Saturday, 2 April 2011

Day 19: Veteran's Day Poppy.

This one is one of those meta-narratives that MES is so fond of, and here's another nod to his past and a hint of his listening habits (something I wonder about a lot actually, I wonder if he keeps up with any particular music, having collaborated with some brilliant bands over the years).

Song: Scenario
Album: Reformation Post-TLC

Year: 2007

Yeah, so its a nice laid back one this, with twangy guitars, a nice flourish of keyboard here and there and a bit of melancholy from Mr Smith. The lyrics constantly reference the Captain Beefheart classic 'Veterans Day Poppy' which is off their most-mentioned album Trout Mask Replica (if you haven't heard this, more fool you, its utterly manic despite it feeling like a marathon to listen to).

Here's the original:

Now I could cover a point here that's often been touched upon by other writers, MES runs the Fall a little like Beefheart did around this album. During its recording in 1968, Beefheart's Magic Band were living together in a communal house, were made to practice for 14 hours a day, were berated until they broke down or gave in to submission and were often not told what was happening on certain songs, as a result, the music sounds unhinged, with Beefhearts's lyrics being recorded almost out of time due to his insistence on not wearing headphones whilst recording. The songs sound like acid-trip blues, skittering and unpolished, sometimes simply a cacophony of noise. The album really is amazing, though you can feel mentally drained from just a few songs.

Now while MES has never kept his band hostage or induced breakdowns, he has certainly ruled The Fall with an iron fist, but as explained in various books on the guy, he kept people in line with bizarre outbursts, fining one drummer every time he hit a floor tom, proclaiming musicians 'fat bastards' if they ate a meal on tour (a lot of Fall tours were liquids-only) and even punching Mark Riley famously in New Zealand for dancing in a club (he soon left the band).

These songs may not have much in common musically, but perhaps the lyrical matching is Smith hinting at his reputation (this album is made up of members freshly picked up after an American tour resulted in three members leaving the group midway through). This is something I would bet on, Smith is so aware of his presence despite showing the air of someone not quite there, I think people forget he is incredibly intelligent sometimes.

This song is full of regret for lost childhood friends, or perhaps the sad fact we will never see our childhoods again, he sounds genuinely remorseful here, which taken at face value could relate again to the disastrous tour the previous year.


  1. The lyrics are actually derived from a poem written by the father of much missed MES chum and brains behind the lyrics books - Dave Luff who sadly died a few years back. The poem in turn appears to be derived from an earlier traditional folk song. See Volume 2 of the lyrics book for the details.

  2. Thanks for that, perhaps I ought to track down these books, although I like the fact I'm learning more and more about the frightening world simply by delving into a random song per day. Thanks though, and keep on reading!