Sir William Wray



G-g-g-g-g-g-g-g-g-g-g-g-g-g-g-g-g-g-Gish! Gish!



You're preposterous in the house,
You're preposterous!

And all you do is look look look
all you do is push push push

And gray, and gay
Wa wa wa wa wow
You know how how how how how how, Sir William Wray 

And all you do is look look look
All you do is touch, just touch 
Sir William Gray 

And your Columbus suit on display
Hey, WIlliam Wray! 

Yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes!
Sir William Wray
Sir William Wray

Hey, Wray

Yeah, wa-wa-wa-wa--wa-wa you know how! 
Gish gish gish
Sir WIlliam Wray

Wow wow wow wow
Sir William 
Wow wow wow wow wow wow 

You're William, 
And silver transparent, 
Are you amphibious,
William Wray?
Sir William Wray

Wray! Hey, Wray! Wray! Wray!

Sir William Wray.


1. This song came into the world as "Gapa" in 2012, including the line "Shoes for industry" which is from the same Firesign Theater skit that includes the line "Shoes for the dead," later incorporated into "Loadstones." There were two Sir William Wray's notable enough to have Wikipedia entries, both Baronets; although they were born 70 years apart, both are said to be sons of Christopher Wray, whose continuing potency is even more astounding when one considers that he died 33 years before the second William was born. In any case, in a 2012 BBC interview shortly before the release of Re-Mit, MES claimed not to have known there was a historical Sir William Wray, much less to of them, insisting: “It’s nothing to do with anything…I wanted it to be anti-lyric, really…anti-music with anti-lyric.” There is a monument to the first SWW in Ashby, which may be where MES picked up the name. Smith expanded on his "anti-music...anti-lyric" remark in another interview, from The Independent:

“'The idea of the song was to be anti-music,' he says. 'The verses aren't on it. The guy who was mixing it said, 'are you sure about this Mark?' and I said, 'yeah, leave it like that'. It's the bare bones of it, no lyrics, just the nasty bits. Stick that up your arse, X Factor. Anti-music.'”

This implies there may have been verses at some point, but they are not in evidence on live versions of "Gray." "Gapa" contained the following lyrics (transcribed by Reformation, and corrected a bit here, but doubtless still a bit inaccurate):

Shoes the industry
Shoes for landslide
Shoes for local friend who knows
channel 4 
channel 4
channel 4 
Shoes for the industry
Shoes for the land
And shoes for industry
Shoes for the land
choose the honesty
choose for the land
they seem to hit it
they said they had
The channel 4
but they didn't
they didn't
they lied to me the fuckin bastards
all over every show
they lie
with our brand new show hit it!
good evening we are the fall
of the long long days 
the long days of your mediocrity
and our second bolt will come to him...

"Sir William Wray" is in some ways the poppiest Fall song in years, and sports one of the band's most exciting and accessible riffs. This is counterbalanced by the distorted vocals and lack of verses or lyrics that one can readily identify with; as MES's remarks above suggest, the song is a kind of raspberry but, for all that, it is an enormously enjoyable one, as it is funny and catchy and incomrehensible all at once. It would be a mistake, I think, to read any more into it than that; if there's such a thing as a good-natured poke in the eye, this is it. In the end, it can best be summed up by saying that, unlike a poke in the eye, it is just a hell of a lot of fun.

Below, John very aptly calls this "musical trolling."

Barnet points out that the riff is somewhat reminiscent of "Madness in the Streets" by Man or Astroman?

