Mister Rode



I got a name I got a say (2)
I got a name I got a say
I got a name I got a say 

It just came and then it stopped
It just came and then it stopped 

I got a look translucent
I got a look translucent face  (3)
My mirror dissolves every day (4)

I got a name I got a face
I got a name I got a say
I gotta show medical card
All wang doctors all tryna… 

It came in tricolours with headband
Its summers were all in a day
They had a name they had a face
They had a name they had a say
They had a say! 

Said going downtown
They had a name
They got a say 

It came in tricolours each day
When I’d seen that show today
When I’d seen those swinging doors
No richness for… 

Gimme just don’t
Come round lemon freshness
The lemon freshness
The lemon freshness 

I gotta show medical doors
All right
Gonna kill 

I got a name I got a say
I got a name I got a say
I got a name I got a say
I got a name I got a say 

I got a name 

I got a name I got a say
I gotta show a barrel of doors
I gotta walk I got around
I get a seat I got a name 

It just came and then it stopped
It just came and then it stopped
Then it stopped

It just came and then it stopped
I got a name I got a say
I got a name I got a say 
It’s taking off 

It said and took off
I got a name I got a face


1. There is a race horse named "Mister Rode." Harley points out that RØDE is a brand of microphone, if it is the reference here the title could refer to MES himself.


2. It may be "I gotta say," but below "they had a say," so I went with "got a say." I suspect that it is "I got a name I gotta say," though, the name being Mister Rode. However, on it least one life version, MES sings "I got a name I gotta trace." There are doubtlessly mistakes in the lyrics as I've transcribed them, which I hope will get mostly ironed out in the coming days, as more people get ahold of the album.


3.Antoine kicks and deals:

John Cooper Clarke, "I Married A Monster From Outer Space":
"each time I see her translucent face
I remember the monster from outer space"


4. From "Calendar": "Your mirrors are dissolving today." The line is vaguely reminiscent of the Grateful Dead classic "Dark Star":

Mirror shatters
in formless reflections
of matter

Glass hand dissolving
to ice petal flowers

The Dead are an unlikely reference point for MES; still, some have pointed out a musical similarity between "Mr. Rode" and the jam section to "New Potato Caboose," from Anthem of the Sun. I am skeptical that any of this is intentional, but it's worth considering.

Otherwise, talk of dissolving mirrors seems like generic psychedelia, and it wouldn't surprise me if connections can be drawn in other places.


More Information

Comments (35)

  • 1. Rik | 09/12/2013
After second "translucent face"

It's..."my mirror dissolves every day"
  • 2. Grimo | 21/12/2013
No vistas (?) for No rich door?
  • 3. bzfgt | 02/02/2014
I'm very unsure about that, Grimo, but no less so than what I had, so I switched it since it fits slightly better. The lyrics are hard to transcribe because he says very counter-intuitive things. I just changed "I bang on the doors" to " a barrel of doors," which is obviously less likely semantically but I can't hear "bang" any more. And "I gotta show medical doors" is said enough times that I am kind of confident it's correct, but it doesn't really make much sense. I don't mind him saying things the brain doesn't want to fill in the gaps of because of their oddness--in fact it's one of the cool things about the Fall--but I wish he'd enunciate them more clearly sometimes. I mean, you can slur "baby I love you" but you should pronounce "I got a look translucent face" a little more clearly for the sake of the transcriber.
  • 4. bzfgt | 15/02/2014
I went back to "rich door" after listening to the vinyl version.
  • 5. bzfgt | 15/02/2014
Yes, Rik, that is better.
  • 6. harleyr | 15/02/2014
An Ode to Mr R?
  • 7. bzfgt | 16/02/2014
Maybe; who's Mr. R?
  • 8. harleyr | 11/03/2014
Not sure, but it would at least fit in with the rest of the Remainderer EP (Remainder R, Rememberence R, Mister R). I'm speculating that Smith was playing around with titles and put R and Ode together to get Rode.
  • 9. SlightlyDislocated | 28/03/2014
As he is a passenger, or traveller, Mister Rode's name is entirely appropriate.

