Totally Wired

Lyrics

(1)

I'm totally wired
Totally wired (totally wired)
I'm totally wired (can't you see?) 
Totally wired

Can't you see?
A butterfly stomach round ground
I drank a jar of coffee, and then I took some of these (2)

And I'm totally wired
Totally wired (totally wired)
I'm totally wired (can't you see?)
Totally wired

Life leaves you surprised.
Slaps you in the eyes.
If I was a communist, a rich man would bail me (3)
The opposite applies.
The morning light.
Another fresh fight.
Another row, right, right, right, right.

And I'm totally wired
Just totally wired (totally wired) (4)
I'm totally biased
Totally wired
You don't have to be weird to be wired

You don't have to be an American brand
You don't have to be strange to be strange
You don't have to be weird to be weird (5)

But I'm totally wired totally wired (totally wired)
I'm totally wired (can't you see?) 
Totally wired

My heart and I agree
My heart and I agree (6)
I'm irate, peeved, irate, peeved,
Irate, bad state
Bad state.

I'm totally wired totally wired (totally wired)
I'm totally wired (can't you see?) 
Totally wired

And I'm always worried
And I'm always worried
And I'm always worried
And I'm always worried (7)

Notes

1. This is a pretty straightforward song by Fall standards, and may be the only time Mark E. Smith has expressed chagrin at a song not becoming a hit (from Reformation):

MES in an interview with Adrian Deevoy in International Musician and Recording World (May 1983): "I know Totally Wired was a good song. I wrote the drum beat and the chorus and they were very accessible and very catchy. I knew it was commercial and it should have been number one but it wasn't so what can you do? I'm not going to degrade myself and do smoother and smoother Totally Wireds which is what people are doing, man, and don't tell me that's not true." 

On the other hand, it is very bass-heavy by pop standards. 

^

2. "These" apparently refers to some kind of speed.

^

3. Jon in the comments suggests that this may refer to Friedrich Engels' financial support of Karl Marx. Engels ran his father's factory in Manchester, and thus the demise of the bourgeoisie was plotted with the help of surplus value milked from the proletariat...now I'm going to find an animal rights demo so I can accuse everyone of wearing leather shoes.

In any case, Dan has found something that seems like a more direct source for this puzzling line:

Frederick Vanderbilt Field was an American millionaire [Vanderbilt!] and left wing civil rights activist who was trustee and secretary of the Civil Rights Congress bail fund.
 


Field refused to reveal who had put up bond for eight Communist Party officials, who had jumped bail and disappeared after being convicted by the Truman administration Department of Justice for violations of the Smith Act. Convicted of contempt of court since he would not provide the names of any of his Communist friends, Field served two months of a 90-day sentence in federal prison at Ashland, Kentucky, in 1951.

^

4. One popular account of why Roger Daltrey stuttered on "My Generation" is that he was trying to sound like a speedfreak, although this may not be true. In any case, since this is a song about speed with a stuttering vocal, and since that story, whether true or not, is a very well-known one, MES's stutter is either an intentional allusion or a notable coincidence.  

^

5. A Part of America, Therein:

You don't have to be weird to be wired

You don't have to be a died hair punk funk shit-hot fucked up tick-tock pad

You don't have to be strange to be strangled

When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro

This last line (which strikes me as a bit corny by Fall standards) is a quote from Hunter S. Thompson, a writer for whom MES has expressed appreciation, and who is the subject of "Midnight in Aspen."

Dan provides the details:

For the sake of completeness, it comes from "Fear and Loathing at the Superbowl" (Rolling Stone #155, 28 Feb 1974, reprinted in The Great Shark Hunt (originally Gonzo Papers, Vol. 1: The Great Shark Hunt: Strange Tales from a Strange Time), first published in 1979.



In context: 
 


When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.

Who said that?

I suspect it was somebody from the Columbia Journalism Review, but I have no proof ... and it makes no difference anyway.
 

"You don't have to be weird to be wired" is a variant of the lyric above, a quote of Captain Beefheart, who, in a 1973 interview, gives a pretty good account of the "New Puritan" ethic (capitalization as in original):

"i write a hundred and fifty pages a day. today i only did thirty." "how do you do all that and work?", i ask. "wórk?", he says flinching, "it's all play.... some people think it's a terrible thing being a human being," he says ... "but you don't have to be weird to be weird."

According to The Jukebox Rebel, "Beefheart's 1973 interview phrase 'you don't have to be weird to be weird' was used as the caption in press adverts for his Unconditionally Guaranteed LP in 1974, aside the image of the Captain clutching two fistfuls of dollars. The chances seem high that MES would have picked up on this via the Melody Maker or such like."

