Nine Out Of Ten

Lyrics

The company supplied
The company supplied
Nine of out ten, they gave me (1)
Nine out of ten
Nine out of ten, they gave me
nine out of ten

And, come and and listen to my story
From when I started

I was in an orphan home since I was one
I was an orphan baby, all along
And when I was they gave me one out of
One out of ten

Then I was older
I was older
Made a home when I started
Nobody cared
If I was, a-baby, dead or alive

Nine out of ten
The company supplied, they said
Too dark baby
Try and understand,
You don't break rules you don't follow them (2)
Sub-lingual
Five out of ten
Nine out of ten
They gave me nine out of ten   (3)
 

Notes

1. According to John Robb's review on the Louder Than War website:

"The final track ‘Nine Out Of Ten’ is an acidic dark humoured snark attack on yours truly for giving Fall mate Ed Blaney’s recent very good album [which features MES on several tracks--TAF] a good review on this site and is all the better for its pointed assault on your author and probably loads of other targets in classic free form Fall style. It made me chuckle so much that I decided that [I would give] the 32nd Fall album the same score – otherwise it would have been a ten."

Corroborating this interpretation, Pro Rae on the Fall online forum points out that at the Fall gig from 1/27/2016 in Southampton, MES "clearly says, shortly after the 2:00 mark, 'and I got a review from John Robb.'"

 

The comment about Robb may have been improvised; since Robb knows about it, it's possible he was there. If this is the case, MES may have seen him and thoiught of the happy coincidence of the lyric and the score given Blaney's album. Really, who knows? But it's not clear that the song has anything to do with John Robb.

Since MES's recent illness and death, some have suggested the numbers in the song refer to survival odds.

^

 

2. The meaning of this line would change depending on how it is transcribed; for instance, "You don't follow rules, you don't! Follow them," but the above seems most likely. For more, see the discussion of this line on the Fall online forum.

At the NME awards in 2018, Brix gave a speech in a kind of tribute to MES. She said, among other things, "It is said you are remembered for the rules you break. But for Mark E. Smith, there were no rules." See also "Before the Moon Falls": "I must create a new regime/Or live by another man's," which paraphrases Blake's "I must Create a System or be enslav'd by another Man's. I will not Reason & Compare; my business is to Create."

^

3. The song ends with a lengthy repeated guitar coda. From David Cavanagh's feature about MES from the April 2018 issue of Uncut (pp.50-56, quote from p.56):

"He was animated as he sang his final vocal for the album ('Nine Out Of Ten'), with guitarist Greenway seated beside him. The song came to a natural end. Greenway stopped playing. 'No,' Smith said. 'Play it again.' He got up and walked slowly around the studio, tapping bits of percussion, while Greenway strummed the chords for three, four, then five minutes.

And that's exactly how we hear it on the record. The track ends. The guitar resumes. But Mark E Smith is now silent."

 

^

Comments (19)

bzfgt
  • 1. bzfgt (link) | 24/08/2017
How do you link to specific posts on the FOF? I suppose I should have asked this 5 years ago...sometimes I try to guess the little number at the end but I always miss by quite a bit, I have no idea how you guys do that...
dannyno
  • 2. dannyno | 24/08/2017
Click on where it says "Posted", and copy the link.
dannyno
  • 3. dannyno | 28/08/2017
If this is supposed to be an attack on John Robb, where exactly is the negative comment to be located in the text?

No, I don't think this is so straightforward as that.
dannyno
  • 4. dannyno | 28/08/2017
John Robb's review of Blaney's album "Urban Nature" was published on 26 May 2016 (http://louderthanwar.com/ed-blaney-urban-nature-album-review-salford-grit-and-wonk-pop-from-fall-acolyte/).

Nine Out Of Ten's live debut was at the gig at Fibbers, York, on 19 November 2016.

https://sites.google.com/site/reformationposttpm/fall-tracks/9-10 records Chris Goodhead's transcription of the lyrics from the York performance:


I was a baby, baby
I was an author, baby
When I was born

And come and listen to my story
I've been told
I was an author, baby
When I was one
And when they talked to me
The said to me
Four out of ten they give me
Four out of ten

Then I was vegetable
?
They said, "Look boy
You're not rebellious
You don't believe in that
We're going to have to lose it."
Seven out of ten they gave me
Seven out of ten

You see the word
You see the blue waves of Truro
In Cornwall
You've seen the buildings of Cornwall
In Truro
AlI see is blue bottles

Five out of ten they give me
Five out of ten
Five out of ten they give me
Five out of ten
dannyno
  • 5. dannyno | 28/08/2017
Footage of York debut: https://youtu.be/ODHQajbPQls

Here's a scrap of lyrics from the Arts Club Theatre, Liverpool gig of 21 January 2017:

http://dannyno.org.uk/fall/9-10-liverpool.jpg

The "'and I got a review from John Robb" line appeared at the Engine Rooms, Southampton gig, 27 January 2017 https://youtu.be/ycPReNoX6aU

Note that MES laughs as he says it, which maybe might imply it's an improvised line?

Note we don't just have "nine out ten" in these lyrics - but "four out of ten", "seven out of ten", and "nought out of ten" as well.

