Hotel Bloedel

Lyrics

(1)

 

Brix: And it's painless
Sitting in subterranea (2)
Ancient reference
To Mesopotamia

 

And it's quiet again
Hidden fragments, surface now
Repetitious history
One more time for the record

 

MES: 2013 Vicksburg Confederate graves (3)
Are uncovered, throwing new light on
This 19th century conflict, sparking off a repeat
These southern spectres were disease ridden, dusty, organic
And psychic

 

Brix: Rebellious mistakes
Occur again
Everything moving
In a circular fashion

And it's quiet again
Hidden fragments, surface now
Repetitious history
One more time for the record

 

Our words return in patterns
Our minds, encapsulating time

 

MES: Gregoror, satiated walking thru' capitol
Stumbles on two thousand dead Thai monks in SS uniforms (4)
Then fled to Hotel Bloedel, outside Nuremberg
A long way south, to a reasonable smell of death (5)

 

Brix: And it's quiet again
Hidden figments, surface now
Repetitious history
One more time for the record

Notes

1. This is based on a song Brix wrote in her days in Banda Dratsing called "Everything for the Record." The titular hotel is probably the Hotel Grüner Baum Gasthof Blödel in Nuremberg.  

Our correspondent Mark has the lowdown:

"From the Paintwork book: 'The name Brix Smith appeared on the credits of "Hotel Bloedel," a song she had co-written in southern Germany after spending an unforgettable night in a Nuremburg hotel. Mark E Smith remembered how their room had been filled with "this choking smell - you'd have sworn there'd been a murder there." Brix agreed. "And at six in the morning there were ghastly screams. I was sure the place was haunted. Mark lit cigarettes and put them all around the room to fight off the horrible smell. When it got light we looked out of the window and saw an old woman coming across the courtyard carrying a sack of blood into the hotel..." It transpired they had checked in next door to an abattoir.'

See note 4 below...

^

2.  Subterranea is a broad geological term which refers to a variety of underground structures, including caves, of course, and underground rivers and lava chutes, but also man-made structures such as catacombs, tunnels and tombs. Interestingly, "Subterranea" is also the name, in various Marvel comics, of an underground network of sites where fictional beings called, appropriately, "Subterraneans" dwell (it seems obvious to me that these Subterraneans do not so much live as dwell, do you not think?). Mole Man (or "Moleman") is a supervillain who first appeared in Fantastic Four and who hails from Subterranea. He began as a human, before falling in a big hole and being blinded by a huge pile of diamonds, or something (a little heavy-handed, but that's what we love about it). He went native, like Mistah Kurtz, and cultivated a race of followers who became known as the Moloids. The Deviants also lived down there, at one time. It goes on like that.

Brix quotes the line in The Rise, the Fall and the Rise as part of the original Banda Dratsing lyric. She also mentions that her grandfather and his brother owned a hotel they bought from "the man who owned Marvel comics"; otherwise, I'm not sure if she read comics, or if she just picked up the word from the straight world...

^

3. The Orange Lyrics book, and hence the Lyrics Parade, has "Phillipsburg" (spelling corrected), which would have to be a reference to Phillipsburg, New Jersey, whose cemetaries hold over 300 Civil War dead. It sounds more like Vicksburg, though, and that makes more sense, since Vicksburg, Mississippi was the scene of major fighting during the Civil War.

In a 1981 NME feature called "A Portait of the Artist as a Consumer," MES lists among books he has read The Civil War Handbook by William H. Price. From page 14 of that book: "The largest Civil War cemetery is Vicksburg, where 16,000 soldiers rest; only 3,896 are known" (thanks to dannyno).  

^

4. Japan occupied Thailand from 1941-1945. However, this is more likely a garbled reference to a legend about Tibetan monks living in Germany during the war; the Nazis sent a scientific expedition to Tibet in 1938, and various works of pseudo-history have repeated a legend that Tibetan monks subsequently traveled to Germany to assist the Nazis with their occult powers, charging them with magically altering the weather to assist the German invasion of the USSR. In the pseudo-historical book about the occult The Morning of the Magicians, which contains, among other things, an account of occult tendencies in the NSDAP that is of dubious veracity, it is reported that a Tibetan monk nicknamed "The Man With The Green Gloves" lived in Berlin and headed a group called "The Society of Green Men," which was in consultation with Hitler about a secret underground city ("Agarthi") from which Buddhist adepts ruled the planet. Interestingly, the authors themselves seem to have openly acknowledged that their book is fanciful, but this hasn't stopped some of its claims from being perpetuated. From the book (quoted here):

In Berlin there was a Tibetan monk, nicknamed “the man with the green gloves,” who had correctly foretold in the Press, on three occasions, the number of Hitlerian deputies elected to the Reichstag, and who was regularly visited by Hitler. He was said by the Initiates to possess the keys to the kingdom of Agarthi … It was in 1926 that a small Hindu and Tibetan colony settled in Berlin and Munich. When the Russians entered Berlin, they found among the corpses a thousand volunteers for death in German uniform without any papers or badges, of Himalayan origin. As soon as the [Nazi] movement began to acquire extensive funds, it organised a number of expeditions to Tibet, which succeeded one another practically without interruption until 1943. 

