Paintwork

Lyrics

(1)

We go two, twice all the way round those things
Two high ones, two low ones, yeah
Right man

Man stopped us at the corner
He had a bloody nose
I mean, he opened his denim jacket
It was under his vest made out of tracing paper
Chest scars portrayed Aztec life in his horrible...

"... formation of Beryllium 8. Main sequence stars were no good for making carbon in this way. Red Giant stars ..." (2)

...self-made
Disfigured maybe
Tedious in its overaquaintance and obviousness


Then I woke up, then I decided to recommence my diary
Then I read Paula Yates on Vision mopeds (3)
Then I found out we were not going to Italy 

Later Mam said "Them continentals are little monkeys" (4)
And yesterday we had liver and sausage over

And sometimes they say "Hey Mark, you're spoiling all the paintwork"
And sometimes they say "Your thumbprints are on the paintwork"

Distractors, constructors conniving, come here
Dressed in suits, grow talons
Everyone clenched, black, horrid

And sometimes they say "Hey, you're messing up the paintwork...
... thumbprints are on the paintwork"
And sometimes they say "Hey Mark, you're just spoiling all the paintwork"
And sometimes they say "Your thumbprints are on the paintwork"

And sometimes I feel like saying
Hey, this is bloody Newark (5)
Or some drive-in slab place
In Breda, NL, Cologne (6)
With the shirt on
Sun of vicinity
As if I hadn't done 10 months service
In the USA on the big yachts
That circle is where I'm still at

And sometimes they say "Hey Mark, you're spoiling all the paintwork"
And sometimes they say "Your thumbprints are on the paintwork"
And sometimes they say "Hey! You're messing up the paintwork!"
 

And I think
If I wanted to, if I wanted to live in Holland
And if I'd wanted to be European
I'd have packed up and pissed off
When I was 16
A Swiss Guard 
And this lousy business
Was the last thing I was ever imagining

"Hey! Mark!" Why can't I live in England?

The end of shoes, all warehouse you've got
Cheap new one, the target is too yahoo
And take over all the desparate
I'll take over discussion and
...humanely regular colours over...
...engineered oxidate zeppelin 
Old world style, old man only juke box caught
All power jets on...spectacular facets  
(7)

And sometimes they say "Hey, you're spoiling all the paintwork!"
And sometimes they say "Hey Mark, you're messing up the painwork!"
I thought we lived in England!
And sometimes they say "Hey, you're fucking up the paintwork"
And sometimes they say "Hey, hey! Your footprints are on the paintwork"
And sometimes they say "Hey Mark, Hey Mark! You're spoiling all the paintwork"

What is this thing they're so hard-assed about?
What is this thing they're so hard-assed about?

I thought, I thought we lived in England!
"Hey! Hey! Hey Mark!"

And sometimes they say "Hey Mark, Hey Mark! you're messing up the paintwork..."
They say, "Hey..."

SaveSave

Notes

1. MES was playing the tape of this song in a hotel room when he accidentally activated the "record" function, and the snatches of a TV program (see note 2 below)  that made it onto the tape were left in the final version of the song. Here are various remarks about the song information from the Reformation entry:

Simon Rogers, quoted in the booklet accompanying the Omnibus edition of This Nation's Saving Grace (details above): ""Paintwork was sort of half done in my bedroom and then Mark took the cassette away. He had it in his little Dictaphone/cassette recorder and sat on it and made a big hole in the middle but John [Leckie] was like, what we'll do is put the cassette on the 24 track, we'll play along to it and then where Mark's rubbed that bit out, we'll start playing..."
 
John Leckie, from the same booklet: ""He had a tune, a little synthesiser thing which was on the tape and I think it was one of those cassettes with a record button and he dropped it and it started recording in the bag, so that interruption is all we could do, it was like, 'it doesn't matter, leave it in'."
 
Mark E Smith (from an interview with Edwin Pouncey, Sounds, 28 September 1985); "I was watching telly and singing along to the song after I'd played it, while it was recording. It fits in really good, you can't contrive something like that. It was written like that too, like things my mother said to me....
 