The lyrics are a meditation on identity and anonymity, from the perspectives of, first, a passenger at a subway or commuter rail station, second, a patient about to be wheeled into surgery in a hospital, and third, a soul boarding an airplane and experiencing its subsequent takeoff.

At the subway station, as the train arrives, our protagonist sees his "translucent face" reflected in the windows of the train as it slows to a stop (and, through his translucent image, he sees the faces of the anonymous passengers inside the train--thus the "mirror" that "dissolves every day". The chorus asserts identity in the context of that most anonymizing of modern activities, packing onto a train, with all the awkward glance-avoiding etiquette that accompanies it.

In the second vignette, the protagonist observes that he has "gotta show medical doors", which tidily sets the scene--he is going to be wheeled into some part of a hospital. He muses over: his distrust of "wank doctors", the "tricolours seen every day"(?), "summers all in a day" (a line possibly filched from the Ray Bradbury short story "All Summer in a Day") and hospital disinfectant, among other things.

His anxiety growing, he mordantly observes that, rich or poor, all go through the same swinging doors. As he slips into full-blown anesthesia/paranoia, he encourages the doctors toward their putative (in his paranoid estimation) task: "gotta kill!"

(The chorus of this verse serves a different purpose--to have a name and a matching face in this environment is reassuring, as it lessens the chance of having a leg sawed off when one should have had one's tonsils removed instead. OTOH, one indeed has a name when it is attached by a tag to one's toe as well.)

In the final tableaux, passengers are boarding a "barrel of doors" that also has wings--an intercontinental jet. Our protagonist has "a name and a seat", and negotiates his way down the aisles until he arrives at his appointed place.

The final lyric, "It's taking off, it said, and took off" is accompanied by a swelling instrumental run-up that starts cheese-ily enough with childlike puttering noises provided by Eleni's keyboard, but then gains a Mancabilly intensity that has an oddly transcendent quality (which could be said to be a quality obtained by the song in general).

At the very beginning of Mister Rode, the melody starts with a descending four-note figure (by itself on the promo/vinyl version, behind "I got a face" on the digital) that is strongly reminiscent of church bells ringing changes. (It seems familiar--I poked around the internet, listening to the changes rung at various churches in hopes of stumbling on it, but no such luck.) Gradually, that figure transforms (via a tacked-on inversion) into something raga-like, aided by Peter Greenway's sinuous, sitar-ish voicing and phrasing, ranged against twin drummers playing loopy, shambolic complementary patterns.

Church bells? Changes? Perhaps.
But at the least, MES here revisits the weighty topics of existence and mortality and seems to be, if not entirely reconciled to the latter, at least somewhat accommodated to it.
  • 10. Mark | 30/06/2014
@SlightlyDislocated: As a church bellringer, I can say that in my experience the four-note riff doesn't obviously mimic any obvious changes that we ring. That's not to say that you couldn't reproduce it if you had bells of the appropriate notes, but it's not common in my 25-ish years experience.
  • 11. Wrayx8 | 22/12/2015
I'm getting Lance Armstrong's downfall from this. Yellow, tricolors, people "having a say." Seems around the same time. Wish I had a bit more to go on.
  • 12. Antoine | 01/02/2017
For what it's worth, Cooper Clarke I Married A Monster From Outer Space:
"each time I see her translucent face
I remember the monster from outer space"
  • 13. bzfgt | 11/02/2017
It's worth a note, that's what its worth!
  • 14. harleyr | 17/02/2017
RØDE is a brand of microphone. Another case of naming a song after a piece of performing equipment (cf Hot Cake guitar pedals)?
  • 15. bzfgt (link) | 18/05/2017
"I gotta show medical doors"...

