Rose

Lyrics

(1)

The step goes down (2)
I hope you are alright
I am alright

There's a letter marked 'urgent'
I have not yet read it
Rose
Rose (3)

I hear you are in Hampstead (4)
I hope you can get married
Rose
Rose

Hear that wah-wah going?
Remember you started it
Freckles
Rose

It is now all the rage
With the younger set (5)
Your replacement
He is a good man, Rose (6)
Rose

I've got a good woman
Sometimes  (7)
Rose
Rose
Rose

Notes

1. This may be about Brix, as Simon Ford suggests in his biography of MES; from a listener's perspective, I don't think it really matters much. The riff is basically the same as "Flat of Angles," which in turn may have been derived from "His Latest Flame" by Elvis Presley. Aubrey the Cat on the Fall online forum suggests the title may be inspired by "The Sick Rose," by WIlliam Blake:

The Sick Rose


O Rose thou art sick. 
The invisible worm, 
That flies in the night 
In the howling storm: 

Has found out thy bed
Of crimson joy:
And his dark secret love
Does thy life destroy.


If that were the case, the "invisible worm" may be Rose's new love interest, or perhaps MES himself. Blake's poem is open to various interpretations; the worm could be love itself, in a sexually repressive culture (a common interpretation), or it could be envy or a kind of posessiveness, and othe readings are possible that would lead us beyond the proper scope of this note. 

^

2. The Lyrics Parade has "the scarecrow's down." The line as I have it comes from one of the Lyrics books; I'm unsure what the reasoning behind the Lyrics Parade version is, but it sounds like "the step goes down" or "the store closed down" to me.

^

3. The song is one of those "we broke up but I wish you all the best" benedictions, and MES mostly plays it very straight; unlike, for instance, Dylan in "If You See Her, Say Hello," I don't sense a lot of bitterness in this song, but this line may be an exception, depending on who the letter is from or what it is about.

^

4. Hampstead is in London. Here biographical details might perhaps be sleuthed out to determine who the song is about; again, I don't think the question is all that important, unless it were to change the way one interprets the meaning of the lyrics.

^

5. According to The Story of the Fall, this statement was true at the time. I'm not sure if this is so; U2's "Mysterious Ways" did come out in 1991, but otherwise I am drawing a blank, although I'm sure in any given year there are a handful of songs with wah-wah. Readers are invited to set me straight in the comments below. As for "you started it," this may lend credence to the notion that the song is about Brix, who can be heard playing wah-wah on such Fall songs as "Squid Lord" and "Hot Aftershave Bop." (See Hippie Priestess's comment below, however.)

^

6. The Lyrics Parade has "He is a good man, Rose?"

^

7. The most straightforward read is that MES (or the narrator, if they aren't the same) sometimes has a good woman. Although the grammar suggests this first interpretation, it is also possible that he means a woman who is good, sometimes.

^

Comments (8)

Martin
  • 1. Martin | 29/07/2013

The first line, according to the lyrics book v11, is:

"The step goes down."

Mark
  • 2. Mark | 23/05/2014

I think there's some live versions of "Carry Bag Man" that descended into a huge wah-wah throb.

thehippriestess
  • 3. thehippriestess | 08/01/2016

I'm not convinced the song is solely about Brix. The wah-wah part will almost certainly be played by Bramah given his similar turn on "Telephone Thing". He was the group's first guitarist and therefore could be said to have "started it". Bramah also replaced Brix in the line-up in 1989 so "your replacement, he is a good man" could logically refer to Bramah also. As for being all the rage with the younger set, The Fall were being very positively reviewed and talked about around the release of "Extricate", with "Rose" (very probably) being recorded not long after that. Given that MES's life and The Fall are effectively the same thing, it's likely that, as the song goes on, it drifts gently towards a broader picture.

bzfgt
  • 4. bzfgt | 19/01/2016

Yeah, good comments, I hadn't thought of it as a band thing. You must be right about Brahmah playing it, given, as you say, TT...

dannyno
  • 5. dannyno | 07/03/2017

It's not unreasonable for the song to be about Brix. There are reasons to think so, as mentioned in the notes. But there is a tendency to assume that every song with any hint of female love interest must be about Brix, as though MES never had any other relationships that he might want to write about. (Of course we know he did and we also know that he did write about some of them - Lori Kramer for one)

bzfgt
  • 6. bzfgt (link) | 19/03/2017

I am not assuming any such thing, as "this may be about Brix" should indicate. I don't even lean strongly in that direction.

dannyno
  • 7. dannyno | 20/03/2017

I'm speaking generally, don't worry.

bzfgt
  • 8. bzfgt (link) | 23/03/2017

Oh it's that easy is it? "Don't worry"?

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