I'm Into C.B.

Lyrics

(1)

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
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 (8)
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" (9)
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

Notes

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."

^

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. 

^

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.

^

7. It's not clear why Happy Harry includes "Plank" in his handle here; is it his surname? Is he related to Cedar Plank?

^

8. 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.

^

9. "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 (30)

John
  • 1. John | 01/08/2013
The Happy Harry and "lines off my belly" are cocaine references.
dannyno
  • 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.
Mark
  • 3. Mark | 25/05/2014
The UK "chocolate city" might be Birmingham: Cadbury, Bourneville, etc.
Mark
  • 4. Mark | 25/05/2014
I always heard it as "Happy Harry Black", but could be wrong.
Mark
  • 5. Mark | 25/05/2014
"Plastered" = drunk
Mark
  • 6. Mark | 25/05/2014
There is a code 13 in CB parlance. Seehttp://www.vk3ukf.com/CBradio13codes.htm.
bzfgt
  • 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.
Supermercado
  • 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
bzfgt
  • 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.
bzfgt
  • 10. bzfgt | 03/11/2014
Oh, I've already got a note about that, I see...
nkroached
  • 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.
nairng
  • 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).
Bob
  • 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.
harleyr
  • 14. harleyr | 10/12/2015
Is 'Cedar Plank' actually 'C dot Plank' as in C. Plank = Conny Plank the renowned producer of Krautrock records?
bzfgt
  • 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...
dannyno
  • 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.
dannyno
  • 17. dannyno | 09/05/2016
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.


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?
dannyno
  • 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'
bzfgt
  • 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.
bzfgt
  • 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.
Martin
  • 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.
Martin
  • 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.
bzfgt
  • 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.
Martin
  • 25. Martin | 15/07/2016
Answer to the question in comment no. 24: the line is repeated, once with each.
bzfgt
  • 26. bzfgt | 19/07/2016
Thanks for all that, Martin. This is a freaking awesome number, isn't it? Maybe one of their best.
bzfgt
  • 27. bzfgt | 19/07/2016
Definitely "Four Seven Seven" in the studio version. And now I think I do hear "Cee Dot Plank." Arrgh.
bzfgt
  • 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?
bzfgt
  • 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.
dannyno
  • 30. dannyno | 11/10/2016
Note #28: yes, "eating her tea" is a phrase that would be used.

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