DO we know this? I always think "I gotta show medical card," which makes sense but I don't know that he says it. But just now the first one sounded like "medical code." Anyone want to put ears on it?
  • 16. harleyr | 22/05/2017
(following on from previous comment) if you have a say you might use a microphone to say it.
  • 17. dannyno | 23/05/2017
Comment #15: he doesn't pronounce the whole word properly, does he? Shocking behaviour. I don't think it's "doors", "code" or "card" would be preferable, but I'm also not hearing a "c" sound...
Paul G
  • 18. Paul G | 18/05/2018
I'd be surprised if this was about Lance Armstrong (11. Wrayx8) but I can certainly add to that theory...

A reference to 'tricolours' could mean the French flag.

'Summers were all in a day'. In one day Armstrong had his name ripped from the record books. The Tour takes place in July.

Armstrong famously recovered from cancer, there are plenty of medical/hospital references in the song.

'I got a name, I got a face'. Another reference to being removed from cycling history perhaps.

'It just came and then it stopped.' Is this the money and sponsorship that dried up after the report into his doping was completed. Armstrong estimates he lost $75m in one day.

Is the 'translucent face' a way of pointing out that his denials became more see-through?

'Lemon freshness' - Former Tour winner Greg Lemond was a big critic of Armstrong. Or is lemon the shade of yellow in the Tour De France leader's jersey?
  • 19. dannyno | 20/05/2018
"Its summers were all in a day"

I want to just amplify SlightlyDislocated's note in comment #9, there's a 1954 Ray Bradbury short story entitled, All Summer in a Day, which is set on Venus.


Bradbury died on 5 June 2012. This song debuted live on 30 October 2013 and was first released on [i]The Remainderer
10" in November. According to Wikipedia, Bradbury's death coincided with a rare transit of Venus across the Sun.
  • 20. dannyno | 20/05/2018
"Mister Road" is one of the Black Hats in Neil Gaiman's American Gods.

"I Got a Name" is a 1973 Jim Croce song, which featured in Tarantino's Django Unchained (2012).
  • 21. dannyno | 20/05/2018
"I gotta show a barrel of doors"

Barrel door bolts are a thing.
  • 22. bzfgt (link) | 15/07/2018
Right but I don't think it necessarily works with "barrel of doors"...on the other hand in the course of typing that I started warming to it, who knows...
  • 23. bzfgt (link) | 15/07/2018
Shit I actually read American Gods not two years ago, and I don't think it ever clicked...I'm too spelling-oriented, maybe
  • 24. bzfgt (link) | 15/07/2018
Harley's suggestion grew on me, I like the idea that it's about the man with the mic....speculative, but I didn't push it.

Lots of good stuff in the comments here, it goes in so many directions I think I'll leave most of it down here for now and let people peruse it and consider...
  • 25. bzfgt (link) | 15/07/2018
"Medical code" seems slightly more likely than the rest at this moment, "doors" has inertia on its side...a sorry state of affairs when inertia decides but the mistake we've all lived with for 5 years seems more conservative then a new one...
  • 26. Joincey | 16/05/2019
Mister (Armstrong) Rode (a bicycle)
  • 27. bzfgt (link) | 28/06/2019
Hmm...LeMond is the guy who took down Armstrong according to Google? "Lemon(d) freshness"? Could we be starting to have something here?
  • 28. Judas | 28/07/2019
Rode is a common Surname in Germany.
Mark, spent some time in hospital in Germany around 2009.
Maybe Mr. Rode was a fellow patient or Doctor?
  • 29. bzfgt (link) | 09/08/2019
Yeah, entirely possible, and something that should eventually be figure outable...
  • 30. fleurdumal | 16/10/2022
One of the Doctor’s who headed the clinic in Auschwitz was named Dr. Rohde.

I was reading testimony from the Eichmann Trial and was reminded of this song: http://www.nizkor.com/hweb/people/e/eichmann-adolf/transcripts/Sessions/Session-069-01.html

I gotta show medical doors
All right
Gonna kill [i][/i]

etc, etc.

