Nate Will Not Return



Out of the fog ?
Out of the fog connection ?
Grasping the deception ?
Coming out of the fog ?
Grasping the connection ?
Grasping the deception

There was a man called Nate.?
He was a good man
His girlfriend and the Russian maid
?He was called Nate
He decided to sublimate
He went to London
?He called his Father and said, ?"Father, it's Nate. ?Of both girlfriend and mate,
?I perchance do decide to replicate, ?
For I am Nate." ??
The Russian maid revealed that she was not a citizen of New York State,
?But had slipped in on a Ukrainian crate?
Due to overtime we missed the gossip girl on New York Channel number 38, (2)
Which is not available anywhere else but in maybe New Jersey State  (3)
??I am Nate.
??I would like to do a lick as an actor, and do it straight 
?In my role I fail, irate?
Is it too late
?To cover the song by The Fall called "Hot Cake"? (4)
??The plough and the ague of un-natural offal, it disgusts

There was a man called Nate. ?
Ringing in England filming. ?
He said, "Hello mate."
?I might visit the gallery.... ?
I might visit the gallery known as Tate (5)
??I am Nate.
??I am an actor,
I'll do it straight,
I'll do it straight.
A margin out of the connection, ?
Out of the fog in time
Out of the fog connection

??I am Nate
I am Nate
??On the streets of Russia, ?
The maidens and maids are irate 
?He promised them homes,
?Instead they got a crate!
??I perchance...


1. This is mostly a bunch of rhymes and lazy half-rhymes with the word "Nate." The lyrics are amusing, but don't seem to have been sweated over. From Reformation, a possible identifcation of the song's title character:

From Marc Master's review of Ersatz GB in The Wire (November 2011): "One of the best, 'Nate Will Not Return, appears to be about a character in the American teen soap opera Gossip Girl. I'm baffled that Smith knows so much about it (presuming his couplets are accurate), but I'm even more fascinated to hear him bite so hard into them, grinding his jaw and swilling saliva until he has forced almost every line to rhyme with 'Nate."
MES speaking on BBC Radio 6, referring to Gossip Girl: "Nate's always on it and he's always moaning about something. His computer's always broke down or something."

Gossip Girl, which, as you will see, is mentioned in the song, is an American TV series that ran from 2007 to 2012, about New York socialites or some such thing. According to Wikipedia:
Nate Archibald (Chace Crawford) is the perfect "Golden Boy" of the Upper East Side, always being fought over by the prominent female characters, and deals with a lot of issues that compromise his "perfect" life.

Apparently, at the series end it is hinted that Nate wound up running for mayor of New York. As far as the accuracy of MES's couplets, I have no idea, but I'm skeptical.
On live versions, MES has been known to say "He was in the program Gossip Girls" [sic], a more explicit connection with Nate than is drawn here. 
Eliot R points out yet another Twilight Zone connection:
"The title is a spin on the twilight zone episode title 'King Nine Will Not Return' I can't spot any connection to the actual episode - though it does involve a man shouting 'Blake!' again and again."

2. My (frankly, cursory) research indicates that Gossip Girl aired on "The CW," which is not on channel 38 in New York; there apparently is no channel 38 in the NYC metropolitan area, although I can't be bothered to check if there is one upstate
3. No one has ever called it "New Jersey State."  ^
4. If he wanted it to rhyme, which seems to be the entire raison d'être of most of these lines, MES could have said "Industrial Estate," "Extricate," "Levitate," "Living Too Late," or perhaps the more obscure "Medical Acceptance Gate," or, stretching the rhyme just a little, "Pay Your Rates." I'm just saying, he had options. 
5. As Nate was last seen in London, this is presumably the branch of the Tate gallery, a network of four museums holding Britain's national art collection, in that city, or perhaps the affiliated Tate Modern, also in London. 



Comments (15)

  • 1. von_Sudenfed | 20/07/2013
my little theory about the channel thing - for a non-US citizen who has little knowledge of the actual names of the US TV stations (national or regional), it is much more likely to remember that a TV show you saw when flicking through the channels at a certain hotel was on channel no. 0 - 100. at least that's what I can remember from my stay at US hotels - dozens of channels and all that time i spent searching through them for something watchable. so maybe MES just wants to emphasise that the song's about a random show on a random channel :-)
  • 2. John | 01/08/2013
I live in NYC, and on my Time Warner Cable TV, Channel 38 is A&E, which probably would not carry Gossip Girl. On the FiOS website, it's listed as local access, so could be anything. I think it just rhymed
  • 3. dannyno | 22/03/2014
"The Russian maid revealed she was not a citizen of New York State"

It's "that she was not"

"do a lip" - I hear "do a lick"?

" am Nate. 

I am an actor, I'll do it straight." He says "I'll do it straight" twice here.
  • 4. bzfgt | 08/04/2014
I still hear it as slightly more like "do a lip" but I changed it since it makes a bit more sense. I'm not sure what "The plough and the aid of un-natural offal" is getting at. The air of unnatural offal? He doesn't say that though.
  • 5. Geus (link) | 08/04/2015
Although the song is very humorous, the reason it makes me laugh, is because of truth presented in it.
The song, as I experience it, within the theme of the album, is about the darkness in our times, where men have become rednecks. This is also expressed in the beginning, "coming out of the fog", where reality is invisible or hard to see by men in our times.
Russia is in such fog, but also the USA.
Not said that Europe isn't in fog, but this song relates to the darkness/fog over reality.
And MES sees it in a way of a European, and that is why it is funny.
And I believe he uses his intuition to describe it, because the amount of knowledge needed to see this is rather large.
  • 6. bzfgt | 05/06/2015
Thanks for the comment Geus, this sort of individual interpretation, whether or not it matches MES's intent with the lyric (it seems plausible), is, I think, exactly how the lyrics should be received, and represents very well what we all should be doing using the lyrics and notes as a basis.
Elliot R
  • 7. Elliot R | 02/05/2016
The title is a spin on the twilight zone episode title 'King Nine Will Not Return'

I can't spot any connection to the actual episode - though it does involve a man shouting 'Blake!' again and again
  • 8. Brian | 25/05/2019
“Both girlfriend and maid” not “mate”

He got them both pregnant right?
  • 9. bzfgt (link) | 29/06/2019
Crap, I have no idea..
  • 10. joincey | 30/07/2020
I concur with comment 8, Brian. Definitely "of girlfriend and MAID I perchance to decide to replicate".
The Prestatyn Runner
  • 11. The Prestatyn Runner (link) | 22/10/2020
One of the main characters in Gossip Girl is called Serena, sharing the name of the Fall's longest-serving booking agent, and very loyal servant of The Fall, Serena Parsons, which probably piqued MES's interest.

The character is actually called Serena VAN DER Woodson, but unless pre-cog is at work, that's not relevant as Mark and Pam were yet to meet when Nate was written.
  • 12. dannyno | 23/10/2020
I don't know about "probably", but it could be a "possibly".

Serena Parsons:
  • 13. Rob | 06/05/2021
It's surely got to be:

The plough and the ague of unnatural offal

(so much better)
  • 14. bzfgt (link) | 08/05/2021
It's definitely ague! Thank you, I listened just now and it's clear.
  • 15. dannyno | 30/12/2021
The lyric here doesn't quite get there, but the term for a poem in which every line ends with the same rhyme is "monorhyme".

This form is less common in English than it is in - to quote Wikipedia - "Arabic, Latin and Welsh works".

See also Oxford Dictionary of Literary Terms

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