Hands Up Billy

Hands Up Billy

  (1)

Hey you think you're a steel chest
You haven't got a steel chest on ya! (2)

Billy with a flat Billy with a phone
Billy with a girl but lives on his own
Billy with some money travels far
Billy gets a loan he can buy a car

Walks into the showroom all I could see
Billy with some money saying take it from me
Before he's even shook my hand I notice that
He chose the car and filled out all the forms as well

Hands up Billy your composure's gone
Hands up Billy got you on the run
Fly fly Billy now the bill is up
Some one bring another Billy on!
Some one bring another Billy on!
Some one bring another Billy on!

Hands up Billy
Hands up Billy

After Billy tells you does he know what to think?
Sit her in the car she wants to get her a drink
Take her for a test drive on a fatal street
When she says goodbye she's holding a receipt

Hands up Billy your composure's gone
Hands up Billy got you on the run
Fly fly Billy now the bill is up
Some one bring another Billy on!
Some one bring another Billy on!
Some one bring another Billy on!

Hands up Billy
Hands up Billy

Billy is uncomfortable his arms and legs crossed
His head's a little weary he's a little lost
Sit him down and lose some weight he's got the fear in him
Now the doors are open and I'm walking in

Hands up Billy your composure's gone
Hands up Billy got you on the run
Hands up Billy cos you're nicked, crit
Hands up Billy you're the crucifix

Hands up Billy

Hands up Billy he's working off a grudge yeah
Hands up Billy you're walking in a crutch, yeah
 

Notes

1. IanFraff submits:

"This all comes from a screenplay that a former bandmate of Wilding's was working on, titled "Hands Up Billy." A hands up Billy, is a hands up punter (Billy Bunter), a derogatory term used by car sales people when someone who's an easy target walks into the showroom. The screenplay was by Jon Tregenna, bandmate with Wilding in Hangar Straight, who'd been working in a car showroom in St Johns Wood at the time. It was subsequently picked up by S4C and made into a Welsh language series. I have a feeling Adam Helal might have played bass in Hangar Straight too."

Dan has found that Treganna did write a sceenplay for a Welsh drama about a car dealership owner named Bili Wheeler which aired, in 2006, under the name Cowbois ac Injans (Welsh for "Cowboys and Engines").

Martin Luther King points out a similarity to Iggy Pop's "Billy is a Runaway."

 

^

 

2. These first two lines are sung by MES; Neville Wilding, who wrote the song, sings the rest. The idea seems to be that Billy is a sucker.
 

 

^

Comments (13)

dannyno
  • 1. dannyno | 11/03/2018
Because the cover to The Unutterable had pictures of boxers on it, and because Neville's brother Spencer Wilding was a martial arts practitioner, I've always heard this song as being about a boxer or some kind of fighter taking a dive. Looking at the lyrics I find that interpretation less explicit than I had remembered.

"Hands Up Billy" clearly fits a boxing theme.

But later in the lyric we have "you're nicked", in which case "hand's up" and "on the run" fits a law enforcement theme. Is the "I'm walking in" the police? A detective?

Bit more attention needed here to work out what's going on in the narrative.
Stella Gardiner
  • 2. Stella Gardiner | 13/04/2019
I've been reading through all the Paul McCartney is dead stuff recently - and then replaced by a guy called Bill Shepherd who remains as Paul McCartney to this very day.

It's supposed to be an open secret in the music biz - and indeed you can find numerous videos of McCartney being openly greeted as "Bill" by friends and colleagues.

Anyway - just a thought - this kind of fits that narrative: "Billy is uncomfortable his arms and legs crossed, His head's a little weary he's a little lost, Sit him down and lose some weight he's got the fear in him."
so it's about someone who is deceptiful, wealthy, boastful, arrogant and afraid of being found out. Fits the bill (no pun).
bzfgt
  • 3. bzfgt (link) | 04/05/2019
#1: like "Dukes up, Billy!" Does one put up one's "dukes" in England?

#2: Or Billy Shears, or William Campbell! Or....Faul.

