Session Musician

Lyrics

(1)

The singer thinks
"One day I'll be recognized
For the great prophet
That I am"

The band think
One day they'll be seen
As the geniuses they am

One day they'll get complacent
And forget something else

Leave the press and stick to equipment
Become a session musician

The band are all wino sperm (2)
And live well while they can
One day they'll turn around
And say they've been screwed by publishing

And go back to the family
And be their own man
And leave the press and stick to equipment
Become a session musician
A session musician
A session musician
A session musician
A session musician
Uhhhh ahhhhh

The people want what they know
The people want what they know
He'll vent his anger on the wolverines (3)
Say they never gave him a chance
And get a fee every night
Get a fee every night
And he'll blame his anger on the wolverines
Say he was ripped off by publishing
And he'll wish he did his own songs
And not cover versions of the Velvet Underground
And he'll [?] for the future
A session musician
A session musician
A session musician
A session musician

A good hope would be for him
A trip to Abu Dhabi
Pop music for arab geeks
Pop music for arab geeks
The people want what they know
The people want what they know

But it's not that much different
It's just ten years out of synch
All new bands just pretend to think
They're still into equipment

And session musician
They'll be session musicians
A session musician
A session musician
A session musician
A session musician
A session...

The people want what they know
The people want what they know

The people want what they know
The people want what they know

They want a kilt-ah
They want some old tartan
They want a video each
They want

I know it's pretty maudlin
I know it's pretty maudlin
I know it's miserable and maudlin
But if you want a session musician
You better hand your money over soon

A session musician
A session musician
A session musician
A session musician

Jingles, cabaret, mersey beat
Jingles, cabaret, mersey beat
Jingles, cabaret, mersey beat and doobie (4)

Jingles, cabaret, mersey beat and doobie
Jingles, cabaret, mersey beat
Jingles, cabaret, mersey beat

One day some try to play for anybody
But all they want to talk about
But all they want to talk about
All they'll talk about is equipment

Jingles, cabaret, mersey beat, do me
Synthesizer
Do me
Jingles, cabaret
Synthesizer
Cabaret
Do me
Mersey beat

1993 cabaret
1993 cabaret
Jingles

One day they'll play for anybody

Notes

1. This is very straightforward; MES has often expressed his contempt for professional musicians, saying he won't allow "musicians" in his band and the like. This is, consciously or not, a thematic cousin of to the Kinks' "Session Man."

^

2. "Wino sperm" also shows up in "Who Makes the Nazis?"

^

3. This is the beginning of a sparse but persistent 30-year series of references to wolverines; here it seems to mean greedy music business types. See "Service" and "Bury 1+3," "Clasp Hands," "Cary Grant's Wedding," and check "Arid Al's Dream" for a note on wolverines. 

^

4. "Doobie" is a bit cryptic here. It could refer to the Doobie Brothers, but that would be kind of odd as the rest of the items are genres, and "music in the style of the Doobie Brothers" is presumably not a very important genre, if it even is one. Kurious speculates that the reference is to weed, to wit:

"To a session musician its just a job. They ask, "What do you want me to play? Jingles, Cabaret, Merseybeat? OK, I can do that, but get me some weed to smoke, cuz I'll need to get my prima-donna ass stoned for having to play that muck." 

This seems as likely as anything. It's also possible that he means doo-wop, or something that employs scatting...

^

Comments (19)

dannyno
  • 1. dannyno | 13/05/2014
Which version is transcribed here?
dannyno
  • 2. dannyno | 13/05/2014
According to the A-Z link there are three officially released versions:

Alter Banhof, Germany, 22 May 1981: Live From the Vaults; Fall Box Set

Jimmy's, New Orleans, 23 June 1981 - A Part of America Therein

Bierkeller, Leeds, 5 November 1981: Hex Enduction Hour (2005)

I think I would take the first outing as canonical for these purposes, especially as it appears twice on official recordings. And one is the Box Set.
dannyno
  • 3. dannyno | 13/05/2014
But the lyrics here aren't the same as the lyrics to any of those versions...
bzfgt
  • 4. bzfgt | 22/05/2014
No version is transcribed here by me. I just moved this over from the LP. I suppose I'll have to listen to those versions at some point and figure this out.

If anyone remembers who did it for the LP we could ask them...
Joseph Mullaney
  • 5. Joseph Mullaney | 27/05/2014
`The band are all wino sperm'- probably worth mentioning that references to wino and sperm also turn up in Who Makes The Nazis?
dannyno
  • 6. dannyno | 09/08/2014
Here's a discussion from the FOF. It seems there is a fourth recording out there somewhere (link dead in the thread though):
http://z1.invisionfree.com/thefall/index.php?showtopic=18443
dannyno
  • 7. dannyno | 09/08/2014
... and a Berkeley version mentioned here:
http://z1.invisionfree.com/thefall/index.php?showtopic=4169&view=findpost&p=2201124

Apparently audience and soundboard (second hand from radio broadcast?) recordings exist.
dannyno
  • 8. dannyno | 09/08/2014
Right, here's what I'm hearing on the box set, Alter Banhof version. There are some gaps. And I've put "scum" where others might put "spawn". So sue me.

