Rememberance R



The spirit of the devil is in canajetta (2)
He can't help it
He can't

He sits upon--waiting--
Metal fire escape
Half way, half way, waiting
He braces
He takes refuge in
Deserts, deserts him 
Don't forget Rememberance R
He sits upon fire escape
The ipod doesn't work (3)
He smothers his own, own tomorrow
Remember the trance
Rememberance, rememberance
Rememberance R

And the sadness comes
The train to spite
With objects that worth
He sees visions in gothic club
Awake here
And the house is keeping up
He doesn't realize
Rememberance R
Sitting on the black steps of the fire escape
Rememberance R

Has to go home
He's forgot his guitar
But his soul break loose
And become a tree
Make me sick at a bar
Rememberance R
Rememberance R

You play in the winter sun (4)
With replacement teeth
The cackle has
The cackle has
Like R
Rememberance R
And a screw will break loose.

[DING, spoken]:        (5)

How can I start to tell you, like me favourite bands, there's hardly any. They just reform after 17 years, and like they've forgot about the sweat and the long journeys in the back of vans. They're just running on Rememberance, and remember this is an encore time at the end of 90 minutes on the stage. They appear out of nowhere and like expect you to treat them like an equal, while they've been decorating or teaching for like the last 10 years, having a life and a wife and a kids. And they say a tenner an EP, get home for half three. I smell the brown mews in the dark, I recognise the sparse carpet weekend '89. Deep seated, early finish. Rust, rememberances are dust, the early push, the fear of parking fee.



1. In which we are told of the perfidy of old rockers who attempt a comeback, motivated by either greed or desparation, most likely both. I'm not entirely sure what is quite so sinister about it, but certainly it strikes a few nerves with Smith that are recognizable from other songs. The very fact that his avocation is also his vocation has always been a source of perplexity for Smith, alhough it may be more accurate to say it has been a source of material for Smith and perplexity for his listeners, as he doesn't seem particularly confused about it. It is indeed a complex situation, and I know of no one who has written more lyrics that bring the relation of art and commerce into richer focus than MES does in his lyrics. This is in part because the positions staked out in Fall songs, if they can be called that, are always ambiguious, and here this is entirely appropriate since the situation itself is so ambiguous. It is not, for Smith, a matter of drawing a simple distinction between purity and selling out--in fact, while the phrase "sell out" is occasionally used, it is never used unironically in a song Smith has written. In the early song "Last Orders," the narrator proclaims  "I'm no sell out," but the lyrics were written by Tony Friel, not by Smith; and in "It's the New Thing" the line "we have never sold out," ironic in context, is put in the mouth of a character from another band which is perhaps fictional but, in any case, represents the triumph of commerce over art and not vice versa. For Smith, the key factor isn't how something is sold, or to whom--he happily allowed "Touch Sensitive" to be used in a Vauxhall commercial--but the purpose for which it is made. The crime is to write a song for fame, fortune, or sex, not to sell it or to even use it to get any of those things. Smith has always recognized that it is his job to sell music: he wants to make music and to people hear it. Thus, the phrase "selling out" does not capture what it is he finds objectionable: what is objectionable is to make music for the sake of commerce, not to engage in the business of selling music.

It's possible that whatever band or bands he is thinking of in this song are in it for the money, or got back in the game to pay the mortgage. It's also possible that the characterization is entirely unfair. It's particularly hard to say because I don't have the faintest clue whom he's talking about (although I hope my readers can enlighten me, or at least come up with a plausible theory or two). Either way, the lyrics are an occasion for reflection on the place of popular art in a capitalist society, and it must be remembered that, even if the characters in the song are real people, they are ultimately fictional (and vice versa, I would even think). 

And there's an exception to every rule, of course:

"Do you always think it's bad for a band to reform? After all you've been on stage with the Monks..

MES: Yeah but you can't really class The Monks like any other group. They were all sort of resentful because of having to reform."

