Open The Boxoctosis

Lyrics

Land of bounty

Open the box, open the box (1)
Open the goddam box!

Open the box, open the box
Open the goddam box!

I opened the box
Of imperial stuff 
And to my surprise
I found twenty five warriors
Warriors
With shields (2)

Open the box, open the box
Open the goddam box!

Open the box, open the box
Open the goddam box!

I opened the box
Of imperial love
And to my surprise
I found twenty five warriors
With ribbons

Land of tolerance
Saints like me
With good word for everybody (3)

Open the box, open the box
Open the goddam box!

Everybody

Open the box, open the box
Open the goddam box!

I found imperious ribbons
I opened the box
And to my surprise
I found love
Imperial stuff

Open the box, open the box
Open the goddam box!

Open the box, open the box
Open the goddam box!

I opened the box
I was well perplexed
I opened the box
It was orthodox
It was looking at me
With imperial love
I opened the box

I opened the b-b-b-b-b-b-b-b...

Land of return to seat
Land of bounty
Land of dope cake

I opened the box

Open the box, open the box
Open the goddam box!

I opened the box
And to my surprise
I found twenty five warriors
At the bottom
At the bottom
At the bottom
At the bottom

Notes

1. Which box? Some have suggested Pandora's box, which seems plausible as at least an allusion...According to Granny on Bongos on the Fall online forum, the song may be referencing a box of toy soldiers given to MES by his sister. On the same thread, worthless recluse points out that the title phrase in the imperative mood is much like something would hear from a customs official. 

Fiery Jack points out that the refrain is very much reminiscent of "Jam the Box" by Bill Summers and Summers [sic] Heat, in which we exhorted to "Jam the box/Jam the box/Jam the hot damn box!"

Basmikel points out a possible connection to the British game show Take Your Pick!  From Wikipedia:

At the climax of the show, contestants would be offered the choice of whether to "take the money" (take all money they had earned so far) or "open the box", which could contain good prizes such as a holiday or a washing machine. It could also contain booby prizes such as a mousetrap or a bag of sweets.

Could the box be a coffin, or MES's closet?  From Sounds, 13 August 1983:

"As a kid I used to be obsessed that like I was reincarnated from the trenches of the First World War. I used to think  that one day I would open the closet and a load of war dead would pour  out all over me. 
The other dreams I had were the usual child nightmares about tripping over or dreaming that you were going to school in your vest..."

Dave points out that episode 144 of The Twilight Zone is called "What's in  the Box?" It's about a  television set that shows a man his past and future...the plot doesn't  seem particularly  relevant, but MES is known to have been a huge Twilight Zone fan, and the title might have stayed with him...

^

2. These lines make me think of the Chinese Terracotta Army, 8,000 terracotta figurines that were dug up in 1974 in a Chinese emperor's tomb. The terracotta warriors are more or less life-sized, though, which makes it seem less likely MES would find a box of them under the Christmas tree.

^

3. These lines are sung in a different voice, which may indicate a different narrator. "Tolerance" is probably never a good word in MES's mouth. The "land" is described at various points thusly: land of bounty, land of tolerance, land of return to seat, and land of dope cake. It is possible the weakness and decadence of modern-day English or Westerners in general is being contrasted, presumably unfavorably, with the disciplined and purposeful "imperial" warriors, whereever their own "land" may be (again, maybe China).

^

Comments (36)

Fiery Jack
  • 1. Fiery Jack | 14/11/2015
The refrain appears to be based on the one from Bill Summers & Summers Heat's "Jam the Box" from 1981. Most versions contained a slightly edited chorus that sounded like "jam the box / jam the box / jam the hot-damn box!" It was a minor, proto-rap hit in the US.
bzfgt
  • 2. bzfgt | 23/11/2015
Great catch!
dannyno
  • 3. dannyno | 29/04/2017
An echo:

Interview by Jack Barron, Sounds, 13 August 1983:


