Touch Sensitive

Lyrics

The Marshall Suite:

(1)

Hey Hey Hey …

Hey Hey Hey …
I know, I know, I know …

In the cars or on the street  (2)
If you smile you are a creep
If you don’t say it’s very cold
You are drunk or too old (3)

They say what about the meek?
I say they’ve got a bloody cheek (4)
Vanity and presumption...        (5)

Living in the hard porn shop lately
I say Hey hey hey
Touch Sensitive

I know, I know, I know …

And you’re dying for a pee
So you go behind a tree
And a Star Wars police vehicle pulls up
I say gimme a taxi (6)

Touch Sensitive
Touch Sensitive

If you don’t say it’s very cold
You are drunk or too old
It's Touch Sensitive

In the cars or on the street
If you smile you are a creep
It’s Touch Sensitive

If you don’t say it’s very cold
You are Touch Sensitive

Touch Sensitive
Say Hey Hey Hey

I know, I know, I know…

 

The Complete Peel Sessions: 

Heeeey! Hey! Hey! Hey!

 

Well everyone you meet,
In the pubs and the street
Is touch sensitive

 

Don't frown and you're a creep
If you smile you're bitter
If you don't say "It's bitter cold"
You're drunk or too old

 

Hey! Hey! Hey! Hey! .... Hey! Hey! Hey! Hey!

 

They say what about the meek?
But I think that I'm indiscreet
I think they've got a bloody cheek
I'm livin' in a pawnshop weekly
In Delia's
What don't want a little kip (7)
 

Yeah! 

They're touch sensitive 

Hey! Hey! Hey! Hey! 

Touch sensitive
Old people worry about their milk
But in the street they call you filth
 

Houses line up 
Volume tremors
Pass down your barber till your carrot speaks
Stand back and laugh
You are burstin' for a pee

 

So you go behind a tree
Two coppers follow and see
That as will be the end
The best thing is to stay home
And have a wank

Notes

1. The song was used in a Vauxhall automobile advertisment. According to MES (via Refomation):

In Renegade (Viking, 2008; page 227, MES is quoted or (ghostwritten) thus: "It was a bit different when they used 'Touch Sensitive' for that Vauxhall Corsa advert. I didn't have full control over that. And at the time I needed the money. Sometimes that's the sad case. We're not all Elton John."


Julia Adamson (Nagle) says "the title was from [the] synthesizer setting for touch sensitivity."

Dan points out, I think justly, that the guitar part is a bit reminiscent of Iggy Pop's "Girls." Others have pointed out that the chords are similar to the Velvet Underground's "Waiting for the Man."
 
 
2. In the comments below it has been suggested (by Michael Smethurst and others) that the line is "In the khazi..." "Khazi" is apparently English slang for a bathroom. See the transcriptions from the Minder court case under "More Information" for more. According to Dan, numerous live versions sound like "In the bars...", and the studio version seems to be an exception in this regard.
 
 
3. I think older people generally have more sensitivity to cold, so this doesn't quite make sense to me.
 
 
4. Of course, the defining characteristic of the meek is a lack of "cheek." This is also a pun, since one who practices meekness according to the presciptions of Jesus would "turn the other cheek," perhaps resulting in a literal "bloody cheek."
 
 
5. Dan:
 
Two biblical references for the price of one here, because "vanity and presumption" is the Douay-Rheims bible translation of Ecclesiastes 6 : 9:
 

Better it is to see what thou mayst desire, than to desire that which thou canst not know. But this also is vanity, and presumption of spirit.
And Bijilt bids consider Thomas Paine, Rights of Man, 1791:

“Every age and generation must be as free to act for itself, in all cases, as the ages and generations which preceded it. The vanity and presumption of governing beyond the grave is the most ridiculous and insolent of all tyrannies.”
 
 
6. A comprehensive list of Star Wars police vehicles can be found at Wookiepedia.
 
 
7. These lines are almost certainly wrong; since I don't know what they are, I left the Lyrics Parade attempt intact.
 

More Information

Touch Sensitive: Fall Tracks A-Z

The Story of the Fall: 1998

 

Minder Music LTD. & Anor v Sharples 

See the court records of a dispute over rights to the song at the link above. The document contains the following transcribed lyrics, which should be taken with a grain of salt:

76.

"You are burstin' for a pee
So you go behind a tree
Two couples followed safe
That as will be the end"

 

The Astoria Version instead included the following verse:

 

"So you go behind a tree
And you're dying for a pee
And a Star Wars police vehicle pulls up."
 