From Joseph Mullaney I have learned that "The Remembrancer is an official of the City of London who sits in the British Houses of Parliament." MES may have been thinking of this, as if you remove the space (and MES's superfluous "e"), there you have it...also, Wrayx8 points out that "alternative names for the Rememberancer come very close to 'amorator': memorator, rememorator." More here.

Thanks are in order to Rainmaster and The BEF on the Fall online forum for deciphering most of the lyrics.


2. Yup, "canajetta." That's the closest thing phonetically, anyway. Haydn in the comments has drawn my attention to the fact that in Middle English, "jetter" means (according to The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia) "one who boasts or struts; a spruce fellow." The Oxford English Dictionary, which notes that the word is obsolete, has "A person who behaves ostentatiously; a boasting or swaggering person." Thus, Haydn speculates that the line is "canny jetter," which seems about as likely as anything, although MES pronounces it "cannajetta," as given above. 


3. I thought this was "icon," but the consensus seems to be that that is wrong.


4. Cf. "Amorator!", "the frost covers up what the summer men made." The image of winter here suggests mortaiity as well as the perhaps equally frightening prospect of the "death" of one's popularity and, if these were ever present, talent and integrity. 


5. Simon "Ding" Archer, the producer of The Remainderer, is a frequent Fall collaborator, having worked on Fall Heads Roll, Ersatz GB, and Re-Mit


Comments (26)

  • 1. haydn | 09/02/2014
canny jetter(old English..boaster)
  • 2. bzfgt | 12/02/2014
Is that a joke? Google knows it not.
  • 3. haydn | 14/02/2014
..shorter oxford dictionary 1 google 0..jetter ..boaster..tho not sure now bout canny..cept as scottish pronuciation ie canna..anyway writing this would appear to be a good example what it is
  • 4. bzfgt | 15/02/2014
Shit, you're right, it is in the OED, although both that and the Century Dictionary say it's Middle English, not Old English. I checked the OED last time we spoke, but I somehow missed it, so I am more to blame than Google. I think this is promising, although at this point it seems too much of an intervention to write it that way since it's pronounced "canna jetta". But I put it in the note...
  • 5. cathal | 02/03/2014
Shouldn't it be 'favourite group'? Favourite pub doesn't really make any sense in the context of the song...
  • 6. bzfgt | 11/03/2014
I still hear "pub," and it makes perfect sense to me--it's an analogy...
  • 7. cathal | 16/03/2014
I've never heard of a pub reforming, or touring in the back of a van. I've just relistened and realised I was wrong to say 'group' (I hadn't checked before posting the last comment) but it is definitely "favourite bands". Ding's accent just makes it sound slightly like "bunds'.
  • 8. bzfgt | 17/03/2014
I take the analogous element to be "there's hardly any," it doesn't go beyond that I don't think. I just listened to it again ready to change it to "band" but I distinctly hear a 'b' sound, it actually still sounds very much like "pub" to me, so I'll leave it, but your objection is on the record...
  • 9. junkman | 07/05/2014
I would also second "bands" at the start of the rant, I think the important clue is the middle - most audible - syllable, which is a clear 'ah' sound. In the context of Ding's northern accent, you would need an 'uh' sound for it to be pub.

Also I'm sure "remember this is an encore time" should be "reminiscing of encore time".

Cheers bzfgt
Joseph Mullaney
  • 10. Joseph Mullaney | 09/05/2014
Sounds more like `metal fire step' to me. Also agree that it's probably ipod rather than icon.

And I think it's `like my favourite bands'. Ding's strong accent means it's difficult to make out, and he doesn't stress the word.

It's definitely `reminiscing of encore time'.
  • 11. bzfgt | 13/05/2014
I must be insane or have different ears than anyone else, but I still distinctly hear "pub" and I do not hear any 'ah' sound in the word at all. I am not changing it yet but I do doubt myself enough to keep it on the agenda to change that if I am ever somehow convinced. I do not hear an 'ah' or an 'n,' and I clearly hear a 'pub.'
  • 12. dannyno | 13/05/2014
I can understand why you're hearing "pub". I did at first. But now I've listened to it several times on headphones and it's "bands". I am certain of this. It also has the advantage of making some sense.

