(We Are) Mod Mock Goth

Lyrics

(1)

Take Viagra
Go to Camber Sands (2)
Our shirts are well out of our pants
Mod mock goth

All week we work for daytime TV
When we laugh we say "tee hee hee"
We are mod mock rock goths

We're 29 going on 49
We get groups off before half nine
In Camden, Manchester and the Oxford ley-lands
We are mod mock goth

When we have the time
We stress less
We are the mod mock goth
Mod mock goth

Mod mock goth
Round the world
I'm irresistable
I got a lot of land
My land is built of silver
My portaphone is lost
Mod mock goth
Mod mock goths!

And my trousers got a tick on the side (3)
My portaphone is lost somewhere deep inside
We are mod mock goth
Mod mock goth

Little beards as in the Bible
On the end of the chin (4)
Silver portaphone in hand
Shirt is out of the pants
Mod mock goth
Mod mock goth 

Notes

1. According to Conway Paton, proprietor of the Fall online forum, "The song is apparently about one person in particular, and it's not anybody that's well known. I won't name him for obvious reasons." The title does suggest that it 's about a plurality or a scene, so I would imagine that if it's inspired by one person, "he" is representative of a tendency or a social scene. On the other hand, of course, it is possible that the person is quite unique and MES is imagining what a whole host of his type would look like, if he had a type. "When we laugh we say 'tee hee hee'" could also be an indication that a particular person is meant, since it's hard to imagine this being a common characteristic of a scene (like "metalheads always seem to wind their watches at the strangest times" or something, you get what I mean?). The Story of the Fall points a tentative finger at one of the the road managers indicated in "Portugal," without explanation. Another source claims that MES has privately admitted that the song is about Ed Blaney, but Conway on the Fall online forum has the following to say, which seems to confirm the "Portugal" hypothesis:

Mod Mock Goth is not about Ed Blaney. It's about a young hot-shot talent agent based in London who briefly took over managing the group while Ed was out of the picture for a bit. This comes from the person himself, who I have met but won't name, and also from Jim Watts in person, in a one on one conversation.

The Mod Mock Goth during his tenure came very close to signing the Fall to Mute/EMI along with a lucrative publishing deal for the Country On The Click album - both sabotaged by MES. He also booked the group to play a German biker festival with a bunch of heavy metal bands. And he sent the group to Portugal, which resulted in a couple of letters being sent by the Mod Mock Goth to MES which formed the basis for the lyrics to the song Portugal.

I was the first person to give Mod Mock Goth a CD of Portugal, which he found incredibly amusing, although he said it wasn't very funny at the time. I met him in New Zealand when he was here managing another client, Pete Doherty (he liked a challenge, obviously).

Apparently, mod goth is a thing, or at least enough of a thing not to have neen invented by MES. Goth is a subculture that is often associated with post-punk music, a very vague genre demarcation within which certain bands began to be described as "Goth Rock," such as The Cure, Bauhaus, The Birthday Party, The Virgin Prunes, and Killing Joke, with Joy Division sometimes recognized as proto-goth. Goth's are associated with wearing black, wearing unusual or creepy makeup, like a base of white makeup with dark highlights over it, doing conspicuous things with their hair, emulating Victorian styles, and all that sort of thing. Mod goth  is apparently a subset of goth, which incorporates elements of mod (short for "modernist," a term that is in this context derived from the jazz scene and is the term complement to "trad" or traditional jazz). Mod started in Britain in the late 1950s and was, like goth, a very fashion-conscious scene, involving bespoke suits and attention to hair, although mod styles are generally more mainstream than those associated with goth. The mod goth look, it seems, involves putting a darker (both literally and figuratively) and somewhat more outré emphasis on mod-style clothing. The character(s) in this song seems to be a bit older and more slovenly than your average conscientious mod goth, but of course the "mock" must also be taken in to account. In fact, the phrase "mock goth" isn't MES's creation either, as the term seems to have been used, predating this song, to describe poseur goths.