A tale of man so desperate for meaning in the face of liquid and vanishing identity/one’s own mortality that any organization, cause or activity will do, no matter how terrible and hideous?

“I got a name, I got a say”
  • 31. fleurdumal (link) | 16/10/2022
Also, “it came in tricolours with headband”—red, black and white?

The headband the leather strap on the Nazi Death’s head cap perhaps?

Maybe a deliberate confusion of victim and persecutor? The predicament universalized, the aging and coming apart, even this character struggling with loss of meaning once his precious party dissolves. The transit imagery could be the trains that with brutal and absurd efficiency transported so many to their deaths.

“They had a name, they had a say”

But also, the ephemerality of events, of whole movements, of whole races: gone, suddenly. And with them their secrets, hopes and turmoils. Collective memory relying on exhumed scraps, the dead doomed to be forgotten or misunderstood by posterity.
  • 32. dannyno | 01/11/2023
Mr Rode is a character in John Le Carré's 1962 Smiley novel, A Murder of Quality. There is a 1991 TV feature film version first shown on ITV in the UK.
  • 33. >|<m | 28/01/2024
… two pennies worth on ‘Mister Rode”
In point 2. of the Notes on ‘Spectre Vs Rector’… “M. R. (Montague Rhodes) James (1862-1936) was an influential author of ghost stories”. Aforementioned included in relation to this song, ‘Mister Rode’, as a possibility that the title ‘Mister Rode’ could allude obliquely to the “Mister” (M.R.) of James’ first two initials, combined with a version (Rode) of his middle name, being Rhodes. Also worth a mention, another cross reference in this vein, the “Mr” of the ‘MR PHARMACIST’ single. The title is written as “M. R. PHARMACIST” on the cover. Too much to be another reference to M. R. (James) probably… Though certainly, it is different from an orthodox/straightforward title rendition which would be “MR. Pharmacist” not M. R. Pharmacist as depicted on the cover.

On page 17 of the introduction of Methuen’s English Classics edition of Christopher Marlowe’s ‘Doctor Faustus’ is written of Marlowe’s source material, and with particular relevance to the song ‘Mister Rode’ the following, “EXTRACTS FROM THE Damnable Life. Doctor Faustus, Prologue, 11-27. (A narrative of Faustus’ life up to when the play opens.) Damnable Life, i. John Faustus, born in the town of Rhode, lying in the province of Weimar in Germany.”

Pointing towards a devilish subtext as one of the strings to ‘The Remainderer’? Relating this to Note 9… SlightlyDislocated’s take, could there be concerns of meeting of one’s maker and maybe one of a reconciliation to a pact of a somewhat devilish nature and warmer climes being the destination of the flight? The pay off of Racing with the Devil?!

“Well I've led an evil life, so they say
But I'll hide from the Devil on judgement day, I said
Move, hot-rod, move man
Move, hot-rod, move man
Move hot-rod, move me on down the the line
  • 34. >|<m | 02/02/2024
A TCM Dr, in relation to…
“All wang doctors all tryna…”

Dr Wang’s Clinic Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine in Dartford…

Dr Wang was educated at Inner Mongolia Medical University and graduated with a Bachelor degree in TCM before taking up advanced studies at Beijing TCM University and graduating with Master degree in acupuncture.

She started her over 50 years TCM career from 1970 (she was from bare foot doctor to a professor of TCM doctor), and is now she is practicing as a TCM doctor at her own TCM Clinic. She opened 3 clinics
  • 35. >|<m | 21/02/2024
“He saw me crying when I was ten and led me to a looking glass in an unused room (with an empty parrot cage in the corner) so that I might study my dissolving face.” Lines relating to Notes (3) and (4).

This quote (page 4 of Penguin Modern Classics edition) from Nabokov’s ‘Bend Sinister’ has a mirror and dissolving face which seems to lend itself well as a relevant link too…

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