The Steak Place

Lyrics

Head down  (1)
Head down 
Head, head, head down.

Fool of the Commonwealth drove down there, (2)
Down turnpike; 
Desperate for food desperate for respite.

The steak place. 
The steak place

Cheap carpet lines the way 
Aluminium tack door handles 
Candelabra lion's head 
Via butchers display too.

The steak place
The steak place

Via a carcass row
Things are brought forward and eaten, 
I see the corners filled with hitmen, 
Two young lawyers they are whispering, in

The steak place
The steak place 

I wanna stay here, 
I don't wanna go anywhere, 
I could remain here,

Head down 
Head down 
Head down 
Head, head, head down
The steak place 
The steak place 

I'd stop the automation, 
I'd sit behind dusty lace, 
I have a word with hitmen, 
I give off a beatific face. 

The steak place 
The steak place
From New York City run screaming, 
Into New England states, 
Combined a man not should have to do this, 
A man should not use his fist in

The steak place.
The steak place. 

I wanna stay here, 
I don't wanna go anywhere, 
I shall remain here. 

(Bad song)

Notes

1. The story seems to be as follows: the narrator drives from New England to New York to relax and get a meal in his favorite steak place, where he keeps his head down and minds his own business, because the place is frequented by shady underworld figures; at some point a "hitman" addresses him, and he is very friendly and polite to the latter as he doesn't want any trouble, he just wants to enjoy his meal and soak in the ambience. However, at some point an altercation ensues and the narrator decks the hitman and hightails it back to New England.

^

2. This indicates that the narrator has come from Massachusetts, the only Commonwealth in New England (four US states are Commonwealths: Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Kentucky and Virginia).

^

Comments (13)

dannyno
  • 1. dannyno | 15/09/2013

"(Bad Song)"

That line appears on the Lyrics Parade, which I guess is the source for this page. But it doesn't actually seem to appear in the song.

Dan

bzfgt
  • 2. bzfgt | 07/10/2013

That is really odd! Was the transcriber editorializing? Or does it appear in one of the lyrics books, in which case MES was slamming his song?

bzfgt
  • 3. bzfgt | 07/10/2013

Oops, you're wrong; it's sung falsetto and a capella (I don't think by MES), after the fade.

dannyno
  • 4. dannyno | 02/11/2013

Good heavens. My player seems to cut off after the fade and I've not been hearing it. After a few tweaks and I can hear it again!

dannyno
  • 5. dannyno | 12/07/2014

The "steak place" seems to be an American joint, and "commonwealth" has an American meaning. But it also has an English meaning, in the context of the Civil War in particular but perhaps also in this context in the sense of former colonies and countries of the British Empire.

And "fool of the commonwealth" has interesting associations.

Marchamont Needham (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marchamont_Needham) was an English Civil War publisher, who wrote for both sides. He started out publishing the pro-parliamentarian journal Mercurius Britanicus, later published the pro-Royalist Mercurius Pragmaticus and then the Republican mouthpiece Mercurius Politicus.

The thing is, the first issue of Mercurius Politicus the first issue of which begins with an editorial to its readers, which said:

"Why should not the Commonwealth have a Fool, as well as the King had?"

(http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=2_5r8GWThaoC&lpg=PA408&ots=miqb1HS-jD&dq=%22commonwealth%20fool%22&pg=PA197#v=onepage&q=%22commonwealth's%20fool%22&f=false)

and also : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mercurius_Politicus

Is MES indicating here that he sees himself in this kind of role?

dannyno
  • 6. dannyno | 12/07/2014

"Down turnpike"

So, there's the Pennsylvania Turnpike (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pennsylvania_Turnpike), the Massachusetts Turnpike (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interstate_90_in_Massachusetts). Als the West Virginian Turnpike (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/West_Virginia_Turnpike).

So bearing in mind my local knowledge is limited, I'm thinking that if Massachusetts is the only Commonwealth in New England, then the fact that the Massachusetts Turnpike does connect with New York state would seem a significant thing?

"Down there" works too.

So if you were travelling from, say, Boston, to New York City, would part of your journey be on the Massachusetts Turnpike?

dannyno
  • 7. dannyno | 12/07/2014

Worth noting that there was a place called "The Steak Place" at 112 Central Park South, NYC (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/59th_Street_(Manhattan)). It was reviewed in the New York Times in 1967, but I have no idea if it was still there in the late 80s.

The block included the rock-star friendly Navarro Hotel, later the Ritz-Carlton.

Am I onto something? It's hard to tell.

dannyno
  • 8. dannyno | 12/07/2014

Or there's this place, which had organised crime associations:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sparks_Steak_House

bzfgt
  • 9. bzfgt | 15/07/2014

You'd be on the Mass Pike b riefly, but not for long as it goes east/west. Good comments, I'm not sure I need to take further action on them...I'm tired right now though.

dannyno
  • 10. dannyno | 18/08/2014

MES quoted in The Biggest Library Yet fanzine, no.8, February 1997:

"We played this concert and I was starving and pulled up in this little New England town and it was really pretty but it had this place in the middle of it and it was like a fortress. All these big metal bulged heads coming out of it, it was like a horror museum. And it had... The Steak Place! And you walked down this alleyway and it was all carcasses under this light. Oh God, I'm gonna lose me appetite here. You ended up in this nice, dark, place, it was dead cool and quiet. I just sat down, had a steak. It was good"

Source not identified, but still.

I ought to be possible, from that description, to identify the town.

dannyno
  • 11. dannyno | 18/08/2014

So The Frenz Experiment was recorded mid-late 1987, and so the most recent US tour would have been 1986, when the The Fall travelled as follows:

Paradise, Boston, Mass
Living Room, Providence, Rhode Island
Irving Plaza, NYC
9:30 club, Washington DC
New Century Hall, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Guthrie Theater, Minneapolis, Minnesota
The Stone, San Francisco, California
Lone Star Cafe, NYC

Then into Canada

So without assuming that the sequence of events in the song was the actual sequence of events, where might this town have been?

Martin
  • 12. Martin | 22/08/2015

The restaurant presumably wasn't between Boston and Providence as it's only a hour's drive between the two cities and surely the group would have stayed in Boston after the gig on 27 February 1986 and driven to Providence the next day?

Providence to New York however, is 181 miles. Again, surely the group would have stayed the night in Providence itself rather than headed straight to NYC? Anyhow, this route may well have taken the group past towns/cities such as Warwick, New London, New Haven, Stamford and no doubt others, depending on what exact road they took. (And was this one of the tours when MES travelled separately from the rest of The Fall?) Another thing to mention is that the implication from the MES quote above is that his hunger pangs happened sometime soon after one particular gig, but we can't pin this down for sure.

Sorry, no doubt I've muddied the waters rather than bring anything new to the investigation...

dannyno
  • 13. dannyno | 27/08/2015

Yes, the quote seems to mean he finished the gig, then got hungry. But we might be reading that too literally. And MES may have flown ahead of the group or something. But your suggestion is plausible, and we have to start somewhere.

Dan

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