Living Too Late

Lyrics

(1)

Crow's feet are engraved on my face
And I'm living too late
Try to wash the black off my face, but it's ingrained
And I'm living too late
Think I'm living too late

Sleepless, in-control spleen
A great ace swillbilly (2)
Must have stump tripod in the genes (3)
I'm immune to things
In my dreams

I saw through the trees (4)
O'er the poison river locks
Talk treacherous would beat
But still my heart it is rock

Finally going through old parasite gate
But there's a 24-hour clock watch
And I'm living too late
Think I'm living too late

Sometimes life is like a new bar
Plastic seats, beer below par
Food with no taste, music grates
I'm living too late
I'm living too late

Once talking was my favourite while
But now I know a conversation's end
Before it's done
Maybe I'm living too long
I'm living too late
I'm living too late 

Daylight...

I see trouble on the streets
Fearing catastrophe to meet
Walk down the devil's boulevard
But still my heart is hard

They say them cellars were an evil black
But I know they're wrong
Think it's one been
Living too long
I'm living too late 

Try to wash crow's feet off my face but it's ingrained
I'm living too late
I'm living too late
Think I'm living too late
I'm living too late 

 

Living Too Long (458489 B Sides)

 

Try to wash the black off my face but it's ingrate (5)
I’m living too late
Try to wash crow’s feet off my face but it’s in grace
I’m living too late

I’m sleepless, in-control spleen
A great "A" swill-billy  (6)
Stone tripod in the genes  
Immune to things

I’m finally going through old parasite gate
But there's a 24-hour clock watch
And I'm living too late
I’m living too long
I’m living too late
Break here…

I soar through the trees
Swim the poison river locks 
Stalk treacherous ravines
But still my heart is rock

They said my soul is wan, evil and black
But I know they’re wrong
This one been living too long
Try to wash the black off my face but it's ingrazed 
And I’m living too late 

My eyes like two TV screens
Continual open 
Feel no pain, 
I’m living again

Once conversation was my favourite while 
But I know, I know the end before it’s done
I’m living too long 
I’m living too late 
I’m living too late
I’m living too long
I’m living too late...break

I cause trouble in the streets
Hoping catastrophe to meet
Down the poison boulevard 
But still my heart is hard

Try to wash crows feet off my face but its ingrate
And I’m living too late
They said that soul is wan, evil and gone 
But I know they’re wrong
This one been living too long 
I’m living too late
I’m living too late

I’m super-sad, street-sad, lineage cracked, midget heart, present gone
I’m living too long
I’m living too long
I’m living too long
Try to wash the black off my face but it's ingrate 
And I’m living too late

Break 

 

Notes

1. The following remarks can be found at the Reformation site:

MES, in an article entitled "Semi-Detached Mr Smith (Sounds, 19 July 1986): "I thought it would be a really good idea to write a song about middle-aged people. About an ordinary guy who was really pissed off. The more I got in the frame of mind, the easier the words came. We was originally going to do a country-and-western style. Really middle of the road, you know. I was thinking about suburbia, upper working class suburbs, and I was just wondering about these guys walking around the streets, whether they ever got pissed off."

^

2. I think the line he originally had in mind is "Grade 'A' swillbilly," but here, as often is the case, MES seems to be playing with and permuting his lyrics.

^

3. Spleen is a word from the Greek, and in ancient Greek it was used idiomatically much like we currently use the word "heart." Furthermore, in the ancient theory of the humors the spleen was considered to be the source of black bile, and an overabundance of the latter was thought to result in a melancholy disposition. By the 16th century, however, the spleen was more often thought of as the source of ill temper or, more specifically, anger, and this usage persists to this day, perhaps most commonly in the expression "to vent [one's] spleen." Thus, it is most likely ti mean that the narrator has his anger under control. However, it is also possible that MES is thinking of the older (but still commonly known) attribution of melancholy to the spleen, which would be very much in keeping with the general mood and content of the lyrics.

