Service

Lyrics

(1)

Why do you have a cloud in your eye?
Why do you have a cloud in your eye? 

Walked downstairs
Got my hat and my corny brown leather jacket
Streets, grey and clean for a change
Must have been the rain
Thought transference
And this man in digs with me would spit out 
Two or three teeth a night on the floor

Winter is here,
and, like yourself, cold;
Pulled my shirt up
Service

Kicked the leaves
Learning about time,
Time of the vulperines 
Time of the wolverines (2)
They sit rotting, the leaves
Kick the brown branches, it is here (3)
I came home and found
I could say the word "entrepreneur"
And my problem began
Service

(Every man wants to be what he is not)

At my feet, one who laughs at anything
And at my head
One who laughs at nothing
And I'm just in between 
This day's portion (4)
Service
(You would not like it if you knew it)

(Why you have tears in your eyes from infotainment?) (5)

Winter is here
I've got a witch on my left shoulder
My future's here
Now I will kick the broken branches
They're this day's portion of this day's portion

(Why do you have...)

Don't want to wake up and learn
I've learnt the word 'entrepreneur"
Wandered around, found out
Didn't want to say the word
Roll it around in your mouth

Every man jack wants to be what he is not
Service

Little boys are taking over
They mumble through the grass
They are not fit to be in the company
Of vulperines and wolverines
Too many heads knocking about
Service
This day's portion
This day's portion
This day's portion
This day's portion 

Why do you have a cloud in your eye from infotainment?

Notes

1. Dan remarks:

Why is the song titled "Service"?  

The word has several meanings, including:

* The act of serving (i.e. in a shop or whatever), and the act of waiting at a table
* Work, in general (eg "death in service")
* Employment in the armed forces
* Performance of a duty
* Religious (church) worship
* The supply of essential amenities, like water
* Set of dishes for a meal
* Checking and repair of parts ("service a vehicle", or "my computer needs servicing")
* A service charge

And so on.

I used to think it was about being let down in a shop or something, but looking more closely this seems way off beam. To me, it now feels like the song is about someone who is in some sense "in service", or considers themselves to be so. So if not a servant or a military person, then someone who is in that kind of mode of thinking about themselves. So perhaps, picking up on the word "entrepreneur", this is a portrait of someone deciding, in a weird way, to go into business?

It's all very odd.

^

2. Vulperines were wolf-like animals from which canines (such as wolves, dogs, coyotes, and foxes--Vulpes is Latin for "fox"), Ursidae (bears), Procyonidae (such as raccoons, coatis, and ringtails), Mephitidae (skunks and "stink badgers," which are actually a variety of skunk),  and Mustelidae (such as otters, weasels, and indeed wolverines) descended, as well as seals and walruses. Vulperines are thus the ancestors of wolverines, so the "time" of Vulperines and wolverines is, in a strictly literal and naturalistic sense, an impossible notion. 

Wolverines are also mentioned in "Cary Grant's Wedding," "Session Musician," "Bury Pts. 1+3," "Clasp Hands," and "Arid Al's Dream."

^

3. This is reminiscent of "Evergreen No More" by David Wilcox (the Canadian one), which goes:

"In a ditch by the roadside he dies like a dog/What once was the Christmas tree now is a log/Broken brown branches half-buried in snow/Are bones of a hero one Christmas ago"

The likelihood of this song being an influence is increased when one consideres the chorus, an echo of which can perhaps be found in "Elves":

"And it's nay, nay, nay never/Nay nay never no more/Shall he stay green forever/He's evergreen no more"

Thanks to Martin and Dan.

^

4. Mark E. Smith once declared, “MR James is good, but Machen's fucking brilliant," and at one point he was reportedly a dues-paying member of Friends of Arthur Machen (FOAM). On page 915 (!) of his autobiography Far Off Things, Machen writes, "I lounged on the stile and waited, and when the postman came I would give him my packet--the day's portion of 'copy' of that Heptameron translation that I was then making and sending to the publisher in York street, Covent Garden." In 1991, a couple of years before the debut of "Service," The Day's Portion: an Arthur Machen Miscellany appeared, a collection of newspaper articles and other uncollected occasional writings edited by Godfrey Brangham and Nigel Jarett (thanks to Spartan HB from the Fall Online Forum). 

The phrase "a day's portion" is used in some translations of the Bible in connection with manna, which was an edible substance that God provided the Hebrew's during their desert Exodus, in the form of a sort of solid rain or frost-like accretion that could not be stored up from one day to the next (although the King James version has "a certain rate"). Tales of the Hasidim, collected by Martin Buber, contains a short tale headed "A Day's Portion" which likens one's daily prayers to the day's allotment of manna. In general, the use of the phrase "day's portion" to designate one's fate or allotment probably derives from the Biblical tale of manna.

^

5. "Infotainment" is a term of relatively recent coinage that has often been used to criticize the vapidity of television news programs.  

^

More Information

Comments (18)

dannyno
  • 1. dannyno | 13/05/2014
So, I'm hearing:

"And at my head, one who laughs at nothing", not "that laughs"

"Don't want to wake up and learn", not "didn't"

And the last line is:

"Why do you have a cloud in your eye for infotainment?", not "from infotainment".
dannyno
  • 2. dannyno | 13/05/2014
The word "Vulperine" does exist in relation to prehistoric carnivores, but it is obscure:

http://www.nhc.ed.ac.uk/index.php?page=493.172

"Vulperines, which were wolf-like mammals"
bzfgt
  • 3. bzfgt | 22/05/2014
I know this is a well-known lyric, but I'm now pretty sure it's "Winter is here, and, like yourself, cold..." rather than "unlike yourself."

