The Aphid

Lyrics

(1)

And who can ever forget this one?

Six times parcan    (2)
Six, four
Form bar and six
Form a boxline
The aphid
The aphid
Bend down
Scratch around the carpet for insect
Get hook clamp
Stand up
Gel frame (3)
Put insect in a jar
The aphid
Walk back two, three and four
Stop for a rest
Go back to scratch
The aphid
Hook clamp
Go back down
Scratch around the floor
Take hook clamp and put in jar
The aphid

Cover up with gel frame
Take two times four 0 0 0 one
UV gun back (4)
Go back to the floor
Scratch around
Five, six supplied

The aphid
Bend right back
Form a boxline, sidecar
The aphid
Twenty times steps back
Fresno      (5)
Get hook clamp
Turn to barn door
Retrieve kill frame

(Absolutely wonderful)

[Spoken, (not MES)]:

"Take six bottles of the six back, stand up straight, then bend down and scratch the carpet for insects and, if you find any, put the insects into the jar, then check the clamp on the jar and take six steps back. Ensure the hook clamp is on the jar and that's the aphid."

 

Notes

1. The lyrics are in the style of the dance craze songs that were popular in the late 50s and early 60s, like "The Twist," "The Loco-Motion," "Mashed Potatoes," etc. MES also adopts this style on "Dead Beat Descendant." Aphids, also known as plant lice, are small insects that suck the sap from plants, usually damaging or killing in the process.
 
In an interview, MES discusses the origin of the song (from Reformation):
 
From Northern Soul - The Lizard, Issue 4, May 1995
 
"I ask whether 'The Aphid', a simple but effective beat combo-type tune with Smith intoning 'Take six steps back / Scratch around On the carpet/' Put the aphid in the jar'; was inspired by the character in Philip K. Dick's still-ahead-of-its-time drug saga A Scanner Darkly who believes himself to be covered in aphids. Smith creases up... 'Know-all! Do you like his stuff?' My favourite writer, I reckon. 'It's a fuckin' marvelous book, that. I tried to do it in, like, a '61 -'62 dance style. The great thing about this studio was, the fellers who run it did, like, Dr. Kiss Kiss and all this Donna Summer stuff, and I got 'em in the pub and said, 'People of your age must know all these dances-like, in the interim between Rock 'n' Roll and the Beatles there was all this crazy dance stuff,' a bit like The Twist but a lot more surreal - so I was asking them and they were going 'Take a bar six, take a bar six'... What the fuck's a bar six, y'know?!'
 
So The Aphid is like a dance step where you get the aphids and put them in the jar?

'Yeah,' he laughs, 'that's right. It's what Philip K. Dick people who were on drugs would do in 1962, if that makes sense?'
 
Totally. You like his stuff, obviously.

'Yeah, very much. I saw that Schwarzenegger... what's it called... Total Recall. that was a travesty, that.'
 
 
2.A parcan is a kind of stage light, if you look at a picture it will be familiar.
 
 
3. A gel frame is an accessory for stage lighting equipment, but the main idea seems to be instructions for catching and displying an insect, while dancing.
 
 
4. A UV gun is a hand held instrument that beams ultraviolet light, which would perhaps make the tiny insects more readily visible.
 
 
5. From Zack:
 
"Fresno" is likely a mispronunciation of Fresnel (pronounced "fruh-NELL") which is a type stage and studio lighting instrument. Gel frames, hook clamps and, believe it or not, barn doors are all components of stage lighting instruments such as Fresnels. In order to hang or adjust a light in a theater or studio, one must usually climb a ladder or use a Genie lift, so even the line "go back to the floor" may be related to the lighting theme of this song.
 

Comments (8)

dannyno
  • 1. dannyno | 04/04/2013
Specifically, the reference is to chapter one of "A Scanner Darkly", which is online in various places, including: http://www.american-buddha.com/scandark.1.htm.

The most relevant bit is this:

Jerry put down the dog, which was wrapped in a towel, and knelt over the shag rug. "I'll show you one," he said. The rug was covered with aphids; they hopped up everywhere, up and down, some higher than others. He searched for an especially large one, because of the difficulty people had seeing them. "Bring me a bottle or jar," he said, "from under the sink. We'll cap it or put a lid on it and then I can take it with me when I go to the doctor and he can analyze it."

Charles Freck brought him an empty mayonnaise jar. Jerry went on searching, and at last came across an aphid leaping up at least four feet in the air. The aphid was over an inch long. He caught it, carried it to the jar, carefully dropped it in, and screwed on the lid. Then he held it up triumphantly. "See?" he said.
dannyno
  • 2. dannyno | 27/06/2014
"Frizzo"

Isn't is "Fresno"?

"than check the clamp on the jar and take six steps back"

Should be "then check the clamp..."
bzfgt
  • 3. bzfgt | 15/07/2014
I think Fresno, yes. It would be good if there were a PKD connection, since the latter is Californian, but I know of none.

I bet I took that typo over from the Lyrics Parade...I usually mind my thens and thans!
Zack
  • 4. Zack | 27/08/2014
"Fresno" is likely a mispronunciation of Fresnel (pronounced "fruh-NELL") which is a type stage and studio lighting instrument.

Gel frames, hook clamps and, believe it or not, barn doors are all components of stage lighting instruments such as Fresnels.

In order to hang or adjust a light in a theater or studio, one must usually climb a ladder or use a Genie lift, so even the line "go back to the floor" may be related to the lighting theme of this song.
Zack
  • 5. Zack | 31/01/2017
"Parking" in the first line should be "Par can" which is yet another stage lighting term.
bzfgt
  • 6. bzfgt | 11/02/2017
Thanks, Zack! You're a true professional to put your antipathy for this song aside to bring the valuable intel.

Wait...maybe you're sabotaging the lyrics! I've got my eye on you...anyway I shall listen to it and see if my ears accord with yours.
bzzz
  • 7. bzzz | 11/02/2017
This is good because "six times parking" doesn't seem to make sense in this context. But what does "six times parcan" mean? Would that by any chance be an actual stage direction someone might use?
Martin
  • 8. Martin | 15/02/2017
I'm adding nothing at all to the interpretation of the lyrics but would like to add that on Facebook there's a Par Can Appreciation Society. Evidently, they are being used increasingly less over recent years.

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