Systematic Abuse

Lyrics

(1)

So many people
It is the same
The valleys open up
It is the same
Get a potato out
It is the same
When I open the mail
It's the same game
Lyrics on TV
Sound like this to me   (2)
When I get a potato out
It is the same
When I open the mail
It is the same
Nothing you can do
Surrounding the fops
When I get a potato out it is the same
Get it excited it is the same
When I walk up the hill
It is the same
Systematic abuse
It is the truth 
Systematic abuse
It is the whole truth  (3)
Paralytis, I'm telling you  (4)
Systematic abuse
It is the truth
Systematic abuse
It is the whole truth
When I open the local paper
It is the regular advertiser
It crumbles in my hand
When I cross the roundabout
It was the same
When I cross the roundabout
It is the same   (5)
Systematic abuse
It is the truth
Systematic abuse
It is the whole truth
When I open the mail
It crumbles in my hands
When I open a bill
It crumbles through my hands
Systematic abuse
It is the truth
Systematic abuse
It is the whole truth
Ba ba ba bah
Ba ba ba bah
Ba ba ba bah
Ba ba ba bah
Systematic abuse
It is the truth
Systematic abuse
It is the whole truth
Do you? Do you accept?
Systematic abuse
It is the truth
Systematic abuse
It is the whole truth
Systematic abuse
Do you?
Do you accept?
Do you accept?
Do you accept?
You've got your head in water
Systematic abuse
It is the truth
Systematic abuse
It is the whole truth
Ba ba ba bah
Ba ba bah
Ba ba ba bah
Ba ba ba bah
Systematic abuse
Now you know the truth
Systematic abuse
It is the whole truth
Systematic abuse
It is the truth
Systematic abuse
It is the whole truth
Systematic abuse
Now you know our truth
You want the truth, Mister, you...
Systematic abuse
It is the truth
Systematic abuse
It is the whole truth
So many people
It is the same
The valleys open up
It is the same
When I get a rotten vegetable out
It is the same
When I open the mail
It is the same
Systematic abuse
It is the truth
Systematic abuse
It is the whole truth
Will nobody progress?
They're all always dirty
Keiron's paralytic   (6)
I'll tell you some more... some others
Systematic abuse
It is the truth
Systematic abuse
It is the whole truth
Ba ba ba bah 
Ba ba ba bah
Ba ba ba bah
Ba ba ba bah
Systematic abuse
It is the truth Systematic abuse
It is the whole truth

Systematic abuse
It is the truth 

Notes

1. It is hard to resist making the observation that the music performs the lyrics: surely this song, with its interminable sameness and lack of any real dynamics, is a form of systematic abuse perpetrated on the listener. And yet, like most things on the Reformation album, the undeniable fact that there is no justification for this song doesn't prevent it from being oddly, and indeed highly, enjoyable in the end. If a riff feels good for a few bars, why shouldn't it feel good for eight and a half minutes? And the band does squonk out a few different noises as the song goes on, providing a subtle hint of variety. I should think this wouldn't be the first thing you'd play for a non-fan, but if you already are a fan the song is actually sublime.

This, I think, is one among scads of examples of a Fall riff that seem pretty uninspired on the first listen but that eventually persuades one to admit that it's pretty well perfect. While a lesser band would hammer on the riff as hard as they could to make up for its plainness, the Fall play this modest and persistent riff modestly and persistently (according to some fans, the studio version is lifeless, but to me it has just the right amount of restraint). Again, there's no justification for it; I can't argue with anyone who finds the whole thing rather pedestrian, but that person is nevertheless wrong.

The lyrics bewail some of the indignities of daily life, claiming "Lyrics on TV/ Sound like this to me," but it's hard to imagine anyone but MES singing, "When I get a potato out/ It is the same"...

^

2. From Zack:

Renegade, pages 63-64:

"Me and Elena use that thing on the telly with the subtitles to read some of the lyrics. Jesus Christ! 'I'm going up the hill, you're going to leave me, I'm going to leave you, why did you leave me?' It's pathetic: all meek and self-absorbed."

^

3. This echoes the oath demanded of a witness or defendant in several countries in a court of law. In an English court, the oath runs, "I swear by Almighty God [or whichever name which the defendant calls God, or the name of a holy book] that the evidence I shall give shall be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth." A secular version may be substituted: "I do solemnly and sincerely and truly declare and affirm that the evidence I shall give shall be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth." In the United States, the one giving testimony is asked "Do you solemnly swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God?" "God" is sometimes omitted if the defendant insists on it. Here's something for nothing: if you're on trial for murder in the US, leave God in... if you value your neck, it's best that the good people of the jury don't suspect you of being a heathen.  

^

4. The usual word is "paralysis"; I agree with you that I probably don't need to point this out to anyone, but would you believe I forgot it myself until I Googled "paralytis"? Maybe the song has lulled me into a stupor, or maybe it's past my bedtime.

^

5. MES has no love for roundabouts, according to the lyrical evidence. In M5 #1, we are told of an "evil roundabout"; when he sings "I hit roundabout" in Way Round, he doesn't sound happy, and in Pearl City he is adamant that "I don't need no roundabout stop." And, while the roundabouts mentioned in "The Birmingham School of Business School" aren't explicitly denounced, there are sinister undertones. 

^

6. Fall drummer Keiron Melling doesn't enter the picture, credits-wise, until the next album; undoubtedly this is a case of pre-cog, or maybe even something more mundane. In fact, Zack assures us that this second, more counter-intuitive, possibility should not be hastily dismissed:

"Keiron Melling and Dave Spurr both played in a band called Motherjohn before Spurr joined The Fall. It's not inconceivable that Keiron was comfortably ensconced on the Fall reserves bench at the time of this recording."

^

Comments (3)

Zack
  • 1. Zack | 31/03/2015
Keiron Melling and Dave Spurr both played in a band called Motherjohn before Spurr joined The Fall. It's not inconceivable that Keiron was comfortably ensconced on the Fall reserves bench at the time of this recording.
Zack
  • 2. Zack (link) | 03/12/2016
Re: "Lyrics on TV" -

From the interview linked above:

"When I was getting really fed up making Reformation I’d put on Jools Holland or MTV with the sound off and just read the subtitles for deaf people. Some of the fucking lyrics; they’re fucking unbelievable. [...] Some of these indie bands sound like this. [Roars] But when you read the lyrics it’s like 'I love you but when I saw you down the street you didn’t recognise me.' And you’re like 'You fucking what?'"
Zack
  • 3. Zack | 22/01/2017
Also Renegade, pages 63-64:

"Me and Elena use that thing on the telly with the subtitles to read some of the lyrics. Jesus Christ! 'I'm going up the hill, you're going to leave me, I'm going to leave you, why did you leave me?' It's pathetic: all meek and self-absorbed."

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