Recovery Kit

Lyrics

The Real New Fall LP:

(1)

How can you have
Your house and your land?
How can you leave
How can you leave
Your new land gilded? (2)

What I gave I borrowed (3)

How can you leave
Your house
How can you leave
Your money and gilded land

Your head explodes
If you try on it
You go out try, it is yours

There were three
At the old hall door (4)

Complete recovery kit
The four parts of it
It's always free

What can I...
Your head explodes
Ah...

What I gave I bought
Was late that night it came on
It was quite steep in the middle

Speak speak speak
Come out the exit

Complete recovery kit
Four parts of it
If you want it

It's free
You open it

Country on the Click:

How can you leave
Your house and your land
How can you leave
Your new gilded land

Oh, father (Oh, father)

How can you
Curve your hands
For a kiss

How can you leave
Your moneyed soul?
How can you leave
Your new-minted land?

Oh, father (Oh, father)

How can you curve your hands for a kiss?

How can you have?
What you leave and you have
You get...
What can I...

Oh, Father (Oh, father)

How can you can you curve your hands for a kiss?

Complete recovery kit
Four parts of it
It's always free

Complete recovery kit
Four parts of it
It's always free

Complete recovery kit
Four parts of it
It's always free

Complete recovery kit
Four parts of it

 

 

Notes

1. The lyrics of this mesmerizing song are cryptic; like many Fall songs, it makes the kind of sense one recognizes as such in a hypnogogic state or a shallow dream, drawing you into its narrative but not easily yielding its central theme. Even when I seem to have grasped it, the words to give an adequate interpretation here fail me. There are a lot of Fall lyrics that don't seem to make sense, and they come in all varieties. This is one that seems integrated and magisterial, despite its refusal to yield an easy surface reading. 

^

2. This could be "guilded," which is what the Lyrics Parade opts for; once someone writes something down I generally don't change it unless I have a pretty good idea that I'm correct, but on the other hand there's no evidence that would make "guilded" any more likely, so I figured that between us we'd cover both options. Also, the Country on the Click version (the lyrics of which are also reproduced above) has the following verse:

How can you leave 
Your moneyed soul?
How can you leave
Your new-minted land? 

On the side of "gilded," we could consider that, in the autumn when leaves turn to gold, the land could appear gilded; also, the adjective suggests a sense of value: one gets the idea that whomever the singer is addressing is leaving their inheritance for a more uncertain prospect. At the same time, "gilded" may also suggest a specious kind of value (as in artifacts that are gilded to make them appear to be solid gold). I suppose if there are a lot of workers' guilds about, the land could be said to be "guilded." Phonetically it actually seems like he could be saying "gelded," but below the word order is reversed ("gilded/guilded/gelded land") and so this would make very little sense, although of course there is no shortage of odd formulations in Fall lyrics. There's a good discussion of this and other matters on the Fall online forum.

^

3. The Country on the Click version (the lyrics of which follow) has the repeated line "Oh, father!" The lyrics, then, may be a father addressing a son who has decided to relinquish his birthright and travel abroad; "What I gave I borrowed" could then be the father speaking, talking about the land and whatever comprises his son's inheritance. The "recovery kit" may be what the son hopes to find; we learn that "it's always free," in contrast to the land which the father has had to earn or borrow. 

^

4. This sounds like a line from an old traditional song, although I don't think it is. The lyrics have the feel of an old ballad with their conversational form, perhaps of a father talking to his son. One is reminded of "Lord Randal," which takes place as a dialogue between a mother and her son:

O where have you been, Lord Randal, my son?
O where have you been, my bonny young man?
I've been with my sweetheart, mother make my bed soon
For I'm sick to the heart and I fain would lie down.

"Recovery Kit" has a somewhat melancholy air, but it's ambiguous whether the dominant emotion is sadness or calm; it's even possible, depending on one's reading of the song, to detect a sense of elation, as the protagonist throws off the constraints of a well-plotted life and finds a sort of vindication or redemption in the form of the "recovery kit," whatever the latter actually is. The song is remarkable in that it is so subtle and multivalent, as the music perches on a razor edge between these three emotions (sadness, calm and elation) without betraying the lyrics by committing to one or another of them. The ambiguous entwining of all three of these, as well as the ambiguity of their joining, can be captured by the single adjective "haunting," which is perhaps clichéd but nevertheless sees apt in this case. 

At the same time, there is perhaps an edge of danger to the recovery kit; is "your head explodes if you try on it," which introduces a somewhat jarringly silly image, the empty words of a desperate father, or a genuine indication of danger? The latter is suggested by the fact that below, after the recovery kit is introduced, Smith repeats "your head explodes..." Does this suggest that the son will have to relinquish a part of his ego or identity, or have to undergo trials before "recovery" is attained?

Or, is the recovery kit death? The song could also be read as a lament at someone's deathbed; and it is possible, in that case, that there is only one narrator, the son, and the phrase "Oh, father" in the COTC verison is addressed to a dying father. 

^

Comments (3)

Martin
  • 1. Martin | 01/03/2014
The expression "moneyed soul" comes up in many web searches, but nothing as far as I can which is pre-2003. I somehow doubt that MES himself came up with the term, but have no definite proof as yet.
dannyno
  • 2. dannyno | 09/12/2014
Using Google Books, I found the phrase in a journal published in the nineteenth century: http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=GcrhAAAAMAAJ&dq=%22moneyed%20soul%22&pg=RA1-PA65#v=onepage&q=%22moneyed%20soul%22&f=false

and in bibliographical citation in a history of American companies published in 1965.

Neither strike me as sources MES would be likely to have used, but it doesn't seem to be a desperately rare phrase anyway.

Dan
dannyno
  • 3. dannyno | 26/06/2015
"Gilded land" suggests El Dorado.

Add a comment

You're using an AdBlock like software. Disable it to allow submit.