a bit for that. "Free Range" is a vague and forboding prophecy of conflict in Europe, particularly Eastern Europe, and it is understandable that for many it resonates with subsequent events. MES is in his finest prophetic mode here, which to me is charaterized, even more than by whatever the lyrics might be, by a certain declamatory tone in their delivery. There is a Peel sesssion and an album version of this song, but I think the single release is the best rendition.   

^

9. It seems to me like he'd be quoting some pop song or other here, like, for instance, the end of "All Leave Cancelled" where MES sings a snippet of "Lies" by the Knickerbockers. The closest we have found was dug up by Dan, from "I'm the One" by Gerry and the Pacemakers:

I'm the one who cares about you
I'm the one who'll always be true
 

Martin points out:

15 March 1992 Polytechnic, Nottingham: :

"I'm the one who cares for you, Dave." (extra lyrics in "Free Range")

Dan:

 I thought, "hm, that sounds like something HAL would have said in 2001: A Space Odyssey..." [it sure does--bzfgt]

And of course with both 2001 and "Also Sprach Zarathustra" mentioned in the lyrics...

^

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Comments (20)

John
  • 1. John | 01/08/2013
This song, to me, is the best lyrics MES has ever written. Many Fall songs have several meanings to the lyrics at the same time. The overlap between the (presumably EU) 2001 thing, the Kubrick thing, the Nazi proliferating across the earth thing, and the ethnic strife brewing thing is absolutely brilliant in every regard. If one Fall song was to be cited as sheer genius, this is it.
John
  • 2. John | 01/08/2013
I forgot one more tie-in. The overlap between Nietzsche and the Nazis is that Nietzsche's sister rewrote Will to Power after he died and released it as an antisemitic diatribe, and was an influence on the Nazi view towards Jews.
dannyno
  • 3. dannyno | 19/11/2013
This is what you have in the chorus (I suppose that's what it is) before the insect posse line:

"This is the spring without end
This is the summer of malcontent
This is the winter of your mind"

But this is what it actually seems to be:

"This is the spring without end
This is the winter of your mind
A life code, 2001, free range"
PTSN
  • 4. PTSN | 14/12/2013
The moon Europa is a key part of the sequel to 2001, 2010 (and, even more so, the subsequent sequels). The word appears many times! I'm sure MES had been reading Arthur C Clarke.
harleyr
  • 5. harleyr | 01/04/2014
From NME, 29th Feb 1992
http://www.visi.com/fall/news/pics/92feb29_nme/92feb29_nme.html

What is [Free Range] about?
"Its me first thoughts on the breakdown of the Iron Curtain, really. I don't want to go into it too much. We wrote 'Zagreb Day' for the B-side of 'White Lightning' and three months later it all went off over there."
Vaci
  • 6. Vaci | 07/05/2014
"This Will Be a Spring Without End" was a popular song broadcast in Berlin in March 1945.
Mark
  • 7. Mark | 17/06/2014
Re: "Range 1 stroke 35" - I believe that the answer to this can be found on page 174 of the blue lyrics book. It shows the packaging of a 2cm Flak 30 anti-aircraft unit model, at 1:35 scale. "The box contains small pl... parts to make a 1/35 kit, but... not include cement or paint."
Martin
  • 8. Martin | 24/12/2015
Personally, I would change the exclamation mark at the end of the first "No one" to a full stop. Subsequently, yes, the tone in MES's voice suggests that an exclamation mark is indeed needed. But not in the first instance.

(You probably can't believe how pedantic a Fall fan can be...Merry Christmas in any case!)
bzfgt
  • 9. bzfgt | 27/12/2015
Yes but the first is a full stop, it's the second that gets the bang at the end. Is that what you meant? In other words, not in the first appearance at all?

Call me a co-pedant but this calls for a listen.

He squeals the second, and it's just there to emphasize what he's already said. The '!' s distinctly there, I think, distinguishing the informative first "no one." to the emphasis of the second "No one!"

Did you miscount or do you mean the first pair when you say the first? I can't hear it without the "!"

I'll try putting them on separate lines and see how that looks.

I always listen to the single version (which is a zillion times better) so now I'm checking the album version. Man, this is limp compared to the single! Sure enough, the second "No One" is also limper. That clears it up, there's our answer. I don't think I should change it however because no one--no one!--should ever listen to the limp LP version of this track. Do yourself a favor and blast the single version, you'll feel much better.

Sorry for typing all that in real time instead of checking first and then commenting...a little glimpse behind the scenes here at Annotated Fall around 5 O'Clock on a Sunday morning....
bzfgt
  • 10. bzfgt | 27/12/2015
Damn it I can't edit my comment and fix the italics. Actually I think maybe I can....yep, can in the site manager, and this is turning out to be another one of those posts. It's like the extras on your DVD.

But I just meant to say Merry Xmas to you, too!
Martin
  • 11. Martin | 29/12/2015
A fellow pedant replies: No, I meant the first "No one". Otherwise, I would have written "the first 'no one'", seeing as the "no" doesn't begin a sentence and thus is not capitalized.

Fair comments about the single version, though!
bzfgt
  • 12. bzfgt | 05/01/2016
Wow, that's subtle but clear, I see what you were saying now.
Zack
  • 13. Zack | 04/02/2017
Additional lyrics during the fadeout (more clearly audible on live recordings): "I'm the one who's for you / I'm the one who is true."
bzfgt
  • 14. bzfgt | 11/02/2017
Does anyone know if that's a near-quote from a pop song or summat? A google of those words in quotation marks just returns this page, and of course a search without the marks is too broad to be useful.
dannyno
  • 15. dannyno | 02/03/2017
I haven't found anything exactly right, but it's a common pop sentiment. There is the Gerry and the Pacemakers song, "I'm The One":


I'm the one who cares about you
I'm the one who'll always be true
etc
bzfgt
  • 16. bzfgt (link) | 03/03/2017
It sounds something like "Midges plonk down" after that. I mean I'm sure it doesn't really sound like that exactly but that's the closest I can get to what it sounds like.
Martin
  • 17. Martin | 10/03/2017
With reference to a couple of comments above:

15 March 1992 Polytechnic, Nottingham: :

"I'm the one who cares for you, Dave." (extra lyrics in "Free Range")

There are also faint echoes of the line in "Secession Man" ("You're the one that always runs the show ").
Martin
  • 18. Martin | 26/03/2017
Typewritten comments regarding the song found on the Code: Selfish sleeve:

"Sarajevo revisited. Anti-aircraft unit, Range, 120 metres."
dannyno
  • 19. dannyno | 27/03/2017
Comment #17, "I'm the one who cares for you, Dave".

You know what I thought when I read that?

Well, you probably don't, so I'll tell you.

I thought, "hm, that sounds like something HAL would have said in 2001: A Space Odyssey..." And of course with both 2001 and Also Sprach Zarathustra mentioned in the lyrics...
dannyno
  • 20. dannyno | 27/03/2017
.. also note comment #4, about Europa. And comment #2, of course, already notes the significance of Zarathustra, 2001 and Kubrick.

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