Winter (Hostel-Maxi)


(Winter 1)


Entrances uncovered (2)
Street signs you never saw
All entrances delivered
Courtesy of winter  (3)

Entrances uncovered
Street signs you never saw
All entrances delivered
Courtesy of winter

Entrances uncovered
Street signs you never saw
You got Manny in the library
Working off his hangover 3:30
Get the spleen at 3:15
But it's 3:13            (4)

The mad kid walked left-side south-side towards me (5)
He was about 7
His mother was a cleaning lady
She had a large black dog
And the mad kid said:
"Gimme the lead,
Gimme the lead,
Gimme the lead!"
I'd just walked past the alcoholics' dryout house
The lawn was littered with cans of Barbican (6)
There was a feminist's Austin Maxi parked outside (7)
With anti-nicotine anti-nuclear stickers on the side
The boys on the inside said "give me a smoke"...

Anyway two weeks before the mad kid had said to me
"I'll take both of you on,
I'll take both of you on!"  
Then he seemed the young one
He had a parka on and a black cardboard Archbishop's hat
With a green-fuzz skull and crossbones
He'd just got back from the backward kids' party
Anyway then he seemed the young one
But now he looked like the victim of a pogrom (8)

Entrances uncovered
Street signs you never saw
All entrances delivered
Courtesy of winter
Courtesy of winter 

Entrances uncovered
All inquiries too
All entrances delivered
Courtesy of winter

(Winter 2)

On the first floor of the dryout house
Was a replica dartboard
And the man on the floor
His soul went out of window, over the lawn
And ran into the mad kid
"Please take this medallion,
Please wear this medallion
It's no sign of authority
I'd rather go than put it on"  (9)

Courtesy of winter

Soul went into the kid    (10)
Man on the first floor said

"I just looked round
I just looked round
I just looked round
And my youth it was sold" 

"I just looked round
I just looked round
And my youth it was sold" (11)

Two white birds cross the sky
Look like krakens  (12)
And sometimes, that little...
Makes me tremble (13)
Courtesy of winter
Courtesy of winter 

The mad kid had 4 lights, the average is 2.5 lights
The mediocre has 2 lights, the sign of genius is three lights
There's one light left, that's the one light
That's the science law (14)

Courtesy of winter


1. This is split into two parts on Hex Enduction Hour (spanning the sides of the album, when there were such things) but it is clearly one performance and has always been treated as one song in live performances.  

Hostel-Maxi is probably a sort of portmanteau, but it isn't really a portmanteau, in fact,  but more of a steamer trunk. You will soon see "steamer trunk" everywhere to refer to two words only related by the context in which they appear, connected with a hyphen--it is sure to be the new "eggcorn."

Mr. Marshall points to a pun on the words "hostel" and "hostile" (which is also the title of a Fall song).

Dan: The press handout for Hex has turned up. It includes this:

'Winter' is a tale concerning an insane child who is taken over by a spirit from the mind of a cooped-up alcoholic, and his ravaged viewpoints and theories. An earlier version went into the 'Clang' process of speech, whereby the sufferer during speech makes sentences containing similar sounding words.

This "Clang" process may account for a has long been suspected that MES sometimes uses just such a process, although whether he's suffering when he does so we cannot say. In any case, "clanging" is a psychlogical term for what a patient does when they string words together on the basis of sounds.

Hexen Blumenthal:

This piece shares several themes with Martian Time Slip by P K Dick EG
1) Manny aka Manfred a dumb and poss. "mad" kid. 
2) A library he goes to 
3) Time and slippage.


2. John Doran points out a play on words here between "entrances" and "entrancers."

3. These lines, which suggest that winter reveals things we haven't seen before, may be unexpected insofar as we would generally think of winter as a time when snow has covered up entrances and street signs that we are used to seeing. This is a hint that there is more to the imagery of winter then we might expect: while the song's winter is indeed barren and stark, it is also full of life and possiblities, although it may be that the life is otherwordly and the possibilities grim. 

Then again, a reader submits: "Not unexpected at all. Manchester rarely has snow. In suburban streets in the UK, it is in summer when street signs etc. get covered over by hedges and undergrowth." This exemplifies the fact that, when I stop reporting and start interpreting, the result is usually nonsense...these lines make perfect sense in the light of this information. However, it also demystifies them a little, so I'm leaving my original declaration of drooling wonder to enliven your imaginations. I went on to say:

"Winter" is about someone (the "mad kid")  whose life is blighted before it has properly begun, and the song is, appropriately enough, chilly and austere. It consists of mundane scenes tinged with a bleak and supernatural kind of menace. The street signs and entrances that now appear among the ordinary furniture of a winter town seem to lead beyond the frame of the picture, although nothing within the picture looks to be out of the ordinary. The picture frame is a perfectly ordinary, even generic, one note bass riff that doesn't really go anywhere, but firmly bounces along, suggesting the inexorability of fate and the seasons, which aren't a bit concerned with the protagonists' lives. 


4. I'm unsure if these lines can be connected with the rest of the song, or if they are just scattered phrases MES had been kicking around and looking for a song to stick them in or, as the case may be, what he sang to fill out the track without going back to replace them with something more meaningful. In any case, they give me the impression of randomness, whatever their genesis. But it's always best to at least try to get some sense out of things, if it's at all possible (or, if not actually making sense out of the lyrics, at least finding in them the occasion for focused and consequent thoughts). If time is running backwards here, that wouldn't be entirely unusual in a Fall song of this period: this is a central element of "The N.W.R.A.," and the non-linear fluidity of time is a theme of "Backdrop". Here, immediately before we are told that it is only 3:13, the scene at 3:30 is briefly set: Manny in the library working off his hangover. Could Manny be the man from the "dryout house" we will soon encounter? In the song's time present, 3:13 (presumably PM, since the library is open), the unnamed narrator sees the "mad kid" approaching, and thus 3:15 is perhaps the moment when the one central event of the song takes place. This event is hinted at but not fully explained here; as the Peel version has it, "I saw the guy on the first floor [of the dryout house or "hostel"]/ his soul went over the lawn to the mad kid..." Elsewhere, however, MES has said that the song is "a tale concerning an insane child who is taken over by a spirit from the mind of a cooped-up alcoholic." So perhaps Manny, or whatever is left of him now that his soul is inhabiting the body of the mad kid, proceeds to the library immediately after the possession takes place. This leaves the question what "get the spleen" means; I am not sure about that. What Manny, if Manny is the same character, has gotten is the body (and thus the "youth") of the mad kid. It would be odd if "spleen" were a synechdoche for the whole body. In most cases, not every word of a Fall song makes obvious sense, so that's the best I can do for now.

Mxyzptlk gives a rather plausible surface reading of the lines: 

You get the spleen at 3.15, but it's 3.30...
Just means that Manny is already feeling rancorous (ie, full of spleen)...On a coach trip to London once, I glanced out of the window as we passed a serious looking building called Spleen House... Always wondered what they did in there.

"Full of spleen" has the connotation Mxyzptlk suggests in contemporary usage, but Dan points out that "the spleen represents 'black bile' in the old theory of the humours. But it doesn't translate necessarily or simply into 'rancorousness' ('splenetic' often meaning enraged), as suggested. It also suggests sadness and melancholy (see See also: Oddly, it's associated with autumn rather than winter. Also see: Anne Finch, 'The Spleen': 'What art thou, Spleen, which ev’ry thing dost ape?/Thou Proteus to abused mankind,/Who never yet thy real cause could find,/ Or fix thee to remain in one continued shape.'"


