Way Round

Lyrics

(1)

Walked through a crystal maze you created (2)
And enter values as Vikings enter (3)
Leathered to 70's shoeboxes (4)
Into glass, into glass

I hit roundabout
I hit roundabout 
I hit roundabout 
I hit roundabout  (5)

I stumble into glass disco sweatboxes
And leathered to the 70's
And still do not know it I hit roundabout
I just can't find my way
I just can't find my way
I just can't find my way 
Round

I just can't find my way
I just can't find my way
I just can't find my way
Round

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Notes

1. MES is lost in a disco, according to Julia Adamson (Julia Nagle). That seems to jibe with what's in front of me, so I will not dispute it. Musically the song is very powerful, arguably even to the point of being laid on a bit thick. But considering the way the lyrics and the music work together, it's actually pretty perfect: cheesy dance keyboards dart in on top from time to time, but Nagle's main line is bassy and menacing.

Harleyr points out: "The keyboard break is reminiscent of the Inspector Clouseau theme from the Pink Panther cartoons, perhaps suggesting that some detective work is needed to get out of the maze..." And Dan points out that a roundabout figures in a car chase scene from The Pink Panther.

Whatever led to the narrator getting lost, chemicals are surely involved, and a volume-addled listener will not not have a hard time imagining their role in the whole thing. As they bounce and sway to the dance floor simulation of the higher keyboard interludes, the Village People-esque Vikings are perhaps a humorous touch that balances out the ponderous menace that lies beneath (but see note 3 below!). 

^

2. The Crystal Maze was a game show that aired in the UK from 1990-1995 (thanks to Joseph Mullaney). The game was a fantasy kind of scenatio, with the set divided into four "zones"--"Aztec," Industrial," "Medieval" and "Futuristic."

"Enter values" in the following line could have something to do with the game--in each zone, contestants would vie for "time crystals" which granted them time inside the "Crystal Dome" at the center of the set, which is where the final challenges went down.  Vikings could possibly have been suggested by the Medieval Zone, as it could suggest the crazy outfits people may have been wearing at the club in the song (but again see note 3 below), although I don't think there were actually Vikings in The Crystal Maze. In any case, the image of "glass disco sweatboxes" (nine lines down) is seemingly connected to that of the crystal maze and dome.

^

3. There appears to be an even chance that the word here is "Wikings," a WWII-era German Panzer division comprised of foreign volunteers from Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Estonia, the Netherlands, and Belgium, and commanded by German officers (I am closely paraphrasing Wikipedia here, see the link). The division apparently committed war crimes, executing Ukrainian Jews in a (sadly) more or less typical story you can read more about in the Wikipedia article. In any case, some of the division's story suggests the wandering and confusion which form the dominant themes of this song:

"On 24 March, another Soviet attack threw the IV SS Panzer Corps back towards Vienna; all contact was lost with the neighbouring I SS Panzer Corps, and any resemblance of an organised line of defence was gone. Wiking withdrew into Czechoslovakia. The division surrendered to the American forces near Fürstenfeld, Austria on 9 May."

Martin:

Should it be "Wikings"? I say this due to this ad-lib during the gig at the Knitting Factory, Los Angeles on 14 November 2001:

"You walk into glass crystal mazes as the S.S. Viking ["Wiking?"] regiment did. Into black. Into space....You walk down into valley of kings. Out of glass. Out of space. In seventies disco lights." 

Have we been getting the word wrong? Remember, "w" in German is pronounced much the same as the English "v", so that would account for the mis-transliteration.

^

4. In British slang "leathered" means very drunk. However, as Martin points out, in context this would make an odd usage, and it is possible the word was originally "tethered," and MES has substituted the less comprehensible "leathered" due to the congruence of sound (it is hard to say). 

Martin points out that "shoeboxes" could refer to shoebox cassette recorders; although the larger "box" had become the dominant medium by the time of the song's composition, believe it or not people used to occasionally walk around listening to those things in the 1970s.

^

5. A traffic metaphor like this is somehow apt, but what would be really crazy is if all the disco stuff was a metaphor for being stuck in traffic. Anyway, there's an "evil roundabout" in M5, but this one's scarier.

^

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More Information

Way Round: Fall Tracks A-Z

The Story of the Fall: 2000

 

Supplemental:

Martin threads his way through Islington in some live Fall lyrics, beginning with "Way Round":

 

23 March 2000 Fibbers, York:

- "...Islington roundabout...(?) one-way centre...long long days...I just can't find my way around here, I just can't find my way around here" (additional hod-ac words, combined with lyrics from Way Round, on debut performance of Two Librans, a day before the first outing for Way Round )

The Fall had played gigs in Wrexham and Doncaster on the previous two days, so there's no concrete evidence that MES had a real Islington roundabout in mind, though of course he may have been thinking of some problems in the past, or then again the word "Islington" may have suddenly popped into his mind, or simply he thought it sounded good.

