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


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 "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 (13)

  • 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?

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