I'm Into C.B.



Well I've never had a car
Never been near a lorry
Got a nasty habit of scratching my nose
My codename's Happy Harry (2)
I'm into C.B.

I've had loads of jobs
For very minute lolly (3)
Creation schemes  (4)
So I suppose I was lucky
And the money it took
To buy a CB set
Took lines off my belly
My codename's Cedar Plank
I'm Into CB
I'm Into CB

At 16 I drank cheap sherry
Got plastered in the stations and swing parks (5)
Off my mother I stole some money
Had a treat with a bottle of Martini
So sick I couldn't walk or sit
Since then I've not touched it
I won't bore you with tales of being greedy
I'm just into CB
I'm into CB

My family's a weird lot
My stepsister's got a horrible growth
Listens to all this muzak shit
Reads Smash Hits while she's eating her tea (6)
To me it sounds like bad CB

My father's not bad really
He got me these wires and bits
Apart from that he talks to me hardly
I'm just into CB

This is Happy Harry Plank (7)
from the land of waving palms (8)
calling out to Cedar Plank
477 CC 
There's no Code 13
In the home of chocolate city
I'm having trouble with the terminology (9)
But I'm into CB

I've got this letter before me
It's buff with a confidential seal
I'd better open it
It's a fine and a formal threat
I should have listened to "New Face in Hell" (10)
The date expired last week
Up here I forget what time it is
It says you're going to go when you go
Or else you're for it boy
If that's what you get for having a hobby
Next mail you get will be mail in jail
If that's what you get for having a hobby
Next year mail in jail
It that's what you get for having a hobby
Next time I'm out I'll join a riot
That's the last you'll hear for me
I'll keep clear of CB
Keep clear of CB


1. Citizen's Band radio is a short-distance radio service used for communication between users. It originated in the 1940s in the USA, and became a fad in the 1970s. There is an entire C.B. lexicon of slang or jargon terms, some of which saw widespread usage during the C.B. fad. C.B. is mostly, although not exclusively, used by truck drivers to fight boredom, exchange information about traffic and road conditions, score drugs, and convey information about the location of police officers ("bears"). 

An early verson of the song, included on The Fall Box Set, features MES singing some of the lyrics over the music to "Psykick Dancehall."

From Dan:

The press handout for Hex Enduction Hour contains a "next single announcement", which says of B side "I'm Into C.B.":

a comment on the weedy Home Office Sanctioned LIBERACE-ISM of U.K. band transmissions.


2. One's C.B. name is called one's "handle." It is never called a "codename," but as the narrator admits, "I'm having trouble with the terminology."

A character named "'Happy' Harry Cox" appears on the 1974 Firesign Theater album Everything You Know is Wrong (thanks to William Ham). An American chain of drugstores named "Happy Harry's" was founded in 1962, and was absorbed by Walgreen's in 2006. 

Note that a lyric from "Lodestones" ("Shoes for the dead!") is apparently derived from Firesign Theater. 


3. The second verse is sung from the perspective of a different narrator than the first, "Cedar Plank." "Lolly" is slang for money in the U.K.


4. This probably means a job creation scheme, i.e. a government program to put people to work (Martin points out that both "creation schemes" and "government schemes" appear in the live version from Leeds, 1981/11/5). 


5. A "swing park" is probably a children's playground with swings. "Plastered" usually means drunk, but can refer to drugs also sometimes.


6. Smash Hits was a British popular music magazine that ran from 1978 to 2006, and they used to print lyric to pop songs in their pages. The issue of December 25th 1980-Jan. 7 1981 featured "New Face in Hell" (thanks to Neil Campbell).


7. It's not clear why Happy Harry includes "Plank" in his handle here; is it his surname? Is he related to Cedar Plank? John Kedward points out this may be a sly suggestion that characters are "thick as two short planks."


8.  Maybe Happy Harry is from somewhere like Florida? But C.B.s don't have much more than a 15-20 mile range in the best conditions, it seems...

...John Kedward suggests another angle: "I think the land of waving palms might refer to the trend of pubs-- for working class teenagers( some with Hawaiian shirts)-- turning into wine bars around 1979-80 in England. Many owners would revamp their places, installing different, exotic lighting, tropical imagery, and fake plants, including palms. They were a kind of ersatz, exotic place for people who couldn't afford or didn't have the resources to travel."