MES (in an interview with Dave Haslam; City Life, 18 July 1986): "With Paintwork there's personal jottings and bits, but there's a lot there about England compared to Europe; how if you're not some flag-waving moron you don't fit in. This wasn't what England was about - it was about individuals. And that's what Paintwork was saying."
 
 
 

2. Here is the first bit where Mark Smith claims to have sat on his tape recorder in a hotel room, thus recording the television. Dan has identified the source of the TV segments:
 
It's an Open University broadcast called "How do red giants make carbon?", part of the OU "Matter in the Universe" course which ran from 1985-1992.

The speaker is Alan Cooper, and it was apparently first broadcast on 29 June 1985, and I found it was repeated on 12 July 1985. It may also have been shown between those dates or afterwards.
 

3. Paula Yates (1959-2000) was a British television personality, who was for a time married to Boomtown Rats singer Bob Geldof, with whom she had three children. She also had a daughter with Michael Hutchence of INXS. Yates, who died of a heroin overdose in 2000, authored eight books and worked on the television programs The Tube and Big Breakfast.  
 
A Vision is a model of moped made by Honda.
 
 
 
"We were supposed to play in Turing the night of the Brussels tragedy [Heysel stadium, European Cup Final; 29 May 1985] and I said to her, Look Mam, I feel really
 bad about cancelling this Italian tour, and she goes,'Oh well, you never know those Continentals, they're little monkeys really' [referring to lyrics from the finished track]."
 
 

5. There are a couple places named "Newark" in England: Newark and Sherwood and Newark-on-Trent. There is also a city in New Jersey, USA, with that name.  

^
 
6. Breda is in the Netherlands, and Cologne (Köln) is in Germany.  
 
 
7. A poll about this lyric was conducted on the Fall online forum, and it was decided (by a margin of 8 to 6) that MES actually says "spectacular buttocks" here.  
 

Comments (44)

dannyno
  • 1. dannyno | 28/04/2014
Do you think someone at Honda is a Fall fan?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Honda_Vision
dannyno
  • 2. dannyno | 28/04/2014
"Those continentals"

It's "Them continentals", isn't it?

"yesterday we has liver "

We "had liver".
dannyno
  • 3. dannyno | 28/04/2014
Also, you're currently missing some repeated lines after "spectacular facets".
bzfgt
  • 4. bzfgt | 13/05/2014
Probably but I can't really make out any of that section, I just have what the LP has. I made a bunch of small corrections though and added some other missing lines.
Martin
  • 5. Martin | 14/05/2014
I'm not sure about these lines:

"A Swiss, good,
As for this lousy business,"

On the original studio LP, the word "good" seems garbled at best. On the rough mix of the track released by Beggars Banquet, I hear "A Swiss God and its lousy business". Wouldn't swear on it, though!
bzfgt
  • 6. bzfgt | 22/05/2014
Martin, how sure are you about it? In other words, I don't have that recording--should I change it on your say-so or not?
Martin
  • 7. Martin | 22/05/2014
Pretty sure, but another opinion would be useful and reassuring to have.
dannyno
  • 8. dannyno | 29/08/2014
I've been trying - ridiculously - to identify the programme which interrupts the song. Although we have testimony identifying it as an Open University programme, I don't feel this has been established beyond doubt.

First of all, it doesn't sound like David Attenborough. Secondly the language used doesn't necessarily sound very Open University-like - "no good". Could have been, but might not have been. So I would like to do a bit more research.

