Oswald Defence Lawyer

Lyrics

(1)

How could he cope with the flashing-by past 
Through my vid-earphone amp I had to tap
I relate the tract
Oswald defence lawyer

Lawyer!

Oswald defence lawyer
Embraces the stuffed corpse of the Mark Twain (2)
Oswald defence lawyer

How do you think that jury made up of putrid mass
Embraced theory of triangle bullet lines
Turning in circles twice,
Then incredible, marvelous, exiting back of mind? (3)

And Oswald's defence lawyer
Embraces stuffed corpse of Mark Twain
Lawyer!
Oswald defence lawyer
Embraces stuffed corpse of Walt Whitman
Oswald defence lawyer
Embraces the stuffed corpse of Mark Twain

Decent lawyer fishes in buckskin hat
Raccoons drown beneath he's barking mad
When he sees CIA shit flying over head fast
Goody goody looks up
In cloudless sky enhancing theory of zig-zag bulletline
Oswald defence lawyer
Embraces the stuffed corpse of the Mark Twain
Lawyer!
Oswald defence lawyer 
Embraces the stuffed corpse of the Mark Twain

He's liberal and insane,
He caught the good news horse
His opposite is vain
The cardboard fake in the witness stand
He's got an interview in Spin magazine (4)
He loves the magazine
His mouth is in his brain
The prosecution lawyer
Turns himself to butter
Oswald defence lawyer
Lawyer!

Oswald defence lawyer
Embraces the stuffed corpse of Walt Whitman

Oswald defence lawyer

Oswald defence lawyer
Embraces the stuffed corpse of Walt Whitman
Oswald defence lawyer
Oswald defence lawyer

Cheap rifle photo touched up
Drawn on sky
Oswald's head added on a commie tie
While Oswald defence lawyer
Embraces the stuffed corpse of Mark Twain
Oswald defence lawyer
Embraces watching stuffed corpse of Walt Whitman

SaveSave

Notes

1. From Reformation: 

Speaking on Piccadilly Radio on 28 February 1988, MES said of this song was "about this programme I saw on the telly where they actually tried Lee Harvey Oswald for four hours on the TV and found him guilty at the end...[the lawyer] was hopeless."
 
In 1986, a 21-hour mock trial of Oswald aired in the UK. The famous American lawyer Gerry Spence, who has never lost a real case, represented "Oswald" and lost. The prosecutor, Vincent Bugliosi, later expanded his research for the trial into the book Reclaiming History: The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy, in which he argues that Oswald was the sole perpetrator of the assassination. 
 
The real Lee Harvey Oswald, of course, never had to worry about an incompetent attorney, as he was shot dead by Jack Ruby two days after he shot down (or didn't, if that's your trip) President Kennedy.
 
"Oswald Defence Lawyer," which is officially credited to MES and Steve Hanley, was purportedly co-written with the late Dave Luff, as the latter explained in a 2004 post to the Fall Online Forum, although we do not know whether he meant the music, the lyrics, or both (thanks to MandrakeAnthrax):
 
i am cog sinister.....met mark in 83 in The Loft Berlin we became v.close friends ever since. i brought out a newspaper..Sinister Times with marks lyrics
i designed record label for palace of swords reversed..the thumb print is mine...
wrote two songs with m e s ....oswald defence lawyer...and mike love xexagon.
starred as a cardinal using a cell phone in Hey!Luciani at the riverside...
I also published The Fall Lyrics......
why am i telling you this ? well..i shall be working on the second fall lyrics book over
the winter...provisional title ...V2....
something to look forward to next year....so watch this space with mince pies to be informed up to date.....
respectfully yours
cog sin.
 
Ted points out that the riff bears a resemblance to the riff from John Lennon's cover of "Be My Baby" (an outtake from Rock 'n' Roll--use Google if you want to hear it, as Youtube links are volatile, and in any case permissions differ by country). The relevant riff begins about 23 seconds into Lennon's track.
 