9. Surprisingly, and perhaps appropriately in light of this line, there is little genuine C.B. slang in this song. "477CC" doesn't figure into Citizen's Band argot, and I have no idea what it refers to here. Apparently there is a humorous list of Code 13s, though; see Mark's comment below.

"Chocolate City" is slang for Washington D.C., due to its large African American population, and is also used to refer to the black part of town in many American cities. The Parliament song "Chocolate City," from the album of the same name, brings both of these usages into play. However, it is not a term associated with C.B. Those who are fluent in C.B.-ese do refer to Hershey, PA as "Chocolate Town," however. It is possible that Happy Harry is in a black neighborhood in a city in "the land of waving palms," which could be any number of places (but certainly isn't Washington, D.C.).

According to Bob, "'In the home of chocolate city'. The Fall played York Uni in April 1982. This was first aired in August 1982. York is known as the chocolate city. Perhaps there is a connection." The song premiered in 1981, but we do not yet know whether it already had the lyric in question.


10. "New Face in Hell" is about a "wireless enthusiast" who comes to grief when he overhears evidence of a government conspiracy. Happy Harry's crime is uncertain; he seems to have received a cease and desist order; it may have been because he didn't have a license. In the U.S., individual licenses were technically required to operate a C.B. up until the early 1980s, and use of power boosting technology is still prohibited; in Britain an individual license was required by law until 2006. C.B. radios were illegal in Britain until 1981, so the narrator may be in Britain, although this doesn't seem to jibe with the references to "the land of waving palms" (although there are some palms in England) and "Chocolate City."


Comments (60)

  • 1. John | 01/08/2013
The Happy Harry and "lines off my belly" are cocaine references.
  • 2. dannyno | 21/12/2013
"Chocolate city"

What he actually sings is "home of chocolate city". While that might just be repetition, it might also mean "the city that is the home of chocolate". In the UK context, that could be York. But that seems totally incongruous since the rest of the lyric seems to have an American frame of reference.
  • 3. Mark | 25/05/2014
The UK "chocolate city" might be Birmingham: Cadbury, Bourneville, etc.
  • 4. Mark | 25/05/2014
I always heard it as "Happy Harry Black", but could be wrong.
  • 5. Mark | 25/05/2014
"Plastered" = drunk
  • 6. Mark | 25/05/2014
There is a code 13 in CB parlance. Seehttp://www.vk3ukf.com/CBradio13codes.htm.
  • 7. bzfgt | 28/05/2014
Thanks for Code 13, I don't know enough about it to say anything very illuminating about it. I thought "plastered" was so common that it almost isn't even slang any more, but that's here in America so I put it in in case it's less commonly known in Britain.
  • 8. Supermercado | 31/10/2014
Could Chocolate City be one of the ones listed in the song of the same name by Parliament? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chocolate_City_%28song%29
  • 9. bzfgt | 03/11/2014
I always think of that song here, maybe I should put in a note about it...no way to know if there's a real American city he's talking about, though.
  • 10. bzfgt | 03/11/2014
Oh, I've already got a note about that, I see...
  • 11. nkroached | 26/01/2015
Waving palms of hands. Birmingham. Your UK narrator was no AM breaker pre FM legal I feel. Or not with stereotypical ambiguity.
  • 12. nairng | 14/02/2015
Ref waving palms...in vII lyrics book, the page facing these lyrics is an advert for the Collins Radio Company's CB equipment. Palm trees feature not unprominently.
The text of the ad is interesting juxtaposed with these lyrics; it talks about "your call of goodwill" which "transcends blinds of prejudice", but in the lyrics, the speaker(s) merely harp on about their own dull, grubby lives and indulge in mild racism (chocolate city).
  • 13. Bob | 20/04/2015
'In the home of chocolate city'. The Fall played York Uni in April 1982. This was first aired in August 1982. York is known as the chocolate city. Perhaps there is a connection.
  • 14. harleyr | 10/12/2015
Is 'Cedar Plank' actually 'C dot Plank' as in C. Plank = Conny Plank the renowned producer of Krautrock records?
  • 15. bzfgt | 13/12/2015
That's an intriguing possibility as I've never been sure what "Cedar Plank" is all about. On the other hand it's more "handle"-like than your suggestion...the Blue Lyrics book has a typewritten page, perhaps typed by MES hisself, with "Cedar Plank." It doesn't sound particularly like "C dot Plank," although saying "dot" is very MES. For now I'm assuming that if it's there, it's an allusion or pun rather than what he actually says...
  • 16. dannyno | 09/05/2016
Worth noting that in the UK CB radio was only formally legalised in the UK in November 1981, following a campaign by enthusiasts. Once legalised, of course, the hobby went into decline.
  • 17. dannyno | 09/05/2016