5. This probably refers to walking "widdershins," literally "against the sun," i.e. counterclockwise or against the sun. In ritual magic(k) widdershins is sometimes thought to be the proper way to circumambulate when casting a dark or evil spell, vs. "deosil" or clockwise, which is sometimes considered a more pious direction, but this is not unanimously agreed upon. Widdrshins literally means "against the sun" which, through the course of the day, moves from east to south to west, thus the south would be on one's left when pacing widdershins and on one's right when moving deosil (which means "toward the right"). Aside from moving counter to the sun, right and left are traditionally morally freighted terms as well (think "sinister," which comes from the Latin for "left"; sometimes black, unconventional, or hedonistic magic is called the "Left Hand Path"). Thanks to Russell for catching the reference to "magical" direction here.

Dan: From Have a Bleedin Guess by Paul Hanley:

Craig Scanlon: I always thought the mad kid was Mark. I imagine he was a very Kes-like figure as a child. He was always a contrarian, so I can imagine him growing up that way. But I never felt the need to ask Mark about his lyrics - it would be like him asking me what that guitar line meant or how do you feel about that chord.



According to Karl at the time, the mad kid was a real person, and on one occasion he did offer to fight Mark and Karl as they passed him in the street.


Paul Hanley also speculates that the mad kid could have been Karl Burns.

Kes is a 1969 film about a 15 year old boy who is kind of a sad sack, in tragic circumstances...



6. Barbican is non-alcoholic beer (A Part of America, Therein: "that's an alcohol-free lager") which is apparently, and doubtless purely incidentally, popular in Muslim countries .  


7. Austin Maxis were British automobiles produced in the 1970s.  


8. Here we must ask: which "then," and which "now?" All we know of the mad kid, before the incident at the dryout house, are these two little scenes where he encounters the narrator. Each encounter involves a small, ineffectual and, in context, heartrending effort on the kid's part to establish some kind of agency (which is, of seemingly, what he is about to lose forever). Both times the narrator sees the kid the latter is very agitated: now he attempts to take control of the dog, just as then he attempted to assert his power over the narrator and his unnamed companion. Underlined by the costume he was wearing during the first encounter--it is probably no coincidence that MES portrays him wearing a uniform which denotes power and authority--his frantic gestures seem to take on a greater significance in light of what is about to happen to him. As in certain dreams, dreadful knowledge of the future makes the present into a dreadful and seemingly scripted narrative, i.e. turns it into the present into the past even as it unfolds. Thus, the present time, 3:13 PM, is seen from the perspective of 3:30 even as it is lived through. Looking at it straightforwardly, "then" is the scene after the party when the kid challenges the narrator, and "now" is 3:13, when the kid, in the last few moments in which he still possesses his own soul, tries to take dog's leash. Why, then, does the kid look like the victim of a pogrom? It is not clear whether something terrible has just happened to him, but it cannot be as terrible as what is about to happen. But the reversal of narrative time at the beginning of the song may be a clue that here the kid appears to the narrator under the shadow of the event that is about to happen, the possession at 3:15 which will render futile any further attempts by the kid to attain any kind of agency with respect to fate. 

Similarly, it is impossible to know for certain whether the kid was always mad, or if he is now seen as mad because he is possessed. Even if the latter is the case, it would be hard to tell if the song does not maintain a linear sense of time but presents the event of possession that is the song's narrative climax as a stone dropped into the water of time and sending ripples out in every direction. This question will become significant further on; see note 10 below.

Here, on A Part of America, Therein, MES sings "And this day he looked like the victim of a pogrom..." Whether intentionally ot not, this repeats the title of the final song on Hex Enduction Hour, "And This Day."

If we choose not to accept MES's claim that the song is about a possession, we might find Mxyzptlk's interpretation attractive:

I don't think the Mad Kid gets possessed, the drunken guy's soul just mistakes him for an archbishop and spectrally pleads with him to take the medallion, a bit like the Sacristan's daughter does with Dennistoun in Canon Alberic's Scrapbook by MR James [see "Spectre Vs. Rector"]. 

There's not enough internal evidence to conclude on this basis alone that the kid is possessed, and it is hard not to admire the way the above reading ties in the archbishop's hat in the manner of Chekhov's gun...


9. Brian points out that they give out medallions for periods of time sober in Alcoholics Anonymous. It sounds like the character here is saying he'd rather die than where the medallion...


10. This is indistinct. Peel: "his soul went over the lawn, to the mad kid, and the man was glad"


11. Who is actually speaking here, and whose youth has been sold? It is typical of MES's lyrics that the central line of the song should, as always, be ambiguous: in this version, at least, it is the alcoholic ("Manny"?) who utters the line, although it may seem more appropriate coming from the kid. On the other hand, at this point the recovering alcoholic and the mad kid have presumably in some way merged. Or does the kid's soul get switched with that of the alcoholic, so that it is now the kid who speaks, in the form of the alcoholic? On the other hand, perhaps the latter is recalling some past event, for which he seeks recompense by taking over the mad kid. It is impossible to know exactly how to take this lyric; either way, it's a chilling line, and the song here seems to take a darker, more melancholy turn, or rather to reveal its underlying melancholy most clearly at this point.

On some live versions, MES says "my soul it was sold." One possible interpretation is that the "medallion," whether literally or figuratively, has purchased the mad kid's soul or youth for the alcoholic. It could also be that the alcoholic, knowing or somehow intuiting the kid's fascination with the trappings of authority, distracts the kid by offering him the medallion. Whatever the case may be, it is typical that, even when telling a story, MES leaves things open to various interpretations.

Lawrence Worthington points out "I just looked (a)round" is found in the (arguably somewhat maudlin) song "Abraham, Martin and John," which was popularized by Dion, subsequently covered by several people (including, memorably for the horror of it, by a wheezing Bob Dylan), and which was written by one Dick Holler. The phrase is used in more or less the same way--something momentous and tragic has happened, and the singer reports it in such a way that it seems to have happened in a moment such that the passage of time is marked and lamented.

Anybody here, seen my old friend [Abraham/John/Martin/sometimes Bobby]?
Can you tell me where he's gone?
He freed a lot of people, but it seems the good, they die young--
You know I just looked around and he's gone


12. The Lyrics Parade has "there fly krakens," which is taken from the lyrics book published in the 1980s. On every version of this song I've heard, MES clearly says "look like krakens," however. This certainly makes more literal sense (a kraken is a legendary sea monster, although many references to krakens may actually be to very real, and certainly monstruous, giant squids). Confronted with a choice between breaking with the mundane setting of the song by placing something monstruous within the frame, or merely hinting at the monstruous within the mudane, MES clearly made the correct aesthetic choice by keeping the canvas taut, but "there fly krakens" is certainly a stirring and evocative line.
Krakens are also mentioned in "Iceland," also on Hex Enduction Hour."
13. This gap (filled by a keyboard flourish on Hex) is not the result of a studio flub or a hastily improvised line, as it is sung this way on live versions and on the Peel session. "That little..." could of course refer to the mad kid, but he would be easy enough to name, and I think MES is going for something more ineffable here. The word that goes in the gap would have to encapsulate the entire emotional burden of the song, the sense of a profound chill that is only partly attributable to the weather. Here the word "tremble," then, is more evocative then something like "shiver" would have been: "winter" is both a meteorological and a spiritual condition of the song. Here I also think of the soul of the alcoholic passing through the singer's body on its way to the mad kid; and just as, when someone shivers, it sometimes said that someone walked across their grave, the narrator's trembling is not so much a result of encountering a malign spirit, as it is caused by his briefly intuiting the indifference of fate to his own soul. In this regard, Thop in the comments below points out a resonance with the 19th Century spiritual "Were You There (When They Crucified My Lord)" with its refrain "O sometimes it causes me to tremble! tremble! tremble!" which MES's lyric neatly echoes...
On the other hand, it should be noted that Bazhdaddy had suggested there is no ellipsis, and "that little" means "as little as that," and refers back to the white birds.
14. These "lights" are mysterious and hard to interpret. I don't think we quite get it if we think of it as a simple ascending scale denoting intelligence or insight, but the context doesn't offer much in the way of elucidation. For me the line evokes Blake's "fourfold vision," from a letter to Thomas Butts:
Now I a fourfold vision see
And a fourfold vision is given to me
Tis fourfold in my supreme delight
And three fold in soft Beulahs night
And twofold Always.
May God us keep From Single vision & Newtons sleep.

