Living Too Late



Crow's feet are ingrained 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 hillbilly
Must have stump tripod in the genes (2)
I'm immune to things
In my dreams

I saw through the trees (3)
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 


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 


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. 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. 


3. 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. ^

Comments (2)

  • 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.
  • 2. dannyno | 25/07/2017
Link to the text of the Sounds article in note 1:

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