Hip Priest

Lyrics

(1)

He is not appreciated.
He is not appreciated.
He is not appreciated.

Drink the long draught, Dan,
for the Hip Priest. (2)

I said drink the long draught, Dan,
for the Hip Priest!

He is not appreciated
He is not appreciated

White collar hits motorway services (3)
It's the Hip Priest
From the eyes he can see, they know
It's the Hip Priest

He is not appreciated.

It's purple psychology. (4)
Not just an old lady's.

That's hip hip hip hip hip hip hip Hip Priest

That's hip hip hip hip hip hip hip Hip Priest

And he's gonna make an appearance.
He's gonna make an appearance.

Was shown in a freakshow early on.
And drunk from small brown bottles since I was so long. (5)

Cause I'm a Hip Priest
Cause I'm a Hip Priest
People only need me when they're down and gone to seed.
Cause I'm a Hip Priest.
Cause I'm a Hip Priest.

It's appreciation half won.
And they hate their allegiance to hip preacher one.
Hip Priest

I got my last clean dirty shirt outta the wardrobe (6)
I got my last clean dirty shirt outta the wardrobe
And all the good people know

That's hip hip hip hip hip hip hip Hip Priest

All the young groups know
All the young groups know
They can imitate but I teach, because I'm a Hip Priest.
I'm as clean as a packet of chocolate treets. (7)

One-time feast was tray o'grease, Hip Priest.  (8)

(9)

That's hip hip hip hip hip hip hip Hip Priest

And if the good people knew they would say
He is not appreciated
He is not appreciated

So drink the long draught, Dan,
for the Hip Priest.

Notes

1. This song has variously been interpreted as a sarcastic screed about a journalist or muso and a commentary on Mark E Smith himself. Like many Fall songs, either interpretation works. It seems to be about a character type which we may plausibly conclude MES both participates in to a certain degree, and also has a bit of contempt for. A snippet of the song was included in the 1991 movie The Silence of the Lambs.

Courtesy of Reformation:

MES, from a Rock on BBC Radio I interview; 1982:
 
" It was a bit of a joke on the group cos they're all like catholics...it's meant to be a bit of  a funny song...I have an image of Johnny Cash or somebody, I don't know why...or South America."  

^

2. It is not clear whether "Dan" refers to anyone in particular, or is just a placeholder like "Mack" or "Bub." On the other hand, a reader suggests the following:

 'Dahn' - pronounced darn - is Yorkshire dialect for 'down'. The line is 'Drink the long draught dahn' (drink the long draught down). There is no Dan.

In MES' draft in the orange lyrics book the word is both written and typed "Dan." It is possible that this is for phonetic reasons, and the lyric means "down," but this is a bit of a leap. On the other hand, a young reader going by the name Kriss Draynepipe--clearly a punk rock pseudonym-- quite plausibly suggests, "Do you think, going with the Yorkshire suggestion, that MES is just fucking with the 'drink the long draught Darn' expression by inserting 'Dan'? You say its a bit of leap to think he means 'down'-- maybe its both the expression and his classic alteration." This seems entirely possible, and disposes me to think favorably of the Yorkshire hypothesis...

Dan (our Dan, that is) points out that the phrase appears in some translations of Vergil, for instance in John Conington's 1866 translation Aeneas's father, Anchises, says to him "There are spirits to who Destiny has promised new bodies, there at the side of Lethe's water, drinking the wave of carelessness, and the long draught of oblivion."

Dan sums up: "In Greek mythology the Lethe is one of the five rivers of Hades; it is the river of forgetfulness or oblivion. To drink from its waters is to forget your past life."

^

3. British "motorway services" are the equivalent of "rest areas" in the United States.

^

4. The poem "Warning" by Jenny Joseph begins: "When I am an old woman I shall wear purple." From [i]A Part of America Therein[/i]:

And from the Live version (on "A Part of America Theirin"):
"It's purple psychology leech / hypnotic induction process" (see note 8 below).