Question is, "hardly any" what?
  • 13. bzfgt | 13/05/2014
Well, speaking of sense, if it is "pubs" the question "hardly any what?" doesn't arise, so that makes much more sense to me. "Just like there are hardly any good pubs, there are hardly any good bands."
  • 14. dannyno | 14/05/2014
Except it's "favourite", not "good".
  • 15. cathal | 19/05/2014
Also in regards to the pub vs bands line, it's 'my' and not 'your'. So 'my favourite bands' rather than 'your favourite pub'.
  • 16. cathal | 19/05/2014
And therefore he's saying he has hardly any favourite bands because they just keep reforming.
  • 17. dannyno | 06/08/2014
This is how I'm hearing the spoken bit at the end today:

"How can I start to tell you, like my favourite bands, there's hardly any
They just reform after seventeen years, and like they've forgot about the sweat and the long journeys in the back of vans
They're just running on rememberance, and reminiscing of encore time at the end of the ninety minutes on the stage
They appear out of nowhere and like expect you to treat them like an equal
Whilst they've been decorating or teaching for the last ten years having a life and a wife and kids
And they say, [ ] a tenner an EP, get home before half-three
I smell the brown mews in the dark, I recognise the sparse carpet weekend eighty-nine
Deep-seated, early finish
Rust, rememberances are dust, the early push, the fear of parking fee"
Joseph Mullaney
  • 18. Joseph Mullaney | 06/11/2014
Pretty sure that it's actually 'metal fire escape', not fire step or stick.
  • 19. bzfgt | 08/11/2014
That is what the context seems to demand. I seem to remember that I wanted it to be that but couldn't get myself to hear it. I don't want to listen to it right now so I'll change it to that and see if anyone contradicts it.
  • 20. bzfgt | 11/05/2015
OK I am at this point officially outvoted on "bands." I still can't hear it though.
Joseph Mullaney
  • 21. Joseph Mullaney | 27/06/2015
The Remembrancer is an official of the City of London who sits in the British Houses of Parliament.
  • 22. Wrayx8 | 07/09/2015
"They're just running on Rememberance, and remember this is an encore time at the end of 90 minutes on the stage"

"remembrances of encore time"?

Any chance that the R. is Riley?

In any case, I love the verbal sound of "R" throughout this - mimicing "aaah," as in soft retrospection, the sound of nostalgia but also patronising: "ahhh," "aw".

It's difficult to explain, but I think this is probably the strongest evidence we have of MES actually fulfilling his ambition of being "anti-lyric." Considering the subject matter, could any other sound encapsulate all that he wants to say about pointless nostalgia reformed bands better than the sound "R?"
  • 23. Zack | 08/03/2017
"He breaks the stick" - "He braces."
  • 24. dannyno | 09/03/2017
Comment 22: Is the "R" Riley? Well, MES's explicit lyrics references to Riley have spanned many years so we can't exclude the possibility on the grounds that any dispute with Riley was a long time ago. However, when MES refers to Riley he tends to do so clearly by name, and not hide behind codes and cyphers. Nor does the scenario described in the song - bands reforming after years of straight life - really seem to fit Riley's case. And also we do need to be careful about assuming that every bitter comment about musicians with the letter "R" has to be about Riley, as though no other musicians or former musicians exist, just as we have to be careful about deciding that any lyrical reference to a woman has to be about Brix as though MES never had any other wives or girlfriends.
  • 25. bzfgt (link) | 19/03/2017
I agree, there's no sticks breaking. I don't know how accurate this is, though.
  • 26. Wrayx8 | 20/06/2017
Interestingly, alternative names for the Rememberancer come very close to 'amorator': memorator, rememorator.

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