'In the home of chocolate city'. The Fall played York Uni in April 1982. This was first aired in August 1982. York is known as the chocolate city. Perhaps there is a connection.

But according to the Reformation! site, the song was first aired in its current form in December '81. Do you mean the particular "chocolate city" lyric was first aired in August?
  • 18. dannyno | 09/05/2016
Sorry, just noticed you've already got the UK legalisation dates in your notes.
Andrew Sutherland
  • 19. Andrew Sutherland | 12/05/2016
I think the line is 'it's a fine in the form of a threat' and not 'it's a fine and a formal threat'
  • 20. bzfgt | 24/06/2016
That makes more sense I think, Andrew...or does it, now I'm not sure...anyway I'm about to listen and see.
  • 21. bzfgt | 24/06/2016
No, actually the way it was makes much more sense, upon reflection. I'm listening to see what it sounds like though.
  • 22. Martin | 29/06/2016
I'll do some listening of early live versions in the next few days to see if the lyrics were in place from the beginning with special reference to "chocolate city". Watch this space.
  • 23. Martin | 10/07/2016
Here we go:

5 November 1981, Leeds: the words "creation" and "government" ("schemes") are used interchangeably, thus verifying note 4.

"This is 47" (not "477"): this phrase is repeated as well.

The words "chocolate city" are present.

12 March 1982, Bristol: the first use of the words "Happy Harry" in a live performance.
  • 24. bzfgt | 15/07/2016
Martin, 11/5/81 repeats the line, once with each? Or it just says "govt" in place of "creation"? Thanks for the research, by the way.
  • 25. Martin | 15/07/2016
Answer to the question in comment no. 24: the line is repeated, once with each.
  • 26. bzfgt | 19/07/2016
Thanks for all that, Martin. This is a freaking awesome number, isn't it? Maybe one of their best.
  • 27. bzfgt | 19/07/2016
Definitely "Four Seven Seven" in the studio version. And now I think I do hear "Cee Dot Plank." Arrgh.
  • 28. bzfgt | 19/07/2016
"Eating her tea"--is that something one would say, in England? Meaning eating whatever one would eat at tea time?
  • 29. bzfgt | 19/07/2016
Live to Air Melbourne--no "muzak, " but still "sounds like bad c.b." right after "reads Smash Hits"...weird, like eating the tea.
  • 30. dannyno | 11/10/2016
Note #28: yes, "eating her tea" is a phrase that would be used.
Neil Campbell
  • 31. Neil Campbell | 09/01/2018
Just remembered that Smash Hits once printed the lyrics to New Face In Hell - prob why both things get a mention here?
Cool Green
  • 32. Cool Green (link) | 27/01/2018
Here's my cover, and a tribute to Smithy. Enjoy!

