Sport 37: Winter 2009
Listen to The Fall
I'm listening to The Fall—it isn't so unapproachable. I genuinely find it upbeat and melodious. The melody's not in his voice though, so, those who can sing can't sing along. I don't doubt that Mark E. Smith would tell me to fuck off if we were to meet. There are only so many characters in the world and he's the bastard (the Bernard Black, the Picasso, the Larkin).
What do I know about The Fall? What I have learnt from my friends. Mark E. Smith is the true punk. Intelligent and belligerent—ruthless.
A well-dressed ranter with bad teeth and a few wives. Sam admires Mark E. Smith. He is reading a biography of the fallen—the drummers and bassists, guitarists and girlfriends scattered and replaced along the way.
One wife hated finding Mark in their bed with strange women so she left. It's lucky you're pretty and clever, Sam says, otherwise I'd be tempted too. I had assumed that Mark E. Smith never lasted six years in a relationship, but was wrong. His most enduring band mate stayed seventeen years then quit due to Smith's cruelty. That's the only documented case of Smith's apologising and crying. I've been with Sam six years. He's been playing with his drummer for ten. When we all move to Melbourne in a month, this family will only get stranger. If it's me singing and your granny on the bongos then it's The Fall, Mark E. Smith said—a follower of Captain Beefheart, who locked his band up in a shed without food until their noise was suitably desperate. Trout Mask Replica, the result of this, I do find unapproachable. Sam's band notices mid-thirties Germans hanging around page 99 after gigs, comparing them to The Fall. This is an even greater compliment than 'foetal alcohol syndrome Morrissey'. Do you actually like their music? I have trouble dividing the sounds from their origins. I like the boys. I like the shadows of what Sam listens to darkening the corners of his own songs. I like trying, and always failing, to find myself in the lyrics. You're always in my poems, I say. He doesn't look grateful. I won't write you a love song, he says, it's too hard and uninteresting. In sixty days this family will only get stranger. I don't doubt that, if we met, Mark would tell me to fuck off.