MES very well may haveThe Morning of the Magicians; he has professed a taste for crackpot pseudo-history in general (although he doesn't seem to take it too seriously), and the book was quite popular. 

Martin:

In a piece which MES wrote for the "Alternative Ulster" fanzine in early 1979, there's a kind of prototype of this line: "Did you know? That when the Russians took Berlin in '45 they found 2000 hari-karied Buddhist monks in German uniforms?" 

^

5. As befits a ghost story, the best interpretation of this line comes from a mysterious source. A poster named "countrygent 58" visited the Fall online forum one dark night and left the following remarks. He has never appeared on the forum before, and he was never heard from again:

Somehow i seem to know the story of the origins of this song, thought can't remember who or what told me. 

It is a ghost story inspired by a stay at a "real" hotel outside Nuremberg by MES and BES. They entered the hotel room very late at night to find there was an unpleasent smell in the air. MES freaked out thinking the room was haunted so they lit candles to try and fight both the spectres and the smell. In the morning they awoke to find the source of the smell was more prosaic; there was a slaughterhouse right behind the hotel. 

That i assume is the meaning of "reasonable smell of death". 

^

Comments (23)

dannyno
  • 1. dannyno | 04/04/2013

"Thai monks in SS uniforms"

I'm reminded of the SS expedition to Tibet: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1938%E2%80%931939_German_expedition_to_Tibet

Robert
  • 2. Robert | 04/05/2013

IIRC the hotel story was recounted in the Brian Edge book.

dannyno
  • 3. dannyno | 17/12/2013

The orange lyrics book has "Philipsburg" not Vicksburg. And "figments" not fragments. I hear Vicksburg and figments.

dannyno
  • 4. dannyno | 17/12/2013

"The titular hotel is probably the Hotel Grüner Baum Gasthof Blödel in Nuremberg"

The trouble with this theory is that the Hotel Grüner Baum Gasthof Blödel, at any rate the current one, seems to have been built in 1987, according to various websites anyway. So if that's right, maybe that's not the actual one.

dannyno
  • 5. dannyno | 17/12/2013

.. and indeed if you look at the place on google maps' street view, the date 1988 is over the door.

bzfgtI
  • 6. bzfgtI | 18/12/2013

Danny, we've had the "Phillipsburg" conversation. However, MES personally had a hand in the lyrics book, or maybe even supplied the lyrics himself, did he not? I find it odd that he's even heard of Phillipsburg (it's spelled with two 'L's), or even that Brix had, her being from LA and Chicago; this gives me some doubts, as it seemingly isn't the kind of thing that MES could have slipped in off-handedly or by accident. Anyway, I agree that it sounds like "Vicksburg," and I'll check "figment."

Mark
  • 7. Mark | 13/06/2014

From the Paintwork book:

The name Brix Smith appeared on the credits of 'Hotel Bloedel', a song she had co-written to southern Germany after spending an unforgettable night in a Nuremburg hotel.

Mark E Smith remembered how their room had been filled with "this choking smell - you'd have sworn there'd been a murder there." Brix agreed. "And at six in the morning there were ghastly screams. I was sure the place was haunted. Mark lit cigarettes and put them all around the room to fight off the horrible smell. When it got light we looked out of the window and saw an old woman coming across the courtyard carrying a sack of blood into the hotel..."

It transpired they had checked in next door to an abattoir.

dannyno
  • 8. dannyno | 13/08/2014

From Steve Hanley's The Big Midweek (p164-5):

"[Brix's] working on a guitar riff for a song she wrote with Mark when we were in Europe. 'We thought of it in that Nuremburg hotel with the abattoir next door. Those poor cows were screaming all night long. You could hear them through the walls as they went to the slaughter. Can you put some bass to it?' Well, hello. All these years Mark's been so MI5 about his lyrics and what inspires them, but now Brix is here to tell the world! When I've finished silently chortling away to myself, I notice it's actually quite a melodic riff I can easily add to and, an hour later, we're all miked up ready to go with 'Hotel Bloedel'. "

Antoine
  • 9. Antoine | 09/12/2015

If the 87/88 building date rules that particular hotel out, I happen to be reading a book about the Einsatzgruppen mobile death squads, which included one colonel Paul Blobel. The senior officers in the Einsatzgruppen were tried at Nuremberg of course. All a bit fanciful but the song came to mind right away when I got to that chapter. We all know Mark's penchant for messing with words and names.