Now, the recording of the album seems to have been during June/July 1985. This track was recorded with MES and Simon Rogers, not in the studio. That might mean it predates the studio sessions. But we may as well take June/July to start with. It ought to be possible to get hold of TV listings for the whole period and see what jumps out. Worth noting, for example, that aside from Open University broadcasts, The Sky at Night was also broadcast. The speaker is not Patrick Moore, but could have been a guest. Or it could have been another science programme. The point is to document the possibilities.
dannyno
  • 9. dannyno | 29/08/2014
After a tedious evening reading newspaper television schedules, I think I found it. I think it was the Open University, but not Attenborough. I'm just trying to confirm at the moment.
dannyno
  • 10. dannyno | 01/09/2014
Origins of the taped interruption nailed, definitively, by me, over on the Forum:
http://z1.invisionfree.com/thefall/index.php?showtopic=13623&view=findpost&p=22393938

It's an Open University broadcast called "How do red giants make carbon?", part of the OU "Matter in the Universe" course which ran from 1985-1992.

The speaker is Alan Cooper, and the transcription above is incorrect. It should be:

"... formation of Beryllium 8. Main sequence stars were no good for making carbon in this way. Red Giant stars ..."

It was apparently first broadcast on 29 June 1985, and I found it was repeated on 11 July 1985. It may also have been shown between those dates or afterwards.
dannyno
  • 11. dannyno | 01/09/2014
[actually, thinking about it, really we should say it was repeated at 12:40am on the morning of 12th July]
dannyno
  • 12. dannyno | 21/09/2014
Now you've updated this with my amazing research, your note 2 is obsolete!
Moe Aboulkheir
  • 13. Moe Aboulkheir | 22/10/2014
I'm pretty convinced the line is "a Swiss stewardess and this lousy business was the last thing I was ever imagining".
bzfgt
  • 14. bzfgt | 27/10/2014
I'll fucking run with it, man.
Robert
  • 15. Robert | 24/01/2017
"10 pounds service"

"10 months service" surely?
dannyno
  • 16. dannyno | 28/01/2017
Robert, post #15. Yes, months, that's what I heard for the concordance.

But also, not I come to check, "Mersey" is "USA":

"As if I hadn't done 10 pounds service
In Mersey on the big yachts"

So this is what I hear:

"As if I hadn't done ten months service
In the U.S.A. on the big yachts."
Robert
  • 17. Robert | 05/02/2017
Agree that "In the USA" is closer than "Mersey".

But then also, "In circle, is where I stare at."
dannyno
  • 18. dannyno | 24/04/2017
Over on the FOF, user "Slushy Pen" has posted a link to a YouTube video of the relevant Open University episode:
https://youtu.be/v05ljfEdfeA

http://z1.invisionfree.com/thefall/index.php?showtopic=13623&view=findpost&p=40056697
dannyno
  • 19. dannyno | 24/04/2017
Listen from about 7:04
dannyno
  • 20. dannyno | 26/10/2017
Typo, note #1: "sntaches"
Murph
  • 21. Murph | 31/01/2018
Is it not "Breda, NL, Cologne"?
dannyno
  • 22. dannyno | 05/02/2018
Comment #21, Murph.

It's not clear on the final track, but listening to the rough mix on the box set, it is clearly "Breda, NL, Cologne".
bzfgt
  • 23. bzfgt (link) | 12/02/2018
OK well then we should go with it. Is NL code for Netherlands?
dannyno
  • 24. dannyno | 12/02/2018
Yes. It would have appeared on stickers on Dutch cars visiting the UK, for example.
Raging Ostler
  • 25. Raging Ostler | 05/03/2018
Is it not "and yesterday we had lived and sausage... over"?

Really doesn't sound like "dinner", anyway.
bzfgt
  • 26. bzfgt (link) | 17/03/2018
Yes, "over"

Note I made numerous changes
bzfgt
  • 27. bzfgt (link) | 17/03/2018
Does it really have this?

Distractors, post-doctors behind come in
Dressed in suits, grow talons
Everyone clenched plaits horror
bzfgt
  • 28. bzfgt (link) | 17/03/2018
"slap place"?
bzfgt
  • 29. bzfgt (link) | 17/03/2018
"A Swiss stewardess"? It makes sense, but is that it?
bzfgt
  • 30. bzfgt (link) | 17/03/2018
"Hey Mark!" Why can't I live in England?

