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 frightened, frightened


1. The lead song on the Fall's first album (1979's Live at the Witch Trials), MES apparently wrote it when he was sixteen years old.

From "Stopping, Starting, and Falling All over Again," an interview with MES and Bramah by Graham Lock (NME, 7 April 1979, p.7-8, 40)

Mark: "Frightened" is quite old actually. I wrote it when I was 16, just a thing I was going through. I used to be very afraid of things, like violence.


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 in lieu of dating or connecting emotionally with women.

From ex-worker man: "Intro to 'Frightened' on Live 77 CD:
"We are frightened, cause it's Christmas, Santa never comes for junkies."


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 "A Deskful of Girls" 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 (25)

  • 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.
  • 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?
  • 3. Martin | 31/07/2013
"I couldn't live in those peephole places"

Surely this should be either "people" or "people'd"?
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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"
  • 7. dannyno | 04/02/2018
From Stopping, Starting, and Falling All over Again, interview with MES and Bramah by Graham Lock. NME, 7 April 1979, p.7-8, 40.

Mark: 'Frightened' is quite old actually. I wrote it when I was 16, just a thing I was going through. I used to be very afraid of things, like violence.

  • 8. dannyno | 04/12/2018
"I'm out of my place, got to get back"

Kind of an inversion of The Animals' We Gotta Get Out of this Place?
  • 9. Kris | 27/12/2018
I always thought it was "Time moves slower when you count it".

Being high on speed literal counting seconds and a playful allusion to time moving slower at greater speed, the effect of time dilation, in relativity theory. For astronauts on the International Space Station, that means they get to age just a tiny bit slower than people on Earth as they are moving at greater speed.
  • 10. bzfgt (link) | 19/01/2019
Yeah, that seems reasonable. I can't hear the "-er" though...close to the same thing sounds like it could be "slower" but it's hard to say for sure. But after listening to it a couple times again just now it sounds more like just "slow" to me.
  • 11. dannyno | 21/03/2019
From Friends of Mine: Punk in Manchester, 1976-1978 by Martin Ryan (who was editor of fanzine "Ghast Up"! with Mick Middles). This comes from a comment about the original recording of "Frightened" which got left off Bingo-Master's Break-Out,

The original recording of "Frightened" remains one of the more enigmatic Fall songs. Mick Middles would describe it in a later Sounds review as "slow and climatic and reminiscent of Black Sabbath's "Iron Man".


I wonder if that should be "climatic" or "climactic".
  • 12. bzfgt (link) | 09/06/2019
Yeah, I'd think the latter but either way it's a little odd
  • 13. bzfgt (link) | 11/03/2020
This really does remind me of Taxi Driver, is it just me?
  • 14. dannyno | 23/11/2020
"people places"

Notwithstanding Martin's comment #3, which lead to the correction from "peephole" to "people" (an alternative being "peopled"), are we absolutely sure it's not "peephole"? It would also fit in context. I'm going too listen again to various versions...
  • 15. dannyno | 23/11/2020
Note #3: " Fritz Leiber's story "The Ghost Light"..."

As noted in my comment #1, the story is actually "A Deskful of Girls". It was however collected in an anthology titled "The Ghost Light" (which was the title of a different story).
  • 16. dannyno | 25/12/2020
"And in a dark room you'd see more than you think"

In comment #5 I suggested that this might refer to Colin Wilson's novel, The Black Room, which it very well might, given that's book's theme of the mind-expanding effects of sensory deprivation.

It has just occurred to me, however, that it might instead, or also, possibly be a reference to the circumstances of a séance. Dark rooms are also associated with photography, but in context something mysterious is fairly obviously intended.
  • 17. dannyno | 25/12/2020
There is also a Theodore Sturgeon novelette, entitled The Dark Room, which first appeared in the magazine Fantastic, July-August 1953 (vol 7, pp.104-141), and which has been reprinted many times since.


The room (described as a "rumpus room") in the story is not literally "dark".

However, in the story, the character Conway breaks into the room and discovers a girl. Stuff happens. He sees a spider that isn't there. Then there's this:

She sighed. "That wasn't so good," she said. "You were supposed to be frightened. But you just got angry at it. Why weren't you frightened?"

"I am now," I said, glancing at the drapes. "I guess I get mad first and scared later. What's the idea? You put that thing there, didn't you?"

Could be coincidence. But still..
  • 18. bzfgt (link) | 22/02/2021
Oop, thanks for the correction about Leiber.

Peephole--again Taxi Driver, thinking about pornography and "peep shows." I mean, I'm not saying it seems like a source for any of the lyrics, just the sort of character (not necessarily a source at all, just seems somewhat reminiscent).

"Peopled" in a way makes the most sense, but doesn't seem like something he'd say (although I'm not saying that strongly, it's possible).

Intriguing "dark room" references although of course the source could be anything, or nothing...
  • 19. bzfgt (link) | 22/02/2021
OK I have found evidence! Evidence that I'm not the only one to have made this connection, that is--not anything more than that, but I find it gratifying. And he thinks it's a "reference [that is] less obtuse" than something we have noted elsewhere as a possible quote:

Other cinematic references are less obtuse. “Frightened,” the leadoff song on the first Fall LP, 1979’s Live at the Witch Trials—a crawling, trawling account of urban paranoia and isolation—is written from the first-person perspective of a Travis Bickle–esque cinema squatter who announces, not without a hint of menace, “I’ll appear at midnight when the films close.”

Come on, nobody else has any thoughts about this connection at all?
  • 20. bzfgt (link) | 22/02/2021 occurs to me, though, that he got the "Before the Moon Falls"/Dracula connection from us, so he might have just read my note mentioning Bickle and concurred. So it's not really as exciting as I thought, if that's the case.
  • 21. dannyno | 23/02/2021
The article dates to March-April 2018. The Travis Bickle note on this page, according to some hunting through the internet wayback machine, was there as early as March 2014 (

  • 22. bzfgt (link) | 27/02/2021
QED? We don't know he read this page. Anyway, at least he thinks it's a plausible connection, however he got the idea...
  • 23. dannyno | 26/04/2021
I re-read A Deskful of Girls again.

As well as the shears, the story also involves a room being plunged into darkness.

... he touched the desk again and the lights went out. I have mentioned that the place was completely sealed against light. The darkness was complete.


After a bit I got the barest hint of light over by the desk, very uncertain at first, like a star at the limit of vision, where it keeps winking back and forth from utter absence to the barest dim existence, or like a lonely lake lit only by starlight and glimpsed through a thick forest, or as if those dancing points of light that persist even in absolute darkness and indicate only a restless retina and optic nerve had fooled me for a moment into thinking they represented something real.

Also this line:

I wasn't scared. I was merely frightened half to death.

So now I'm thinking that that we don't actually need to go further than this one story to find a source for some of the themes of the song (although of course the song doesn't follow Leiber's story at all).
  • 24. bzfgt (link) | 01/05/2021
Yeah that's very suggestive
  • 25. dannyno | 25/05/2021
Typo in the final line!


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