I have no idea what a "tick-tock pad" might be. Dan points out that there is a character in there is a character in L. Frank Baum's Wizard of Oz books named Tik Tok. He also mentions that this reminds him of an electronic drum pad, which is worth considering.

^

6. This line may be a quote from Ornette Coleman's "All My Life" (1975, composed by Coleman and sung by Asha Puthli), which is sung to the same melody in the original song. However, the latter in turn quotes "Stella by Starlight," a jazz song by Victor Young for which Ned Washington wrote lyrics in 1946, which include the lines "My heart and I agree/She's everything on this earth to me."

^

7. The concern here with drug-induced or drug-enhanced stress and fear is reminiscent of "Frightened," from Live at the WItch Trials.

^

Comments (25)

John
  • 1. John | 02/08/2013
"bale" makes no sense. "Bail" does, as in bail out of prison. Why would a rich man bail a Communist out prison? Now that would be a surprise.

This is another fave lyric track. All these ways of pronouncing the letters in "wired": wired, weird, worried, and of course biased in the electrical sense.
bzfgt
  • 2. bzfgt | 02/08/2013
Yeah, "bale" does make no sense. I'll revisit this soon.
Pessoa
  • 3. Pessoa | 31/01/2014
The " My heart and I agree" line sounds copied from the song 'All My Life' on Ornette Coleman's album 'Science Fiction' (1971). Even the melody seems the same.
Jon
  • 4. Jon | 05/02/2014
Hi,

I always thought "bail" could be a reference to Engels financing Marx?

MES to Shane MacGowan:

" Engels – he was a factory owner in Manchester exploiting 13 year-old girls. Learn your history, pal, learn your history"

Excellent resource btw, Cheers.
bzfgt
  • 5. bzfgt | 12/02/2014
I changed it to "fail" at some point because it sounds more like it sometimes, maybe makes sense, and whatever. But I should probably at least have a "bail" note or change it back and do the reverse, since I've heard covers with "bail" in the lyrics and everyone has it that way. With all the live versions of this one I should be able to figure it out...

Pessoa: what are the lyrics to "All My Life?" Is it the same exact line? I should listen to it on youtube and stop being lazy.
bzfgt
  • 6. bzfgt | 12/02/2014
Oh, yeah--got it! Great catch.
bzfgt
  • 7. bzfgt | 12/02/2014
I seem to hear "bail" now so I'm rejoining the mainstream. If I'm wrong everyone else is too, whereas changing it to "fail" seems an unjustified intervention on the conventional wisdom if it's indistinct. So I'll get a little Engels in there, Jon.
dannyno
  • 8. dannyno | 14/03/2014
Ornette Coleman.

MES was a fan of Ornette Coleman, see this 1983 interview: http://www.visi.com/fall/gigography/image/83apr_trulyneedy.pdf

"
TN: You seem to have, sort of, by the departure of the keyboard player, backed into a phenomenon that's happening in American jazz drumming. I don't know if you are familiar with harmelodic music, that certain musicians around Ornette Coleman, particularly a drummer named Ronald Shannon Jackson is doing. Do you ever listen to that sort of music?

MS: It's funny, because, yeah. I like that. I like Ornette Coleman. That's about it really. I'm not a great jazz fan. It's funny, because the drummer definitely don't listen to jazz. It's just that I rather like the drum part. With people like Ornette Coleman, they just used to do it. I mean, I have to tell my drummers what to do. But I'm not thinking at all. "This is going to sound like Ornette Coleman". I'm just trying to find a beat that goes with the song....<snip>"
israel
  • 9. israel | 15/06/2014
After around 10 successive listens to that line, I'm absolutely sure that it's "fail".

Fight the mainstream. Hold your ground.
bzfgt
  • 10. bzfgt | 15/06/2014
Crap, Israel. I'll pull out a couple of live versions and see what happens there...maybe something clearer.
bzfgt
  • 11. bzfgt | 15/06/2014
Fuck, Live to Air in Melbourne sounds like a definite 'f', and A Part of America sounds distinctly like a 'b.' Anyone else want to go digging around these? I swear those both sound clear to me, in opposite directions.
dannyno
  • 12. dannyno | 15/07/2014
I've only ever heard "fail".

I can't hear the butterfly stomach line properly, it sounds like "ground grounds" to me at the moment.

"I drank a jar of coffee, and I took some of these" should be "and then I took some of these", followed by "And I'm totally wired".

And it's "If I was a communist", not "were a communist".

