on life, music etc beyond mainstream

2016 29 Nov

„Mr. Sociological Memory Man“ – Mark, Ian and Michael in Manchester

von: Michael Engelbrecht Filed under: Blog | TB | Comments off

„All you folks and fools / Cary Grant’s Wedding / All you folks and fools / Have been invited to / A new-wave personality / Stumbles out of the ruins / ‚cause he’s been invited to Cary Grant’s wedding / Buster Keaton he turned up / He wasn’t a woman /  He didn’t take hallucigens“

(The Fall)


I’ve always respected the howling of Mark E. Smith, but never had a knack for it. I only had one Fall record in my collection, „Live In Preston“, and it was a birthday gift from my old buddy David Webster who grew up in that fuckin‘ town, north of nowhere, as he put it into words. Weeks ago I had an appontment with another old chap, our master of dark Glasgewian humour, Ian McCartney, in Manchester. He met some old aquaintances, I saw Sebastian Schweinsteiger in a cafe. Well, nothin‘ I would give a dime for. But then, it’s always fun to meet Ian.

We went for some some fantastic Indian food and then to see John Carpenter live. It was a bit nostalgic, the old synthesizer vibes that made us shiver when we were lost in his Halloween and Fog movies. But this time it sounded like pastiche. Kind of. When I was 23 I was ready to fall into love with Jamie Lee Curtis.

Nevertheless John Carpenter once was married to the beautiful DJ at the lighttower of his horror movie „The Fog“, and she really became the role model of Mireia Moreorless, main figure of our review and story about Brian Eno’s „The Ship“. I had another name for her in mind , but Ian’s creation was a stunner. So, to be honest, in that movie I was ready be infatuated  with two women at the same time.

For Ian the show had been pretty un-memorable, too, but for the fact he met Mark E. Smith, the punk legend, John Peel’s hero. I shook hands but stayed a bit behind. Have to say, he was quite funny.

Ian said something like, sorry but can I get selfie?

He said, sure, just let me get drink first.

Ian said „I’ll buy you a fucking drink as long as I can get a selfie“.

He then proceeds to order two cans of beer for himself and a gin & tonic for his wife! Bastard cost me £12, as Ian told me later.

It’s Ian’s decision to publish the selfie here, or not. For me, the encounter was not such a great delight, cause I never got into the Fall’s records. Though I always loved the title „Cary Grant’s Birthday“. I liked their attitude more than their music. Maybe if I would be a native speaker, it might have been different from the start. Home again I had a deeper look into some of his lyrics.

Mark E Smith’s lyrics are incredibly cryptic, Ian wrote me a week later when I offered my state of not really getting to the point, different to John Peel’s obsessiveness. Ian: „Nobody knows for sure what he is actually on about, regardless of whether they are native speakers or not. He seems to see the world through a mid-19th Century filter. A lot of the music is very atmospheric, up to about 1986, after that I tuned out.“

Atmospheric? Well, I must have missed something. But don’t we all?

In a second mail Ian quoted a part of a 1983 song: „The man whose head expanded was corrupted by Mr Sociological Memory Man, could not get a carrier bag for love nor money“. Andre Breton, Salvador Dali, Mark E Smith – all quite similar really, Ian added. Not to forget the mid-19th Century filter!

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