Guest Informant

Lyrics

Baghdad/Space Cog/Analyst  (1)
You'll never guess who informed
It was Craig and Steve
The stool pigeons, cha-cha-cha-cha... (2)
[Probably Hanley]: "Bazhdad State Cog Analyst." (3)

Guest informant, guest informant
Guest informant, guest informant
I followed the colonel to the cheap hotel,
I tapped the beds
I wired the phones as well,
Colonel Boggs Maroley was his mantle
Had not counted on
I had not counted on
Guest Informant, guest informant

I've been split on, I've been touted on,
I had not counted on Guest Informant


In the burning scorch of another Sunday over
The miserable Scottish hotel,
Resembled a Genesis or Marillion, 1973 LP cover (4)
All the hotel staff had been dismissed,
It was me, the Hoover, and the O. A. P.s (5)
Asked: Could he turn killer?
Thought: could I kill him?
Pondered: Or is he itinerant?
But I guess he's just a cog analyst
Guest informant, guest informant

Baghdad/Space Cog/Analyst.

I could not comprehend, I could not understand
Had not counted on, I had not counted all
Guest informant, guest informant
I've been split by a first-grade moron
And I had not counted on, I had not counted on
Guest informant, guest informant
Guest informant, guest informant
I've been let down, by a first-grade moron
And I could not comprehend 
Had not counted on
Guest informant, guest informant

Notes

1. This opening line, initially chanted by Brix who is then joined by MES, has been the subject of as much debate as anything within the sphere of the Fall. The Lyrics Parade appends this note to the track:

Sean Russell advised on 14 February 1996: "I wrote to Cog Sinister with a pile of questions, one of them being what the hell Brix was saying [in "Guest Informant"]. Lucy [Rimmer] wrote back and said she asked Brix, who said the phrase was "Baghdad/Space Cog/Analyst"

The only problem is that nobody seems to say that phrase in the song; to me, it seems pretty clearly to be the inexplicably weird "Bazdad State Cog Analyst." "Cog" is short for "cognition," and the abbreviation is probably derived from Philip K. Dick's coinage "precog" (Dick's word denotes knowledge of the future). "Bazdad" may be an alternate pronunciation of "Baghdad" (pronounced this way for a reason for which I cannot account), but nobody in the song says "Baghdad." 

More recently (2013) Brix responded to a query via Twitter, writing that the lyric is "Baghdad, Stay-Cog, Analyst."

Meanwhile, dannyno has done some investigating and discovered a third account of the lyric from Brix:

In 1996, Brix was asked what the lyric was, and she (via an intermediary, apparently) replied: "Baghdad, space-cog, analyst".
In 2013, Brix is asked via Twitter what the lyric was, and she replies: ""Baghdad, stay-cog, analyst."
Well, I've just been re-reading old issues of The Pseud Mag. 
In particular, I've been re-reading issue 10, dated June/July 2006. 
Specifically, I've been re-reading the interview with Brix by Martin Peters on pages 5-7 of that issue. 
And to get right down to brass tacks, I've been re-reading her answer to this question, on p.7:
 
"A frivolous question, perhaps: you remember the song "Guest Informant"? What exactly are you singing on it? Is it 'Baghdad state cog analyst?'"

And it turns out that her answer to that question is:
 
"'Baghdad state cog analyst', yes."
 

Shall we just think about that for a moment?
So Brix has been asked three times in 17 years what she is singing on Guest Informant. 
And three times she has answered.
And each time she has given a different answer.
I vote we stop asking Brix.

However, the most recent time Brix was asked she was more helpful:

Brix Smith @Brixsmithstart  Jan 28
I'm chanting.....,"Baghdad state-cog Analyst. Basdad stay-cog Analyst" mystery cleared!

So, two different versions, and then when pressed:

Brix Smith @Brixsmithstart  Jan 28
I varried it. I switched from one 2 the other 2 create confusion. Baghdad/Badad State/Stay  ( then ) cog analyst stayed the same every time

I'm not sure if she means "Badad," it seems more likely it's a typo for "Bazdad."

MES had the following to say about the track:

It's about hotel paranoia, about incompetent hotel staff. They're always going on about how wonderful their hotel is, but they can't even keep your room locked. I tried to pass my suspicions about hotels on to the rest of the group (laughing).


