Proteinprotection

Lyrics

(1)

No protein protection in self-enforced exile
Does everybody talk about the same things
All the time
All the time
Doppel thingy (2)
The chimney is the chief
Can kick and jump out of the mess (3)

Out of the masses
Any time
Any time
Any time (4)

There is something to believe in
No Hubbard or husbandry or freedom or the holy terror (5)
Abstraction
You know it's the smell (6)
A goodbye to people, sincere
In a Billy backhand
Come on! Hey! Way! (7)

Out of the masses
Any time
Any time
Any time

No protein protection or self-enforced exile
Does everybody talk about the same thing
All the time
Doppelganged
The chimney and the chief
Can kick and jump out of the mess

Out of the masses
Any time
Any time
Any time

There is something to believe in
No Hubbard or husband or husband or freedom
Or the holy terror
Abstraction
You know it's the smell
A goodbye to people, sincere
In a rock back Billy rut (8)

Out of the masses
Any time
Any time
Any time

Out of the masses
Any time
Any time
Any time

Notes

1. "Protein protection" names a property that is sometimes attributed to shampoo, as Russell points out and as I have confirmed via Google. And Factory Idiot assures us that Ro(w)che Pharmaceutical flogs protein protection pills. Apparently "[n]aturally occurring proteases and phosphatases can destroy proteins you spent days isolating." If anyone has the patience to figure out what this is all about, please explain it to us in the comments. Otherwise, look it up yourself, dear reader... 

 

"Proteinprotection" was reworked with different words and a different arrangement as "(We Wish You) A Protein Christmas."

In an interview conducted shortly after he left the Fall, Ben Pritchard gives an account of the Fall's creative process:

That album [The Real New Fall Lp] was recorded live. Y’know, there was very, very few over-dubs.  The band went in and recorded, Mark went in.  We did that in New York, that was three weeks work, that was a good session.  But as far as the writing’s concerned, sometimes we’d go in the studio and Protein Protection’s [sic] a good example.  That was on the day, just started out as a bit of a jam.  We needed a new song and that’s what came out of it. Trust In Me off FHR was done the same, but most of the songs are done individually.  I mean, we hand ‘em in, Mark has a listen to them, either he says, “Yeah, I’ll have it,” or “No, go back and give me another one”.

^

2. Doppemeans "double" in German; it is mostly uttered by English speakers as half of the compound Doppelgänger, which literally means "double-goer" and refers, in German folklore, to an uncanny or supernatural look-alike or duplicate of a person. In English, the word is often used to mean any kind of look-alike. If "thingy" stands in for "gänger"-- which isn't entirely unlikely since someone unfamiliar enough with German to have to replace part of a word with "thingy" is likely to have only heard Doppel as part of Doppelgänger--then it could be a reference to the alikeness of those who "talk about the same things all the time." 

^

3. In contrast to those who talk about the same thing all the time, we have someone who can kick and jump out of the mess, or, as we will soon see, "out of the masses." And, as we see, "the chimney is the chief"--could this be a cryptic reference to Santa Claus? In that case, there is a thematic connection with "Protein Christmas," hitherto unnoticed, thematizing St. Nick. This is doubtlessly a silly suggestion, but where would we all be without silly suggestions? And, otherwise, why would anybody, ever, decide that it's a good idea to say "the chimney is the chief"? 

^

4. This is one of the places in Fall lyrics where I think of Nietzsche, who questioned whether the best way to organize society was for the greatest good of the greatest number, instead proposing an inversion where the mass of people have their existence justified by the possible emergence of one or a few exceptional individuals. In general, Nietzcshe was quite contemptuous of the masses, which he likened to herd animals, and something of that distaste for the common lot or at least mass culture seems to come through in these lyrics. To come "out of the masses," here, could mean to distinguish oneself, but could, either alternately or concurrently, also mean something like coming up for air, or getting out of a surrounding sameness and dullness. Nietzsche famously wrote, "Insanity in individuals is rare - but in groups, parties, nations, and epochs, it is the rule."  So, going back to note 3, Santa Claus is the übermensch. 

A prose fragment by Walt Whitman headed "Rulers Out of the Masses"--I don't know for certain whether the title is Whitman's own or if it was supplied by an editor--calls for political leaders who come from the working class. Whitman concludes:

The facts of rank-and-file workingmen, mechanics, Lincoln, Johnson, Grant, Garfield, brought forward from the masses and placed in the Presidency, and swaying its mighty powers with firm hand—really with more sway than any king in history, and with better capacity in using that sway—can we not see that these facts have bearings far, far beyond their political or party ones?

Whether or not MES is familiar with this piece--and it doesn't seem particularly likely that he is--it supplies us with another possible meaning of "out of the masses," i.e. coming from the masses but not necessarily despising them or leaving them behind. 