Comments (15)

  • 1. John | 02/08/2013
Anti-lyrics? YES! I was right on my assessment: I got the hint when an interviewer said "this song is presumably about a guy named Sir William Wray" and MES replies "yeah, I guess (laugh)". I am fairly convinced he figured that he could say nothing of value about someone at random but say it enthusiastically enough and with enough conviction (and with the "WRAY!" in the background loop for added emphasis, totally overhype someone without saying a single relevant or factual thing about them. Generic lyrics for a random dude. I hope I'm right, because that's total musical trolling at its finest.
  • 2. bzfgt | 02/08/2013
Yes, that's exactly what I think is going on.
William Ham
  • 3. William Ham | 24/11/2013
The Firesign Theatre references back up my suspicion that he's referenced them periodically since early on - "Leather Thighs" in "How I Wrote 'Elastic Man'" is the title of a book written by a prisoner in the side-long title track of their first album, Waiting for the Electrician or Someone Like HIm; a later album, Everything You Know Is Wrong, features a character named "Happy" Harry Cox, possibly referenced in "I'm Into C.B.!" I wouldn't be shocked if MES is/was a Firesign fan - their best records have an intuitive flow, a narrative density, and a malleable sense of language that I could imagine Smith getting a kick out of.
  • 4. bzfgt | 27/11/2013
Yes, it seems like a natural affinity, doesn't it?
Sam B
  • 5. Sam B (link) | 04/02/2015
In the interview linked below Smith says "It's nothing to do with anything ... It's just a wordplay ... I wanted it to be anti-lyric really, anti-music with anti-lyric."
  • 6. bzfgt | 28/03/2015
Thanks, Sam, but that's already in the notes! However, I see I didn't link to the interview, for some reason, and I don't see the interview at the link you gave either....if you find a link that goes to the actual interview, let me know...
  • 7. Antoine | 24/10/2015
In two seperate reviews of Re-Mit, the reviewer has claimed that William Wray is a tribute to Link Wray. Of course there's no evidence to back this up, but it's interesting that Link's mother was named Lillian Wray, so phonetically, maybe, who knows? There could be a link, haw-haw.
  • 8. Wrayx8 | 28/10/2015
Pete's full name:


According to discogs anyway.

Just a thought.
  • 9. Barnet | 15/05/2019
riff reminiscent of madness in the streets by Man or Astroman?
  • 10. bzfgt (link) | 28/06/2019
Yeah kind of, I think
  • 11. Robotic | 09/11/2020
'All you do is look look look.'

MES on looking (renegade)

'[/i][i]You could go in The Forresters – a pub near me – and nobody would look at you ten years ago. It wasn’t the way they were thinking. But now they feel they’ve got to look at you. I’ve seen people, heard people in pubs, saying, ‘That guy over there – he’s weird.’ They’re not weird. You’re weird: a grown man looking at everybody else. Fellows are worse than the women.
One thing that shocked me when I first went to Europe was the way in which Dutch people and French people used to stare at you. I found it very offensive. Not because of who I was; but because it was an incursion on my space. It just didn’t used to happen in Britain. The strange thing now is that it’s not just old people; it used to be an old person’s game – looking. Not now, though. All ages are into it.
Things like Big Brother I find very strange. Why should anyone want to watch somebody asleep at night? Now that’s weird
  • 12. Bill | 09/11/2020
Does he say Columbus suit?

It sounds like Columbus shirt to me.

What is a Columbus suit?
  • 13. dannyno | 10/11/2020
Bill, comment #12. What's a Columbus shirt, come to that?
Columbus Shirt
  • 14. Columbus Shirt | 01/12/2020
'But don’t you think there’s any cross-over in attitude between what you’re saying about the value of spontaneity, and the way that Gene Vincent worked?
MES - ‘I don’t think so. No. I just think that the way he worked is great.’

No continuity in that use of pure noise?

MES - ‘I don’t know. I just like the fact that there’s NO LYRIC SHEETS with Gene Vincent for sure. It’s all like ‘WIRR WIRR WIRR!! – WHAT WHAT WHAT!! – UH-HUH UH UH-HUH!!!’ You know what I mean? I like it... with the Fall we can get very literal a lot of the time.’
Columbus Shirt
  • 15. Columbus Shirt | 01/12/2020
Columbus Shirt's are a thing.

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