It would be difficult to interpret these lines here without getting into a lengthy disquisition on Blake's symbology. However, "Newton's sleep" is generally thought to refer to an unimaginative, scientifically reductive view of nature. The fourfold vision is crowned by the Imagination, the highest concept in Blake's writing, in fact tantamount to God. The view of the world as a collection of facts, while not a false vision, is a limited and impoverished one for Blake. MES is an avowed reader of Blake and may have had something like this in mind: the mad kid has a kind of imaginative vision of the world many of us lack, although unfortunately this may be his undoing. And "one light left" implies that the lights are not just a factor of character, intelligence or personal insight, but that the age is one that is illumined solely by the science light.
On A Part of America, Therein the mad kid has 4.75 lights--off the charts, so to speak. On that version the lyrics run:
The mad kid had 4.75 lights
And the sign of genius is 4 lights
Now, most of us have 3 lights
Except um, slates, who have 2 lights
And there's one exception, there's one light
And that is the science law, the science law
Courtesy of Winter
Courtesy of Winter
You're the only one for me
It is a fallacy 

It is a fallacy and this does not stand up
It is the one science law
And it is a statement of grace
Why is the science law an "exception" and a "statement of grace"? One interpretation would be that, unlike Blake, MES wants to assert the truth of the scientific view of reality, so, instead of being impoverished, the one light of science is the blending of the rays of all the others, and thus contains them. The simplicity and methodological single-mindedness of the scientific perspective would not then be myopic but visionary. This seems unlikely, though, from all we know of MES. It's also difficult to tell what is called a "fallacy" here, especially since the previous line is unintelligible. On the other hand, perhaps the one light is a statement of grace because it shields us from a kind of vulnerability to malign forces that would come with madness or excessive insight. Maybe, like a Lovecraft character, what the mad kid learns is that it is not good to know too much.
Although it is a less likely point of reference for MES than the works of Blake, Luther's "The Bondage of the Will" employs the trope of "lights" by which we understand, and does so in a way that is in some ways consonant with the theme of "Winter."  According to Luther, understanding is illuminated by three lights: the light of nature, the light of grace, and the light of glory. When we do understand by the light of grace (which Luther also calls the light of the Gospel), God appears to be unjust, because the wicked seem to prosper while the good are punished: "And yet all this, which is so very much like injustice in God, when set forth in those arguments which no reason or light of nature can resist, is most easily cleared up by the light of the Gospel, and the knowledge of grace: by which, we are taught, that the wicked flourish in their bodies, but lose their souls! And the whole of this insolvable question is solved in one word — There is a life after this life: in which will be punished and repaid, every thing that is not punished and repaid here: for this life is nothing more than an entrance on, and a beginning of, the life which is to come!" If it's permissable to push it as far as possible for the moment, here we are told of "entrances uncovered," in the form of the portal to heaven. There, our understanding will be even more perfect, as the light of grace requires faith and scripture, but in God's presence we will understand by the light of glory. 
The theology of "Winter," if it can be called that, could be interpreted as a kind of inverse of that of Luther. Any uncovered entrances open onto the mad kid's doom, and the science light, or the "light of nature," is the only grace the kid can hope for; in the science light, the kid's irrecuperable fate is reduced to insanity. If madness is in many cases permanent, this is a contingent fact rather than an irreversible fate, and in any case it is a sentence that is commuted by death. 
The number of lights varies across versions, but it is constant that the kid has more than geniuses, and both have more than most of us (see Martin's excellent comment below).

Comments (95)

  • 1. dannyno | 05/05/2013
I'm not sure if there is a connection, or what it would mean if there was, but it is worth recording that Luther writes of "three lights" - the light of grace, the light of glory and the light of nature:
  • 2. bzfgt | 29/11/2013
Oh yeah; there might not be a connection, but if not the semblance of one is still powerful...
  • 3. dannyno | 23/07/2014
It's "courtesy winter", rather than "courtesy of winter", throughout.
  • 4. bzfgt | 21/09/2014
I'm not sure about that, I've thought that but I think there's a little stop in there where it's kind of implied. Maybe not, I have to listen again.
  • 5. Martin | 24/10/2014
In case anyone thinks that the number of lights ascribed to mad kids, geniuses, us and the mediocre has any real significance, then this list should disabuse them, slightly at least. It seems to me that Mark E Smith had a few constant random numbers, occasionally altered a bit, which he used in gigs. Anyway, here's a partial list of how many lights various people had (omissions are due to (mainly) the "mediocre" not being mentioned or to me not understanding what the vocalist says!.

11 July 1981: genius 0.75 lights, mad kid 5
12 July 1981: genius 4.75, mad kid 5, most of us 3.5
13 July 1981: genius "4 possible 2.5 lights". mad kid 4.75, most of us 3.75, mediocre 2
16 July 1981: genius 4, mad kid 4.75, "I have - most of us - 3 lights" [I think then he says "dog 2 lights"]
4 September 1981: genius 3, most of us 2, mediocre 1.5
9 September 1981: genius 3.5, mad kid 4, most of us 2.5
23 September 1981: mad kid 3.75, most of us 2.5
1 November 1981: genius 3, mad kid 3.75, most of us 2.5
7 December 1981: mad kid 3.75, most of us 2, mediocre 2.55

This is possibly the most pointless contribution to this website of all time, and I don't want to listen to Winter again for a long, long time.
  • 6. Martin | 24/10/2014
With reference to the question of whether it's "courtesy of winter" or "courtesy winter", I would say it's more like "courtesy o' winter". Often, when one word finishes with a consonant and the next one does too, the first consonant disappears (almost) when spoken. So "big boy" becomes something like (it's far more complicated of course and I don't pretend to be an expert) "bi' boy". I think this is the case with the snatch of lyric here.
  • 7. Martin | 24/10/2014
The expression "southside" as used in the song seems to me to be a particularly American usage, or have I been away from Britain too long?
  • 8. bzfgt | 27/10/2014
Not pointless at all--ass has been kicked, here, by you. I note that the kid always has more than the genius, who always has more than us--like the hedonic calculus, nobody knows what the numbers actually are, but the relationship between them is fairly stable. Crazy like a fox, I say.
O.D. Jones
  • 9. O.D. Jones (link) | 29/12/2014
Re: Scots grandmother always referred to nausea/gas/gastric distress etc as a bit of spleen...fits the theme of the library incident. I assume gran wasn't the only one to use spleen in this context. Secondary Oxford definition also includes "ill humor, angry, spiteful". Also assume MES aware of the Baudelaire connection "Spleen et Ideal" from Flowers of Evil...spending an afternoon here with the music going and this website. Thanks!
Max Williams
  • 10. Max Williams | 09/01/2015
Re the line "the mad kid walked left-side, south-side, towards me" - i've always thought this was like the term "southpaw", meaning a boxer who punches with their left hand. So in context, the mad kid is walking towards the narrator, holding his body as if he might punch the narrator with his left hand. Sort of makes sense.