^

5. Why "small," when the draughts are presumably long? Zetetic suggests the bottles may have contained liquid LSD, although if you "drank" that from the bottle it's be a long draught indeed...

Dan: If these are not ale bottles, or miniatures of some other beer or spirit, then I think it's more likely they are medicine bottles of some kind - cough mixture? - than LSD. But it could also be a reference to amyl nitrate ('poppers'), except you don't drink that - you sniff it.

Dan points out the line in "Cowboy George" that runs:

I had two brown bottles
And a white nose as I entered
Five years of confinement

My first thought would be speed and beer...note that the bottles in "Cowboy George" are also said to be "broken."

^

 

6. This probably derives from "Sunday Morning Comin' Down," written by Kris Kristofferson and recorded by Kristofferson, Ray Stevens, and, perhaps most notably, Johnny Cash: "I fumbled in my closet through my clothes/And found my cleanest dirty shirt". "Fiery Jack" also echoes Johnny Cash, for whom Mark E. Smith has expressed admiration (see note 1 for more). Also, Dom points out that R. Dean Taylor recorded the song; the Fall recorded two of his songs, "There's a Ghost in my House" and "Gotta See Jane." So I think we can conclude that MES almost certainly knows the song.

^

7. Treets are a chocolate candy similar to M&Ms, and also sold by Mars. The famous advertising slogan "Melt in your mouth, not in your hand" has been used for Treets, as well as for M&Ms, and this may explain why MES calls them "clean." On the version of 9/12/81 at Austurbaejarbio in Iceland, MES sings: "I'm as clean as a packet of Treets--M&M Treets," removing any doubt as to the reference of the lyric.

^

8. A note from Dan:

In the context of motorway services, an echo here (intentional or not) of Roy Harper's song "Watford Gap" from his 1977 album Bullinamingvase. Watford Gap being a famous, or infamous, service station. The lyrics included these lines, among other disparaging ones. You'll see why I'm quoting these in particular: "It's the Watford Gap, Watford Gap/A plate of grease and a load of crap." The owners of the service station, Blue Boar, objected. Stories vary, but either they sued or threatened to sue, or one of their directors who was also on the EMI board applied pressure. At any rate the song was dropped from the album and not restored until a 1996 re-release.

^

9. At around this spot on some live versions, we learn of the Priest's "hypnotic induction (enduction?) process." See note

^

Comments (32)

Paul Hopkins
  • 1. Paul Hopkins | 04/10/2014
"White collar hits motorway services". I always heard this as "wide collar"; MES, who at the time was often pictured wearing a deliberately unfashionable wide shirt collars, gets recognised by fans at the services but they're too shy to approach him. Think I floated this theory on mid 90s Fallnet and it got shot down, but I still believe it!
dannyno
  • 2. dannyno | 03/06/2015
I can't find any photos of MES wearing wide-collared shirts in 1981/1982.
dannyno
  • 3. dannyno | 18/06/2015
Correction to note 4: the poet's name is Jenny Joseph, not Jenny Jones.
Dom
  • 4. Dom | 11/08/2015
R Dean Taylor also recorded a version of Sunday Morning Coming Down which I'm sure MES must be familiar with
Zetetic
  • 5. Zetetic | 04/01/2016
Is it not "Drink the long draught Down!" ??

- Who the buggery is this Dan feller? (He's definitely saying "Down" on the live recording - that I'm personally better aquainted with)

And from the Live version (on "A Part of America Theirin"):
"It's Purple Psychology leech / Hypnotic induction process"

Also: I think the "Small Brown Bottles" refers to LSD (Lysergic Acid Diethylamide) when not in blotter form / large quantities famously comes in "Small brown bottles"
So the line "I've been drinking from small brown bottles since I was - so long" essentially means "I've been 'expanding my mind' for years (cuz he's a Hip Priest).
bzfgt
  • 6. bzfgt | 05/01/2016
The "down" thing is addressed in the notes, it is Dan both in typeface and in MES's hand in the orange book, but it could mean "down" or be a deliberate pronunciation of the latter in dialect. I feel that I addressed that adequately but this seems to come up once in a while.