Note that the lines about bluebottles and Cornwall do not appear on record.
dannyno
  • 6. dannyno | 28/08/2017
I had a different glimmer of meaning come to me earlier. The lines about orphans and so on, suggested to me the Nazi kidnapping of Polish children https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kidnapping_of_children_by_Nazi_Germany. The campaign extended widely, but began with children in orphanages. And one of the things they did was to classify the children according to measures of Nordic racial characteristics. Trouble is, there weren't 10 measures.

But there's some echoes of something along those lines, isn't there? What do you mean, "no"?
bzfgt
  • 7. bzfgt (link) | 28/09/2017
Wow! I didn't know you could click "Posted," the cursor (whatever it is) doesn't even turn into a hand. This is revolutionary!
bzfgt
  • 8. bzfgt (link) | 28/09/2017
"If this is supposed to be an attack on John Robb, where exactly is the negative comment to be located in the text?

No, I don't think this is so straightforward as that."

Of course not. If it is an attack on Robb--a big "if"--it is not only, or even primarily, that.

I know this isn't your style, but a lot of people seem to think that when you find out "This song does X," you've identified what the song is "about" and all else becomes irrelevant. If Fall lyrics are anything, they are almost always--without really thinking a lot about of it, I'm tempted to say always--the antithesis of that. And then a lot of the same people accuse us of foreclosing interpretations!

The most ridiculous extreme of this was that absurd discussion about how "Two Steps Back" can't allude to masturbation because it's about Martin Bramah...has there ever been a greater non sequitur?
bzfgt
  • 9. bzfgt (link) | 28/09/2017
But I added some caveatage to ease your mind, anyway. As for the Nazis, that will have to percolate down here and in our minds for a while, until we get a little more meat on the bone or until it withers but either way it is immortalized down here.
fall fan 50002
  • 10. fall fan 50002 | 29/01/2018
Apologies if this has already been covered, but on first hearing I assumed the “9/10 they gave me” referred to survival odds (circa late 2016, I guess). It wouldn’t be the first time he has brought material from the doctors office into songs. In my mind this fits with the “one out of ten” and “nobody cared...dead or alive” lines.

(Not to suggest that 9/10 shouldn’t also be read as an album/career/life rating)
dannyno
  • 11. dannyno | 29/01/2018
The lyric switches between 9/10, 5/10 etc. But yes, comment #10, I think medical connotations are probably inescapable in view of the sad news of a few days ago, even if they are not correct.
dannyno
  • 12. dannyno | 08/02/2018
Error in note 1:

Pro Rae on the Fall online forum points out that at the Fall gig from 9/10/2016 in Southampton, MES "clearly says, shortly after the 2:00 mark, 'and I got a review from John Robb.'"


There was no Southampton gig in 2016 - it was the following year. I think you've mistaken Pro Rae's "9/10 Southampton" for a date, when it's obviously a reference to the song title!
bzfgt
  • 13. bzfgt (link) | 12/02/2018
Oh, yeah.
bzfgt
  • 14. bzfgt (link) | 14/02/2018
Note for later:

He was animated as he sang his final vocal for the album ("Nine Out Of Ten"), with guitarist Greenway seated beside him. The song came to a natural end. Greenway stopped playing. "No," Smith said. "Play it again." He got up and walked slowly around the studio, tapping bits of percussion, while Greenway strummed the chords for three, four, then five minutes.

And that's exact how we hear it on the record. The track ends. The guitar resumes. But Mark E Smith is now silent.
bzfgt
  • 15. bzfgt (link) | 17/02/2018
Is that the right magazine, Q? I couldn't turn it up Googling and can't recall where it is on the FOF.
dannyno
  • 16. dannyno | 17/02/2018
This is the FOF thread:

https://www.tapatalk.com/groups/thefall/nine-out-of-ten-interpretations-notes-and-queries-t42842.html

It's not from Q. It's from Uncut.

Here's my post there:

"David Cavanagh's feature about MES from the April 2018 issue of Uncut (pp.50-56), quote from p.56:

He was animated as he sang his final vocal for the album ("Nine Out Of Ten"), with guitarist Greenway seated beside him. The song came to a natural end. Greenway stopped playing. "No," Smith said. "Play it again." He got up and walked slowly around the studio, tapping bits of percussion, while Greenway strummed the chords for three, four, then five minutes.

And that's exactly how we hear it on the record. The track ends. The guitar resumes. But Mark E Smith is now silent.


p.s. there was a typo in that last line - should be "exactly" not "exact".
Elliot R
  • 17. Elliot R | 18/02/2018
I just found a cigarette packet; the NHS warning on the front says "Smoking causes 9 out of 10 lung cancers". Probably a coincidence but I wanted to share it on here.
bzfgt
  • 18. bzfgt (link) | 19/02/2018
Wow, seeing as he had lung cancer and some are seeing this as a rumination on his impending death, that could be significant.
Elliot R
  • 19. Elliot R | 19/02/2018
Yeh, I was quite struck when I saw it. I can't say how long they've used that exact wording for, they do change the warning messages.

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