I'm not entirely certain about "A great ace hillbilly." The Lyrics Parade opts for "Agreed ace family," which is both nonsensical and ridiculous, as well as not sounding remotely pleasing. My largest doubt resides in the fourth word, "hillbilly," but I am fairly sure it isn't "family." 

A stump tripod is a short tripod with a flat surface on top. I don't know what one is doing here, or how it could be "in the genes," however. It could be meant to imply that the narrator feels himself to be looking at life from a distance, as through the lens of a camera or a transit. 

^

4. Here the music changes drastically, with all the instruments besides the keyboards dropping out and MES ending each line in a weird warbling falsetto, with the same basic melody and intonation, at a slower tempo, as the verse parts of "Lucifer Over Lancashire." Until this section, of which there is another one later in the song beginning with the line "I see trouble in the streets," the song is an atypically conventional mid-tempo Country and Western number which one could envision being a crossover hit for the band. The moment when one realizes that this not merely a very good song but a great one coincides with the realization that these sections, seemingly spliced in without any affording the listener any immediate sense of aesthetic continuity, actually work.

^

5. On this version MES says "ingrate" (in great?) or "in grace" (engrazed?) throughout, rather than the expected "engraved" or "ingrained." 
Thanks to Bazhdaddy for transcribing "Living Too Long."

^

6. See note 2 above; the original idea was probably "Grade 'A' swillbilly."

^

More Information

Living Too Late: Fall Tracks A-Z

Samantha Fox's review (from George):

This was from Samantha Fox in Smash Hits. Here it is: "I didn't like this at all -- it's really crappy. He sounds like he's been having yodelling lessons. It seems to be the fashion of the moment to like The Smiths and these sorts of groups, and to me the lyrics are really depressing. I heard one the other day while I was in Kensington Market trying on some jeans and it gave me a headache. The Smiths, it was. Singing 'Oh my God, I can't get a job, what am I going to do?' As for this song, I listened to the first half and I had to turn it off. My mother was in the other room and she shouted, 'Nah, I don't like that one -- get it off!'"

 

MES comments (in his Renegade book): "That's as good as it got inside Smash Hits: Page 3 birds airing their views. I think it's great, actually -- better than being harangued by Tony Parsons and Julie Burchill."

Comments (14)

Martin
  • 1. Martin | 30/06/2013
Some comments based on the lyrics as printed in the V11 Fall lyrics book. Some of the changes/mistakes/misrememberances are:

"The crows feet are ingrate...
...Sleepless in controlled spleen/A Grade A swillbilly...I soar thru the trees/Over poison river lochs/Stalk treacherous ravines...Fighting going thru old parasite gate...They say a dead cell is one evil and black/But I know they're wrong/It's just ones been living too long/I am living too late/I m
supersad, Streetsad, lineage cracked, midget heart, frigid gone..."[all
grammatical mistakes reproduces as in book]

Obviously some of these lyrics are simply variants, but I think "soar" makes more sense than "saw" in the context of the song, though both are grammatically and semantically correct, in my opinion.
dannyno
  • 2. dannyno | 25/07/2017
Link to the text of the Sounds article in note 1: http://thefall.org/gigography/86jul19.html
dannyno
  • 3. dannyno | 20/11/2018
The lyrics sheet in the blue book is typed, but a handwritten version was reproduced in a book about Michael Clark and has been posted on a Facebook page. Will be worth studying that too.
Bazhdaddy
  • 4. Bazhdaddy | 24/11/2018
I couldn't find a transcript of the Living Too Long version, so had a go, below. I've used "ingrate" throughout - it doesn't make sense like ingrained or engraved but it does sound, to me, like he's saying that. A lot of what I hear on this version chimes with Martin's post above about the blue book.

