Frightened

Lyrics

(1)

Someone's always on my tracks  (2)
And in a dark room you'd see more than you think
I'm out of my place, got to get back
I sweated a lot, you could feel the violence

I've got shears pointed straight at my chest (3)
And time moves slow when you count it
I'm better than them, and I think I'm the best
But I'll appear at midnight when the films close

Cause I'm in a trance
And I sweat
I don't want to dance
I want to go home

I couldn't live in those people places
They might get to know my actions
I'd run away from toilets and faeces
I'd run away to a non-date on the street

Cause I'm in a trance
And I sweat
I don't want to dance
I want to go home

I feel trapped by mutual affection
And I don't know how to use freedom
I spend hours looking sideways
to the time when I was sixteen (4)

Cause I'm in a trance
And I sweat
I don't want to dance
I want to go home 

I'm frightened
Amphetamine frightened

I go to the top of the street
I go to the bottom of the street
I look to the sky, my lips are dry

I'm frightned, frightened
Frightened... 

Notes

1. The lead song on the Fall's first album (1979's Live at the Witch Trials), MES reportedly wrote it when he was sixteen years old. This is an unusual song with which to begin an album, as it is a slow burner; the next number, the frenetic "Crap Rap 2/Like to Blow," begins "We are the Fall..." and seems to function as a sort of second opener. The riff is the Monkees' "Stepping Stone" slowed down, as MES himself has pointed out on stage at least once. The lyrics are apparently about being high on speed, which is made explicit later in the song. Thematically (and perhaps the association here is too general to be significant) the song reminds me of the movie Taxi Driver, with its depiction of an increasingly paranoid loner who frequents the cinema and has socially inept assignations with women--"run away to a non-date on the street": in the movie, Travis Bickle (Robert DeNiro) has a date which he doesn't carry off properly, and also has sexual encounters with prostitutes rather than dates, so the connection could go either way or refer to both, were it intentional. 

^

2. On Live 1977, recorded at the Stretford Civic Center on December 23, 1977, MES sings "Someone's always on my twat," with the flat 'a' in "twat" sounding the same as the 'a' in "tracks," a not uncommon British pronunciation, I'm given to understand. As astounding as it is to think, this may be the original lyric: in any case, it's the earliest version I've heard. I'd say that "tracks" is an improvement, were I asked.

^

3. Fritz Leiber's story "The Ghost Light" contains the line "The silver shears pointed straight at my chest and I could see his muscles tighten like a fat tiger's" (thanks to dannyno on the Fall online forum).  

^

4. This line may have been added later as a reference to the initial composition of the song (see note 1).  

^

Comments (6)

dannyno
  • 1. dannyno | 16/06/2013
"The silver shears pointed straight at my chest and I could see his muscles tighten like a fat tiger's"

To clarify, the above line appears in the short story, "A Deskful of Girls", first published in the "Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction" in April 1958. I found it in a 1984 Leiber anthology entitled "The Ghost Light" (sharing its title with a new story for the anthology).

However, according to the online "Index to Science Fiction Anthologies and Collections", "A Deskful of Girls" also appears in:

The Best from Fantasy and Science Fiction: Eighth Series, ed. Anthony Boucher, Doubleday 1959.
Shadows with Eyes, Ballantine 1962 [Leiber anthology].
Dark Stars, ed. Robert Silverberg, Ballantine 1969.
The Best of Fritz Leiber, Nelson Doubleday 1974.
The Change War, Gregg 1978 [Leiber anthology].
Changewar, Ace 1983 [Leiber anthology].

Also in "The Ghost Light" is the story "Coming Attraction", which includes the line "I'm so frightened." "Coming Attraction" appears alongside "A Deskful of Girls" in the 1974 anthology above. Smith would have been about 16 when that was published. Maybe he bought it at the time? Or maybe this is all way too tenuous.
Martin
  • 2. Martin | 31/07/2013
A personal and no doubt erroneous view:

This was my first experience of mishearing Fall lyrics. I thought it was "summer's always on my tracks" and when MES sang "sweat-ah" I heard at first "sweater". Howeer, though it be a minor point, I insist that he says "you'd see more than you'd think" and not "you see more than you think". But who cares about this?

In any case, this seems to be a tale of alienation, of dislocation. "I spend hours looking sideways / To the time when I was 16" . Time is seen as something non-chronological, as it were. Again: "Time moves slowly when you count it".

The narrator is trapped, he doesn't know how to respond to the society he finds himself in. "I feel trapped by mutual affection...I don't know how to use freedom". It is a lyric of doubt, of questioning, of loneliness, as many on this album. Drugs also have a big part to play. "...Lips are dry", the singer complains. The threat of violence also lingers in the background. In the end, he's in a trance and wants "to go home". Will he find solace there?
Martin
  • 3. Martin | 31/07/2013
"I couldn't live in those peephole places"

Surely this should be either "people" or "people'd"?
bzfgt
  • 4. bzfgt | 29/10/2013
Yeah, you're mostly right, Martin, and I changed a few things, but I hear "you'd see more than you think," so a mix of you and the Lyrics Parade there.
dannyno
  • 5. dannyno | 14/11/2013
"And in a dark room you'd see more than you think"

Does this refer to Colin Wilson's "The Black Room"? Mentioned by MES in the "Portrait of the Artist as a consumer" feature. My feeling is that this song drawns on lines taken from or inspired by various books.
dannyno
  • 6. dannyno | 19/11/2013
After "my lips are dry" there's a final "I'm frightened, frightened, frightened"

After "time when I was sixteen", there's only "cos I'm in a trance" given here, but it's the usual

"Cos I'm in a trance, and I sweat
I don't want to dance, I wanna go home"

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