Typically grisly stuff, although not directly related to the lyrics: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Blobel

dannyno
  • 10. dannyno | 04/05/2016

According to Brix's autobiography, The Rise, The Fall, and The Rise, this song is based on Banda Dratsing's "One More Time for the Record" (which is already noted). However, Brix goes on to say:


It was renamed 'Hotel Bloedel' and became the first song I ever recorded with The Fall... The album version of 'Hotel Bloedel' remains exactly as I wrote it. Mark added a spoken word over my verse..."


So does that mean that she wrote all the words not spoken by MES, or just the

And it's quiet again
Hidden fragments, surface now
Repetitious history
One more time for the record

bits?

ie. are the references to Mesopotamia in her original? We are not told.

dannyno
  • 11. dannyno | 04/05/2016

Update: later in the book, Brix quotes the verse and indicates that the words are hers:


And it's painless
Sitting in Subterranea
Ancient reference
To Mesopotamia
And it's quiet again
Hidden fragments, surface now...


Says Brix:


I had no idea what the song was about until years later. Generally, I write from my subconscious, and the complete understanding of my words and emotions may only make complete sense with hindsight and an objectivity gained from distance. This particular song was about history repeating itself. It's about past lives and about reliving things over and over again.

dannyno
  • 12. dannyno | 07/05/2016

Just another bit from Brix's account of the story behind Hotel Bloedel in The Rise, The Fall, and The Rise:


Mark wrote lyrics based upon the gory experience of the slaughterhouse... and wove in a similar theme to my lyrics about time-hopping and the Civil War.

bzfgt
  • 13. bzfgt | 24/06/2016

Why are we questioning "Mesopotamia" in particular?

dannyno
  • 14. dannyno | 26/01/2017

It was a question about whether Brix was likely to have written all the words she sang. What Brix originally said might have meant that only the repeated verse was hers, but no, her lyrics are all those sung by her, and MES has interspersed his Bloedel words in between her original words. It wasn't originally clear to me where Mesopotamia came into it. Now we know that was in Brix's lyrics.

Martin
  • 15. Martin | 13/03/2017

There's a kind of prototype for these lines:

"Gregoror, satiated walking thru' capitol
Stumbles on two thousand dead Thai monks in SS uniforms"

...in a piece which MES wrote for the "Alternative Ulster" fanzine in early 1979:

"Did you know?

That when the Russians took Berlin in '45 they found 2000 hari-karied Buddhist monks in German uniforms?"

http://thefall.org/news/fallau.html

dannyno
  • 16. dannyno | 13/03/2017

Surprised that hasn't been noted already!

dannyno
  • 17. dannyno | 13/05/2017

Comment #4. I argued my point about the dating of the building on the FOF, but people with better knowledge of German than me showed that I was wrong: http://z1.invisionfree.com/thefall/index.php?showtopic=8463&view=findpost&p=22295406

bzfgt
  • 18. bzfgt (link) | 18/05/2017

Is there a version of Brix's original that people have heard, or can be heard? I assume "subterranea" was in it already? I'm cooking a note, it's a geographical term but also appears in Marvel comics which would make me think of MES, not sure if Brix was into them as a girl...

bzfgt
  • 19. bzfgt (link) | 18/05/2017

Or, does anyone have her book to hand? Is there a passage like "I grabbed my acoustic and started singing, 'Blah blah blah, subterranea blah blah blah"? Just curious because there is a chance MES added that bit, since he is known to use Marvel comics terms. But again, maybe Brix was into it to, or maybe she just knew the word independently of the Mole People...

bzfgt
  • 20. bzfgt (link) | 18/05/2017

Maybe one of those Tweeter people can ask Brix (see note 2 above)?

bzfgt
  • 21. bzfgt (link) | 18/05/2017

Note 19: Moloids, of course. I mean, jeez.

bzfgt
  • 22. bzfgt (link) | 18/05/2017

Yes, Dan, I saw that at the time, which is why it was never changed. Thanks for updating me, though...better late than never...

bzfgt
  • 23. bzfgt (link) | 18/05/2017

"Is there a passage like 'I grabbed my acoustic and started singing, "Blah blah blah, subterranea blah blah blah"'?"

Yes, there is just such a passage. Updated.

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