You could be right about LSD but it seems like the less obvious surface reading. On the other hand, the fact that the bottles are said to be "small" is perhaps an indicator you are right, boozers usually don't brag (or moan) about the smallness of their draughts which are, in any case, said here to be "long." You may be onto something.
Edward Reno
  • 7. Edward Reno | 14/05/2016
For some reason, I thought this song was about William S. Burroughs. Someone even put together a video montage on Youtube of this song playing over images of Burroughs
Tom
  • 8. Tom | 31/05/2016
Small brown bottles could simply be any doctor-prescribed medicine bottle, cough syrup etc, as that's what it came in when I was a kid anyway (80s)
Tom
  • 9. Tom | 31/05/2016
(sorry, v dull thought I know so unlikely herein)
Bob
  • 10. Bob (link) | 11/06/2016
I have a vague recollection of the Dan in question being Danny Baker who of course "discovered" The Fall in Huddersfield in 1979. I shall go back through my records and check...
bzfgt
  • 11. bzfgt | 24/06/2016
Edward: it very well could be, but there's as yet no evidence for it.

Tom: good thought, though, thank you.

Bob: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iYDTaAZAQns
dannyno
  • 12. dannyno | 11/06/2017
"drink the long draught".

From Virgil, "The Aeneid", book VI


Then his father, Anchises, said: - "They are souls who are destined for Reincarnation; and now at Lethe's stream they are drinking the waters that quench man's troubles, the deep draught of oblivion.


Now, that's the C. Day Lewis translation (first published 1952). But other translations have "the long draught of oblivion". Or "draught of long oblivion".

In Greek mythology the Lethe is one of the five rivers of Hades; it is the river of forgetfulness or oblivion. To drink from its waters is to forget your past life. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lethe; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/River_Lethe_in_popular_culture

Relevant? I have no idea, as usual, but it's a new angle.

Dan
Dr X O'Skeleton
  • 13. Dr X O'Skeleton | 15/07/2017
"White collar hits motorway services... it's the hip priest"
There is an obvious point here about the white collars worn by priests, but "white collar" also denotes office worker as opposed to "blue collar" manual workers in the UK. We talk about "white collar" trade unions, e.g. in the civil service. The line almost suggests a newspaper headline, a motorway service station has been disrupted by a trade dispute with a white collar union.
dannyno
  • 14. dannyno | 15/07/2017
Comment #13. That's interesting. I think "hits" in the lyric has usually been taken in the sense of "reach a place". But "hits" can indeed also mean "inflict a blow upon", and that could include industrial action. But the context I think still suggests the former rather than the latter.
dannyno
  • 15. dannyno | 16/07/2017
One day I'm going to do an analysis of colours in Fall lyrics.

But just to note how colour is used in this song:

"white collar"

"purple psychology"

"small brown bottles"
dannyno
  • 16. dannyno | 16/07/2017
"small brown bottles"

If these are not ale bottles, or miniatures of some other beer or spirit, then I think it's more likely they are medicine bottles of some kind - cough mixture? - than LSD. But it could also be a reference to amyl nitrate ('poppers'), except you don't drink that - you sniff it.
dannyno
  • 17. dannyno | 16/07/2017
Just to note the structure of the song. It's kind of obvious, but also therefore the kind of thing that gets missed.

So the first section is the narrator introducing the Hip Priest (i.e. here he is in his clerical collar pulling up at the motorway services), the second section is the Hip Priest speaking, and then the final verses are the original narrator summing up - "there you are, that was the Hip Priest".