  • 33. bzfgt (link) | 10/02/2018
Nice work, Neil. And thanks for the excellent cover, Cool Green!
  • 34. Rob | 24/03/2018
I'm convinced that somewhere, on some fall product (music press ad for release, or scratched into inner groove of a record from this era) appears the phrase Seat Of Plaque. I raised this once in a forum thread, and no one confirmed it, and nor have I been able to find the source again, so it remains to be proven. Nonetheless, this is what I have always heard 'Cedar Plank' to be, and I'm sure it's because I've seen it written down - it's not the sort of misheard lyric I would make up on my own.
  • 35. dannyno | 25/03/2018
So what you're saying, really, is that there's no evidence for the "seat of plaque" theory...
  • 36. Rob | 29/03/2018
Exactly. (Though it sounds even less like Cedar Plank.)
  • 37. bzfgt (link) | 31/03/2018
Rob, are you the "Seat of Plaque" that posted this Fall news article from 1988? If not, then your theory may have legs after all:

  • 38. bzfgt (link) | 31/03/2018
  • 39. dannyno | 02/04/2018
The press handout for Hex Enduction Hour contains a "next single announcement", which says of B side I'm Into C.B.:

a comment on the weedy Home Office Sanctioned LIBERACE-ISM of U.K. band transmissions.
  • 40. bzfgt (link) | 07/04/2018
As noted well above, the blue book has typewritten lyrics--which have a higher security rating than the printed ones--saying "Cedar PLank." I hope Rob comes back and tells us if he's "Seat of Plaque" (comment 37 above)
John Kedward
  • 41. John Kedward | 08/04/2018
I think the land of waving palms might refer to the trend of pubs- for working class teenagers( some with Hawaiian shirts) turning into wine bars around 1979-80 in England. Many owners would revamp their places; installing different; exotic lighting; tropical imagery and fake plants, including palms. They were a kind of ersatz, exotic place for people who couldn't afford or didn't have the resources to travel. Harry Plank (thick as two short planks) and Chocolate city are mistakes in nomenclature for people who are naive in using the new CB terms. Although he does his usual sneering, I think MES sees them as innocent, but good people who don't know the proper terms or laws. They are just trying to communicate and mean well. They can be discerning, as well, when it comes to rubbish music But they are also unsuspecting when it comes to the heavy-handed licence law as mentioned above. The government used to have a TV ad portraying a conversation in an apparent prison between 3 men. One of them admits to serving time for not having a TV licence! The punishment for not having a CB licence, then, was also ridiculous and disproportionate, too
  • 42. Rob | 08/04/2018
Yes, it was me that typed up that 1988 MES piece from NME. Seat of Plaque was my original forum handle, so this only proves that I've had this delusion for years. I don't believe I pulled this phrase from nowhere (since it does even appeal to me much), but I've tried and failed to trace the original source, and there's not much auditory support either in version of the song I possess. Sometimes I hear C-dot-Blank, which would at least have the initials C.B. But the blue book has Cedar Plank, so it's probably that. In any case, I shall now keep quiet about my delusion unless I find the damned thing that started it, and then I shall wave it around shouting.
Portsmouth Bubblejet
  • 43. Portsmouth Bubblejet | 09/04/2018
I agree with Harleyr (comment No. 14) that Smith is singing "C dot Plank" as opposed to "Cedar Plank". The vowel sound is much closer to an /o/ phoneme.
Dr X O'Skeleton
  • 44. Dr X O'Skeleton | 19/04/2018
I have long puzzled over this one, hearing C-dot Flack or Sea Dock Flack. The latter may be what you experience as a shipping clerk.
  • 45. bzfgt (link) | 22/04/2018
Ha! Thanks Rob, we've all been humbled trying to figure this stuff out. I will definitely keep my eyes and ears open for some corroboration of "Seat of Plaque." You made me chuckle when you said it's not even appealing--yeah, it's weird and clunky, but MES plays with soundalike lyrics a lot, so he might have slipped it in somewhere, and thence into your noggin...

I like that "Sea Dock Flak." The thing is, that's kind of how MES thinks of lyrics sometimes I think, too. I don't think it's that he thinks the sound is more important than the sense--I think he sees the sound as a ticket to travel around from sense to sense, if that makes any (sense, that is).
  • 46. bzfgt (link) | 22/04/2018
Great comments, John, I get a similar sense about his attitude toward the characters. MES rarely displays unalloyed contempt, unless it's toward someone specific like Marc Riley or Lauren Laverne...I'll incorporate your wine bar theory, at least until and unless someone pops up with something better corroborated...
  • 47. bzfgt (link) | 22/04/2018
I don't know if I've mentioned this before but this is one of the absolute best Fall songs...it's really more or less perfect.
  • 48. dannyno | 27/12/2019
Paul Hanley, Have a Bleedin Guess, p.141:

I played the one-handed snare pattern that start the song and continues unchanged for the next six minutes plus. Mark came up with that, along with the one note everyone, including him, hits pretty much throughout. It's quite striking how little anyone deviates - and also how much authentic tensions can be built up when everyone's playing that one note like they really mean it.

