The League of Bald-Headed Men

Lyrics

(1)
You know when you end up in some sort of a cinema complex
And the person next to you is someone you hate?
Well well well well well well well well with me,
I end up like that
All around and inside left

All through the walls
It suppurates
Look it up! (2)
I'm immobile.
Is your house for sale? (3)

And Davey's just got out of his cell 
Where have you been this time?
Your lives are beyond the pale
Walk! Walk the main drag, splayed
See the blue baseball hatted, baseball blue hatted
School friends
Pop mobs
Male loafers
Business affairs advisers
And members of the band
Suppurates-- 
Look it up!

And every day it's my pleasure to meet
The great league of bald-headed men
And it's every day's my pleasure to meet
The great league of bald-headed men

Your friends, pop mobs, first wives, ex-loafers

And every day it is my pleasure to meet
The league of bald-headed men
And every day it's my pleasure to meet
The great league
And every day it's my pleasure to meet
The league of bald-heanded men 
And every day it's my pleasure to meet
The league of bald-headed men 

Baseball hatted, blue capped
Baseball hatted, blue capped

And every day it's my pleasure to meet
The league of bald-headed men 

And every day it's my pleasure to meet (4)

Notes

1. The Story of the Fall has it that this song contains "ruminations on executive/media types," but Mick Middles' comment from his book about the Fall seems more likely to me (via Reformation): as Middles has it, the song describes "how ageing rockers grabbed garish T-shirts and began to dance appallingly during Madchester's unholy and artless explosion." The conventional wisdom has it that the riff is copped from Led Zeppelin's "Misty Mountain Hop," but the riff is very simple and it is not exactly the same, so this could just as easily be chalked up to chance. In any case, in an era when the Fall gave much of their music a dance-pop feel (albeit with quite a bit of vigor on The Infortainent Scan, although less so elsewhere), this song is a heavy dose of rock.

Blazenstruik points out that the title is most likely inspired by Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes story "The Adventure of the Red-Headed League." Danny has discovered that, when it was translated into Japanese, the story appeared under the more relatable title "The Bald-Headed League." And at least as early as 1981, there was an actual "Bald-Headed League," which was able to boast of having Telly Savalas among its members.  

From Steve Hanley's The Big Midweek (p314)

"I start to wonder if I'm becoming his muse when the next track becomes a diatribe entitled 'The League of Bald-Headed Men'. I am clearly the founding member. The lyrics aren't taking much working out these days, are they?" (thanks to Dan)

According to nobody (i.e. "nobody," in the comments below):

Ben Pritchard says he believes this song is about the groups older fans

"What's cool now is that, when I first joined the group, any shows that we did in England, when we turned up at the venue, and the majority of the audience would be 35-40-year- old guys. Very, very critical. But what's really, really cool is that in the past 3-4 years in England, we've had this explosion of American bands like the Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, the Strokes, the White Stripes, and they have quite often said, when they've been asked, "Who are your inspirations?," they've all said The Fall. So what's really cool now, especially in the States, is that we're coming to the shows and there's loads of young people there. And that's so refreshing to Mark. Because he cares! He really cares. I mean, he wrote the song "The League of Bald-headed Gentlemen" [sic], and I believe that's what that refers to. The fact that all he'd see was bald heads in the crowd. That was the thing, you know - he got a bit sick and tired of it."

DC Comics' Batman series also features a "League of Assassins," dating back before the song.

^

2. If you do you'll be grossed out by the image of pus seeping through the walls, a substance that is perhaps traceable back to the league members' bald heads.  

^

3. MES seems freaked out by middle age in this song...

^

4. The "League Moon Monkey Mix" includes an extra line: "You scored passages to assuage their post-latent sexual baldy alopecia." 

^

Comments (10)

blazenstruik
  • 1. blazenstruik | 27/06/2014
Surprised no-one has pointed out the obvious on here yet, but the title of this song is pinched from a Sherlock Holmes story - The Adventure of the Red-Headed League.
dannyno
  • 2. dannyno | 03/07/2014
That's a bit dubious. However, what is interesting is that when that story was published in Japan, where there aren't many red-heads, it was renamed "The Bald-Headed League".

Also, there was a "Bald-Headed League" in the US in the early 1980s: http://tinyurl.com/baldleague
dannyno
  • 3. dannyno | 03/07/2014
Typos:

You've got a "The great league of belad-headed men"

and

"And every say it's my pleasure"
bzfgt
  • 4. bzfgt | 15/07/2014
I know that story! Shit--and thanks!
dannyno
  • 5. dannyno | 13/08/2014
From Steve Hanley's The Big Midweek (p314)

"I start to wonder if I'm becoming his muse when the next track becomes a diatribe entitled 'The League of Bald-Headed Men'. I am clearly the founding member. The lyrics aren't taking much working out these days, are they?"
nobody
  • 6. nobody | 16/11/2014
Ben Pritchard says he believes this song is about the groups older fans

"What's cool now is that, when I first joined the group, any shows that we did in England, when we turned up at the venue, and the majority of the audience would be 35-40-year- old guys. Very, very critical. But what's really, really cool is that in the past 3-4 years in England, we've had this explosion of American bands like the Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, the Strokes, the White Stripes, and they have quite often said, when they've been asked, "Who are your inspirations?," they've all said The Fall. So what's really cool now, especially in the States, is that we're coming to the shows and there's loads of young people there. And that's so refreshing to Mark. Because he cares! He really cares. I mean, he wrote the song "The League of Bald-headed Gentlemen," and I believe that's what that refers to. The fact that all he'd see was bald heads in the crowd. That was the thing, you know - he got a bit sick and tired of it."
Link:
http://www.markprindle.com/pritchard-i.htm
Rik
  • 7. Rik | 04/04/2015
Is the line " is your house for sale" any reference to Hanleys account in his book about the tax problems and him losing his house?
dannyno
  • 8. dannyno | 06/07/2015
Rik: surely not, that was a few years later.
dannyno
  • 9. dannyno | 19/02/2017
Note 3 doesn't work chronologically, as I pointed out in comment 8.
bzfgt
  • 10. bzfgt | 25/02/2017
Hmm, I didn't want to kill the note altogether, but what's left is weak tea...someday something will pop up to fill the note again.

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