Your corrections have been integrated, they were both correct I believe...
bzfgt
  • 4. bzfgt | 22/05/2014
Thanks for that about Vulperines, I must have (foolishly) just checked Wikipedia rather than googling it.
bzfgt
  • 5. bzfgt | 22/05/2014
And the blue lyrics book indeed has "Winter is here like yourself..."
Martin
  • 6. Martin | 16/09/2015
The Peel session version of the song includes the lyrics "kicked the broken brown branches, kicked the rotting brown branches of my good days..." Googling, I find the phrase "broken brown branches" was also used by a songwriter called David Wilcox in a song entitled "Evergreen No More" but I can't find out any details as to recording dates, or if in fact it was ever released.
bzfgt
  • 7. bzfgt | 15/11/2015
Thanks, Martin. Wilcox I remember from the years before this song, so he was around (I always hated his music!).
bzfgt
  • 8. bzfgt | 15/11/2015
Holy shit, I secretly scoffed but it is IMPOSSIBLE to find out what that song is from, I spent at leats 5 minutes trying. I bet Dan could do it. In any case I have doubts that MES would have heard David Wilcox (who I am pretty sure Ive confirmed is the American one I didn't like, at least).
dannyno
  • 9. dannyno | 28/01/2016
I've been looking at this David Wilcox song. Is this David Wilcox the Canadian blues guitarist? Or David Wilcox the folk musician. It would seem more the latter's style?

It doesn't seem like the song has been released. I haven't been able to trace its origins at all. I've put the question directly to Wilcox #2

But notice something about the lyrics - there's this line:

"And it's nay, nay, nay never
Nay nay never no more"

Now then. Is that, or is that not, reminiscent of Elves?

"No never, no never no more
will I trust the elves of Dunsimore"
dannyno
  • 10. dannyno | 28/01/2016
So the guy behind the contact form on the website of the US singer/songwriter David Wilcox says that the song is by the Canadian David Wilcox...
dannyno
  • 11. dannyno | 02/02/2016
https://sites.google.com/site/reformationposttpm/fall-tracks/service


The debut live performance of this song (8 May 1993; Methodist Hall, Liverpool) contain the alternative lyrics "his wife was in Bermuda shorts and he had a little red-necked child/she walked in circles around him/thought transference/and she heads for the checkout...". The final live outing for the track (9 December 1993; Roadhouse, Manchester) has the extra lyrics "pulled my hat over to hide the bald patch...the streets were clean for a change".
bzfgt
  • 12. bzfgt | 12/03/2016
Nah, that smelled like a trad line--probably a floating one--and I found this immediately, and I'll eat my hat if there aren't others though:

The Wild Rover
Traditional
I've been a wild rover for many's the year
I've spent all me money on whiskey and beer
But now I'm returning with gold in great store
And I never will play the wild rover no more

And it's No, Nay, never,
No, nay never no more
Will I play the wild rover,
No never no more

I went in to an alehouse I used to frequent
And I told the landlady me money was spent
I asked her for credit, she answered me nay
Such a customer as you I can have any day

And it's No, Nay, never,
No, nay never no more
Will I play the wild rover,
No never no more

I took up from my pocket, ten sovereigns bright
And the landlady's eyes opened wide with delight
She says "I have whiskeys and wines of the best
And the words that you told me were only in jest"

And it's No, Nay, never,
No, nay never no more
Will I play the wild rover,
No never no more

I'll go home to my parents, confess what I've done
And I'll ask them to pardon their prodigal son
And, when they've caressed me as oft times before
I never will play the wild rover no more

And it's No, Nay, never,
No, nay never no more
Will I play the wild rover,
No never no more
bzfgt
  • 13. bzfgt | 12/03/2016
Why are we talking about this here? I'll go over there and have a look.
bzfgt
  • 14. bzfgt | 12/03/2016
Hmm, some of it floats (we have elements of "Moonshiner" there, or probably vice versa) but maybe the refrain doesn't float; I guess you'd better lock up your hats.

Anyway I forgot why we were talking about this at "Service," the branches thing does possibly suggest a Wilcox connection.
dannyno
  • 15. dannyno | 02/04/2017
"cloud in your eye" usually indicates cataracts...
dannyno
  • 16. dannyno | 02/04/2017
Why is the song titled "Service"?

The word has several meanings, including:

* The act of serving (i.e. in a shop or whatever), and the act of waiting at a table
* Work, in general (eg "death in service")
* Employment in the armed forces
* Performance of a duty
* Religious (church) worship
* The supply of essential amenities, like water
* Set of dishes for a meal
* Checking and repair of parts ("service a vehicle", or "my computer needs servicing")
* A service charge

And so on.

I used to think it was about being let down in a shop or something, but looking more closely this seems way off beam. To me, it now feels like the song is about someone who is in some sense "in service", or considers themselves to be so. So if not a servant or a military person, then someone who is in that kind of mode of thinking about themselves.
dannyno
  • 17. dannyno | 02/04/2017
... so perhaps, picking up on the word "entrepreneur", this is a portrait of someone deciding, in a weird way, to go into business?

It's all very odd.
bzfgt
  • 18. bzfgt (link) | 29/04/2017
Thanks, Dan, good thoughts and I shall incorporate your list.

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