Hittite Man

Lyrics

(1)

Hittite Man emerges from the ground
White robes, he says

You don't hear me

Hittite Man, Hittite Man emerges,
White robes to the ground
Into sand
Says: debt does not exist (2)

And you can't hear me
You don't hear me

Goodbye Stacey and Julie, goodbye(3)
Lost in Chile
Pilgrim out of mind, out of depths,
Death does not exist
Hittie Man emerges from sand

He says
You can't hear me
You can't hear me

(you don't hear me)

What about Stacey, Julie and Dave?
What about Stacey, Julie and David?

Pilgrim out of mind
Hittite Man emerges from sand

Pilgrim out of mind,
Out of death and debt,
You do not exist

He says
You don't hear me
You don't hear me


Hittite Man, white robe right down to the ground
Disappearing into the sand.

You have no idea about the gibbous morons
You have unloaded on this earth (4)
He says, he says, goodbye Stacey
He says goodbye Stacy and Judy
Goodbye Stacy
Lost in Chile...

Debt does not exist
You don't hear, he says
You don't hear me
Scalded crucifix
Pilgrim out of mind

Hittite Man

Lost in Chile
 

Notes

1. The Hittites were an extremely ancient civilization, mostly centered in what is now Turkey in the 2nd millenium BCE. The Bible mentions "Hittites" several times as a people living in the Levant, although it is uncertain exactly whom the designation refers to (i.e., whether or not these were the same Hittites as the ones mentioned above). The Hittites became very powerful and expanded throughout the Near East, bringing them into frequent conflict with the Egyptians, with whom they eventually made peace in order to focus on a common enemy, the Assyrians. 

^

2. MES, in an interview with Vulture:

I read daft history books. Sometimes the books I read are a bit crackers or strange. So it sounded interesting. The Hittites didn’t believe in debt or insurance. When I first started thinking about it was when I went to Greece, because the Hittites were with the ancient Greeks. And they didn’t believe in debt or overdrafts, which sounds crazy, and I thought they didn’t believe in wrongful communication, which I believe is the cause of a lot of trouble in the world.


This notion that debt did not exist for the Hittites does indeed seem to be apocryphal, as MES seems to acknowledge in his initial disclaimer about "daft history books" (for other examples of Smith's taste for controversial or pseudo-historical works, see my notes for "Hotel Bloedel" and "Hey! Luciani"); it would be interesting to know exactly what book Smith is alluding to here and the precise nature of its claims, although for the purposes of interpreting the lyrics the above quote is mostly sufficient. In any case, the Hittites, like the Hebrews, did seem to have a mechanism for debt forgiveness:

The Hittite and Hurrian references to redemption come from a passage titled "The Song of Debt Release," which was excavated in the Hittite capital several years ago. The concept may have originated with the Hurrians, or possibly with other cultures in the ancient Near East. A variation of the same practice was known to the Babylonians during the period in which the Hebrew patriarch Abraham lived.

In the Hurrian passage, the god Tessub orders his followers to release people of Ebla from their debt. "If you take a debt release in Ebla, I will exalt your weapons. Your weapons will begin to conquer your enemies. Your plowed land will prosper in glory. But if you do not make a debt release for Ebla, the city of the throne, in the space of seven days, I will come upon you. I will destroy Ebla, the city of the throne. I will make it like a city that never existed. I will break the surrounding wall of Ebla's city like a cup. I will knock flat the surrounding wall of the upper city like a garbage dump," the passage reads.

So the idea seems to be that the Hittites have something to tell us about debt forgiveness, a message which, unfortunately, we are not ready to hear--a message, incidentally, which would be quite congenial to Bono, who makes millions whereas MES makes thousands expressing similar notions but, unlike Bono, incorporating them into great songs. Don't you think?

Incidentally, I have no idea what MES means by "overdraft" above, but it must be remembered that the man does have a sense of humor. 

The "Re-Mixer" features MES singing "There are no interest rates in the future."

Early live incarnations of the song, dubbed "Hitman" on setlists, are musically more or less identical to the rendition on Re-Mit but show MES casting about for lyrics. Many of the words are hard to make out on the version I have, from Salford on 9/23/12, but this version includes the line "If you decide to become a plant for the producer whose name is Grant," a reference longtime Fall collaborator Grant (Cunliffe) Showbiz, who is credited as "engineer" on Re-Mit and is also mentioned in "Leave the Capitol" and "Noise." 

^

3. Someone should be given a grant to spend a year or two figuring out the referents of all the proper names in Fall songs. Unfortunately I have no idea who these people are, but there is an "E. Stacy" mentioned in both "Victrola Time" and "Pre-MDMA Years," which is presumably a paranomasic reference to the drug Ecstacy. 

^

4.  Again from Vulture

I like that you use the word gibbous in the song; it’s such a chic way of saying hunchbacked.
Lovecraft made up a lot of words, didn’t he? I might well have gotten that from him.

Despite what MES says, 1. I am unaware of any words that Lovecraft actually made up, aside from proper names, and 2. "gibbous" is not made up. The primary meaning of "gibbous" is, according to the OED, "Convex, rounded, protuberant," although it is almost always used to refer to the moon when it is midway between halfway full and full (without regard to whether it is waxing or waning). MES himself used the word in this sense in "Van Plague" ("a body's waste 'neath a gibbous moon"), which suggests that he should have known the word isn't made up. A secondary meaning is, as the interviewer suggests, hunchbacked (and it can also be used to describe any part of the body that has a hump). When MES says that Lovecraft "made up" words, he may have really meant that he uses rare or arcane terminology, or it could simply have been a moment if forgetfulness. The statement is revealing, in any case, as it demonstrates Smith's penchant for playing with language and, in the process, throwing words together without much care for lexical accuracy. So, he could have meant that the morons in question are hunchbacked or swollen, or he could have just liked the way it sounded. 