It seems evident that the Hip Priest is a character, and not MES himself. However, it's also evident that MES saw something of himself in the character, and his audience certainly did, singing "he is not appreciated" back at him for years.
dannyno
  • 18. dannyno | 17/07/2017
Cowboy George:


I had two brown bottles
And a white nose as I entered
Five years of confinement
bzfgt
  • 19. bzfgt (link) | 22/07/2017
I read "hits" as Dan does but I don't think Dr. X is denying that this is the primary connotation here.
bzfgt
  • 20. bzfgt (link) | 22/07/2017
I do not think LSD either, nothing in "small brown bottles," in fact, connotes that to me. But I was being democratic, and in that spirit I added your rejoinder.
bzfgt
  • 21. bzfgt (link) | 22/07/2017
I certainly do not think the narrator is straightforwardly MES, but I think we could say that about any Fall song, really; even "Crap Rap" on closer inspection seems to be a character although at first blush it might seem like the singer talking straight to you. As for the "not appreciated" stuff, he does indeed drape himself in it at shows, but 1. even there he can be seen as adorning a kind of mask, and 2. I wonder if there is sort of an "Okie From Muskogee" effect, as I would call it (the latter song being apparently written as a joke, but whe audience adopted it as a rallying cry Merle Haggard went along with it...)
Zack
  • 22. Zack | 29/07/2017
Maybe this has been patently obvious to some FFs for decades, but it just occurred to me that the title of Hip Priest and Kamerads is probably a tip of the hat to "Hot Smoke and Sassafras," a 1969 nugget by Texas longhairs The Bubble Puppy.
dannyno
  • 23. dannyno | 05/08/2017
Zack, comment #22. I'm afraid I'm baffled by that - there doesn't seem to be any connection at all. "Kamerads" is of course German for "comrades", it's a military reference.
Zack
  • 24. Zack | 06/08/2017
Dannyno, the two phrases rhyme, they have the same cadence and they both start with "H." It's as plain as day to me. Please don't tell me this is "English Scheme = Slough" all over again.
dannyno
  • 25. dannyno | 07/08/2017
Er, but "Sassafras" doesn't rhyme with "Kamerads".
Zack
  • 26. Zack | 07/08/2017
It does if you say it with a Midwestern (US) accent.
Zack
  • 27. Zack | 08/08/2017
And how do you know for certain how "Kamerads" is pronounced in this context? It's a play on both "comrades" and Kamera Records, which I have always pronounced just like "camera."
dannyno
  • 28. dannyno | 08/08/2017
Mmm. But "you don't know how it's pronounced" is a substantially weaker claim than "it rhymes" .
bzfgt
  • 29. bzfgt (link) | 16/09/2017
Zack, I'm terribly sorry but to me this seems like "English Scheme=Slough" all over again. Isn't it far more likely "Green Eggs and Ham?" I mean, "Kamerads" has three syllables, and Ham is practically pork, the "other white meat," the first two being chicken and turkey, so three syllables=3, etc...
bzfgt
  • 30. bzfgt (link) | 16/09/2017
"Camera" sounds like "sassafras"? But that ruins the three syllables, I think almost everyone says "camera" with at most 2.5 syllables..

I'm not saying you're wrong, I'm saying there's no real evidence.
dannyno
  • 31. dannyno | 20/09/2017
"One-time feast was tray o'grease"

In the context of motorway services, an echo here (intentional or not) of Roy Harper's song "Watford Gap" from his 1977 album Bullinamingvase.

Watford Gap being a famous, or infamous, service station: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Watford_Gap_service_station.

The lyrics included these lines, among other disparaging ones. You'll see why I'm quoting these in particular:


It's the Watford Gap, Watford Gap
A plate of grease and a load of crap


The owners of the service station, Blue Boar, objected. Stories vary, but either they sued or threatened to sue, or one of their directors who was also on the EMI board applied pressure. At any rate the song was dropped from the album and not restored until a 1996 re-release.
Martin
  • 32. Martin | 10/10/2017
Going off at a tangent here, but Ray Davies of The Kinks was nailing the horrors of motorway service station food back in 1972, in the song Motorway:

"Motorway food is the worst in the world,
You've never eaten food like you've eaten on the motorway.
Motorway food is the worst in the world,
The coffee tastes weak and the cakes taste stale
And gasoline fumes are the worst to inhale,
Your stomach rolls over and your face turns pale."

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