The Album Version (as transcribed by Mr Sharples) is different again:

 
"And you're dying for a pee
So you go behind a tree
And a Star Wars police vehicle Paul's off
I say gimme a taxi"

77. Another verse of the Original Song went:

"Well everyone you meet,
In the pubs and on the street
Is touch sensitive
Don't frown and you're a creep
If you smile you're a liar
If you don't say "it's bitter cold"
You're drunken too"
However, the Astoria Version included the first three lines of that verse and then went straight into the refrain repeating the words "I know" and "Hey Hey." The Album Version differed again:

 

"In the cars or on the street
If you smile you are a creep
If you don't say it's very cold
You are drunk or too old."

 

Back to Note 2

Comments (27)

policetruck
  • 1. policetruck | 05/09/2013
It is possible that "In Newcastle" is said instead of "In the cars on". This could provoke comment on a night out in the said city and witnessing its culture?
Joseph Mullaney
  • 2. Joseph Mullaney | 05/03/2014
Re note 2: older people are less sensitive to cold, therefore they don't say it's very cold...
bzfgt
  • 3. bzfgt | 11/03/2014
Right, but I actually meant "more." In other words, older people are always bundled up in sweaters and cranking the heat, aren't they? But my comment doesn't make any sense, so thanks for noticing that...
dannyno
  • 4. dannyno | 19/07/2014
Peel Session version typo:

"I think they've got a bloody check"

they've actually got a "bloody cheek"!
Zack
  • 5. Zack | 24/08/2014
It is worth mentioning that "touch sensitive" is a term pertaining to keyboards: the harder you hit the key, the louder the resulting sound. Perhaps this is a term MES heard Julia Nagle say, or read on one of her keyboards.
Adam O
  • 6. Adam O | 03/09/2014
Could MES be singing in the first line "In the Council on the street/If you smile you are a creep"? I'm thinking Council as shorthand for Council housing, or a tough residential neighborhood where you might not want to be caught smiling....
bzfgt
  • 7. bzfgt | 21/09/2014
"Bloody check" was a typo! "Council" sounds plausible, what do the ears out there think?
bzfgt
  • 8. bzfgt | 21/09/2014
OK, I'll go with it, at least until someone objects...
dannyno
  • 9. dannyno | 21/09/2014
I don't think it's "council". It used to think it was "khazi" or "khaza", i.e. toilet, but now i think it's just "cars", meaning, er, "cars" or "taxis" I suppose.
bzfgt
  • 10. bzfgt | 21/09/2014
Erg, I don't know what to do. I listened again and now I think "cars" again, but he's awful slurry. I suppose to be conservative I should change it back now, and check Peel and live versions before considering changing it back again to something else.
dannyno
  • 11. dannyno | 28/05/2015
Interesting blog post about the dispute over the credits on this song:
http://the1709blog.blogspot.co.uk/2015/05/the-fall-and-rise-of-touch-sensitive.html

Original official legal case report:
http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/IPEC/2015/1454.html
dannyno
  • 12. dannyno | 16/10/2017
"They say what about the meek?
I say they’ve got a bloody cheek
Vanity and presumption..."

Two biblical references for the price of one here, because "vanity and presumption" is the Douay-Rheims bible translation of Ecclesiastes 6 : 9:


Better it is to see what thou mayst desire, than to desire that which thou canst not know. But this also is vanity, and presumption of spirit.


http://biblehub.com/drb/ecclesiastes/6.htm

The King James version is:


Better is the sight of the eyes than the wandering of the desire: this is also vanity and vexation of spirit.


Douay-Rheims wouldn't be the Bible of choice for someone Methodist-raised like MES, but perhaps MES has been reading Augustine, because in Augustine's "On the Sermon On The Mount", Book I, Chapter 1, para 3 is this:


What, then, does He say? "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven". We read in Scripture concerning the striving after temporal things, "All is vanity and presumption of spirit;" but presumption of spirit means audacity and pride: usually also the proud are said to have great spirits; and rightly, inasmuch as the wind also is called spirit.


In other words, for those who don't know their Douay-Rheims, translations of Augustine are probably the main source of the "vanity and presumption" phrase. There's a little bit more to that paragraph, and then we're into Chapter 2, which begins with para 4, which may or may not be coincidental but is certainly notable:


"Blessed are the meek, for they shall by inheritance possess the earth:" that earth, I suppose, of which it is said in the Psalm, "You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living." For it signifies a certain firmness and stability of the perpetual inheritance, where the soul, by means of a good disposition, rests, as it were, in its own place, just as the body rests on the earth, and is nourished from it with its own food, as the body from the earth.