Can i also say, as an aside, that your anti-spam captcha thing seems broken - it just shows me the ad but never shows me what i'm supposed to type in, or even gives me an input to type it into! If you're reading this it means i persevered well beyond being completely pissed off with it (eg trying different browsers), because i love The Fall so goddamn much.
  • 11. bzfgt | 31/01/2015
Good thought, that sounds about right. Does it not show you the slide thingy in lieu of a box for text? That's what I get...
  • 12. Mxyzptlk | 18/02/2015
You get the spleen at 3.15, but it's 3.30...
Just means that Manny is already feeling rancorous (ie, full of spleen). Also, I don't think the Mad Kid gets possessed, the drunken guy's soul just mistakes him for an archbishop and spectrally pleads with him to take the medallion, a bit like the Sacristan's daughter does with Dennistoun in Canon Alberic's Scrapbook by MR James.
On a coach trip to London once, I glanced out of the window as we passed a serious looking building called Spleen House... Always wondered what they did in there.
Max Williams
  • 13. Max Williams | 19/02/2015
Bzfgt - I think it's just broken in the Linux version of chrome
  • 14. bzfgt | 28/03/2015
That's brilliant, I never made the connection with the kid's hat. As for the big picture, let me brood over it for a minute.
  • 15. bzfgt | 28/03/2015
Fuck I think you might be right, maybe he just pleads with the kid. I was taking MES's word for it...probably not a sound principle of interpretation (not that I'd want to ignore what he says about it either). I worked your comments in but I may have to revisit this at some point and see what shakes loose.
  • 16. harleyr | 21/04/2015
It's not my observation, but doesn't the line 'I'll take both of you on!", as directed at the singular narrator, suggest that the child has been possessed by the alcoholic and so is seeing double?
  • 17. harleyr | 21/04/2015
Also, I think the line about the Austin Maxi begins...
'the boys on the inside said 'gimme a smoke'.
  • 18. dannyno | 23/04/2015
Some discussion of "Hostel-Maxi" here:
  • 19. Hugo | 21/05/2015
i always thought this song was about the state of Britain and British politics with the mad kid representing the ineffectual Labour party desperately seeking to regain power. So the mad kid says gimme the lead, gimme the lead and his mother (a Thatcher stand-in) isn't going to. The mad kid threatening "take both of you on" is again Labour acting like a barroom drunk pointlessly threatening the Tories and the Liberals.
russell richardson
  • 20. russell richardson | 08/06/2015
'left side, south side

has to be widdershins, the magical way of walking around a building or person 'against the sun" (deosil) in order to cast a spell

or Hex

seems to fit, whether it's the kid doing it or the kid as possessed being made to do it.
  • 21. bzfgt | 26/06/2015
Top notch lyric identification, harley! I'm pondering the rest of it, I think this needs an overhaul soon...
  • 22. dannyno | 29/06/2015
These "boys on the inside"... Are they inside the feminist's Austin-Maxi, or inside the dryout house? Surely the latter?
  • 23. dannyno | 11/07/2015
An Austin Maxi, yesterday:

  • 24. harleyr | 12/07/2015
"Two white doves cross the sky / Look like krakens"
Another sign of drunkenness?

"And sometimes, that little... / Makes me tremble"
The first time I heard Winter (many years ago) the keyboard tune seemed very familiar, but I've never heard the source since. Anyone else know what it is?
  • 25. bzfgt | 17/07/2015
"Deosil" is actually the opposite, clockwise, which you probably know but your comment obfuscates. Good call though.
  • 26. Factorybozo | 24/03/2016
I always thought "I'll take both of you on" meant that the narrator himself/MES was possessed, and the mad kid is the only one who knows, or who can see it, because they're kindred.

The idea that he says it because he's drunk and seeing double never occurred to me, but I like it.
  • 27. bzfgt | 30/04/2016
Me too, and it seems like just the kind of thing MES would say.
  • 28. dannyno | 07/07/2016
The spleen represents "black bile" in the old theory of the humours. But it doesn't translate necessarily or simply into "rancorousness" ("splenetic" often meaning enraged), as suggested. It also suggests sadness and melancholy:

See also:

Oddly, it's associated with autumn rather than winter.

Also see:

Anne Finch, "The Spleen":

"What art thou, Spleen, which ev’ry thing dost ape?
Thou Proteus to abused mankind,
Who never yet thy real cause could find,
Or fix thee to remain in one continued shape. "

Just thought it might help to unpack the meanings of "spleen" a bit more.
  • 29. dannyno | 07/07/2016
Just poking at this a bit more.

I've tended to presume that this is a story about spirit possession. But nowhere in the song is there any explicit indication that anyone is possessed. The "man on the floor" of the first floor of the dryout house is dead, and his spirit leaves the dryout house and communicates with the mad kid. But it doesn't say the spirit possesses the child.

"I'll take both of you on". This incident happened two weeks before the encounter related in the main song. The child is about 7 years old, so probably not drunk and seeing double, even in Prestwich (assuming it's set in Prestwich!). Nor is there any indication that the narrator was possessed at the time. It could just be that the narrator was not alone when confronted by the mad kid! On the other hand it is kind of implied that the kid has special powers and may see what others cannot.
  • 30. dannyno | 07/07/2016
I liked Mxyzptlk's suggestion and connection with the MR James story.

However, the "backwards kid's party" and fancy dress encounter was "two weeks before", was it not? So if I've got that right apparently he was not wearing an archbishop's hat when the spirit approached him with the medallion... Which undermines Mxyzptlk's fantastic suggestion.
  • 31. bzfgt | 15/07/2016
Yes, the possession narrative comes from MES not the song itself, it could be a red herring. I don't think the song needs to be interpreted too closely to be effective but it's the strongest hint I've got. One of these days I'm going to re-open the investigation and go over all this very closely, though. In the meantime it's good to have competing interpretations in these comments.
  • 32. bzfgt | 15/07/2016
Mx, I went lookijng for Spleen House, I got an entry on the spleen from the House tv show wiki, and a winery in France called Château ["house'] Chasse-Spleen, the scion of which abandoned the family business and later created an art exhibition about the whole thing called Spleenhouse I wonder if Dan could find out what the place you saw is, he is uncannily talented at research, but on the other hand it probably has nothing to do with the song.

Also interesting that there is a condition called "wandering spleen."
  • 33. dannyno | 16/07/2016
I found a "Speen House" in London.!1s0x48761ace935627b3:0x6b7897cae61c805d!2m5!2m2!1i80!2i80!3m1!2i100!3m1!7e115!4s/maps/place/%2522speen%2Bhouse%2522%2Bporter/@51.5215493,-0.156876,3a,75y,156.32h,90t/data%3D*213m4*211e1*213m2*211sYK2dmYyNdmsfaKPA4wlbnw*212e0*214m2*213m1*211s0x0:0x6b7897cae61c805d?hl%3Den!5s%22speen+house%22+porter+-+Google+Search&imagekey=!1e2!2sYK2dmYyNdmsfaKPA4wlbnw&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjC2N79__jNAhUML8AKHQn7ALMQpx8IUzAK

But I'm not sure if the house was *in* London, or just on the way there. Porter Street doesn't seem like the kind of street that coaches would venture down.
  • 34. dannyno | 15/11/2016
re: Manny/Mani in the library.

I've always kind of assumed the library was a different location to the dryout house, somewhere "in town". But re-reading all this, and thinking of "the man" on the floor as basically identical to Manny/Mani, then I'm now wondering if the dryout house has its own library.
  • 35. bzfgt | 24/11/2016
Dan, I've never thought of that. I also always took the library to be somewhere else but now you mention it that is entirely possible.
  • 36. Factorybozo | 15/01/2017
Is it possible that he replies to the offering of the medallion with "I'd rather go than put it on", instead of "wear the gold and put it on"?

This is my favorite site on the entire web by the way, and the work you've all put into it has been a service that I could never repay. Many thanks to you all.
  • 37. bzfgt | 04/02/2017
Factorybozo, I couldn't possibly convey in words how gratifying it is to hear you say this is your favorite site. I will listen to "Winter" and see if your ears accord with mine.
  • 38. bzfgt | 04/02/2017
FB, it sounds to my ears more like "wear the gold," but not absolutely distinctly, I'll have to check a live version or two.

