Latchkey Kid

Lyrics

(1)

Goin' around, doin' the town
Goin' around, doin' the town
Guenther o' Leipzig  (2)
Here I like to relax
With tobacco and sugar
and sugar      (3)
The people took centuries
 many people died to be
.... to bring with sugar to this ...?
stress universal hatred I'm a latch key kid
Two plus one I'm a latch key kid
... I'm a latch key kid
.... I'm a latch key kid
I'm a latch key kid
Got my muso wig
Can't do up my zip

Sent out into the cold again
I'm a latch key kid
Cold again
Bo diddy bo diddy bo diddy bo  (4)
I'm a latch key kid
Goin' around doin' the town
Goin' around doin' the town
I'm a latch key kid
When they're in there's nothing to shout about
I'm a latch key kid
I'm a latch key kid
I'm a latch key kid
And Dave is asleep again
on the bass     (5)
They're never in they're always out
I'm a latch key kid
Mr and Mrs Smith
Bo diddy...
Mr. and Mrs Smith
Mr. M. and I. Smith (6)
I'm a latch key kid

I'm a latch key kid I'm a latch key kid
They're never in I'm a latch key kid
They're always out I'm a latch key kid
My parents get people out
And there's nothing to shout about
And I'm in they're always out 

 I'm a latch key kid I'm a latch key kid
I'm a latch key kid, baby I'm a latch key kid I'm a latch key kid 
My parents get people out
When they're in there's nothing to shout about
I'm a latch key kid I'm a latch key kid

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Notes

1. I don't know if a note about the title is necessary, but it seems to me that the phrase "latch key kid" is not as common as it used to be (and the phenomenon that it names is probably, if not also less common, at least less socially acceptable these days). A latch key kid is a child who comes home from school to an empty house on a regular basis, and who thus must have access to a key to the house. "Latch Key Kid" kicks off a trio of bouncy songs on side 2 of Imperial Wax Solvent, with "Is This New?" and "Senior Twilight Stock Replacer" bounding along in its wake.

^

2. This is apparently the name of Eleni Poulou's stuffed rabbit; Peter Hogg reports that this has been "revealed by Eleni on Instagram as a profile dedicated to and seemingly ran by the character..."

Zack reports that  "One 'G. O'LEIPZIG' is thanked in the liner notes of the Fall Heads Roll US CD" and that LEIPZIG [sic] is also on Your Future Our Clutter.

Note that neither of these are the album this song is from (Imperial Wax Solvent, 2008); Fall Heads Roll came out two (studio) albums prior, in 2005, and Your Future Our Clutter is the album after Imperial Wax Solvent, having been released in 2010. 

Also note that I don't follow that pedantic pseudo-rule involving the passive voice. Never have, never will, motherfuckers--I am not pleased by it.

Dan points out that Bach dedicated works to "Flemming, Governor of Leipzig." Thus, the rabbit's name is likely a play on "Governor of Leipzig." If the song is from the rabbit's point of view, then, Dan opines, "poor old O'Leipzig is perhaps to be understood as lamenting that Eleni and MES are constantly out, leaving him at home."

And, in an interesting twist, Dan has discovered that rabbits largely leave their young to their own devices; he even finds a book that refers to "latchkey rabbit pups." MES may have been unaware of this, of course; as Dan puts it, "While there is a rabbit-contingent reading which justifies O'Leipzig being described as a 'latchkey kid,' there is a also a rabbit-dependent reading. MES would not have to know the leporine reproductive facts in order to write the lyric, but it is satisfying that what is true individually of O'Leipzig is also true universally of all rabbits."

^

3. This may be the name of a pub. This line introduces a second MES vocal line that winds into the other one; I haven't got them clearly picked apart and ordered above, unfortunately.

^

4. Hipppriestess points out that this "bo diddy" line is taken from "Wowie Zowie" by the Mothers of Invention.

^

5. David Spurr hasn't stopped playing at any point, but his line is fairly repetitive, as one often finds in a Fall song, so perhaps it something he can play in his sleep. Both MESes gang up on him here, with the second adding "on the bass."

^

6. A perplexingly (as they used to say in c.20th) Oedipal lyric: MES's mother is named Irene, but his father was Jack, as far as I can make out.

^

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Comments (16)

dannyno
  • 1. dannyno | 20/06/2015
I've been following up the "governor of Leipzig" reference, but it's not easy.

One of the governors was Count Friedrich von Flemming:
http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joachim_Friedrich_von_Flemming

The implicit German link is interesting. The German equivalent of "latchkey kid" is "Schlüsselkind".