Whomever the State Cog/Stay-Cog Analyst is, s/he is the subject of the vague suggestion of intrigue that serves as the song's narrative. 

marvell78 comments on the Fall online forum:

I would like to think that the sound of the word is deliberately muddled to maximise its suggestiveness. it is clearly baghdad on the fourth line. i played it at different speeds and each speed still gives you the hard g sound on the fourth line. but not on the others

from my own limited studio experience, people habitually fuck about with lyrics as the takes accumulate. and sometimes it ends with an ok for the fuzzier versions because at that stage everybody is hearing and singing different things (out of boredom, out of a sense of fun and out of that state of mind you get into where you really want to open up the lyrics as the takes go on). and the opportunities this provides for the singers and the listeners to expand on the original line (whatever it might have been) is too good to miss

in the discussion of this song, i often get the impression that people think it may originally have been baghdad space cog analyst, and that this has been eroded. that may well be the case, but there is the alternative: that there was no orignal line as such and that the line was jammed/improvised and began to approach baghdad space cog analyst. so, what you have isnt the line 'degrading' from sense into 'nonsense' but the line coming into being (if you know what i mean lol). and that , as a consequence, it never quite settles, never having really existed in any particular form anyway 

personally, i would prefer to see the uncertainty as a deliberate and creative act. anybody old enough to remember those magazines that printed song lyrics must remember the heartbreak when you discovered that the lines you thought were there weren't there at all. better to have gone on with your own uncertain but more productive misreadings.

Guest Informant is a name of hotel visitor guides, such as this one. Thanks to Ted for pointing this out, and for having a blog called "Stone Cold Pimpin'."

Dan submits the following:

From Steve Hanley's The Big Midweek (p232), in relation to the Hey Luciani play: " we play 'Guest Informant', transformed by the loose storyline of the play into a song about someone disclosing classified information, whereas it started life as an anecdote about new drummer Si. In the throes of a drunken stupor, Nick Cave and Mark Smith decided to join the rock and roll masses by chucking the TV out of a hotel window. But it being a German rock and roll hotel, the TV had been chained down, so they chucked Si's duvet out of the window instead. They didn't account for Si grassing them up when the receptionist tried to bill him for it the following morning, leaving Mark to foot the bill."

See the comments below for more intriguing speculation!

^

2. "Stool pigeons cha-cha-cha" is taken from the 1982 hit "Stool Pigeon" by Kid Creole and the Coconuts. 

^

3. This is enunciated clearly, slowly, and a capella, and nowhere is it more clear that the sounds are "Bazdad State Cog Analyst."  

^

4. Of these two progressive or "art rock" bands, only Genesis was active in 1973, when they released Selling England By the PoundThe cover can be seen here, and you can make of it what you will, but there's probably no reason to think MES is being particularly precise when he says "1973." Below, G-man points out that the back cover of Genesis's 1972 album Foxtrot does include an image of a hotel in the background of the beach scene...

...but Martin rebuketh us:

"It may be worth bearing in mind that in live performances MES also referred to such disparate acts as Steve Winwood, Supertramp, Joan Baez, Van Halen and Stevie Wonder. Also, in many of these gigs it's not the hotel itself which resembles this record covers, but the hotel back garden." 

^

5. In England a vacuum cleaner is called a "Hoover," after the company that pioneered their widespread dissemination. Antoine points out that this could also be an allusion to J. Edgar Hoover, but Martin counters: "In some live versions, MES says "hydraulic hoover", which might seem to rule out the J. Edgar Hoover theory suggested above." It might seem that way indeed, Martin! On the other hand, semantic drift is not unknown in a Fall song...

O.A.P.s are "Old Age Pensioners," i.e. retired folk are the only ones who stay in the hotel during the day time.  

^

Comments (33)

SonofAlways
  • 1. SonofAlways | 29/04/2013
So the person who was in the band and performed the song (Brix) doesn't know what the proper lyrics are? There are plenty of live versions where she clearly says "Baghdad."
bzfgt
  • 2. bzfgt | 30/04/2013
I'm not saying those aren't the "proper" lyrics, I'm saying those aren't the lyrics sung (on the album or Peel versions). Maybe they were sung live, but not here.
Ted
  • 3. Ted (link) | 09/06/2013
When I stayed in a hotel in New Orleans in 2007, there was a hardbound guidebook by the phone, listing restaurant info and more, with exactly this title, adding "Since 1937!"
http://www.flickr.com/photos/29031709@N00/977625105/in/photolist-2uozTg
It's common in many hotels. Perhaps MES saw one on tour and loved the title.
bzfgt
  • 4. bzfgt | 09/06/2013
Ted, that link doesn't work for me.
SpeckMarsdenPhilanthropist
  • 5. SpeckMarsdenPhilanthropist | 10/06/2013
he line "The stool pigeons, cha-cha-cha-cha..." pinched from Kid Creole's "Stool Pigeon"? The "Cha cha cha" bit is there too...
dannyno
  • 6. dannyno | 21/08/2013
Yeah, "Guest Informant" is kind of a hotel visitor's directory. Full of adverts, and features about the advertisers, kind of thing.