 

2. This is what MES claims the lyric is but, as in the case of "Guest Informant," what comes out sounds a bit different; much of the time MES and co. seem to be saying "scruffed corpse," and much of the time it actually comes out more like "struffed corpse," of all things. The idea is conveyed very well by "stuffed corpse," however; Mark Twain (and later, Walt Whitman) is quintessentially American, and the lawyer is probably trying to paint Oswald, who in fact defected to the Soviet Union in 1959, as an all-American kind of guy.  Both Twain and Whitman were considered more or less patriotic critics of the US from what today would be considered a left-of-center perspective.

In The Rise, The Fall, and The Rise Brix quotes the line as "scruffed corpse. Dan suggests that "scruffed" could mean "scruffy". But it seems more likely to me that the original idea was "stuffed corpse," and someone somewhere along the line got bored with it.

^

3. Theories about the Kennedy assassination, many of which deal with the suppsed trajectory of the fatal bullet, have of course proliferated since the day after the event, and are too numerous and Byzantine to go into here.  

^

4. Even in a song about a mock trial of Lee Harvey Oswald, MES manages to get in a swipe at the music press, and the song's setting gives him an opportunity to target the Americans for a change. Spin was founded in 1985 and carved out a niche as a putatively hipper, more youth-oriented alternative to Rolling Stone.  The latter organ, especially at the time, would be a more likely candidate for an interview with Oswald's pretend prosecutor, although whoever it is must have made a name for himself in some other pursuit in order to rate an interview with a national magazine.  

^

Comments (21)

dannyno
  • 1. dannyno | 02/05/2013
So what programme did MES see?

Was it, perhaps, "On Trial: Lee Harvey Oswald", produced by London Weekend Television and first aired in 1986? In the programme, Vincent Bugliosi was the prosecutor and Gerry Spence was the defence lawyer. He lost.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gerry_Spence#Mock_trial:_United_States_v._Oswald
dannyno
  • 2. dannyno | 27/04/2014
The lyrics here are incomplete, particularly towards the end.

Here is what I'm hearing:

"How could he cope with the flashing-by past
Through my vid earphone amp I had to tap
I relate the tract
Oswald defence lawyer
Lawyer

Oswald defence lawyer embraces the scruffed corpse of Mark Twain
Oswald defence lawyer

How do you think that jury made up of putrid mass embraced theory of triangle bullet lines turning in circles twice?
Then incredible, marvellous, exiting back of mind?
And Oswald's defence lawyer embraces the scruffed corpse of Mark Twain
Lawyer
Oswald defence lawyer embraces the scruffed corpse of Walt Whitman
Oswald defence Lawyer embraces the scruffed corpse of Mark Twain

Decent lawyer fishes in buckskin hat
Raccoons drown beneath his embarking mass
When he sees CIA shit flying overhead fast goody-goody looks up in cloudless sky, enhancing theory of zig-zag bullet line
Oswald defence lawyer embraces the scruffed corpse of the Mark Twain
Lawyer
Oswald defence lawyer embraces the scruffed corpse of the Mark Twain

He's liberal and insane, he's caught the good news horse
His opposite is vain
The cardboard fake in the witness stand
He's got an interview in Spin magazine
He loves the magazine
His mouth is in his brain
The prosecution lawyer turns himself to butter
Oswald defence lawyer
Lawyer

Oswald defence lawyer embraces the scruffed corpse of Walt Whitman
Oswald defence lawyer
Oswald defence lawyer embraces the scruffed corpse of Walt Whitman
oswald defence lawyer
Oswald defence lawyer
Cheap rifle photo touched-up, drawn-on sky
Oswald's head added on a commie tie
While Oswald defence lawyer embraces the scruffed corpse of Mark Twain
Oswald defence lawyer embraces [ ] scruffed corpse of Walt Whitman
Lawyer"

That last [ ] there represents a word or two I can't make out.