Also, this is attested in a lyrics book, I think. I have the file in my Dropbox, but I accidentally deleted my Dropbox folder and they changed my password since the last time I logged in. I have been trying to get my folder back for a #^@! week, those bastards--I thought Dropbox was to keep you from losing files? I am angry, although I realize nobody needs to read about it I cannot help but tell my tale of woe. So I cannot check that just now, if I remember I can look Monday on my other computer at work.
  • 39. bzfgt | 04/02/2017
A Part of America, Therein indeed sounds like "I'd rather go than put it on."

Hmm, "Wear the gold and put it on" is kind of a weak line and smacks of something a transcriber grasped at when uncertain of the lyric. Often when a lyric is weak it turns out to be a transcription artifact. "I'd rather go than put it on," on the other hand, is a little perplexing.

I'm going to change it now but please, those who read this, listen and let me know what you think, and if anyone has the lyrics book please check it for me.
  • 40. bFgt | 04/02/2017
To be honest APOAT sounded a little like "I'd rather gold than put it on" the first time through for me. I am far from sure about this change so I hope we can get some more help with this.
  • 41. Robert | 05/02/2017
From the Peel Session: "____ the gold and put it on" ... where the blank word is indistinct... could be "grab"?. Definitely not "wear". The rest of the sentence is clear.
  • 42. dannyno | 05/02/2017
We probably ought to record, did we not, that krakens also appear in the song "Iceland", also on Hex.
  • 43. bzfgt | 11/02/2017
Yes, thank you, I've done so.
  • 44. Thop | 22/08/2017
Just firstly to say bzfgt - thanks again many times for this website, it is a marvellous thing.
To Winter, just to say that whenever "makes me tremble" is sung I am often reminded of the spiritual hymn "Were you there when they crucified my Lord?" in which it is such a significant word. In note 10, you mention a spiritual connotation to use of tremble.
  • 45. dannyno | 18/09/2017
"You got Manny in the library"

Everyone assume "Manny/Mani" is a person, probably because it sounds like a name and because of the "his hangover" on the next line. And that's probably right. But to destabilise that understanding a second, worth noting that "Mani" was the prophetic founder of the gnostic religion of Manichaeism, and "getting Mani in the library" could mean picking up a book about the religion.

Alright, so it's probably not that, but always worth considering alternative readings even if they ultimately lead nowhere. Actually, it's often not worth it, but still.
  • 46. bzfgt (link) | 28/09/2017
Thanks for your comment, Thop--both for your praise for the site (which is really the work of many hands), and for the connection--the lyric "O sometimes it causes me to tremble! tremble! tremble!" could be a paraphrase (or rather vice versa) of the relevant line here! Excellent connection, there is a spiritual feel suffusing that line for me.

Dan that is also an excellent comment, I had never thought of that. I can feel a new theory percolating in the recesses of the group mind--the song is really about Augustine, who was a Manichaean and a libertine before he hit the dry-out house and (what became) mainstream Xtianity...
  • 47. bzfgt (link) | 28/09/2017
Tolle Lege!!! Take up and read...
  • 48. bzfgt (link) | 28/09/2017
I mean, "sometimes that little...makes me tremble" and "O sometimes it causes me to tremble! tremble! tremble!" That is a neat connection, or at least echo if it's not intentional.
  • 49. stephenscutt | 02/10/2017
Horribly, I always thought "Please take this medallion" was a reference to the Medallions Jimmy Saville used to dole out to kids on Jim'll fix it. (shudder...)
Jim FIXED it for me. (for life.)
Mike Watts
  • 50. Mike Watts | 01/12/2017
Wow, this song has attracted a lot of debate - I felt from the off, before I read any comments that the 'spleen' thing was referring to state of health/hangover, considering that it was so close to talking about hangover.

Hugo's idea that MES has concocted a whole political parallel to this lyric is more than a little fanciful, I don't think MES could be that easily transparent or direct in his subjects.

And that 'mad' kid - sounds to me like MES was being his usual unPC self and describing a lad who had learning difficulties, dressed a bit oddly and was thinner than he had been (implying that MES knew him from some time ago).
  • 51. Aubrey | 21/01/2018
I've always heard "Manet in the library". Still an alcoholic, etc.

There were always old men reading newspapers in the library where I grew up; one was known as Obadiah, and was said to have been a mathematical genius who went mad, so I would think of the man in the library as a painter whose friends called him Manet, and who also went mad, drank too much, etc. Doesn't change the rest of the song though.
  • 52. dannyno | 22/01/2018
He doesn't pronounce it right, if it is Manet, but it's not like he always pronounces everything correctly.

I dug into Manet a little bit. He illustrated a French edition (translated by Stéphane Mallarmé) of Edgar Allen Poe's The Raven, which seems a notable linkage (MES' appreciation for Poe is well known).
  • 53. Brian (link) | 15/03/2018
One of the perks of alcoholics anonymous is you get a medallion.
  • 54. bzfgt (link) | 21/03/2018
Son of a gun--have we really not pointed that out?! Sometimes things are so clearly implied that I forget that not everyone will think of it too, but I have personal experience with such medallions, having been hustled off to rehab in my (misspent) youth...
  • 55. dannyno | 22/03/2018

Not just an AA thing either.
  • 56. dannyno | 02/04/2018
The press handout for Hex has turned up. It includes this:

'Winter' is a tale concerning an insane child who is taken over by a spirit from the mind of a cooped-up alcoholic, and his ravaged viewpoints and theories. An earlier version went into the 'Clang' process of speech, whereby the sufferer during speech makes sentences containing similar sounding words.
  • 57. weirdbrother | 14/04/2018
MES familiars top and tail Winter: Lovecraftian tentacled mess courtesy of Kraken; Machen netherworld portals - “entrances uncovered” - and occult disordering of the quotidian stroll - “street signs you never saw”.

More pervasive is Vonnegut: Slaughterhouse Five (or the Children’s Crusade: A Duty-Dance with Death).
Outlandish protagonist Billy (the kid) Pilgrim “in his blue toga and silver shoes, with his hands in a muff…Billy’s impresario’s coat with the fur collar…Here was light opera…singing from The Pirates of Penzance”:

Then he seemed the young one
He had a parka on and a black cardboard Archbishop's hat
With a green-fuzz skull and crossbones

Billy comes unstuck in time. Temporality subjective and non-linear.
Winter regresses. Time runs backward. Time markers “got” and “get” run forward:

You got Manny in the library
Working off his hangover 15:30
Get the spleen at 15:15
But it’s 15:13

Narrative tense-time regress and return:

Mad kid walked left-side south-side towards me… [past]
I’d just walked past the alcoholics’ dry-out house…[earlier in past]
Anyway, two weeks before the mad kid had said to me…[earlier still in past]
He’d just got back from the backward kids’ party…[again earlier “backward”]
Anyway, then he seemed the young one
But now he looked like the victim of a pogrom.[return to “mad kid walked” time]

February 13th, 1945 RAF/USAAF Dresden fire-bombing. No Churchillian impediment to 25,000 civilian deaths.

“Seen backwards by Billy, the story went like this: American planes, full of holes and wounded men and corpses took off backwards from an airfield in England. Over France, a few German fighter planes flew at them backwards, sucked bullets and shell fragments from some of the planes and crewmen…The bombers opened their bomb bay doors and exerted a miraculous magnetism which shrunk the fires, gathered them into cylindrical steel containers, and lifted the containers into the bellies of the planes…the steel cylinders were taken from the racks and shipped back to the United States of America…shipped to specialists in remote areas…put them in the ground, to hide them cleverly, so they would never hurt anybody ever again.”

February 13th: first bombs fall at 22:14.

Winter: double drum barrage and S. Hanley bass drop at 01:20.