(Merseybeat is obviously the music style, and Doobie would seem to refer to the Doobie brothers)

The singer thinks, "One day I'll be recognised for the great cool prophet that I am"
The band think one day they'll be seen as the geniuses they am

One day they'll get complacent and they'll have to take a chance
Go back to the family and become their old man
And, and leave the press and stick to equipment
Leave the press and stick to equipment
Leave the press and stick to equipment
And leave the press and [ ] stick to equipment

And leave it all, leave it all, leave it all, leave it all
[ ]
Become a session musician
A session musician
A session musician
A session musician
A session musician

The band are all wino scum and live well while they can
One day they'll turn around and say they've been screwed by the wolverines
And then they'll become a session musician
A session musician
A session musician
Become a session musician
A session musician

He'll vent his anger on the wolverines
Say they never gave him a chance
[ ]
The people want what they know
The people want what they know
The people want what they know
But it's not much different now
It's not that much different now
The new groups pretend to think
But still into equipment
And then one day they'll turn around
And wish they hadn't ripped off The Velvet Underground
Go back to their former path
And er get a cabaret job
And be a session musician
A session musician
A session musician

Their hope would be for them a trip to Abu Dhabi
Pop music for Arab geeks
Pop music for Arab geeks
Pop music for Arab geeks
Pop music for Arab geeks
their leisure time

The session musician
Session musician
A session musician
A session musician

[ ]

Jingles, cabaret, Merseybeat, Doobie
Jingles, cabaret, Merseybeat, Doobie
All they'll talk about is equipment
All they'll talk about is equipment
Jingles, cabaret, Merseybeat, and Doobie
Jingles, cabaret, Merseybeat, Doobie
Jingles, cabaret, Merseybeat, Doobie
Jingles, cabaret, Merseybeat and Doobie
Jingles, cabaret, Merseybeat and Doobie

One time they played for anybody
But now all they'll talk about is equipment
All they'll talk about is equipment
All they'll talk about is equipment

Jingles, cabaret, Merseybeat, Doobie
Synth, cabaret, Merseybeat, Doobie
Synth-rock, cabaret, jingles, cabaret
Cabaret, Merseybeat
Merseybeat, cabaret, jingles, Doobie
Merseybeat, cabaret, jingles, Doobie
Martin
  • 9. Martin | 04/10/2014
The dead link referred to by Dannyno in note 6 above was to the Bonn gig on 25 May 1981. The lyrics in this live performance don't differ so much from those already recorded here, except for "maybe form a pub band" and "Come and talk to your local bank", which could echo the contemporaneous advert for Midland Bank which had as its slogan "Come and talk to the listening bank".
kurious
  • 10. kurious | 10/10/2015
I don't think that 'Doobie' should necessarily be interpreted as a musical reference.
because it becomes "do me" a bit later.
I seriously doubt MES would reference a shit band like the Doobie Bros... but who knows?

because to a session musician its just a job.
they ask, "What do you want me to play? Jingles, Cabaret, Merseybeat? OK I can do that."
but get me some weed to smoke, cuz I'll need to get my prima-donna ass stoned for having to play that muck.

and then some times, they are like "Do me!"
they are either resistant like Im not gonna play that muck again
or maybe this time, something turned them on and they demand some sexual favor in place of the weed

either way it's a comment on the arrogance of the session musician not being a team player
their in it for themselves and its all about them in the end
either get me the doobie or get me laid, cuz I'm a fucking session musician you maggots!

OK for what its worth.... different angle.

Session Musician is one of the greatest songs in the Fall arsenal on weaklings who can't hack the front line
bzfgt
  • 11. bzfgt | 23/11/2015
Yes I'm not sure, in context it's a list of genres and "Doobie" as in Doobie Brothers would be an odd thing to list. On the other hand "doobies" would be more likely with your interpretation. You may be right, but I think a reference to doo-wop or something is also more likely than the Doobie Brothers angle. Hard to say though, it's a bit cryptic.
Zack
  • 12. Zack | 30/06/2016
"Session Musician" might be a bit of metacommentary since it sounds like The Fall covering itself: the guitar/vocal intro is reminiscent of "Mere Pseud Mag Ed"; the bulk of the song has a "Hip Priest" beat and the outro is lifted directly from "Spectre vs Rector".
daveferrie
  • 13. daveferrie | 21/12/2016
The version that appears on A Part of America Therein makes nigh unintelligible reference to famed New Orleans club Tipitina's. "in his leisure time/hangs out at Tipitina's/try to be a wife-beater (?)"
seedy
  • 14. seedy | 25/12/2016
"Doobie" is an American slang term for a marijuana cigarette. Would make sense that a session musician would want to smoke one!
bzfgt
  • 15. bzfgt | 27/12/2016
Yeah I mean I didn't think there'd be anyone who doesn't know what a "doobie" is, or I'd have explained that.
Martin
  • 16. Martin | 12/07/2017
With reference to "wolverines" I've now discovered an earlier use of the word by MES: at the gig in November 1980 in London (tangent: exact date and venue unknown: are there no contemporary clues available as to where and when this gig took place?) During the performance of Cary Grant's Wedding, MES proclaims:

- "Yoko Ono stumbles out of the ruins; save your anger for the publishing wolverines; keep it for the K- Tel marines...A new wave personality stumbles out of the ruins...a tenth rate Pole man and here he is, the man and his cronies... OK, maybe a (?) bit more bars (?). And if I have a preference for Cary Grant, slaughterer of innocents. Add on thirty years and you've got Mark E Smith."
bzfgt
  • 17. bzfgt (link) | 15/07/2017
Reformation! has November 5th, but not the venue.
Martin
  • 18. Martin | 15/07/2017
Re comment no. 17: yes, that was my colleague's surmising. To be honest, I don't know how he arrived at this conclusion!
bzfgt
  • 19. bzfgt (link) | 22/07/2017
Yeah, as I mentioned elsewhere, I temporarily forgot that Reformation is you! Are you still in communication with this colleague?

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