(Quotation marks moved)
bzfgt
  • 31. bzfgt (link) | 17/03/2018
One is now "footprints"
bzfgt
  • 32. bzfgt (link) | 17/03/2018
"Hard-assed" might be "honest" but that makes less sense and I'm not sure, so I left it
Portsmouth Bubblejet
  • 33. Portsmouth Bubblejet | 18/03/2018
Just to confirm what Martin said in comment 5: it's 'A Swiss Guard/God and its lousy business' on the Rough Mix of Paintwork.

On the album version, the Swiss representative appears to have changed gender to 'a Swiss goddess and its lousy business', but the word definitely still begins with a 'g', so it's not 'stewardess'.
Portsmouth Bubblejet
  • 34. Portsmouth Bubblejet | 18/03/2018
I also think that he's singing: "And if I'd wanted to be European / I'd have packed up and pissed off..." on the album version, just as he does on the Rough Mix. It explains the whole verse.
Portsmouth Bubblejet
  • 35. Portsmouth Bubblejet | 18/03/2018
And it's definitely 'hard-assed' not 'honest' on the Rough Mix, although it appears earlier in this version of the song.

The Rough Mix of 'Paintwork' can be heard by clicking here.
bzfgt
  • 36. bzfgt (link) | 21/03/2018
Swiss Guard seems most likely, no? I'm not going to listen to this again tonight, I'll make it that and note to myself to listen to it tomorrow.
bzfgt
  • 37. bzfgt (link) | 21/03/2018
Yes, those changes make much more sense of the lyrics, I hope they're correct as I'm taking your word for it for now...
dannyno
  • 38. dannyno | 07/05/2018
I've been trying to make out what the interrupted lyric is (currently ending in "souffled" here - although I disagree) by listening to the Rough Mix. It's a bit tricky.
Fit and Working Again
  • 39. Fit and Working Again | 05/07/2018
Had a close listen to LP and rough mix, my two-penneth worth;

first verse;
"his under- vest was made of tracing paper, his chest, his scars portrayed Aztec life, his horrible..."
[Taped over bit; "...mess [??] and the new instant new art age, the rack"]
self-made, disfigured malady, tedious in it’s over-acquaintance and obviousness"

First break;
"Destructors, constructors connive,
Come here, dustbin suits, cryptoids
Everyone clenched flats horrible"

[Rough mix is;
Destructors, constructors connive, come here, dustbin abusers turns crypto-fascist
And desires modern clenched flat, designers call abusers dustbin connive destructors]

Haven't seen it mentioned elsewhere but I think that bit of music that breaks in at 2.30 is the theme from Emmerdale Farm (80's version naturally), not that it matters much

and further;
"Hey, this is bloody Newark,
Or some drive-in Slab place" I think a reference to a vision of a Euro version of Slab City https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slab_City,_California

[Rough mix; "With the shirt on,Sun in vicinity"
started out as- "Just short of facility"]

"In the USA on media guts
It's circle is where I'm still at"

"A Swiss Goddess said this lousy business.." [Rough mix - "A Swiss God and it's lousy business"

"Hey Nar! Why can't I live in England" The Hey Nar! is somewhere else in the MES pantheon but I can't place it right now

I think that tape insert of "then I woke up" at the end is worth adding to the lyric as it gives it a satisfying dream-within-a-dream setting

Over
Paul G
  • 40. Paul G | 18/07/2018
I'm pretty sure that 'Liver and Sausage' were nicknames for people. I'm sure I've seen this in an interview with Brix. If I find out where from I'll let you know.
bzfgt
  • 41. bzfgt (link) | 22/07/2018
Thanks FAWA, I listened to TNSG and came up with slightly different in places than you
bzfgt
  • 42. bzfgt (link) | 22/07/2018
Not "malady" unless he mispronounces it "ma-laydy"
bzfgt
  • 43. bzfgt (link) | 22/07/2018
Actually no three syllables, maybe it's "maybe", definitely long 'a'
bzfgt
  • 44. bzfgt (link) | 22/07/2018
Can anyone confirm Emmerdale? It does matter...

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