As a kid I used to be obsessed that like I was reincarnated from the trenches of the First World War. I used to think one day I would open the closet and a load of war dead would pour out all over me.
Basmikel
  • 4. Basmikel | 20/06/2018
I always thought this references first televised British game show Take Your Pick! "Take the money or open the box"
bzfgt
  • 5. bzfgt (link) | 15/07/2018
Interesting, I never heard of that.
bzfgt
  • 6. bzfgt (link) | 15/07/2018
Good connection!
Paul Go
  • 7. Paul Go | 29/11/2018
-osis means abnormal
oct is 8
box a few things

together this might translate as a (medically) abnormal 8 (sided) box.

this album has a 3 titles with some form of greek kenning
another 2 tracks on this album relate to medical things (greek language of medicine)
past about food and biology
fair bit of blood vampire stuff in sparta
Paul Go
  • 8. Paul Go | 29/11/2018
Forgot the relevant bit:

The word 'box' has an unusual double meaning as it has two distinct sources. Latin, relating to wood and containers, and Germanic, relating to hit or fight.

I should probably mention that 'open' can be used with both derivations, the apparent literal meaning in the lyrics, and opening blow, or opening round of a fight.

The medical abnormality crops up in some ways, but the 8 or oct is conspicuous in its absence within lyrics.
Paul Go
  • 9. Paul Go | 04/12/2018
This is really the thread for wild stallion boy and the ball blessing Kapitan.
Paul Go
  • 10. Paul Go | 06/12/2018
This'd probably be my theme tune. Opening credits anyway.
nutterwain
  • 11. nutterwain | 28/01/2019
Land of return to seat
Land of bounty
Land of dope cake

Could this be returning back to the UK with a reference to humour of Brass Eye? Chris Morris played a superb spoof about the made up drug called 'cake' around this time. Seem to remember Phil Collins being taken in
dannyno
  • 12. dannyno | 02/02/2019
comment #11, nutterwain:


Chris Morris played a superb spoof about the made up drug called 'cake' around this time. Seem to remember Phil Collins being taken in


Sadly for this theory, the Brass Eye cake episode was broadcast on 5 February 1997, 6 years and 7 months before the live debut of the song (granted the album was recorded from late 2002, but that would still be 5 years plus).

Phil Collins was in the "Paedogeddon!" one-off episode broadcast 26 July 2001.
bzfgt
  • 13. bzfgt (link) | 16/02/2019
Dan, it's true that "around this time" has been defeated, but as for the rest of it "sadly" seems to imply that Brass Eye came after the song, doesn't it? I mean, if we're being reasonable about it? After all, VCRs were invented around this time...

...but I have no idea what "Brass Eye" is or what any of that actually means so if anyone wants it in a note they have to fill in the gaps.
dannyno
  • 14. dannyno | 26/02/2019
Bah!
Dave
  • 15. Dave | 21/04/2019
"What's in the Box" is episode 144 of the American television anthology series The Twilight Zone.

It is also apparently a famous line from the end of the 1995 film Seven - which I haven't seen so don't want to spoil the ending.

None of this seems to be relevant to the song however.
bzfgt
  • 16. bzfgt (link) | 04/05/2019
"The other dreams I had were the usual child nightmares about tripping over or dreaming that you were going to school in your vest..."

Your "vest"? Is that like underwear or something you sleep in in England?
Paul GodBoxoctosis
  • 17. Paul GodBoxoctosis | 23/05/2019
'Land of milking'
As in bountiful "land flowing with milk and honey".
Except, 'milking' as in stealing/squeezing.

One of many Abrahamic references in the song.
'Imperial love' of the Christian God.
Hebrew Ezekiel's vision of an still unbuilt millennial temple, a vision where Ezekiel 'looked inside' and saw 25 worshipers.
The 25 named prophets of Islam.
'orthodox', 'god damn', 'saints', 'good word' 'shield of faith' - all related to Abrahamic traditions.

All at the bottom, or behind it all.
Perplex, as in interwoven into it.
Ribbons, of solidarity and peace.

I hear at least one 'worriers'.
Paul Go
  • 18. Paul Go | 23/05/2019
Pyjamas in bed, naturally. A proper Englishman is never naked, wearing at least a vest, socks and underpants at all other times, even in our dreams apparently.
Paul Go
  • 19. Paul Go | 23/05/2019
-osis means abnormal, oct is 8, B B B B B B B B, together this might translate as a (medically) abnormal 8 (sided) box.