Deliver Dresden realm of gap-tooth buildings. Skull socket facades. Entrances uncovered / Street signs you never saw / All entrances delivered / Courtesy of winter.

Billy bones up on Tralfamadorian fatalism. Alien stoicism and everyday acceptance courtesy of seeing all time simultaneously. No anti-alcohol, “anti-nicotine anti-nuclear stickers” here.

Slaughterhouse checks Serenity Prayer two times: Billy’s office wall and Montana Wildhack:
“…between her breasts, was a locket containing a photograph of her alcoholic mother…Engraved on the outside were these words: God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change…” etc.

Alcoholics Anonymous co-opt sobriety coins /medallions:
Please take this medallion
Please wear this medallion
It’s no sign of authority
I’d rather go than put it on.

Prague 1586. Zidovska Radnice. Clock tower runs aleph counter clockwise round dial. Hebrew time. You got Manny in the library. Priests walk Torah round synagogue counter clockwise to ark. Mad kid walked left-side south-side towards me. Mad kid walked left-side south-side towards me. Mad kid walks widdershins. Anti-clockwise action. Hexen action.

Prague 1389, Easter. Two-day assault on Jewish community by Christian celebrants. Estimated 900 deaths. Jesus Christ in reverse? Hebrew cyclical time:

Anyway, then he seemed the young one
But now he looked like the victim of a pogrom

Tralfamadorian time past-present-future contemporaneous. Time laid out like a dart board. Medium in trance state projects etheric double through spleen. Billy-Manny-Mad Kid-Man on the floor. Manny gets spleen. Man on floor his soul goes out window, over the lawn and round to Mad Kid.

Check Dr Paracelsus.

(or the Children’s Crusade: A Duty-Dance with Death). Mad French kid Stephen. Mad German kid Nicholas lead band of medieval children – backward kids party – not to Holy Land but to slave markets of North Africa. Etheric double reflects:

I just looked round
And my youth it was sold

“these hundred ridiculous creatures really were American fighting men fresh from the front…There was nothing to be afraid of. Here were more crippled human beings…like themselves”

Skeleton Death summons all to Danse Macabre: bishop, child, cleaning lady.

Anyway. I just looked round. So it goes at winter’s turning.
  • 58. bzfgt (link) | 05/07/2018
Fucking A weirdbrother, that's some speculative shit but it really cooks. I think you captured the spirit of it there though I can't corroborate the Vonnegut connection...
  • 59. George | 19/10/2018
Just listened to this song in the version on the America Therein album and was struck by the beauty of it again - but a bit different from on the Hex album. I don't understand a previous comment about not wanting to hear it for a long time. It's one of MES's most moving songs.

And I just wanted to add my own comment about the "lights" bit. You've all gone into a lot of big theological detail about these lights but I always thought it was an ironic passage i.e. that after those measurements, the "science law" - which sets the foundation for the whole process - turns out to have the lowest score i.e. it negates itself and all the measurements built on it.
  • 60. bzfgt (link) | 21/10/2018
He poured over 8 versions, let him have a vacation. Although that was four years ago....

This is usually in my top two Fall songs...interesting question about the science law, although I don't know that this is foundation! I always think of the Blake connection although it's a loose one.
  • 61. dannyno | 21/11/2018
John Doran, in a talk on Hex (), suggests "entrances uncovered" might be a pun on "entrancers uncovered", which I quite like.
  • 62. bzfgt (link) | 01/12/2018
Did I really write "poured over" in note 60? I assume I meant "pored over," but now I don't see the comment I was responding to--it was something about Martin needing a break from "Winter."

Anyway, I just watched that Doran video which you linked to in the Classical, I got a brief note in but I need to expand it slightly when I get a new computer or if, miraculously, there's a reasonable way to fix this one...
  • 63. dannyno | 15/12/2018
Note #2. I haven't listened again to the Doran thing but I thought he was saying entrancers, with an "r"
Hexen Blumenthal
  • 64. Hexen Blumenthal | 21/12/2018
This piece shares several themes with Martian Time Slip by P K Dick EG
1) Manny aka Manfred a dumb and poss. "mad" kid.
2) A library he goes to
3) Time and slippage.
  • 65. bzfgt (link) | 19/01/2019
63: that's better grammatically, let's run it for now and I'll come back and check at some

64: yeah great, excellent book that
  • 66. Bazhdaddy | 02/02/2019
Friendly Suggestions for part #2;

00:23 "and ran into the mad kid"
00:42 "there's no sign of authority
grab the gold and put it on"
01:25 "the soul went into the kid" (so the kid does get possessed but this key line is mumbled and indistinct) ((Peel version; "his soul went over the lawn, to the mad kid, and the man was glad")
02:56 "two white birds", general not specific

re: note 12 "that little, makes me tremble". I don't "hear" a missing word there, I think he's referring back to the bird/kraken vision.

I've never seen any praise for the backing vocals on this (Kay Carroll?) but they add greatly to the atmosphere particularly on the lead-up to and over the bass run a minute and a bit in
  • 67. Bazhdaddy | 02/02/2019
A consideration;
Television for the Manchester region is transmitted "courtesy of winter";

As wonderful, mysterious and relatively coherent this song is it could just be a collage of images from the weird tea-time children's TV that was broadcast in the 70's & early 80s, MES watching hungover from his lunchtime drinking, waiting for the pubs to reopen.
lawrence worthington
  • 68. lawrence worthington | 18/02/2019
Marvelous in-site insight. Two points/ queries.
Is the ‘I just looked round’ not a quote from the 60’s song Abraham Martin and John? ‘I just looked round and he was gone’ it’s a cheesy one for MES no doubt but fits in a song that to me is the only one I can think of where he actually sounds a bit scared, raw and emotionally exposed.
Also, Scanlon goes completely out of time at this point, always assumed his headphones fall off or such like because timing is everything for rest of track. The intro to New Orders original of Temptation has a yell that is apparently Hook sneaking up on Sumner with a snowball. Oddly enough I’d always heard that both these recordings feature bands or part of bands recording while on LSD.
  • 69. bzfgt (link) | 16/03/2019
Wow, yeah, I never made the AM&J connection. I don't think we can say whether it's a quote or not, but it's certainly worth making a note of.
  • 70. bzfgt (link) | 16/03/2019
Scanlon most obviously but it seems like Hanley starts speeding up in there somewhere, then recovers...I mean the effect is just aces, no criticism...
  • 71. bzfgt (link) | 16/03/2019
"Television for the Manchester region is transmitted 'courtesy of winter'"

Wow, that's noteworthy as heck.

1. Testimony? That Wikipedia article doesn't say anything about it. Nor does The Internet as a whole, as far as I can tell.
2. Since when did they have they? Are we annotating them or this?

Or do you mean me to take a bit of a leap with that, and you aren't saying they actually say that phrase? I'm afraid I'm not quite making the connection yet.
  • 72. bzfgt (link) | 16/03/2019
00:23 "and ran into the mad kid"

I believe you are correct

00:42 "there's no sign of authority
grab the gold and put it on"

Sounds more like what I have to me still. I don't here "there's," he doesn't really aspirate this word though.

I do hear "than/then" rather than "and." And it makes sense to me--the man's "soul" wants to "go," and give up the medallion which is maybe grounding him in the physical world (but he's tricking the kid, and uses it to possess him?)

"the soul went into the kid"

Just "soul went into the kid" as you say it's indistinct, but closer than what I have now--it's shame though since it's such a key line

I should have those Peel lyrics, I have to do something about that

"two white birds", general not specific

I hear that too, but I'd like a third opinion--changed at least for now

re: note 12 "that little, makes me tremble". I don't "hear" a missing word there, I think he's referring back to the bird/kraken vision.

