English Scheme: Annotated Fall analysis
I added some annotations! Numbers 49 and 50.
This is a fantatsic Fall song from the start of the band’s high magic period. The lyrics are sharp, efficient; the song itself delicate – it almost runs out of wind at the end.
Also found this melancholy cover:
“Scheme” as in Ponzi Scheme. A scam or con, also a process. Contrasts with the pastoral opening line – this is a song about how English people are on the make, maybe through the creation of a bucolic notion of merrie England, while they’re using outdoor toilets and laughing at Peter Cook (presumably a reference to his Pete and Dud sketches).
The opening line perhaps echoes the opening of Songs of Innocence:
Piping down the valleys wild
Piping songs of pleasant glee
[Come see, come here the English Scheme]
There’s also a strand of class throughout the song. To further muddy the waters the narrator – who is criticisng the working class they’re seemingly a member of – seems to switch perspective, sometimes commenting on the scheme, at other times taking part in the “action”. They might also be unreliable. For example, they claim the “smarter” working class lands tend to emigrate, such as your (who are they addressing?) half-brother, who is in fact “thick”.