The original transcriber had "unlollied on this earth" and, to this day, I can't help but hear that, as it does really sound like that's what MES is saying. But sense, the evidence of live versions, and close listening have regrettably led me to change it to the more pedestrian, and inarguably lesser, "unloaded." Just in case I'm wrong, however, I will leave the original note I wrote when I was trying to make sense of "unlollied":

"Lolly" generally refers to a lollipop, and is also British slang for money, which gives us one possible clue: by refusing to forgive debts, the modern addressees of the song have relieved people of their money, hence "un-lolly-ing" them. I am not saying this is what it means, though, but it is a possibility (if the phrase actually means anything). 

According to the OED, a lolly also means "an easy catch" in cricket terminology (although this seems to be rare), so to "unlolly" may be to hit a lob. Incidentally, although the OED does not speculate on the origins of this usage, it is possible that it is a slang substitution for "loblolly," replacing one part of the word for another. 

There is also a Schoolhouse Rock song from 1974, written by jazz pianist Bob Donough, the refrain of which goes "Lolly, lolly, lolly get your adverbs here"; there doesn't seem to be a good reason for the use of "lolly" in this song, or any discernable connection with the Fall song, but it rounds out my "lolly" note in just the right way. 

^

More Information

Comments (18)

dannyno
  • 1. dannyno | 04/01/2014

"Gibbous" also appears in one of MES's favourite novels, "Under the Volcano".

dannyno
  • 2. dannyno | 04/01/2014

... and it also appears in "Van Plague?".

dannyno
  • 3. dannyno | 04/01/2014

"I am unaware of any words that Lovecraft actually made up"

The earliest quotation for the word "meep" in the Oxford Dictionary of English is from Lovecraft, so he may have made that up. He also has the first use of "vigintillion"

Gary
  • 4. Gary | 05/06/2014

I'm reading I Am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes and on page 409 of the paperback edition a character talks about the Hittites.

dannyno
  • 5. dannyno | 22/12/2014

Typo:

"Hittie Man emeres from sand"

Emerges!

Martin
  • 6. Martin | 28/01/2016

Is it "Stacey" or "Stacy"?

bzfgt
  • 7. bzfgt | 12/03/2016

I assume we'll never know unless there's a third lyrics book. Then, we could just spell it the opposite of however it's spelled there...
Anyway, I am pretty sure "Stacy" is more common over here, but is it the other way round in Britain?

dannyno
  • 8. dannyno | 12/03/2016

According to UK government statistics for 2014:
http://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/birthsdeathsandmarriages/livebirths/datasets/babynamesenglandandwalesbabynamesstatisticsgirls

There were 29 Staceys born that year, and 6 Stacys.

So there you go.

dannyno
  • 9. dannyno | 12/03/2016

In England and Wales, that is.

dannyno
  • 10. dannyno | 12/03/2016

You are right that in the US Stacy is more popular than Stacey:

https://www.ssa.gov/cgi-bin/babyname.cgi

bzfgt
  • 11. bzfgt | 19/03/2016

Wow, I'd even guess that's reversed here, if there even are any Staceys (I'll check your link). Should I change it in deference to British spelling? On the other hand what if she's a six-er?

bzfgt
  • 12. bzfgt | 19/03/2016

Actually it's pretty even here, I'm shocked.

Yet the Wikipedia entry is under "Stacy..." this is becoming a conundrum! Is nothing simple in this game?!

harleyr
  • 13. harleyr | 12/11/2016

I think the line that follows
Goodbye Stacey and Julie, goodbye...
might be...
Lost in Chile

Martin
  • 14. Martin | 15/11/2016

The Facebook-released alternative version of the song confirms harleyr's suggestion (note 13). I can't make it all about, but the following is clear: "Lost in Chile, led by infidels, different together..."

bzfgt
  • 15. bzfgt | 24/11/2016

Harley, it does sound like that, or to me it actually sounds like the less likely "Last ate Chili"...but anyway since there are no other contenders and I hate having ellipses I ran with it, at least for now.

bzfgt
  • 16. bzfgt | 24/11/2016

OK, thanks Martin, I was actually reading the comments via email so I didn't see yours when I posted that last one. Good to know.

dannyno
  • 17. dannyno | 26/02/2017

"Gibbous"

In one of MES's letters to Tony Friel, which appeared briefly on Friel's website some time ago, there is this:


M. Race had had a hard night's sleep. He was tired when he awoke - all night he had been prone to horrible dreams, featuring some incomprehensible THING - faceless, gibbous and MENACING.


The letter is a part one of a story entitled, "Master Race in: "Total Psychosis - the coming of Roman Totale", dated 10.2.1977

The way that sentence is written suggests heavy Lovecraft influence, wouldn't you say?

bzfgt
  • 18. bzfgt (link) | 03/03/2017

Indeed. It's really weird that he has known this word for so many years and used it correctly at times yet thinks Lovecraft made it up. I think either he forgot the word or doesn't literally mean HLP made it up.

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