Shake-Off

Lyrics

Don’t give him spikenard or pot any crackpoint viewpoint (1)
Give me the teacher’s who said
If you deny the strong pot or ecstatic imbibed within
You will be end up in eyeball-injecting (2)
A dad's reassessed
A lesson to all to o’er
Give me the fright

Shakedown

He can’t find the lyric
He avoids death by fright
Your dad’s still facturing that spot in the Simple Minds reformat(3)
Will still be operational when you’re deaf
Don’t get them smoking the strong pot or all their crackpot viewpoints deny the strong pot
Micro-plastering
Micro-plastering
Micro-plastering (4)
The wife is giving fright

Shakedown

Don’t give him spikenard or pot in the crackpoint viewpoints

Shakedown

Give me the …
Give me the teacher who said

Shakedown

Induces death by fright
Induces death by fright

Shakedown

To fix the bathroom cistern
That spot in the room he cannot find
3 point below the shoulders (5)
Natter Natter
Can’t find the cistern
Mr Strongpot

Shakedown

The connection says "play guitars all night"
If you deny that strong pot or ecstasy imbibed you will end up
Eyeball injecting with Domestos or household using chemicals that contain (6)

Shakedown

A lesson to all to o’er
A lesson to all to o’er
A lesson to all to o’er

Natter natter
Is giving fright

Shakedown
Shakedown

Your dads arrive and your dads play guitars all night

Shakedown

Who let Mr Strongpot in their home
To fix the bathroom cistern?
The spot in the room he cannot find
3 point below the shoulder
Natter Natter
Can’t find the cistern
Mr Strongpot

Micro-plastering

Giving fright

Give me the
Give me the...

Notes

1. Spikenard is a flowring plant of the Valerian family, the oil of which is used as a perfume, a sedative, and as incense. It may not be "spikenard," however; it sounds kind of like "spike and/or pot." 

Gladys Winthorpe offers the following thoughts on the lyrics (via Reformation):

I thought that the subject of the song might be handyman-related, similar to "DIY Meat". The main character described arrives "to fix the bathroom cistern" (which he subsequently fails to locate) but, instead of working, gets talking to MES instead ("Natter natter") about smoking dope ("Mr Strongpot") and the band he's a member of in his spare time ("play guitars all night"). However, in "A User's Guide to the Fall", Dave Thompson surmises that it's to do with "trendy" parents and the contradictions contained within their lifestyle (playing in bands, recreational drugs, domestic DIY, etc), which I'd suggest is just as valid. Whatever the song is really about, it's still a thoroughly enjoyable listen.
 
My sense is that Dave Thompson is probably closer to the mark, especially judging by the lyrics from the XFM live version (see note 3 about Simple Minds below).
 

^

2. This seems to be a version of the "gateway drug" trope. In an interview with Pitchfork, MES decries the deadly weed:

Pitchfork: ...and then a flashback ["Aspen Reprise"], talkativeness in "Assume", inebriated camaraderie in "Clasp Hands"-- am I imagining this, or do you think that's there?

MES: Well, it's there, but I can't be objective about it. But it is there, isn't it? It is, it is. Because there's a lot of skunk damage in Manchester, I'll tell you that.

Pitchfork: Skunk damage?

MES: Yeah, skunk. The weed, yeah.

Pitchfork: Did you say skunk damage, though?

MES: Yeah, there's a lot of damage there.

Pitchfork: How do you mean, "damage"?

MES: Well, I've got a lot of young mates, and the skunk is like 30 times more powerful, isn't it... I'm not a pothead, you see, so I don't fucking know about it, I'm just commenting on it. It's weird, that thread, though.


^

3. Simple Minds is a Scottish band remembered for the final scene of The Breakfast Club who never seem to have actually broken up, making the era of their career pretty closely conterminous with that of the Fall.

The version played for "XFM live" on April 14, 1999 begins "Who let that man in the home? Who let that eh, eh, revival of a Simple Minds reunion in the house? Shake off!" At the end, the theme is revisited: "Your father is playing guitar all night for the Simple Minds reunion"

^

4. Nothing I can find for this word is particularly promising.

^

5. Head and Shoulders is anti-dandruff shampoo.

^

6. Domestos is a kind of bleach, so it probably wouldn't be too great to boot it in your eye.

^

Comments (12)

Martin
  • 1. Martin | 14/02/2014

Head and Shoulders is a brand of anti-dandruff shampoo.

bzfgt
  • 2. bzfgt | 15/02/2014

Yes, actually it's so common I didn't think to put a note (about like if he'd said "Cheerios") but I don't know what kind of glop you limeys put in your hair, so I'll put a note in for it.

dannyno
  • 3. dannyno | 13/05/2014

I don't think he sings "Head and Shoulders" at all.

bzfgt
  • 4. bzfgt | 22/05/2014

Yeah, this is a tough one to decipher in spots.

dannyno
  • 5. dannyno | 09/08/2014

It's not"spikenard", but I'm not sure what it should be.

I'm hearing "Mike will still be operational when you're deaf"

It's "pot or", not "or pot" every time.

It's doesn't quite sound liket "teacher", it's more like "tissue", but I can't decipher the next word.

dannyno
  • 6. dannyno | 09/08/2014

Right. I've listened to it at a slower speed, and I think the line is

"Don't give him spike in pot"

"Spike" is slang for heroin cut with scopolamine or strychnine:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/law-and-order/6521793/Drugs-slang-what-police-must-learn-R-to-Z.html

Which would then give "crackpot" a different connotation.

And "shakedown" has obvious drug-search connotations hitherto unnoted.

Dan

dannyno
  • 7. dannyno | 09/08/2014

And obviously "shake-off" could refer to the difficulty of shaking off the 'monkey on your back'. Particularly, I imagine, if the monkey on your back is Domestos.

dannyno
  • 8. dannyno | 29/09/2014

Early Shake-Off lyric sheet, from the Gigography:
http://thefall.org/gigography/image/shakeoff_lyrics.jpg

(source: http://thefall.org/gigography/gig99.html)

Martin
  • 9. Martin | 10/06/2015

I don't think the apostrophes should be where they are in the words "teacher's" and "dads'" in the first verse. The first word is a plural and thus no apostrophe is needed and I think that "dad" refers to one such person, so it should be "dad's".

Pedant alert over.

Martin
  • 10. Martin | 10/03/2016

9 months later, I think I'm still right. About the apostrophes, I mean. You check this any more? (Lol, or what the young kids say these days...)

bzfgt
  • 11. bzfgt | 19/03/2016

Martin, you are certainly right about "dad." I think "teacher" is as likely singular, and has the added benefit that it could be a fake singular like "The North American bobolink," so I left that one.

Sorry for the delay, I certainly still check this, I seem to have missed it the first time somehow; sorry about that.

Martin
  • 12. Martin | 04/11/2016

The reference to Simple Minds: I can find no mention in the lyrics in any live version up to the one referred to in note 3 above. Now, in that month, according to:

http://www.simpleminds.org/sm/discog/osats1/osatslp1.htm

"...The album was recorded between April 1999 and June 1999..."

Maybe the band hadn't actually broken up, but there were various personnel changes and various acrimonious disputes:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simple_Minds#The_second_half_of_the_1990s:_commercial_decline

I don't know if anything much appeared in the music press about this at the time, or if Mark E Smith had some kind of inside knowledge of the above-mentioned recording sessions.

However, contrary to all this, the album from which the song comes was apparently recorded in late 1998 and early 1999. The question is how "early" (or late) in the latter year?

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