I think it's a red herring - the song seems to identify a culprit, rather than something in a publication, as the cause of the apparent unmasking.

Dan
dannyno
  • 7. dannyno | 21/08/2013
Worth noting the Hey Luciani! transcript here:
http://www.visi.com/fall/news/luciani.html

The "B-S-A" chant first appears outside the context of the song:

"J: My programme master in Khartoum, his fingerclick word was digital. Have you a watch or something with computer chip?

F: Cartier of course, Switzerland, Grenoble.

J: The chant of [Bazdad] I now recall. Turn the appliance to the north east. Utter after me, I be.

ALL: Digital.

-----

(indecipherable robot-type voice monologue)
BSA - BSA - BSA - BSA - BSA"

Dan
dannyno
  • 8. dannyno | 21/08/2013
"Guest Informant": try this: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bollops/5736537886/
John
  • 9. John | 22/08/2013
The Bagdhad..etc part always amuses it. They were absolutely singing Baghdad, Space Cog, Analyst, but they were using the Fall dialect.

MES uses mispronunciation as a key element in his songs and live performances, either to either for self-amusement, to mess with the audience and press, or simply reflect what some people think the words actually are. Music trolling at its finest.
dannyno
  • 10. dannyno | 31/08/2013
John: but on what evidence do you conclude they were "absolutely" singing that, but mispronouncing it? How do you know they were not singing something else and pronouncing it correctly?
John
  • 11. John | 17/10/2013
Well, it's odd for Brix, years after she left the band, to lie and troll. Maybe I'm wrong, but she said what she said for a reason. She's the one singing it, she would know.
Martin
  • 12. Martin | 19/10/2013
Have been looking through my old emails, with regards to what Dannyo posts above:

"A frivolous question, perhaps: you remember the song "Guest Informant"? What exactly are you singing on it? Is it 'Baghdad State cog analyst?'"

And it turns out that her answer to that question is:

"'Baghdad state cog analyst', yes."

I see now that I edited my own question. I actually wrote: "Is it Baghdad State analyst?". Brix put back the "cog". Seems that cog is definitely there!
bzfgt
  • 13. bzfgt | 19/10/2013
Thanks, Martin. I don't think 'cog' was ever in doubt, unfortunately...'analyst' seems pretty solid, too...it's the rest of it.
dannyno
  • 14. dannyno | 21/10/2013
John, the choice is not just between telling the truth and lying. Brix may just have a bad memory. We have now had three different answers from her, remember.
artwwweb
  • 15. artwwweb | 07/11/2013
I always thought they were saying “guesthouse stakeout analyst”. I realise now I am wrong, but that phrase does seem to make some sense in relation to the lyrics about a hotel and a killer, so maybe I’ll just carry on thinking that’s what they are saying.
artwwweb
  • 16. artwwweb | 07/11/2013
I always thought they were saying “guesthouse stakeout analyst”. I realise now I am wrong, but that phrase does seem to make some sense in relation to the lyrics about a hotel and a killer, so maybe I’ll just carry on thinking that’s what they are saying.
artwwweb
  • 17. artwwweb | 07/11/2013
Aaagh! Apologies for the double (now triple) post - please delete if possible.
George Cochrane
  • 18. George Cochrane | 03/01/2014
For an American audience MES shows he knows the local pop terrain. At Boston's Channel on 5/12/88 he invokes a local band to replace Genesis or Marillion, singing "The backyard resembled an Areosmith cover." Nice touch!
bzfgt
  • 19. bzfgt | 11/03/2014
Ah, good one, George! Doesn't really make any sense though...I seem to recall they were mostly of the band sitting around with long hair
Mark
  • 20. Mark | 22/05/2014
"The stool pigeons, cha-cha-cha-cha..." - pinched from "Stool Pigeon" by Kid Creole?
bzfgt
  • 21. bzfgt | 22/05/2014
Mark,

I could have sworn I already had that in there, but no...
Joseph Mullaney
  • 22. Joseph Mullaney | 11/06/2014
The a capella line sounds very like Mark E. Smith growling to me.
Joseph Mullaney
  • 23. Joseph Mullaney | 15/06/2014
This should probably get a mention: on the Perverted By Language // Bis video, there is a segment featuring former Fall support act Alan Pillay where he says the following: "I am a Sudan-Arab agent, in the pay of Bazdad". This has already been pointed by dannyno on the forum.

