Squid Lord/Squid Law

Lyrics

(1)

Good man, lend a hand
Help me kill some scum (2)
[Who are only in their late teens--Seminal Live]
But I hate their existence
They think 3 on 1
A normal thing
Network 7 encouraged them (3)
But today they picked the wrong man

Squid Lord
Just
Vast
His intelligence
Spreads (4)

Number One squat with grey turnup jeans
Stuck up white hairstyle
Obviously sheep shag mill town

Squid Lord revenge

Just
His intelligence
Vast

The second one is a streak of piss
Leave me alone with him
To make him blind will be fun
But it won't make a difference

Squid Lord
Vast
Just
His tentacles
Spread
Intelligence
Vast

The third one stood behind me
Then he held my arms
But in the Hope Hospital  (5)
His bed will be in a draught
In a geriatric germ-well
I curse his family and wish them poor
But he'll have time to dwell
On squid revenge in
[cooped-up
In 3 months of--Seminal Live]
pure Hell

Squid Lord
Just
His tentacles
Spread
His revenge
Vast

[Good man, lend a hand
Help me clear this mess--Seminal Live]
Give me back the law it took from my life
Give me back the pride of my class  (6)
[This scum are just a morass--Seminal Live]
These [swazi?] jerks...

Squid Lord
Revenge
Vast
Just
His intelligence
 

Notes

1. This is entitled "Squid Lord" on the Peel session version, and that is the version of the lyrics given above, with variations from "Squid Law" on Seminal Live in brackets. The notion of an avenging squid is reminiscent of Lovecraft's Cthulhu, who is described as a roughly man-shaped creature with tentacles protruding from its face.

From Dan: 

From Simon Wolstencroft's You Can Drum But You Can't Hide, p.96 "The sun was just coming up as we thundered down a stretch of the Pacific Coast Highway, so Mark asked our driver to stop for a while so we could get out and breathe in some of the fresh sea air down on the deserted beach below. It was a glorious morning and it felt good to be alive as the three of us climbed down the steep rocks to the Pacific. Mark and I started to climb back up to the bus after twenty minutes, thinking Eddie would follow us, but instead he started to walk out into the ocean in the white bed sheet he was wearing. When he finally got back on the bus he was dragging handfuls of yellow seaweed in his wake. Me and Mark were doubled over laughing at this vision of Eddie, in his makeshift toga. Mark got down on his knees going, 'Oh Squid Lord, all hail Squid Lord' etc. Hence the song 'Squid Lord'."

Also from Dan:

From NME, July 30 1988 piece by MES: re: "trip from Vancouver to San Francisco": "Me and Simon in quite a weird state chanting 'Squid Lord, Squid Lord' beating fly swatters and demanding the sacrifice of Ed, the monitor slag, for working with Marc Almond and Morrissey in the past. And daring to wake up and interrupt our continual playing of the Hairspray soundtrack. "

There is some disagreement about whether the titular squid is, from the perspective of the narrator a goodie or a baddie...the lyrics will support either interpretation (not to mention whether the narrator is a goodie or baddie from the lyricist's, or the listener's, perspective). The argument for baddie rests on the third teen's meditation on "squid revenge" in hell.

My own take is that the squid is a goodie (again from the narrator's perspective), since he is repeatedly called "just." The meditation in hell means the teen is stewing over the revenge that has been exacted upon him. The alternatives are: the squid is on the teens' side, or he is thought by the narrator and the teen to be on each one's own side, respectively. I would rank these in order with the last being second most likely, and teen-loving baddie squid least likely.

Toastkid points out that the Stone Roses cribbed the opening lick 30 years later with their single "All For One." 

^

2. This is the same melody, and a similar lyric, to the opening of "Junkman" by the Groundhogs, which the Fall cover on Middle Class Revolt (as "Junk Man"). The song begins "Junk Man, lend a hand, help me clear this trash" (curiously, although "trash" is sung clearly and is soon rhymed with "ash," MES seemingly couldn't make the lyric out, substituting "track," "crap," "stretch" or "strip" each time the line comes around).  

^

3. Network 7 was a variety program aimed at young people in Britain in the late 80s. It was known for its fast camera work and its motto, "News is Entertainment, Entertainment is News."  

^

4. The lyrics here may allude to Valis, the novel by Philip K. Dick based upon the writer's encounters with a "Vast Active Living Intelligence System," which Dick sometimes took to be God, sometimes an alien life form, and  about which he also formulated many other theories.

^

5. According to Ben G:

"Hope Hospital is the main hospital in Salford, and still the main A&E hospital to MES's native Prestwich. Now officially titled 'Salford Royal Hospital' it is still known to most locals as 'Hope Hospital', and I believe this is where the beleaguered narrator is imploring the squid/Cthulhu figure to despatch his teenage foes, in the 'geriatric germ-well' within."

"Hope," if correct, is a bit slurred, but there is definitely a word there and this could be it. About these things we will never have the kind of certainty Descartes sought, as Judge Amanda Michaels can attest...

^

6. This part also echoes "Junkman." The Groundhogs' lyrics:  "Take my bread, as white as snow/paste it on your wall/here's my rice to starch your clothes/you can have it all." Then, "Give back the molasses you took from my sugar/put back the husk on my rice/give me back the germ you took from my bread/I want to see it in every slice." The Fall version includes innovations like "Give me back the molasses you took from my sugar/Give me back the white of my bread/Give me back the alcohol you took out my bitter/I wanna see it in every pint" and "Give me back the vitamin C you took from my orange/I wanna see it in every bowl." For more on the Fall version of "Junk Man" [sic], see Reformation.