What do you mean? I can't parse it as complete, how does it work?
  • 73. Bazhdaddy | 16/03/2019
Some history of Winter hill tx here;

As far as I know "courtesy of winter" is entirely Smith's own phrase I'm just suggesting a possible influence for it, courtesy in its sense of a kindness or a gift.
  • 74. Bazhdaddy | 16/03/2019
Bird/kraken - he sees a a small thing, just two birds in the sky but he sees it as some kind of omen, or portent.
Prosaically - "sometimes something as trivial as two birds crossing the sky makes me tremble, they look like krakens"
A domestic analogue, "A cute puppy doing a trick, sometimes that little makes me cry
  • 75. dannyno | 17/03/2019
Winter Hill.

i'm violently opposed to this interpretation. I think the lyric stands up on its own poetic legs (winter revealing hitherto hidden things) without reaching for television transmitters.
Dr X O'Skeleton
  • 76. Dr X O'Skeleton | 18/03/2019
This song always made me think of Herman Hesse's novel Steppenwolf, where the hero finds a hidden entrance to a magic theatre. Just found a relevant extract:
"At night, in a mood of discontent, Harry goes out to have a drink. As he walks through the rain, he sees over a door in an old stone wall a sign that he has never noticed before. Stepping reluctantly into the muddy street and crossing it, he reads the words “MAGIC THEATER—ENTRANCE NOT FOR EVERYBODY—FOR MADMEN ONLY!” in bright letters fleetingly dancing over the wet wall and pavement. The sign disappears without a trace, however, and Harry continues on to have a disgruntled dinner in his usual tavern, the Steel Helmet."
Dr X O'Skeleton
  • 77. Dr X O'Skeleton | 18/03/2019
A little more from Steppenwolf:
"On the way home, however, Harry finds himself back at the wall. He can no longer find a door. A man carrying a tray and a signboard passes by. The signboard reads “ANARCHIST EVENING ENTERTAINMENT—MAGIC THEATER—ENTRANCE NOT FOR EVERYBODY.” This man does not answer Harry’s inquiries about the Magic Theater, so Harry attempts to buy an item from his tray. The man hands him a little booklet but leaves before Harry can pay him for it."
  • 78. bzfgt (link) | 27/04/2019
Bazhdaddy #74--Oh I get what you're saying about "that little" now! I'll have to note the possibility, you could be right.

Dan #75--I read him as suggesting a possibility, and one we could never really know the truth of, not an interpretation. It is in fact a great suggestion, and I take it in the vein of "Consider that something like this could be going on..."

Dr X #76-77: Yes! I also think of Thomas Wolfe, I remember in Look Homeward, Angel he kept repeating "a stone, a leaf, an unfound door; a lost lane-end into Heaven"
Dicky Flower
  • 79. Dicky Flower | 13/10/2019
The reference to the archbishop's hat always makes me laugh as it's clearly a pirate hat, but wilfully misinterpreted by MES
  • 80. dannyno | 28/12/2019
From Have a Bleedin Guess by Paul Hanley:

Craig Scanlon: I always thought the mad kid was Mark. I imagine he was a very [i]Kes[/ii]-like figure as a child. He was always a contrarian, so I can imagine him growing up that way. But I never felt the need to ask Mark about his lyrics - it would be like him asking me what that guitar line meant or how do you feel about that chord.



According to Karl at the time, the mad kid was a real person, and on one occasion he did offer to fight Mark and Karl as they passed him in the street.


Paul Hanley also speculates that the mad kid could have been Karl Burns.
Daniel Puckett
  • 81. Daniel Puckett | 24/04/2020
Simple enough suggestion, but isn't it just "Courtesy winter" and not "Courtesy of winter"?
  • 82. bzfgt (link) | 24/04/2020
Yeah we've discussed it before, I always hear it as a kind of swallowed "of" but maybe not...I guess it could be just "courtesy winter" or "courtesy: winter"
  • 83. dannyno | 25/06/2020
The press release with the paragraph about this song:
  • 84. Blah | 14/11/2020
Now, most of us have 3 lights
Except um, slates, who have 2 lights
And there's one exception, there's one light
And that is the science law, the science law

Isn't this related to the bit in the Classical.

"Mark told me he believed there were only seven original people in the world, and that everyone else was a slate of one of them. Mark was absolutely one of the seven" - Brix
  • 85. dannyno | 07/02/2021
"Two white birds cross the sky"

We've paid more attention to the next line, that they looked like krakens (i.e. presumably that there was some kind of hallucinated transformation or something of that nature). Quite what krakens, which are supposed to be sea creatures, are doing flapping about in the air I cannot say, but it is what it is.

But, two white birds are quite symbolic in themselves. Are they doves? If so, they are symbols of peace, love, faith and spirituality, and whatnot. Omens of good fortune. The opposite, presumably, of krakenesque qualities.
  • 86. bzfgt (link) | 13/02/2021
84: Blah that may have been a connection in MES's mind, but I don't see it enough to impute it to him, aside from the fact that both are numbers and generalizations about most people

85: Interesting. As far as the aptness, things that look like krakens could certainly could paint a kraken on an airplane. But I always thought "there fly krakens" was a wonderful line and should have been the real lyric. even if it doesn't make sense.
  • 87. bzfgt (link) | 13/02/2021
Hmm, I see I make a good case in note 12 as to why "look like krakens" is better. I'm not sure I feel it in my heart, though.
  • 88. SRH | 19/02/2021
With ref to the green fuzz skull and crossbones, the song 'Green Fuz' by Randy Alvey & The Green Fuz from 1969 appeared on Pebbles Vol 2 in 1979 and was covered by The Cramps in 1981.

From Texas Monthly, March 2010, 'Three Chords and a Station Wagon', by Michael Hall:

"And in Bridgeport (population approximately 3,500), fifty miles north of Fort Worth, the Green Fuz created “The Green Fuz,” one of the greatest garage songs of all, a song so poorly played and horribly recorded it’s a wonder the band ever released it. The Green Fuz had formed in 1967 and was named for fifteen-year-old guitarist Les Dale’s green fuzz box. They played at parties, teen clubs, skating rinks, and county fairs and at some point in 1968 decided to make a record. They had two original songs, one of which, “The Green Fuz,” Dale had written in 45 minutes. There were no studios nearby, so they recorded in an empty cafe owned by Dale’s mother at the intersection of two farm-to-market roads. The band’s producer, Shorty Hendrix, set up a tape recorder and laid a couple microphones on a table nearby. The cafe was made out of stone, so the acoustics were horrible; the boys had to keep turning the PA system down, and they had to muffle the bass drum by stuffing it with pillows. Because of the heat and humidity they also had a hard time keeping the guitars in tune. But still they pushed on, recording “The Green Fuz,” one minute and 59 seconds of primitive, mind-blowing noise. The drums rumble as if they’re being played next door, the bass is barely audible, and Randy Alvey’s vocal is high and scratchy: “Here we come, we’re coming fast. / All the others are in the past. / Jump to your feet, let us catch your eye / We’re the Green Fuz.”"

It has all the elements to appeal to MES. Could the line "All the others are in the past" be some sort of clue? Is the mad kid a pre-cog or some such? In Martian Time-Slip (mentioned in a previous comment) - which I read a long time ago and only remember vaguely - according to the precis on wikipedia a psychotherapist Glaub "believes that mental illnesses may be altered states of time perception." One of the main characters, an autistic boy, Manfred, is "afraid of a future only he can see, in which Mars is derelict and the AM-WEB [an as yet unbuilt apartment complex] is a dumping ground for forgotten people like him, where he will eventually be confined as a decrepit old man to a bed on life-support." Manfred cannot perceive time at a "normal" pace; from his "point of view, humans are strange beings who live in a world of fractured time where they disappear from one place and reappear in another and otherwise move in a jerky, uncoordinated manner." He also has the power to affect other people's minds. There is a time-travel portal on Mars, Dirty Knobby, which Manfred is thought to be able to open and at the end of the book after many mind-bending occurrences (or delusions), such as one character repeating all his actions a second time, Manfred's saviour Bohlen (who has suffered from schizophrenia himself) and his wife "see Manfred, old and in a wheelchair, festooned with tubes, accompanied by Bleekmen [Native Martians]. Manfred joined a group of Bleekmen after leaving Dirty Knobby, and has saved himself from AM-WEB. He has come back through time to see his family and thank Bohlen for saving him." Is that all clear?