And at least on the single version, I can't hear any stuttered "J": "J-j-just totally wired". Nope.
rob
  • 13. rob | 31/12/2014
I always heard it as 'tick tock parrot' not 'pad' which makes sense to me

great website
duncan
  • 14. duncan | 17/08/2016
I was kicking around the site, looking at stuff, & trying to remember which fall song had this lyric in it.... eventually resorted to google.... absolutely convinced I'd heard MES utter this at some point, but no.... it's etched into the run-out of the 7" I have of TW.
but it does sound like a classic MESism, does it not?

"the only reason you know this is that it was well documented"

bzfgt
  • 15. bzfgt | 25/08/2016
Perfect.
The Jukebox Rebel
  • 16. The Jukebox Rebel (link) | 14/10/2016
Beefheart's 1973 interview phrase "you don't have to be weird to be weird" was used as the caption in press adverts for his "Unconditionally Guaranteed" LP in 1974, aside the image of the Captain clutching two fistfuls of dollars. The chances seem high that MES would have picked up on this via the Melody Maker or such like.

https://books.google.ie/books?id=Bz0pAwAAQBAJ&pg=PT258&dq=you+dont+have+to+be+weird+to+be+weird+Captain+Beefheart&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjG_viZjNvPAhXpDMAKHc5OCLkQ6AEIHzAA#v=onepage&q=you%20dont%20have%20to%20be%20weird%20to%20be%20weird%20Captain%20Beefheart&f=false
bzfgt
  • 17. bzfgt | 15/10/2016
Thanks, TJR. I can't believe my original note called the variant a "near-quote" while forgetting that the line I was annotating was an exact quote! So it's good you called my attention to that shoddy note.
dannyno
  • 18. dannyno | 15/10/2016
"You don't have to be strange to be strange".

Compare, NME 25 February 1978, p31. Interview with Split Enz by Monty Smith.

Tim Finn is quoted:


"... compared to a lot of things I guess we do play it strange. You don't have to play that strange to be strange in rock 'n' roll. Most people still play it pretty basic.
dannyno
  • 19. dannyno | 17/10/2016
Here's part of an advert than ran in the NME of 13 April 1974:

Image

The line possibly originally comes from an interview with Captain Beefheart in ZigZag, 1973:
http://www.freewebs.com/teejo/argue/farout.html
dannyno
  • 20. dannyno | 17/10/2016
Oops.Try again.

Here's part of an advert than ran in the NME of 13 April 1974:

Image

The line possibly originally comes from an interview with Captain Beefheart in ZigZag, 1973:
http://www.freewebs.com/teejo/argue/farout.html
dannyno
  • 21. dannyno | 22/10/2016
"Tik tok" is a character from the Wizard of Oz books: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tik-Tok_(Oz).

I was looking because in my head I thought a "tik tok pad" was some kind of electronic drum machine, that maybe you tap on with your fingers or something. But I can't find any actual evidence that such a thing exists with that name outside my head.
dannyno
  • 22. dannyno | 22/02/2017
"If I was a communist, a rich man would bail me"

Here's something: Frederick Vanderbilt Field was an American millionaire [Vanderbilt!] and left wing civil rights activist who was trustee and secretary of the Civil Rights Congress bail fund.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frederick_Vanderbilt_Field


Field refused to reveal who had put up bond for eight Communist Party officials, who had jumped bail and disappeared after being convicted by the Truman administration Department of Justice for violations of the Smith Act. Convicted of contempt of court since he would not provide the names of any of his Communist friends, Field served two months of a 90-day sentence in federal prison at Ashland, Kentucky, in 1951.
dannyno
  • 23. dannyno | 22/02/2017
"When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro"

This is seldom properly sourced to the work of Hunter S. Thompson. So for the sake of completeness, it comes from "Fear and Loathing at the Superbowl" (Rolling Stone #155, 28 Feb 1974, reprinted in The Great Shark Hunt (originally Gonzo Papers, Vol. 1: The Great Shark Hunt: Strange Tales from a Strange Time), first published in 1979.

http://www.rollingstone.com/sports/features/fear-and-loathing-at-the-super-bowl-19740228

In context:


When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.

Who said that?

I suspect it was somebody from the Columbia Journalism Review, but I have no proof ... and it makes no difference anyway.
bzfgt
  • 24. bzfgt | 25/02/2017
Dan, that is fantastic!! That line has always bugged the shit out of me since it seems so senseless. I think I even tried to convince myself for a while that it is "fail me," even though that makes up for its greater coherence with its total lameness. This is a sterling discovery!
dannyno
  • 25. dannyno | 25/02/2017
Comment #14:

"The only reason you know this is that it was well documented" is a line from Putta Block, of course.

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