He goes on to discuss the CB radio fad on p.142, and in particular a neighbour's "ridiculous and often hilarious combination of witless Wythenshavian and wildly misplaced truck-driver patois" ["Wythenshavian" = of Wythenshawe, Manchester - possibly dialect or slang in this context, if not "inhabitant".], which he says "directly fed into Mark's lyric".
  • 49. Ant | 24/06/2020
Re: "Bob's" comment "In the home of Choclate City", posited as York, U.K? Is this because of Fry's chocolate?
  • 50. dannyno | 25/06/2020
Fry's were in Bristol. You're thinking of Rowntree. Terry's were also York based.

Although apparently members of the Cadbury and Fry families were apprenticed to the Rowntrees, so there was a connection.

See: https://www.yorkschocolatestory.com/the-story/york-the-chocolate-city/, where "Chocolate city" is used.

  • 53. dannyno | 25/06/2020
Another consideration, Chocolate City was a Los Angeles record label. Cameo were maybe their best known group.


Does feel, though, that we need to be looking closer to home.
  • 54. Sumsiadad | 03/07/2020
Re: 'from the land of waving palms', the first thing I though of was Torquay, a holiday resort on the Devon coast which famously has palm trees, hence the (only slightly ironic) nickname of the English Riviera. Torquay is pretty much the wrong end of the country for MES though, but lots of other resorts in the UK have palm trees too, even in the North, though Torquay is the one that's most famous for having them.
  • 55. Chris | 10/07/2020
Re point 2 - I just watched the 1968 film 'A Dandy in Aspic' (from the novel by Derek Marlowe) and Tom Courteney's character says “they’re too delighted to have old ‘happy Harry’ out of the way” - this refers to a Soviet spy. I wonder which of the options so far presented is the most accurate.
  • 56. Chris | 10/07/2020
Correction, I meant Peter Cook's character not Tom Courtenay's.
  • 57. bzfgt (link) | 12/07/2020
My vote's for Firesign Theater as , as I've just remembered to note, he draws from them on "Lodestones"
  • 58. dannyno | 12/07/2020
Might not be any of them, of course, given what Paul Hanley says about a real-life inspiration and the point that "Happy Harry" isn't really an obscure coinage requiring special explanation per se. But that shouldn't stop us!

A Dandy in Aspic was shown on TV a couple of times that I've found: 28 December 1973 and 7 April 1978, both BBC1. MES might have noted the line. Except that on the evening of 7 April 1978, The Fall had a gig at Eric's in Liverpool.

I have, by the way, also checked ancestry.com, and haven't found anyone suitable of the name "Harold Plank", just to rule out that line of thought (not that this is definitive, it should be said). Albeit that was probably only my line of thought...
  • 59. CB | 14/11/2020
1983, Hide fanzine interview

"A- What's the aspect of C.B. radio you're interested in?

M- It was a very big thing in England when we brought the record out, C.B. It
was really funny, it's cruel really, but after going to America and seeing
C.B. It's a really good thing the way the outlaws and truckers do it. It's a
real standout against authority. You're driving down the road in the south
and truckers will signal you on the radio that there's police round the
corner y'know. But when they brought it into England they had all these
limitations on it so anybody that got these C.B.'s could only go 4 miles.
You got all these bores thinking they're really being American. You get that
alot in England, like " ah yeah, I got a C.B. set like the Americans " you
hear them talking, they'd go " hey, it was bloody great, I got 10 miles away
last night ". What's the use, they might as well pick up the fuckin' phone.
They got into it for the technical aspect of it, forgetting that in England
it's a waste of time.

A- Unusual topic for a song about C.B.'s...

M- It's about more of a character type, like the people who were upset when
they found out what ELVIS was like. People who embrace things that they don't
really understand, you know what I mean?"

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