^

Comments (16)

harleyr
  • 1. harleyr | 16/03/2013
'Give me back the law...'. In an interview Smith gave around the time, he complained about the middle classes overturning laws and civil rights which previous generations had fought for. Squid law - the tentacles of the state extending into our lives. And Smith has fun with the idea of taking on and physically besting three agents of the Squid, his final victory being bittersweet due to the agent's potential recourse to 'squid revenge'.
harleyr
  • 2. harleyr | 25/05/2013
Here's the interview I was thinking about: Smith's second appearance on Snub TV, from Jan 1990: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8snXmUw-j3Y
dannyno
  • 3. dannyno | 25/05/2014
harleyr: I think the Squid is on the narrator's side, not the State or the Baddies' side. I think your interpretation is the wrong way around. Hence description of Squid Lord as "just".
bzfgt
  • 4. bzfgt | 28/05/2014
Yes, I hear it the latter way too. I was pondering the lyrics hard and wondering where I got the opposite idea until I noticed that was addressed to harley, and that I'd written nothing like that...
dannyno
  • 5. dannyno | 16/11/2014
From Simon Wolstencroft's "You Can Drum But You Can't Hide", p.96

"The sun was just coming up as we thundered down a stretch of the Pacific Coast Highway, so Mark asked our driver to stop for a while so we could get out and breathe in some of the fresh sea sire down on the deserted beach below. It was a glorious morning and it felt good to be alive as the three of us climbed down the steep rocks to the Pacific. Mark and I started to climb back up to the bus after twenty minutes, thinking Eddie would follow us, but instead he started to walk out into the ocean in the white bed sheet he was wearing. When he finally got back on the bus he was dragging handfuls of yellow seaweed in his wake. Me and Mark were doubled over laughing at this vision of Eddie, in his makeshift toga. Mark got down on his knees going, 'Oh Squid Lord, all hail Squid Lord' etc. Hence the song 'Squid Lord'."
bzfgt
  • 6. bzfgt | 16/11/2014
I assumed it was "sea air," right?
dannyno
  • 7. dannyno | 19/11/2014
Yep, should be "air"! :-)
dannyno
  • 8. dannyno | 18/03/2015
From NME, July 30 1988 piece by MES: http://thefall.org/gigography/88jul30.html, re: "trip from Vancouver to San Francisco"

"Me and Simon in quite a weird state chanting 'Squid Lord, Squid Lord' beating fly swatters and demanding the sacrifice of Ed, the monitor slag, for working with Marc Almond and Morrissey in the past. And daring to wake up and interrupt our continual playing of the Hairspray soundtrack. "
Ben G
  • 9. Ben G | 29/03/2015
"But in the hospital" - In the song Peel Session version there is another distinct vocal sound before 'hospital' - I hear the lyric here to be "But in the Hope Hospital". Hope Hospital is the main hospital in Salford, and still the main A&E hospital to MES's native Prestwich. Now officially titled 'Salford Royal Hospital' it is still known to most locals as 'Hope Hospital', and I believe this is where the beleaguered narrator is imploring the squid/Cthulhu figure to despatch his teenage foes, in the 'geriatric germ-well' within.
dannyno
  • 10. dannyno | 24/07/2015
Reference to Hope Hospital in this 2005 interview, obviously it significantly post-dates the song:
http://thefall.org/news/pics/05jan16_guardian/index.html


I had to discharge myself and get one of my mates to come up and drive me back to the Hope Hospital in Salford.
harleyr
  • 11. harleyr | 14/09/2015
dannyno: "I think the Squid is on the narrator's side, not the State or the Baddies' side. I think your interpretation is the wrong way around. Hence description of Squid Lord as "just". "

That meaning of 'just' here hadn't occurred to me before. My reading of the Squid as the villain came from the lines about the narrator's third opponent ending up in hospital (a good thing), having time to dwell on squid revenge (a bad thing)... ie he has recourse to his master's tenticular network. But I admit it could be either way.
harleyr
  • 12. harleyr | 14/09/2015
In favour of the 'good squid' theory, it would also be characteristic of Smith to see himself as the one with access to the powerful intelligence network, and not the state.
bzfgt
  • 13. bzfgt | 15/11/2015
OK, sorry not to have weighed in for so long, or acknowledged the debate. I think the Squid is thought by the narrator to be on his own side, and the "meditation" in hell means the teen has eternity to lick his wounds and stew on the narrator's revenge. But I have acknowledged two (2) other possible theories in the notes, in which I state:

My own take is that the squid is a goodie (again from the narrator's perspective), since he is repeatedly called "just." The meditation in hell means the teen is stewing over the revenge that has been exacted upon him. The alternatives are: the squid is on the teens' side, or he is thought by the narrator and the teen to be on each one's own side, respectively. I would rank these in order with the last being second most likely, and teen-loving baddie squid least likely.
bzfgt
  • 14. bzfgt | 15/11/2015
Also, what else could "just" mean? I'm missing it.
bzfgt
  • 15. bzfgt | 15/11/2015
Also, I do not take the narrator to be coextensive with MES...
toastkid
  • 16. toastkid | 17/05/2016
Notebooks out, plagiarist-watchers! The riff from this appears to have been borrowed for the Stone Roses comeback single "All for one" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R0XZ9qjMil8

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