...and so on.

https://web.archive.org/web/20170710142147/http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/16011.htm
Steve
  • 13. Steve | 07/02/2018
I always thought it was in 'the castle on the street' There's a pub on Oldham St, Manchester which i know he drank in, at least post-refurb. I'm pretty sure he drank there before- the pub was a mainstay, bands played there and it was pretty much the first pub you'd hit when you came into town from North Manchester but the staff and the regulars were pretty surly- 'if you smile you are a creep'. The song's just about moody, oversensitive people and the then increasingly prevalent sanctimoniousness of state representives like the police, innit?
dannyno
  • 14. dannyno | 08/02/2018
Comment #13. Doesn't sound like "castle".

But already cited is the legal case: http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/IPEC/2015/1454.html. Partial lyrics are given in there, as provided by "the claimants" (i.e Adamson/Nagle, Minder Music as Smith's publishers).
bzfgt
  • 15. bzfgt (link) | 17/02/2018
But Dan, who translated the version of Augustine you cite?
bzfgt
  • 16. bzfgt (link) | 17/02/2018
I almost hear "castle" myself, but it seems a bit more "cars" to my ears.
bzfgt
  • 17. bzfgt (link) | 17/02/2018
Court document has Sharples' version: "And a Star Wars police vehicle Paul's off"

I'm not going to hire this Sharples...
Bijilt
  • 18. Bijilt | 13/06/2018
"Vanity and presumption" - Also see Thomas Paine, The Rights of Man, 1791:

“Every age and generation must be as free to act for itself, in all cases, as the ages and generations which preceded it. The vanity and presumption of governing beyond the grave is the most ridiculous and insolent of all tyrannies.”
Michael Smethurst
  • 19. Michael Smethurst | 09/08/2018
I think the first line is actually.

"In the khazi or on the street... if you smile you are a creep."

Khazi is slang for bathroom in England and it makes sense that both places, making eyecontact would be seen as uncomfortable for the English.
dannyno
  • 20. dannyno | 12/08/2018
That's what I used to think, see comment #9.

"Cars" is also in the legal record:

http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/IPEC/2015/1454.html

Khazi could certainly fit, for the reason suggested in comment #10. And there is the "dying for a pee" line. But it's not what I hear. Certainly there aren't syllables for "in the khazi or on the street". It would have to be "in the khaz.. or on the street" (which is why "cars" is heard) or "in the khaza on the street".
dannyno
  • 21. dannyno | 12/08/2018
In the XFM/live version on disc three of the Marshall Suite it sounds like "Everyone you meet / in the bars or on the street". It also sounds like "bars" on the Live In San Francisco album.

In fact, listening to several live versions, it pretty much always sounds like "bars". That's Leeds Irish Centre, October 2005; Middleton Civic Centre, March 2003; Middleton Civic Centre, March 2005; Sheffield Boardwalk, October 2005; Patronaat, Haarlem, Netherlands, April 2001; Knitting Factory, NYC, November 2001; Melkweg, Amsterdam, April 2001; Crocodile Bar, Seattle, November 2001; Concorde 2, Brighton, April 2001.

But the album version still sounds like "cars".
bzfgt
  • 22. bzfgt (link) | 16/08/2018
I do not trust the court transcriptions.
bzfgt
  • 23. bzfgt (link) | 16/08/2018
I think what's been done here is all that can be done for now (note 2 and More Information)
bzfgt
  • 24. bzfgt (link) | 16/08/2018
It wouldn't be outlandishly surprising if it's "bars" and he flubs it. On the other hand, unreliable as it seems, the court doc is some kind of prima facie evidence for "cars"
dannyno
  • 25. dannyno | 11/11/2018
RE: note 1 and zack's comment #5.

Julia Nagle/Adamson, posting on the FOF as invisiblegirl, said (9:05 PM - Feb 02, 2011):


you know the title was from synthesizer setting for touch sensitivity


https://www.tapatalk.com/groups/thefall/mes-the-people-vs-jerry-sadowitz-t29033-s35.html
dannyno
  • 26. dannyno | 16/11/2018
Some similarity between the guitar on this and Iggy Pop's Girls.
Nairng
  • 27. Nairng (link) | 04/12/2018
The two versions here above the notes show the 2 spellings of the homophonic pawn - porn.
Personally I think it is "pawn shop", which is a thing (in UK parlance at least), whereas a shop that sells porn would be more likely termed a "sex shop".
But I may be wrong; the Peel version mentions having a "wank" (although MES seems to pronounce "wink", the sense is clear. Also MES's objection to porn it discussed in the Hanley book; it's clearly something which he held strong views about, and as such might find its way into his lyrics, unlike pawn shops.
That's my two cents, anyhow!

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