Try to wash the black off my face but it's ingrate
I’m living too late
Try to wash crow’s feet off my face but its ingrate
I’m living too late

I’m sleepless, in-control spleen
A grade "A" swill-billy
Stone tripod in the genes*
Immune to things

I’m fighting going through old parasite gate
But there's a 24-hour clock watch
And I'm living too late
I’m living too long
I’m living too late
Break here…

I soar through the trees
Swim the poison river locks
Stalk treacherous ravines
But still my heart is rock

They said my soul’s wan, evil and black
But I know they’re wrong
This one been living too long
Try to wash the black off my face but it's ingrate
I’m living too late

My eyes like two TV screens
Continual open
Feel no pain, I’m living again

Once conversation was my favourite wile
But I know, I know the end before it’s done
I’m living too long
I’m living too late
I’m living too long
I’m living too….break

I cause trouble in the streets
Hoping catastrophe to meet
Down the poison boulevard
But still my heart is hard

Try to wash crows feet off my face but its ingrate
And I’m living too late
They said that soul is wan, evil and gone
But I know they’re wrong
This one been living too long
I’m living too late
I’m living too late

I’m super-sad, street-sad, lineage** cracked, midget heart, present gone
I’m living too long
I’m living too long
I’m living too long
Try to wash the black off my face but it's ingrate
And I’m living too late

Break

*or jeans – stone tripod = unresponsive male genitals?
** pronounced here line-age
Bazhdaddy
  • 5. Bazhdaddy | 24/11/2018
suggestions for the Living Too Late version;

First line – crow’s feet are engraved
00:49 Grade A Swill-billy, must have stone tripod in the genes (or jeans)
1:06 I soar through the trees
Over poison river locks
Come up the treacherous ravines

1.31 Fighting going though…
2.07 wile rather than while

"Swill-billy" seems right to me, a good phrase for a drunken hick. "Stone tripod" sounds clearer slowed down.
bzfgt
  • 6. bzfgt (link) | 15/12/2018
Bazhdaddy, I'm going to listen to both of those with your transcript/suggestions and see what we come up with.
bzfgt
  • 7. bzfgt (link) | 15/12/2018
I always want to hear "engraved" too as it seems more appropriate but I'm pretty sure he says "ingrained"--I think you're listening with your mind rather than your ears there
bzfgt
  • 8. bzfgt (link) | 15/12/2018
Crap now it seems like it might be "engraved" I changed my mind
bzfgt
  • 9. bzfgt (link) | 15/12/2018
OK I like yours better but I hear "great," not "grade" still listening though
bzfgt
  • 10. bzfgt (link) | 15/12/2018
Sounds like "great ace swillbilly" actually, but I bet he meant to say "grade A" and stumbled...so I'm going to switch to Living too Long and see if that resolves it

Anyone else who wants to check these lyrics, it would be welcome
bzfgt
  • 11. bzfgt (link) | 15/12/2018
OK it's definitely "swill billy," but still a hard 't' on Living too Long. Fuck it's playing with words, but I don't hear "grade"
bzfgt
  • 12. bzfgt (link) | 15/12/2018
I still hear "finally," not "fighting." And I think it's "while," not "wile," although neither quite make sense. "Wile" might make slightly more sense...OK I have to sleep on that one.
bzfgt
  • 13. bzfgt (link) | 15/12/2018
Dan, what Facebook page where what?
George
  • 14. George | 17/12/2018
I love this song's doomy groove. It was also the occasion of a sour reaction which MES considered one of his favourite reviews. This was from Samantha Fox in Smash Hits. Here it is:

"I didn't like this at all -- it's really crappy. He sounds like he's been having yodelling lessons. It seems to be the fashion of the moment to like The Smiths and these sorts of groups, and to me the lyrics are really depressing. I heard one the other day while I was in Kensington Market trying on some jeans and it gave me a headache. The Smiths, it was. Singing 'Oh my God, I can't get a job, what am I going to do?' As for this song, I listened to the first half and I had to turn it off. My mother was in the other room and she shouted, 'Nah, I don't like that one -- get it off!'"

MES comments (in his Renegade book): "That's as good as it got inside Smash Hits: Page 3 birds airing their views. I think it's great, actually -- better than being harangued by Tony Parsons and Julie Burchill."

Add a comment