So is Bazdad some kind of character created by MES? There seems to be a fictional world lurking underneath the surface of many Fall songs, and only partly described in the lyrics.
bzfgt
  • 24. bzfgt | 24/06/2014
Yeah, or an inside joke way of pronouncing "Baghdad?" Or...?
bzfgt
  • 25. bzfgt | 24/06/2014
There is a town in Pakistan called Bazdad...
dannyno
  • 26. dannyno | 13/08/2014
From Steve Hanley's The Big Midweek (p232), in relation to the Hey Luciani play:

" we play 'Guest Informant', transformed by the loose storyline of the play int a song about someone disclosing classified information, whereas it started life as an anecdote about new drummer Si. In the throes of a drunken stupor, Nick Cave and Mark Smith decided to join the rock and roll masses by chucking the TV out of a hotel window. But it being a German rock and roll hotel, the TV had been chained down, so they chucked Si's duvet out of the window instead. They didn't account for Si grassing them up when the receptionist tried to bill him for it the following morning, leaving Mark to foot the bill."
Martin
  • 27. Martin | 15/12/2014
The fact that Brix needed a lyric sheet for the songs played at the Brix and The Extricated gig on 13 December 2014 backs up the "bad memory" theory expressed by Dannyno in comment number 14.
dannyno
  • 28. dannyno | 09/01/2015
I wonder what the source of her lyrics sheet was?!
G-Man
  • 29. G-Man | 20/01/2015
Re: #4. The hotel on a Genesis LP cover is likely to be the one on the back side of the Foxtrot (1972) gatefold. Only half the image (the front side) usually shows up in image searches.

Cover artist Paul Whitehead confirmed that he was going for a Holiday Inn -type hotel. Click the thumbnail cover on the page and you'll see the hotel in the top left corner: http://rockpopgallery.typepad.com/rockpop_gallery_news/2007/06/cover_story_fox.html
Antoine
  • 30. Antoine | 15/11/2015
An interesting thought, if perhaps somewhat out on a limb:
I had remarked on the page for Bombast that Mark shouts "Bastard! Idiot!" with a definite Z in there, it sounds exactly like it does on Guest Informant. If we assume that the "bazdad" in this song is just a disguised and mispronounced "bastard" and "cog" refers to "cognition" as mentioned above (which it most likely does, MES and PKD and all) then we can interpret the line as "Bastard state cognition analyst." Which would be, I don't know, some sort of sci-fi spy who works for the state and is a bastard, I guess. The story does make references to a colonel being followed.

Additionally, "It was me, the Hoover" could possibly refer to Federal Bureau of Investigation founder/director J. Edgar Hoover, that would fit in quite nicely with the theme of the song.
bzfgt
  • 31. bzfgt | 23/11/2015
Antoine, that is as plausible as anything. I added a general exhortation in my note to make sure to read the reader comments below, as lately I am self-conscious about how long some of notes are...
Martin
  • 32. Martin | 27/04/2016
With reference to the groups mentioned in the line about the "miserable Scottish hotel resembled a Genesis or Marillion, 1973 LP cover" it may be worth bearing in mind that in live performances MES also referred to such disparate acts as Steve Winwood, Supertramp, Joan Baez, Van Halen and Stevie Wonder. Also, in many of these gigs it's not the hotel itself which resembles this record covers, but the hotel back garden. I don't think it's useful, then, to look for particular examples of real album covers to find out the MES's source for the line.

In some live versions, MES says "hydraulic hoover", which might seem to rule out the J. Edgar Hoover theory suggested above.

For fuller versions of Guest Informant (and many more) live variants, here's a link:

https://sites.google.com/site/reformationposttpm/pithy-smithyisms/in-the-1980s
dannyno
  • 33. dannyno | 14/03/2017
We now have ANOTHER reply from Brix, as reported on the FOF.
http://z1.invisionfree.com/thefall/index.php?showtopic=42077&view=findpost&p=40045979

Dan

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