And, er, that's as far as I've got.
Zack
  • 2. Zack | 03/03/2017
One "G. O'LEIPZIG" is thanked in the liner notes of the Fall Heads Roll US CD.
Zack
  • 3. Zack | 03/03/2017
^ Thanked on Your Future Our Clutter as well.
dannyno
  • 4. dannyno | 03/03/2017
Ooh, well spotted!
dannyno
  • 5. dannyno | 03/03/2017
Bach dedicated works to Flemming, Governor of Leipzig (see my comment #1). So maybe it's a jokey reference to Bach?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/O_angenehme_Melodei,_BWV_210a
Zack
  • 6. Zack | 04/03/2017
B, in the liner notes for YFOC it says "G.O'LEIPZIG", plain as day: https://img.discogs.com/3XoEauAaTz0W7hvjI0C_j26RZ2w=/fit-in/600x622/filters:strip_icc():format(jpeg):mode_rgb():quality(90)/discogs-images/R-2258519-1380831452-4212.jpeg.jpg (Look it up on Discogs if that link doesn't work.)
thehippriestess
  • 7. thehippriestess | 12/05/2017
The "Bo-diddy, bo-diddy" part is pinched from "Wowie Zowie" by The Mothers of Invention (occurring at about 1m 20s)
dannyno
  • 8. dannyno | 13/05/2017
Good call, although "Wowie Zowie" has more of a "bom" or "baum" sound. But it's convincing anyway.
dannyno
  • 9. dannyno | 13/05/2017
Especially given that The Fall were commonly performing Hungry Freaks, Daddy from 2006 through 2007 with a 2010 revival and further appearances in 2011, 2013 and 2014. Latchkey Kid, of course, debuted in 2008.
bzfgt
  • 10. bzfgt (link) | 18/05/2017
Yeah, it's close enough for government work...
Peter Hogg
  • 11. Peter Hogg | 21/11/2019
It appears the O'Leipzig character is in fact Geunther O'Leipzig, not Governor - a stuffed toy rabbit. Revealed by Eleni on Instagram as a profile dedicated to and seemingly ran by the character...
Wrayx8
  • 12. Wrayx8 | 21/11/2019
Yep, seems like it's their rabbit mascot: https://www.instagram.com/guenther_o_leipzig/

Is this the only tune that names the rabbit directly? And does this then mean that the lyrics are from the point of view of Günther?
dannyno
  • 13. dannyno | 07/03/2020
O'Leipzig is almost certainly the rabbit, and therefore it's legit to have "Guenther" rather than "Governor". However, the two liner note acknowledgements to "G. O'Leipzig" strike me as knowingly referencing the Governor that Bach dedicated works to (that's why it's just "G"). In fact, I firmly believe that the name "Guenther O'Leipzig" is a wink at "Governor of Leipzig".
dannyno
  • 14. dannyno | 07/03/2020
A rare flash of interpretive inspiration from me.

If (big if) we are to take the song as representing in some sense the point of view of Guenther O'Leipzig the rabbit, and if we allow ourselves to regard the toy rabbit as in some sense a real rabbit, then the title of the song makes sense.

First of all, let's remind ourselves what a "latch key kid" is: a child who has to let themselves in and out of a home where parents are not always present. The notes already define the concept, I just like being thorough.

See for example, http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/8704827.stm


Sandra Fletcher was just five years old and about to start infant school in 1944, when her mother told her she wouldn't be around at the end of the school day.

It is difficult to imagine children as young as five making their own way home from school and letting themselves into an empty home. But that was the reality for many children during the war.

One theory has it the term "latchkey child" was actually coined the year Sandra started school - in an American TV documentary about the increase in children being left at home, alone.

Britain was witnessing a similar phenomenon. With fathers away fighting, mothers had no choice but to go out to work. Childcare wasn't always available.

Sandra, an only child, would be a latchkey child throughout the rest of her school years.

"I used to wear the key around my neck on a piece of string," she recalls. "It was about three quarters of a mile from school back to my home. I just let myself into the house and waited for my parents to get home.


Rabbit pups could be described as "Latchkey kids"; their mothers give birth to them and then leave them alone.

As a starting point, consult this 2006 New York Times article:

https://web.archive.org/save/https://www.nytimes.com/2006/05/09/science/09mama.html


Rabbits live together in complex burrows, where an expecting female will build a little nest and line it with grass and fur that she plucks from her flank. When she is ready to give birth, she enters the chamber and in less than eight minutes plops out 10 pups, "like peas in a pod," Dr. Hudson said.

Without bestowing on the litter so much as a single welcoming lick, the mother hops back out, closes up the entrance and leaves the helpless, furless newborns to huddle among themselves in the dark. Over the next 25 days, the mother will return to the nest for a mere two minutes a day, during which she crouches over the pups and they frantically nurse.


Some scientific paper abstracts:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2786307/:


Mother rabbits nurse their young once a day with circadian periodicity. Nursing bouts are brief (ca. 3 min) and occur inside the maternal burrow.


https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17186517:


Mother rabbits nurse once every 24 hr for ca. 3 min.


Indeed, Robert Bridges (ed) Neurobiology of the Parental Brain (2010) includes the following (in the chapter The Neuroeconomics of Motherhood: The costs and benefits of maternal investment, by Kelly G. Lambert and Craig H. Kinsley) (p.489):


Although the maternal rat spends most of her time in proximity to her pups, the rabbit utilizes a very different strategy. After expending both physical effort and her own fur to build a maternal nest in a burrow, these 'working moms' only nurse their litters
once a day for a brief duration of about 3 min before sealing the opening of the burrow as she leaves the nest...


And there is an explicit reference on the same page to "latchkey rabbit pups".

So if we do want to say that the titular "latchkey kid" is to be identified with Guenther O'Leipzig, there is biological warrant for doing so.
dannyno
  • 15. dannyno | 07/03/2020
So poor old O'Leipzig is perhaps to be understood as lamenting that Eleni and MES are constantly out, leaving home at home.
dannyno
  • 16. dannyno | 07/03/2020
My point being, that while there is a rabbit-contingent reading which justifies O'Leipzig being described as a "latchkey kid", there is a also a rabbit-dependent reading. MES would not have to know the leporine reproductive facts in order to write the lyric, but it is satisfying that what is true individually of O'Leipzig is also true universally of all rabbits.

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