The word 'box' has an unusual double meaning as it has two distinct sources. Latin, relating to wood and containers, and Germanic, relating to hit or fight. 'Open' can be used with both derivations, the apparent literal meaning in the lyrics, and opening blow, or opening round of a fight.
Paul Go
  • 20. Paul Go | 24/05/2019
Here more than anywhere I've learnt, one man's 'bleedin' obvious' is another man's 'insane preponderance of speculative meaning'.
Anyway, that's the easy bit for what it's worth. The hard bit is putting all that together.
Paul Go
  • 21. Paul Go | 26/05/2019
To fall in line with a more normal line of thought, could 'Dope Cake' have something to do with me remembering seeing Reeves & Mortimer's funny Master Chef routine? 'It's a shoe cake, it's a cakey shoe, a cake like a shoe!'. Also, Reeves liked Mark and his music, so, there's that too.

I may have over-done the tranqs this eve.
bzfgt
  • 22. bzfgt (link) | 07/06/2019
Where do you hear "milking"? Where we have "bounty"? "Bounty" sounds very clear here, at least on the RNFLP version, as does "stuff" and "warriors"...
Paul Go
  • 23. Paul Go | 08/06/2019
Land of return to seat
Land of bounty
Land of milking
Billy Easy
  • 24. Billy Easy | 29/07/2019
Something to do with Joanna Southcotts box perhaps?
bzfgt
  • 25. bzfgt (link) | 16/08/2019
Billy, wow that's jntriguing! I didn't know about that. This is wild shit:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joanna_Southcott

Their slogan was: "War, disease, crime and banditry, distress of nations and perplexity will increase until the Bishops open Joanna Southcott's box." According to the Panacea Society, this true box is in their possession at a secret location for safekeeping, with its whereabouts to be disclosed only when a bishops' meeting has been arranged. Southcott prophesied that the Day of Judgement would come in the year 2004, and her followers stated that if the contents of the box had not been studied beforehand, the world would have had to meet it unprepared.[
Hodge
  • 26. Hodge | 16/06/2020
I can’t shake the conviction that this song is actually about a packet of cigarettes. Contemporary to this recording, the best of the cheapo cigs in the UK were Royals – and to everyone’s surprise they contained a very unconventional 24 cigarettes (not 25, sadly, but still…). I wish for the sake of this theory that Royals had been made by Imperial Tobacco, but they were Rothmans. Maybe MES’s reference to ‘imperial stuff’ gets the name of the company wrong, or more likely ‘imperial’ just refers to the ‘royal’ nature of the ciggies. Those cigs are little warriors – with shields and ribbons because that’s the branding on the box. And a ‘boxoctosis’ even sounds like a little toxic box doesn’t it? No wonder he sings about ‘land of bounty’ and having a good word for everyone – those bonus smokes would cheer anyone up. The track ‘Boxoctosis Alarum’ seems to back this up – a paean to a packet of cigarettes that causes a smoke alarm to go off!
bzfgt
  • 27. bzfgt (link) | 21/06/2020
Yeah that's totally plausible, although speculative...
dannyno
  • 28. dannyno | 06/09/2020
"Alarum" refers to the fire alarm that interrupts the song. Whether the fire alarm is accidental or deliberate, who knows.
Enno de Witt
  • 29. Enno de Witt | 10/10/2020
Open the door. Open the goddamn door.

Jack Nicholson in The Shining
Ant
  • 30. Ant | 02/11/2020
Could there be a connection between "open the box! Open the box, open the goddamn box!" and David Fincher's 1997 (?off the top of my head?) cinematic...if not masterpiece, then, fairly damn close to being one; film Se7en and it's climactic (and incredibly well-done--and I'm not really a huge fan of Fincher, I love Zodiac and the aforementioned, I also have a soft spot for Alien 3, I admit it, but....) "closing of the circle" scene? That was always the first thing I thought of.

