Pilsner Trail

Lyrics

(1)

(backing vox: the pilsner trail, pilsner trail)
Plaster on the hands
Plaster on the hands
Plaster on the hands  (2)

Republic grim truth
Hot blood erupts
Republic grim truth
Hot blood erupts through the...

Plaster on the hands
Plaster on the hands
And the yellow seeps through (3)
Plaster on the hands
Plaster on the hands
Not on the elbow
Plaster on the hands
Not not not not not not
Not not not not not not
Not not not not not not
Not on the elbow
Plaster on the hands

Plaster on the hands
Plaster on the hands
Travel five stations to
The plaster on the hands
Blood came between four and two
The plaster on the hands
Plaster on the hands
Of the stupid profane
Of the stupid profane
From plaster on the hands
Plaster on the hands
And the yellow seeps through
The plaster on the hands
Plaster on the hands
The talent judges are corrupt
The talent judges are corrupt
(backing vox: the pilsner trail, pilsner trail)
They can't even stand
The cut of his pants
Choo choo pilsner trail test
Hit me in the diaphragm
And I'll still eat me breakfast
Plaster on the hands
Woow woow woow
Plaster on the hands
And the yellow seeps through
The plaster on the hands
Not on the elbow
Plaster on the hands
Not not not not not not
Not not not not not not
Not not not not not not
Not on the elbow
Plaster on the hands
Plaster on the hands
Woow woow woow
Plaster on the hands
Woow woow woow
Plaster on the hands

(4)

 

Notes

1. Pilsner is a kind of pale lager named after Pilsen in Bohemia (now in the Czech Republic). There is also a Pilsner Trail in Mont Sainte-Marie, Quebec.

 

^

2. We've had some speculation about this. It could refer to a "sticking plaster," or basically what the Yanks call a "Band-Aid." "The yellow seeps through" suggests a suppurating (look it up!) wound, and is a pretty strong corroboration of this reading. However, some of us also thought of a laborer or manual worker with cement or wall plaster on his hands...

^

 

3. And this, Dear Reader, seems to be a reference to pus.

 

^

 

4. Nairng comments: 

I notice a few extra lines on the version from the Levitate 'special' extra cd, now included on the recent expanded reissue.
He says, reasonably clearly:
"Give it to me King Ludwig, hit me in the diaphragm"
(There have been a few Kings Ludwig of Bavaria, it seems, but see below)
The guitar solo is heralded by a declamation of "Craig S!" 
(Obviously Scanlon, who was still in the band when this version was recorded)
And later on:
"Re-worked old soul hits
Re-worked old soul shit"

From Bob:

"King Ludwig is more likely the name of a beer...Konig Ludwig Weissbier (Pilsner is pale lager so the same). I remember an Australian TV interview where Mark said he was off to the German beer festival (just after Hex, just before the song was written). So he was on the Pilsner Trail in Germany and this is a song about that."

MES and Riley did apparently state that they were headed to Germany in a Sounds television interview on July 24, 1982, but it seems they didn't arrive there until July 1983 (when Riley was no longer in the band).

(4)

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Comments (18)

Martin
  • 1. Martin | 30/05/2016
Probably there's no sense at all to be made from the lyrics of this song, but seeing as there's no comments so far why not try to set the ball rolling? The references to:

"Plaster on the hands
And the yellow seeps through"

no doubt (sorry if this is obvious) comes from the idea of the discoloration of the skin as a healing bruising takes place while the plaster cast is in place.

Did anyone in The Fall or any of their friends or relatives have to wear a plaster cast back in 1982? Or maybe MES simply met or knew someone else whose wound went yellow.

Secondly, these lines:

"The talent judges are corrupt
[...]
They can't even stand
The cut of his pants"

The only talent show I can find which was on British TV at the time (and we know that TV was and is a great source of ideas for MES) is Search For A Star, an ITV networked show which ran from 1980 to 1982. But this is all I could find, so not much help at presen
bzfgt
  • 2. bzfgt | 28/06/2016
It may be obvious to somebody but I hadn't thought of that. I always imagined him plastering a wall or something, but that makes so much sense.

This is a strange lyric, I always thought of it as more impressionistic than narrative, but one can never assume such things...

Since you're the only comment here (so far, besides mine) I'll leave it as is for now, I'll work the plaster in up top if I come up with any more to say about the lyric, though.
dannyno
  • 3. dannyno | 11/09/2016
The "yellow" seeping through the plaster is surely pus, isn't it?
bzfgt
  • 4. bzfgt | 15/10/2016
Shirley indeed, I made a note with alacrity. A little over a month is alacrity, around here...
egg
  • 5. egg | 23/06/2017
my interpretation of this song was always something like "description of injury of someone cut by a beer bottle" (maybe after a fight? trails of blood? argument about a talent contest?). at least that seems to link the "pilsner" bit with the "plaster" bit?
dannyno
  • 6. dannyno | 23/06/2017
Well. Possibly. But there's no textual indication of the cause of the injury, and the wound is an old one, hence the pus.