Stuffed seems to be "scruffed" to my ears, so that's what I've put. Your mileage may vary.
bzfgt
  • 3. bzfgt | 13/05/2014
I listened to it and out what I heard; I don't think I've ever checked them before, I just transferred it from the LP. I hear "barking mad" rather than "embarking mass," and the [] seems to me to be "watching."
dannyno
  • 4. dannyno | 06/06/2015
Note 1, you have a typo: "reaearch"
MandrakeAnthrax
  • 5. MandrakeAnthrax | 22/08/2015
According to the late Dave Luff (aka cog sinister), he co-wrote the lyrics to this (and Mike's Love Hexagon as well) with MES:
http://z1.invisionfree.com/thefall/index.php?showtopic=3473&view=findpost&p=1938443
dannyno
  • 6. dannyno | 25/08/2015
Careful.

Dave Luff said that he "wrote two songs with m e s". He doesn't actually say that he co-wrote the lyrics.
bzfgt
  • 7. bzfgt | 05/09/2015
Ok, I'll put in a caveat.
dannyno
  • 8. dannyno | 06/01/2016
I've been looking through Spin magazine, and as far as I can see neither of the lawyers in the TV dramatised trial were interviewed in Spin magazine. If I'm right about that, the reference may just be a way of building a portrait of the character.
Martin
  • 9. Martin | 27/04/2016
In case anyone was wondering, the lyrics were largely in place from the very first performance of the song (25 July 1987; Finsbury Park, London) so anyone searching for relevant references to, for example, Spin magazine, will have to be looking through issues before that date.
dannyno
  • 10. dannyno | 07/05/2016
In The Rise, The Fall, and The Rise, Brix has "Oswald Defense Lawyer embraces the scruffed corpse of Mark Twain" rather than "stuffed". I suppose "scruffed" could mean "scruffy". But we don't know whether Brix is writing from memory, or has looked up the line in the lyrics parade.
Martin
  • 11. Martin | 15/05/2016
It could also be a case of the proof reader not doing his or her job well enough, and then the mistake not being seen at the editing stage of the book.
dannyno
  • 12. dannyno | 25/06/2016
"Cheap rifle photo":

A reference to photos like this one?:

Image

Oswald is there holding two Marxist newspapers.
dannyno
  • 13. dannyno | 25/06/2016
Link to image: http://oakcliff.advocatemag.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/Oswald.jpg

Image
Martin
  • 14. Martin | 15/12/2016
Piccadilly Radio session (recording date unknown, broadcast 25 February 1988; officially unreleased):

Brix (and MES) definitely sing "scruffed" and not "stuffed" on various occasions during the song.
Martin
  • 15. Martin | 15/12/2016
Oh, and while I have absolutely nothing against American spelling conventions, shouldn't "defence" be spelled thus throughout, given that it's one of the words in the actual title?
bzfgt
  • 16. bzfgt | 27/12/2016
Yeah OK, I changed it. Was it that way on the LP? I can't imagine that I changed them all, especially with the title...
futerko
  • 17. futerko | 02/08/2017
I always thought it was "turned himself to barter" - which a dodgy lawyer would do!
bzfgt
  • 18. bzfgt (link) | 16/09/2017
It just could be "barter" but it really sounds more like "butter" to me...I don't know, if more people think it sounds like "barter" I'll change it, but at the moment I still hear "butter."
ted
  • 19. ted (link) | 20/09/2017
The main riff seems copped from John Lennon's "lost weekend" cover of Be My Baby
dannyno
  • 20. dannyno | 29/10/2017
Typo, note 1: "Bugiiosi" should be "Bugliosi".
jensotto
  • 21. jensotto | 04/11/2017
BBC Genome - searching for Trial LHO hints at the 1977 TV-movie with Lorne Greene (Bonanza) as Matt Weldon - Oswald's defense lawyer. One MPFC episode has John Cleese pointing at 'Tight Spot' - also Lorne Greene, while searching Genome for Matthew Weldon results in Fay Weldon and Smoke Screen.....

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