The Fall have sometimes been loosely associated with the Goth scene; as "post-punks" (although that label indicates surprisingly little about the sounds one can expect to hear) they are in the ballpark of what a goth may be expected to listen to, or at least be familiar with, and Bend Sinister is sometimes said to have a little bit of a goth feel, although I lack the expertise to say whether this is accurate. According to the Allmusic review of that album, "there was no worry that the Fall would ever go goth; one suspects Mark E. Smith would rather have his tongue removed. Still, opening track "R.O.D." makes for a distinctly lower-key start in comparison to recent leadoffs like "Lay of the Land" and "Bombast," almost sounding a bit like fellow Mancunian legends Joy Division, Smith's lyric his own depressing vision of a beast slouching toward Bethlehem." In other words, the Fall did not go goth with Bend SInister, but it was wiorth mentioning that they didn't, a combination of factors that probably gives a reasonably accurate indication of their proximity to the genre at that point in their career. 

^

2. Camber Sands is a beach resort area in Southern England. It hosts All Tomorrow's Parties, an "alternative" music festival at which the Fall played in 2003-2004 and 2010, 2012, and 2013. "Mod Mock Goth" was recorded in December, 2003, so it is likely that any association MES had with the town at the time involved the festival.  ^

3. Dan connects this with Nike, as the famous "swoosh" is also sometimes called a "tick" (presumably because it resembles a check mark).

^

4. This line is mystifying and silly; one can only admire it.  

^

Comments (13)

Martin
  • 1. Martin | 22/07/2013

I wonder what "Oxford Laylands" are?

Maybe a misspelling of Leyland as in British Leyland's factory at Cowley, near Oxford. Or a self-reference to The Fall's song "Lay of the Land"?

Huckleberry
  • 2. Huckleberry | 22/08/2013

"Silver portaphone in hand" sounds like "Silver microphone in his hand" in "Bingo Master's Breakout".

dannyno
  • 3. dannyno | 26/10/2013

"Ley Lines" is the name of a music festival in Oxford. I don't know if it was going in 2003, though.

bzfgt
  • 5. bzfgt | 15/06/2014

Nevertheless "ley-lands" seems more likely to me as I have no idea what "laylands" could mean. I hyphenated it because it would otherwise probably be pronounced "lee-land." It probably needs a note, at some point.

Also note that "Lay of the Land" refers (obliquely) to ley lines...

dannyno
  • 6. dannyno | 22/07/2014

"We drink all night
Goin' home, four in the back
We get groups up before half nine"

There's something wrong here. I'm mainly going by the single version, and I'm hearing this:

"We drink [ ] going home for the night
We get groups up before half nine"

There's a kind of gurgle in the square brackets. I don't what that is. But there's no sign in any of the versions I've heard (single, Interim, Real New Fall LP) of the line "going home, four in the back".

Martin
  • 7. Martin | 09/10/2014

With reference to note 6 above:

8 December 2003 Carling Academy, Islington, London. "We're 29 going on 49/They get all the groups off by half past nine."

25 February 2004 Fat Sam's, Dundee: "We get the groups off before half nine in Camber, Manchester and Oxford."

Martin
  • 8. Martin | 09/11/2014

The US version of the album on which this song is on definitely has:

"We get groups off before half nine".

bzfgt
  • 9. bzfgt | 16/11/2014

OK, I finally listened to this and he definitely says "We're 29 going on 49
We get groups off before half nine". Thanks for that Martin, I don't know if I'd have made it out otherwise.

bzfgt
  • 10. bzfgt | 16/11/2014

And Dan, I forgot to add.

dannyno
  • 11. dannyno | 26/02/2015

"And my trousers got a tick on the side"

Adidas, obviously.

Dan

bzfgt
  • 12. bzfgt | 28/03/2015

Heh? What does that mean? What's a tick, and what does it have to do with Adidas? What's so OBVIOUS, MAN???

dannyno
  • 13. dannyno | 23/05/2015

Oops, I cited the wrong brand. The "tick" is used by Nike, not Adidas.
Doh!

Dan

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