^

5. Hubbard, Mother. Probably not. Hubbard, L. Ron. Probably so. L. Ron Hubbard is very famous as the founder or Scientology and a bit less so as a science fiction writer. Here Hubbard is part of a list of things one might believe in--husbandry being the cultivation of plants and animals for food, it is less clear what it is doing on the list than Hubbard orfreedom. As for The Holy Terror, it doesn't, as one might expect, refer to a specific historical phenomenon, but is nevertheless a familiar term that has been used in a variety of ways--holy terror, rather than Holy Terror--sometimes as an epithet for a misbehaved child, and sometimes as a non-specific noun--holy terror rather than the holy terror--to describe religiously motivated violence, and also to descrice a religiously inspired affective state. In addition, it is the name of a heavy metal band, the title in translation of a novel by Jean Cocteau (actually The Holy Terrors, originally Les Enfants Terribles), a graphic novel by Frank Miller, an episode of Our Gang from 1929, a 1937 movie, an obscure 1965 TV movie, and an episode of Doctor Who among, believe it or not, other things. There's too much to choose from here, but to me the lyric connotes either religious awe or the intimidating power of organized religion, or perhaps both, since MES doesn't like to narrow things down too much.

^

6. Smell seems to me to be a counterpoint to abstraction, since it is one of the more concrete phenomena--concepts are far more susceptible of being visualized than of being associated with an odor, unless, of course, it is the concept of an odor, and even then conceptualization would, by definition, seem to involve abstraction away from the sensory basis. At the same time, "it's the smell" could be said metaphorically, in which case it could be abstract, and someone who is fed up with people talking abstractly could plausibly be imagined to say, in a metaphoric sense, that one knows them by their smell--again, the drive for fresh air, "out of the masses." So the phrase "you know its the smell," whatever it refers to, could cut both ways.

^

7. I was disappointed not to find a source for "Billy Backhand," as it sounds like a British slang epithet, kind of in the mode of "Timmy No-Mates." Anyway, can one be "sincere in a...backhand way"? There are a few possibilities to be considered: one could speak words which one sincerely believes the truth of, but with a connotation unknown to one's interlocutor--"that's the best apple streudel I've ever had, when one has never had apple streudel before and didn't particularly enjoy the experience. On on level, though, we might consider that insincere, even though literally true. Another possibility is words spoken in a context where their effect is at odds with their meaning--it's hard to think of a good example on the spot, but what about this: a crime is committed that would have required a great deal of intelligence to pull off, and the speaker quite honestly compliments someone's intelligence in the hearing of a suspicious policeman. On the other hand, it's possible that MES isn't using the phrase sincerely, i.e. he may have intended "backhand" to nullify "sincere." On the other hand, what if the phrase is sincere, but in a backhand way? The only scenario I can devise for this is the following: MES doesn't intend the lyrics to mean anything at all, but is seeking to lure us down a path where we imagine all kinds of meanings that aren't there. But, if you stop and think about this possibility for a moment you may find that it leads to something like a paradox, so it's really for the best that I wrap this note up; we'll all meet again in note 8 and compare, uh, notes.

^

8. Backhand Billy and his blasted sincerity are back, this time as a John Hiatt song: Stolen Moments, 1990, track 9 is called "Rock Back Billy." It seems to me, speaking conservatively, to be at least less than a 50% chance that that song has anything to do with this one, but that's what I came up with Googling "rock back Billy". You can try it yourself, the web being a democratic place. If I was a hack journalist I'd end this note by saying "And I mean that sincerely" or something of that sort. But I won't do that...I'll end it by saying "I won't do that" instead. *

^

 

* You're right, I ended it by saying "instead" instead. 

Comments (9)

haydn
  • 1. haydn | 13/11/2013

wyndham lewis backreading

chedditor
  • 2. chedditor | 05/11/2014

i don't know but 'protein protection makes me think of condoms

bzfgt
  • 3. bzfgt | 08/11/2014

Maybe so although the context isn't helpful.

russell richardson
  • 4. russell richardson | 08/05/2015

protein protection
shampoo

TES
  • 5. TES | 22/11/2015

Its about refraining from masterbation/sex, me thinks.

bzfgt
  • 6. bzfgt | 23/11/2015

That seems plausible but I'm not sure why...

Factory Idiot
  • 7. Factory Idiot | 06/04/2016

Google search shows protein protection pills being available from Roche Pharmaceuticals.

Kevin Laughlin
  • 8. Kevin Laughlin | 21/07/2016

I think the 2nd chorus is "Out of the matters"

bzfgt
  • 9. bzfgt | 23/07/2016

Yeah the first two sound like they could be that. I am having doubts about some of these lyrics, "A goodbye to people" both times sounds more like "A good batter people" too. And I'm not sure about "No Hubbard or husband or husband." I need to listen to this about 500 times closely. Unfortunately there is no lyrics book text for this or anything.

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