Clearly something not quite on the up and up went on. And we know it, he's busted--hands up, Billy!
dannyno
  • 4. dannyno | 16/05/2020
#1: "dukes" is I think American slang, but it would be understood here - "put your dukes up", "duking it out"

But I think if it was a boxing theme of some kind (I think I thought of it as about a boxer who throws a bout or something for money), it would be "fists up billy" (or "dukes", if you like), rather than hands.

And anyway, there's nothing in the song that mentions boxing, not even implicitly. It was just that cover image that triggered that interpretation. So who knows.
IanFraff
  • 5. IanFraff | 10/02/2021
This all comes from a screenplay that a former bandmate of Wilding's was working on, titled "Hands Up Billy". A hands up Billy, is a hands up punter (Billy Bunter), a derogatory term used by car sales people when someone who's an easy target walks into the showroom. The screenplay was by Jon Tregenna, bandmate with Wilding in Hangar Straight, who'd been working in a car showroom in St Johns Wood at the time. It was subsequently picked up by S4C and made into a Welsh language series. I have a feeling Adam Helal might have played bass in Hangar Straight too.
dannyno
  • 6. dannyno | 16/02/2021
Interesting.

Hangar Straight was indeed Wilding's band. And Tregenna was a member. Helal was also in a band with Wilding, and that band might well have been Hangar Straight.

http://link2wales.co.uk/1996/archive-reviews/hangar-straight/

http://link2wales.co.uk/pages/wp-content/uploads/1996/08/Bistro-Hangar-Straight.jpg

Billy Bunter is certainly rhyming slang for punter, straightforwardly. In that sense it doesn't necessarily mean an "easy target", but "hands up Billy" isn't attested to on the internet. However, I have no special knowledge to rule it out, and not for the car sales community specifically. It's not inherently implausible I suppose.

However, even if that is a meaning of "hands up Billy", it can only be secondary given the text in front of us.

Wikipedia only has a draft article for Treganna: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Draft:Jon_Tregenna, which looks like it might have been started by Treganna himself, assuming his Wikipedia username is "Treganna"!

Anyway, Treganna did co-write a S4C (the Welsh language TV channel) series about a character called Bill (Bill Wheeler) who owned a car dealership.

It was Cowbois ac Injans (Welsh for "Cowboys and Engines"): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cowbois_ac_Injans

Wikipedia gives the broadcast dates as Autumn 2006-March 2007. There were two series.

S4C archive site: https://web.archive.org/web/20060929033805/http://www.s4c.co.uk/cowboisacinjans/c_index.shtml

Now, I know it does take a while for screenplays to reach the screen. Here we have a Fall song debuted in 1999 and a TV series debuted 7 years later. It doesn't seem implausible that Treganna might have been working on the script in the late 1990s.

Anyway, looks like IanFraff's comment checks out, except perhaps that the series as broadcast didn't have the title Hands Up Billy (maybe the early script did), and "Bill" is a salesman rather than a punter (but maybe that changed too).
dannyno
  • 7. dannyno | 16/02/2021
Due diligence post about IanFraff's excellent information (it mainly checks out) has disappeared into moderation. Just to correct my own vanished post, the main character in Tregenna's S4C series Cowbois ac Injans is called Bili Wheeler. He's the salesman rather than the punter, note.
dannyno
  • 8. dannyno | 16/02/2021
Series 1, episode 1 of Cowbois ac Injans, with English subtitles:

https://youtu.be/CHqYUsmwoL0
dannyno
  • 9. dannyno | 16/02/2021
dannyno
  • 10. dannyno | 10/03/2021
Note 1:

"Bill Wheeler"

Should be "Bili Wheeler" i.e. B I L I .
bzfgt
  • 11. bzfgt (link) | 13/03/2021
Shit, thanks. That's even better.
Martin Luther King
  • 12. Martin Luther King | 05/06/2021
It's just a cover of Billy is a runaway by Iggy Pop
bzfgt
  • 13. bzfgt (link) | 12/06/2021
Yeah is pretty similar

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