Two Steps Back

Lyrics

Everybody likes me
They think I'm crazy
Pull my string and I do my thing. (1)

 

Two Steps Back
 

I don't need the acid factories
I've got mushrooms in the fields (2)
Julian said "How was the gear?" (3)
They don't sell things to you over there
A cigarette goes out when you put it down. (4)

 

Two Steps Back
 

Had a look at the free festivals
They're like cinemas with no films
You could make a fire with the seats
You could boil up some cigar dimps (5)
Or get into the sound
Wait for the ice cream to come around.

 

Two Steps Back
Two Doors Down

 

I meet my old friends there
They queue up for cash there
They are part Irish
They have no conscience
They get threatened by the cracker factory. (6)

 

Two Steps Back
 

Cracker Factory:
A place where you get into the working routine again. (7)
Rehabs for no hopes
Prefab for jobless dopes.

Notes

 

1. Dan alerts us to "'Puppet Man,' co-written by Neil Sedaka and released by him in 1969. It was covered by The 5th Dimension in 1970, among others. Lyric: 'But if you wanna see me do my thing Baby pull my string,' etc."

^

 

2. This positive reference to hallucinogenic drugs is rare for the Fall. According to Simon Ford's Hip Priest, MES took quite a bit of acid with other band members in the early days. Maybe he had a mushroom phase after that.  

^

3. This is generally thought to refer to Julian Cope, who was a Fall roadie before forming The Teardrop Explodes in 1978. Cope discusses the song here:

Were you once Mark E Smith's drug dealer?
Philip Harrison, Leeds
Well on the first Fall album there's a track called "Two Steps Back" with the lyric "Julian says/how was the gear/they don't sell things to you over here". People assume this is about me, because Mark and I were quite good friends at the time. He's only six months older than me and we used to write to each other a lot - Mark's letters were always highly illustrated. The thing was, although Mark and I talked a lot about drugs in a purely theoretical sense, I was actually very straight-edge at the time. So I never sold him anything. I'm sorry if that's disappointing.


It's not clear why someone who is straight-edge would enjoy discussing drugs all the time; furthermore, if they did, "How was the gear?" would not be an unusual question to ask. Cope seems like he is about to deny the song is about him at all, but goes on only to deny selling drugs to the Fall. The comment seems cagy, and isn't particularly enlightening, although it seemed worth including here for lack of more information.  

^

4. This lyric is so straightforward that it's actually quite confusing. Martin correctly points out that this is more likely to be true of a rollie than a factory made...

^

5. A "dimp" is a butt.  

^

6. "Cracker factory is slang for a mental hospital, and in context that seems the likely meaning... Dan: "The Cracker Factory is also a 1977 novel by Joyce Rebeta-Burditt. It was well-received and was turned into a TV movie in 1979."

^

7. ...on the other hand, here it seems that it may be slang for a straight job in general.  

^

Comments (10)

Bob Billy
  • 1. Bob Billy | 28/06/2014

I wonder if a Simpons writer had this song in mind with the line, 'I'm a pretty big wheel down at the Cracker Factory '.

Martin
  • 2. Martin | 23/03/2016

With reference to note 3 above, roll-ups and spliffs tend to go out more quickly than commercially produced cigarettes when not being actively smoked.

Martin
  • 3. Martin | 23/03/2016

With reference to note 3 above, roll-ups and spliffs tend to go out more quickly than commercially produced cigarettes when not being actively smoked.

dannyno
  • 4. dannyno | 20/02/2017

"The Cracker Factory" is also a 1977 novel by Joyce Rebeta-Burditt. It was well-received and was turned into a TV movie in 1979.

dannyno
  • 5. dannyno | 25/02/2017

Typo in comment #2! "Tyhe comment seems cagy"

bzfgt
  • 6. bzfgt (link) | 03/03/2017

Thanks for taking the time to point that out.

Man, commenting is great now I don't have to enter a bunch of shit...I can't believe it took us so long to figure it out. Actually, if it was just me I'd probably never have figured it out.

dannyno
  • 7. dannyno | 07/03/2017

"Pull my string and I do my thing"

So. I draw the jury's attention to the song "Puppet Man", co-written by Neil Sedaka and released by him in 1969. It was covered by The 5th Dimension in 1970, among others.

Lyric:


But if you wanna see me do my thing
Baby pull my string


etc.

Martin
  • 8. Martin | 08/03/2017

Re comment no. 7: Yes, but there have been many puppet-based songs over the years, ranging from Sandie Shaw's rendition of "Puppet on a String"

"Just who's pulling the strings
I'm all tied up to you"

to Elvis Presley's song of the same title.

I think it's a fairly generic lyrical concept.

dannyno
  • 9. dannyno | 08/03/2017

Which is true. But it was the "pull string"/"do my thing" double whammy that I found significant.

bzfgt
  • 10. bzfgt (link) | 19/03/2017

Yes, quite.

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