By the way, Islington was to feature again in ad-libs:

2 June 2000 Witchwood, Ashton:

"What do I see? I see old Islington fucking tramps looking at me." (amended lyrics to "Ol' Gang") 

4 March 2002 FZW, Dortmund: :

`"I'm stuck at the train station in Islington, and my friend Michael and his wife has just got out of the hospital" (alternative lyrics in Ketamine Sun)

8 March 2002 Haus der Judend, Düsseldorf: :

"Michael he was his usual self, chirpy and cheerful; I look out at the sky of Islington; I look out at the sky of Islington" (alternative lyrics in Ketamine Sun

3 November 2005 Islington Academy, London: :

"As the group sit down for tea and scones in the village of Islington." (amended lyrics to "Ride Away")

Comments (18)

Martin
  • 1. Martin | 30/01/2014

I don't know if the word is used similarly in American English, but in British English "leathered" often means to be completely drunk. I'm not aware that it can mean to be affected, temporarily or otherwise, by non-alcoholic drugs.

bzfgt
  • 2. bzfgt | 15/02/2014

Thanks for that, Martin. The closest thing in American slang, I think, would be "plastered."

Joseph Mullaney
  • 3. Joseph Mullaney | 02/06/2014

`Walked through a crystal maze you created'- The Crystal Maze was a popular British TV gameshow that originally aired from 1990 to 1995.

dannyno
  • 4. dannyno | 22/07/2014

There are another two instances of

"I just can't find my way
I just can't find my way
I just can't find my way
Round"

at the end of the song.

i.e it's repeated four times, not two.

dannyno
  • 5. dannyno | 22/07/2014

Does he hit the roundabouts or hate them?

Hard to tell.

harleyr
  • 6. harleyr | 21/12/2015

The keyboard break is reminiscent of the Inspector Clouseau theme from the Pink Panther cartoons, perhaps suggesting that some detective work is needed to get out of the maze...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ul8exlVff_M

bzfgt
  • 7. bzfgt | 23/12/2015

Dan: don't know but I'm listening now.

Harley: good one!

bzfgt
  • 8. bzfgt | 23/12/2015

Dan: I can't tell for sure but it sounds more like "hit," which fits the narrative flow of the song better...

dannyno
  • 9. dannyno | 23/12/2015

Harleyr: There is of course a roundabout in one of the Pink Panther films too: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rnf4v5mqHes

Martin
  • 10. Martin | 27/03/2017

23 March 2000 Fibbers, York:

- "...Islington roundabout...(?) one-way centre...long long days...I just can't find my way around here, I just can't find my way around here" (additional hod-ac words, combined with lyrics from Way Round, on debut performance of Two Librans ,a day before the first outing for Way Round )

The Fall had played gigs in Wrexham and Doncaster on the previous two days, so there's no concrete evidence that MES had a real Islington roundabout in mind, though of course he may have been thinking of some problems in the past, or then again the word "Islington" may have suddenly popped into his mind, or simply he thought it sounded good.

By the way, Islington was to feature again in ad-libs:

2 June 2000 Witchwood, Ashton:

"What do I see? I see old Islington fucking tramps looking at me." (amended lyrics to "Ol' Gang")

4 March 2002 FZW, Dortmund: :

`"I'm stuck at the train station in Islington, and my friend Michael and his wife has just got out of the hospital" (alternative lyrics in Ketamine Sun)

8 March 2002 Haus der Judend, Düsseldorf: :

"Michael he was his usual self, chirpy and cheerful; I look out at the sky of Islington; I look out at the sky of Islington" (alternative lyrics in Ketamine Sun)

3 November 2005 Islington Academy, London: :

"As the group sit down for tea and scones in the village of Islington." (amended lyrics to "Ride Away")

Martin
  • 11. Martin | 27/03/2017

So much for Islington. Now for the "Vikings", or should it be "Wikings"? I say this due to this ad-lib during the gig at the Knitting Factory, Los Angeles on 14 November 2001:

"You walk into glass crystal mazes as the S.S. Viking ["Wiking?"] regiment did. Into black. Into space. Into (...). You walk down into valley of kings. Out of glass. Out of space. In seventies disco lights." (amended lyrics to "Way Round")

Have we been getting the word wrong? Remember, "w" in German is pronounced much the same as the English "v", so that would account for the mis-transliteration.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/5th_SS_Panzer_Division_Wiking

Martin
  • 14. Martin | 05/04/2017

I'm thinking, "leathered to 70s shoeboxes" makes little sense. If it were "tethered to"...but it isn't.

Maybe the line break should be after the word "leathered" (if this does indeed mean to be drunk)?

Whatever way, I'm still slightly confused. Can anyone help?

bzfgt
  • 15. bzfgt (link) | 29/04/2017

Martin, the Unutterable version is clearly Vikings, but the live deviation is notable in any case!

bzfgt
  • 16. bzfgt (link) | 29/04/2017

"Leathered"/"tethered": the Unutterable version clearly sounds like "Leathered", but MES I think sometimes substitutes a different word that is phonetically similar for the original or expected word, so again this is notable...

bzfgt
  • 17. bzfgt (link) | 29/04/2017

Sorry Martin, of course you're right, it would be pronounced with a 'V' sound either way. I'm catching on, be patient with me!

bzfgt
  • 18. bzfgt (link) | 29/04/2017

Excellent stuff, Martin, thank you.

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