Hit the North


Hit the North (1)
My Cat says eeeee-ack
Hit the North
95% of hayseeds are corn-pones, guaranteed (2)
Computers infest the hotels
Cops can't catch criminals
But what the heck, they're not too bad, they talk to God

Hit the North
Manacled to the city, manacled to the city
All estate agents alive yell down nights in hysterical breath (4)
Those Northern lights... so pretty
Those big big big wide streets
Those useless MPs (5)
Hit the North (Manacled to the system)

From the back third eye psyche, the reflected mirror of delirium,
Eastender and Victoria's lager, the induced call, mysterious, (6)
forth - Hit the North

Hit the North


1. The Fall decide to show they can be insanely catchy when they feel like it, and ride this one all the way to number 57 on the British charts. What more did the record-buying public want? It's truly hard to say. The song did remain on the charts for five weeks, though. Manchester comedian and Fall fan Frank Sidebottom (Chris Sievey) did a humorous version of the song which can be viewed here.  

Dan submits:

From Stevce Hanley's "The Big Midweek", p254: "initially inspired by Mark's dislike of Norwich... On the way back from playing there, Mark said, 'I don't like it round here! It's too flat. I can't wait till we hit the North.' And a couple of days later he had the words to a new political anthem."


2. The North/South divide in England is here portrayed in American terms, although the polarity of cultural stereotypes is reversed; the North of England is more rural, less wealthy, and considered to be more culturally backward in popular portrayals; the national television and radio media in England generally features presenters with a Southern accent, which is treated as neutral or universal, whereas Northern accents are considered to be regional. This reverse isomorphism with the US does not extend to the political sphere, however; politically Southern England is, on the whole, more conservative than the North.  


3. The Story of the Fall identifies one Cyril James Anderton as the referent of this line. Anderton was the Chief Constable of Greater Manchester from 1976 to 1991, during which time he maintained a high profile in the media. Anderton was dubbed "God's copper," and was outspoken about his Catholic faith and what he considered to be its relevance to his role as a police officer:

I am accused of bringing into play my own Christian principles but those principles strengthen my hand as a policeman. The law is rooted in righteousness and Christian principle. I have no difficulty about enforcing it. Nor do I have a conscience about it.

Anderton claimed to often consult with God about his police work, so MES's lyric is quite accurate. This Northern constable was often paired in the public eye with a Southern counterpart, one John Alderson, who was the Chief Constable of Devon and Cornwall from 1973 until 1982. Alderson was often accused of being soft on crime, and he promoted community relations and preventative measures rather than the hard line approach favored by Anderton. 


4. In the U.K. an estate agent is a property manager or someone who is in charge of selling or renting domiciles.  


5. An MP is a Member of Parliament, more or less equivalent to a Congressperson in the US.


6. There are Mexican, Canadian and Australian beers called "Victoria" or "Victoria's," but I have unable to identify a British libation of that name.  


Comments (7)

  • 1. Ted | 16/07/2013
The use of the word manacles makes me think of William Blake and "London":
In every cry of every Man,
In every Infants cry of fear,
In every voice: in every ban,
The mind-forg'd manacles I hear
  • 2. Huckleberry | 26/07/2013
I assume "Eastender and Victoria's lager" refers to the Queen Victoria pub in the BBC soap opera Eastenders. MES seems to be sitting in a London pub when he hears the call of the North?
  • 3. Huckleberry | 26/07/2013
"My Cat says eeeee-ack" - Is this Bill the Cat?

"useless MPs" - maybe MES is getting at the general failure of northern MPs to promote northern interests. (Although the performance of MES's MP at that time, David Sumberg (Bury South) appears - rightly or wrongly - to have attracted criticism, in his later career as a Member of the European Parliament.)
  • 4. Mark | 02/07/2014
"Manacled to the city" - the city being London, presumably?
  • 5. dannyno | 13/08/2014
From Stevce Hanley's "The Big Midweek", p254:

"initially inspired by Mark's dislike of Norwich... On the way back from playing there, Mark said, 'I don't like it round here! It's too flat. I can't wait till we hit the North.' And a couple of days later he had the words to a new political anthem."
  • 6. Sumsiadad | 30/01/2016
North of England is more rural

This isn't really true, the South of England is equally as rural, and a lot more rural if you include the South West - though most people tend to think of the South West as a separate entity. I'd say the cliche of 'the North' is more urban, more grey smoky towns, Godforsaken pit villages etc., all the old it's-grim-up-north cliches.
  • 7. dannyno | 21/09/2017
From an interview in Debris, "early 1988, transcribed and posted to alt.music.the-fall:


'Hit The North' started out as a tune written by Brix Smith and Simon Rogers ("the most South London guy you could ever meet," says Mark). It just sounded strong as an instrumental, a kind of 'Peter Gunn', but Mark took to writing couplets and shouting the 'Hit The North' slogan.

I tried to compare the use of a slogan with Morrissey's "Shoplifters of the world unite!" Smith thought differently: "No, I thought that was very Sex Pistols; it was deliberately and heavy-handedly controversial, whereas 'Hit The North' has a dual meaning; punish it, or go there. When we did the video in Blackpool we were in a Yates' Wine Lodge and all these rugby teams were going 'Hit the North? What's that mean then?' And this girl behind the bar was great; she said 'In America they say "Let's hit L.A.," and they just
mean "Let's go there.".' Eventually all the old dears joined in and everyone was having a big rap about what it meant.

"My basic attitude is that I'd rather live here than in the South and it always has been. I don't really care where anybody lives, though, and I think this North/South divide is nonsense. I don't envy anyone who lives in Reading, Swindon, or Northampton; they're horrible new towns and the people are spiritually dead down there."

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