Mark'll Sink Us



The ward was arraigned with spats of blood
The victim, castigate, and yet, part of us  (2)
The thoughts in eyes as seen under a hood
Burned in my own eyes and in my own blood!
Mark'll sink us.

A message mesmerized, on all English breath
The crux pretty grasped, yet mostly misunderstood
Mark will sink us.

I am desolate.
I live the black and blue of the night
Friend depression comes now and again once in a blue moon
He points backwards thus:
Mark will sink us.


1. From Gladys Winthorpe's "Emporium of Particularly Underacknowledged Fall Compositions" (via Reformation):

In some ways, the song is unique within the group's back catalogue. I'm particularly thinking about the melancholy atmosphere of the piece as a whole and particularly the resigned air to MES's vocal performance. There have been a number of theories put forward on the Unofficial Fall Forum as to what the song's lyrics are about. One suggestion was that it was "a nod to Archbishop Paul Marcinkus, one of the baddies in the alleged plot to murder Albino Luciani" (the "Hey! Luciani" play being in production around the time that this song was recorded). Another was that it was some kind of schizophrenic conversation "between the public and private personae of MES". My personal preference is for the suggestion that it is about MES's periodic and willful sabotaging of the group's career and his deliberate retreats from becoming "too popular" (this subject has been covered in a couple of the recent books about The Fall). Whatever the song is about, I would suggest that there are some particularly personal lyrics here, the lines "Friend depression comes now and again once in a blue moon / It points backwards thus" being especially prominent.


2. The adjectival use of "castigate" is, according to the OED, obsolete. They define it thusly: "Subdued, chastened, moderated; revised and emended."



Comments (7)

  • 1. dannyno | 02/03/2014
Despite the title, the actual lyrics is clearly enunciated "Mark will sink us".

It's repeated three times after the first verse, and three times after the verse, and many times after the last verse.

  • 2. dannyno | 13/09/2014
On both 7" and 12" versions, the line is "He points backwards", not "it..."

On the 12" version, it's "yet mostly misunderstood", not "but...", but on the 7", it's just "mostly misunderstood" - neither "but" nor "yet".
  • 3. Martin | 30/01/2015
Small change to be made. It should be:

"Burned in my own eyes and in my own blood! "
  • 4. ian | 07/02/2018
This song was first performed in December 1986. In August 1986 was published Mark E. Smith's first (of many) interviews in UK music mag The Wire. The interviewer was Mark Sinker.
  • 5. dannyno | 18/01/2023
Text of this can be found in the Blue Book, p.164. Easy to miss in the middle of the collage.
  • 6. dannyno | 18/01/2023
Tony Herrington
  • 7. Tony Herrington | 30/10/2023
Re: 4. ian | 07/02/2018

I asked Mark Sinker about this notion, and he replied:

well i actually asked MES about this once (in norwich where the fall were playing, supported by UT, who i was hanging around with a lot at that time ) and he (perhaps unsurprisingly) said no it was nothing to do with me, but rather ARCHBISHOP PAUL MARCINCKUS aka GOD’S BANKER (as in fact tagged in another comment): marcinckus being an alleged mafia-connected bit-player in the passing (some say assassination) of pope john-paul i, which is a topic MES returned to several times viz!_Luciani:_The_Life_and_Codex_of_John_Paul_I

(francis coppola based a film on this play i believe)

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