Dick's work is as much if not more concerned with psychoses and drug use/abuse as conventional sci-fi topics such as space and time travel, and it is probably this aspect that relates to the work of MES. The (unreliable?) narrator of the song may implied to be mentally ill him/herself; thus the kid perceived him/her as "both of you" - a split personality being a common misconception of schizophrenia in the past. The narrator may be subject to misperceptions of things and events, seeing the kid as young (with a pirate's hat misidentified as a cardboard Archbishop's hat) but two weeks later (or perhaps not) as looking like the victim of a pogrom - wouldn't he be dead in that case?

If the timeslips are real, with Manny going back in time 15 +2 minutes in the library, then the backward kids' party could have a double meaning - backwards in time/for kids with learning difficulties. Perhaps the kid himself can cause time to bend/shatter, or maybe just give that illusion to others. Could the uncovered entrances be time portals, hidden in summer by foliage? Dick's Counter-Clock World features a future time when people are born by rising from the grave and end up back in the womb, having lived their lives in reverse, and people "do not eat, but instead consume "Sogum" anally through a pipe, and later "plop" out food orally, which is done in private, due to its 'shameful' nature." (source; wikipedia - see also Bunuel's film The Phantom of Liberty, where in one scene guests sit around the table on toilets and go to cubicles to eat). JG Ballard's short story 'Mr F is Mr F' has a similar premise, where the main character "de-ages" and ends up in his wife's womb.

Anyway I've already gone on far too long, but I will return with a few more thoughts yesterday or last week.
  • 89. SRH | 20/02/2021
"Did anybody see the snowman standing on winter road
With broken guitar in his hand, onion peeling sleepy eye?
It's my recording station, man but I record in his head
Knowing that to big mouth, oh, ice can flow away, one knows"
From Can 'Halleluwah'.

Probably of no relevance here is Peter Greenaway's film The Falls from 1980 in which a violent unexplained event (VUE) occurs affecting 19 million people in strange ways. Greenaway (not the van man) presents capsule biographies of 92 of these victims, all of whom have surnames starting with the letters FALL. I saw the film when it came out and haven't seen it since but in a review from May 4th (be with you) 1983 by Vincent Canby in the New York Times the film is described thus:
"The entire film is a series of lists - of victims, of diseases, of symptoms, of various kinds of plants and wild life, of places and, especially, of birds. Touched upon throughout the film, although no definite conclusions are reached, is what's called ''the responsibility of birds.'' It's suggested that VUE was some sort of diabolical scheme by birds to regain their supremacy over humans.
VUE victims, we learn, speak their own languages, and since there is a different language for each VUE victim, a certain amount of confusion has ensued. They also develop bird habits and a passion for birds, which results in a number of catastrophic attempts to fly. The victims change physically. Some start to grow feathers. One young man has bird lice. Another suffers from what the narrator calls ''malo-dorous'' breath."

One reviewer on the IMDb website describes the film as "Borges meets the Hitchhiker's Guide" I saw it at a one-off screening in Manchester but didn't spot MES there, although it sounds up his street. R.T. VII had feathers on his face after all! 'Winter' has birds that look like Krakens - very sinister sounding, even apocalyptic.

Finally, this is a chance to quote Baudelaire's 'Spleen' (IV) as translated by Ruth White - the spleen here is meant in the sense of melancholy.

"When the low, heavy sky weighs like a lid
On the spirit aching for the light,
And when, embracing the horizon,
It pours on us a black day which is sadder than any night;

When the earth is turned into a gripping dungeon,
In which hope, like a bat, flutters blindly,
And bruises its timid wing and tender head
Against the walls and rotted ceilings;

When the rain, stretching down its long streaks of water,
Imitates bars of an enormous prison,
The silent throng of loathsome spiders
Come and weave their webs inside our brains,

And suddenly the bells swing angrily,
And hurl their hideous uproar into the sky
Like a band of wandering spirits
Who wail relentlessly and long.

-And long hearses without drums or music
Move in a slow procession through my soul; and defeated Hope
Bursts into tears and the fierce tyrant, Anguish,
Sets his black banner on my bowed head."

White, who was an early Moog pioneer, set this and other Baudelaire poems to music on her marvellously creepy 1969 album Flowers of Evil. Several tracks, including this one, predate the likes of 'Hamburger Lady' by almost a decade in their mixing of industrial noise and tone of malevolent horror.
  • 90. Ivan | 18/06/2021
That is a very cute link to Damo's lyrics, SRH.

Just a point about the 'feminist Austin Maxi'. Parked next to it in the feminist car park is the Citroen 2CV, from Marc Riley and the Creepers track 'Baby Paints'.

Baby paints all over walls...
CND stickers on their front door...
Won't ban the bomb so
We'll hop in our Citroen and go.

From the 83 Peel session (every track of which is magnificent).
  • 91. bzfgt (link) | 19/06/2021
Yeah, except those probably aren't the lyrics to Halleluwah, a lot of it isn't in English or any other language I don't think
Jermyn Temperance
  • 92. Jermyn Temperance | 22/06/2021
Getting the spleen is when the body starts producing extra bile to try and counteract the poison of several pints from the night before. There’s often a point in my experience when you start to feel extra shit after a big sesh, and it’s often several hours later. Around mid afternoon usually.
  • 93. Ivan | 21/07/2021
comment #91

If you listen to the track it sounds very much like SRH's suggestions are the lyrics! And they are pertinent here as the content ('Ice can flow away') echoes Winter's opening lines.

Have to disagree too with the idea that he doesn't sing 'in any language'. I've spent years trying to understand Damo's lyrics, and having been nearly 20 years in Japan I have a pretty good idea when he's singing in his native language (occasionally) and English (a lot))
Chris Wright
  • 94. Chris Wright | 29/12/2021
The 'Please take this medallion' section always reminds me of an episode of The Prisoner[b][/b] - 'It's Your Funeral'. From the Wiki page:

On Appreciation Day, the watchmaker hides in the tower ready to detonate the bomb when the seal of office [it's a big gold medallion on a chain] is placed around the retiring Number Two's neck. He is seen by his daughter and Number Six, who both race to the tower to stop him. Number Six gets the detonator, but is confronted by Number 100, who tries to take it from him. While they are fighting, the seal of office is transferred to the distinctly nervous new Number Two ['I'd rather go than put it on']. Number Six then gives the old Number Two the detonator, telling him that it is his passport out of the Village. He goes to the helicopter and leaves.
  • 95. Ken | 25/06/2022
The line "All inquiries too".

A common sight at the entrance to public buildings, industrial parks etc is a sign such as "All enquiries to reception", "All enquiries to the gate house", etc. So to me the line is "All enquiries to" rather than "too". I know that, as sung it certainly sounds like "too" but I think that is a case of the verbal inflection you make when the next word is missing. If you say "All enquiries to reception" and then say it again without the word "reception" you naturally extend the word "to".

With the line only occurring once in the entire song (unlike the rest of the "Entrances uncovered" refrain which gets several repeats), and with it being situated just before the listener is taken into the dry-out house, I like to envision this as a sign at the entrance, directing visitors. The sign either hasn't been fully uncovered by winter yet or perhaps, in keeping with the general mess implied by the can-strewn lawn and sticker-laden car, the sign has been broken or partially covered in graffiti so that it is incomplete.

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