And there's this bit which doesn't seem to have had much attention:


Travel five stations to
The plaster on the hands
Blood came between four and two


And then later: "Choo choo Pilsner trail test"

So there's a train theme. Is the "trail" a railway journey?

Or, maybe there's something reminscent here of the stations of the cross?

The phrase "stupid and profane" occurs in works of theology, of course.
Brendan
  • 7. Brendan | 04/06/2018
It's maybe a plaster as in what Yanks call a "band-aid". Blood and pus seeping through. Does a plaster cast just get called a plaster in England? We have a totally different word for it in Scotland so to my ear it must be a sticking plaster.

This song is the whole "It's grim up north" thing to a T.
dannyno
  • 8. dannyno | 04/06/2018
I never before realised anyone was understanding "plaster" as anything other than a sticking plaster/"band-aid" type thing! The image of blood/pus seeping through wouldn't really work if it was a plaster cast, surely?
Michael Nath
  • 9. Michael Nath (link) | 09/06/2018
I fancy the title suggests a trail/crawl between pubs that sell pilsner. Note that Holsten Pils was Smith's favourite lager. The bottles and cans have a yellow (and green) label.

Like bzfgt, 'plaster on the hands' makes me think of builders/labourers -- as well as injuries ...
bzfgt
  • 10. bzfgt (link) | 15/07/2018
In England is a band-aid called a "plaster"?
bzfgt
  • 11. bzfgt (link) | 15/07/2018
OK yeah I see it does, and could be archaic and not just English though I never heard it used that way here. Yes, with the pus that seems most likely.
Nairng
  • 12. Nairng (link) | 01/11/2018
I dunno what versions exist of this song, but I notice a few extra lines on the version from the Levitate 'special' extra cd, now included on the recent expanded reissue.
He says, reasonably clearly:
"Give it to me King Ludwig, hit me in the diaphragm"
(There have been a few Kings Ludwig of Bavaria, it seems)
The guitar solo is heralded by a declamation of "Craig S!"
(Obviously Scanlon, who was still in the band when this version was recorded)
And later on:
"Re-worked old soul hits
Re-worked old soul shit"
All the other lyrics above are present & correct, I think.
bzfgt
  • 13. bzfgt (link) | 21/11/2018
I wonder if either "Plaster on the hands, not on the elbow" or maybe just "not on the elbow" is taken from somewhere or has some significance in a different context. At this point I think we're starting to be able to smell these things, and doesn't this seem like it might be an allusion or quote? Unless it has some obvious surface significance I'm missing, I mean why bring up the elbow at all?
Bob
  • 14. Bob | 27/01/2020
King Ludwig is more likely the name of a beer...Konig Ludwig Weissbier (Pilsner is pale lager so the same).

I remember an Australian TV interview where Mark said he was off to the German beer festival (just after Hex, just before the song was written).

So he was on the Pilsner Trail in Germany and this is a song about that.

Maybe there was a talent show at the beer festival who knows?
dannyno
  • 15. dannyno | 02/02/2020
Bob, comment #14. You're referring to the Donnie Sutherland interview for the Sounds TV show, which dates to 24 July 1982 (there's mention in the interview of the group playing the Family Inn "tonight"). MES does say "we're gonna try and go to Germany for the beer festival". And when questioned whether they will play there, both Marks indicate that that's the intention.

But no German gigs are recorded at the Fall Online Gigography or Reformation! sites during the rest of 1982. The Fall didn't play Germany until June 1983, so far as we know.

That doesn't mean they might not have gone as a group (though it seems unlikely), or that MES might not have gone without the group.
dannyno
  • 16. dannyno | 02/02/2020
What "beer festival" might MES have been referring to?

Could he have meant the (Munich) Oktoberfest? That took place from 18th September to 3rd October in 1982.

The Fall played a gig (or a couple of gigs) in Greece on 18th September. But a gig in the Netherlands on 8th October appears to have been cancelled. If The Fall played any other gigs they are undocumented (which is possible). We wouldn't know, of course, if MES just took himself off to Munich.

Other German beer festivals are available, of course.
dannyno
  • 17. dannyno | 12/02/2020
I've obtained a copy of the 1982 Oktoberfest Festprogramm. I shall see if I can find anything interesting in it.
dannyno
  • 18. dannyno | 29/02/2020
The 1982 Oktoberfest Festprogramm turns out to be of no use whatsoever.

Dan

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