Sorry to brag but I bought a copy of the Action/U.K pressing of "The Real New Fall LP"; the record wasn't sealed and was sent with the LP tucked behind the outer sleeve in the colourful inner...I got a new outer sleeve (the one the LP came in was considerably yellowed) and a trusty Mofi and prepared to check out my new purchase...I took the contents out of the outer sleeve and went to check condition of vinyl--and FUCK ME the vinyl had been signed in 2004 by M.E.S! Turns out the seller had no idea it was signed; he's seen the band a good few times in his Scots home city and gradually gotten a bit chummy with The Hip Priest...he said he'd sign anything he brought along (and M.E.S had a decided soft spot for the Scottish, didn't he?) to the gigs and that "he must have forgot that that LP was signed". And there's me with my jaw dropped right open, then stuck in a rictus grin...made my bloody month, I tell you! https://www.reddit.com/r/thefall/comments/jjst8d/the_real_new_fall_lpaction_records_uk_pressing/ Photos from The Fall Reddit sub. I literally could not believe it. Also, even though he didn't have the "best offer" button enabled, I cheekily (though politely) asked if he could reduce the price by sixteen quid--and he did, no arguments or anything! Obviously turns out that he's a complete Fall Stan...huhupuli123, Discogs users give 'im your biz! He's as passionate about the band as us lot are!
Anyway I know Se7en was years before the LP but, I dunno, I thought it was at least worth considering....
dannyno
  • 31. dannyno | 03/11/2020
Ant, comment #30.

Se7en came out in 1995. About eight years before the song debuted. Everyone hates it when I make these kinds of observations, so I apologise, but MES's lyrical references tend to be recent (but that can include an old film or programme being shown again recently, and obviously in the video age this all gets a bit dubious I admit, but still).

But, yeah, it could be that. Or Joanna Southcott. Or whatever. But I'm looking at the text and I'm not seeing any particular reason to think it's any of those things.

I suppose sometimes all we can do is pile up everything we can find and see what still there after throwing stuff at it.
dannyno
  • 32. dannyno | 03/11/2020
I'm afraid I didn't really understand the rest of the story in comment #30.
Ant
  • 33. Ant | 04/11/2020
@DannyNo--I bought a Uk, Action Records copy of "The Real New Fall LP" and was overjoyed to find out that the back of the outer sleeve had been signed by M.E.S in 2004. The seller put it away and forgot it was signed (the outer sleeve was yellowed, and the record in the inner sleeve was placed behind the sleeve, in the outer polyurethane bag--and he hadn't checked before he sent it out). The seller lives in a big Scottish city so saw all his Fall gigs "at home" and M.E.S got to know him a little. He even offered to buy HIM a pint--and this was 2004, when Mark signed the record he sold me! This was from Discogs, and he's as obsessive as anyone else on this site--he first saw them when they supported The Cramps, the gigs I think Steve Handley (or Paul? I've got three Fall books on the go at the minute) mentions them. Like I said could be Paul in "Have A Bleedin' Guess". I hope that's cleared things up for you! My mistake for writing "he signed the vinyl", M.E.S signed the back cover, which was obscured by the inner. Suffice to say I am STILL on a high. {"GRAILZ"}

Also you're right there's no particular reason to think it could be from Se7en...it was a literal stab in the dark. Sorry, I mean metaphorical...!
dannyno
  • 34. dannyno | 04/11/2020
Oh, OK. So nothing to do with this song, just a general story.

Thank you for the literal/metaphorical thing. I appreciate your scruples :-)
Ant
  • 35. Ant | 06/11/2020
..sorry, forgot to add, but "Open the box, open the goddamn box!" is verbatim from the Fincher film, just something. Actually I tell a lie, I think Brad Pitt's character says: "Open the box! What's in the goddamn box!".....I'll have to watch the film again.
dannyno
  • 36. dannyno | 07/11/2020
Comment #35, no that's not what happens. It's Somerset who receives the package from the delivery operative, and it's Somerset who opens the box. Mills (Pitt's character) is some distance away. He asks what's in the box, yes, after it's been opened and John Doe has sprung his trap.

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