Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Crowdsourcing a Very Important Question

In this post I'm asking for help from my readers who have spent time in Ireland.  Google stats tells me that I've only had one pageview from there, out of like millions basically, but maybe the rest of you with friends in Ireland can forward them this link or something.

OK, here goes: You know the song "The Boys are Back in Town," by Thin Lizzy?  If not, well, that's kind of weird.  But here, watch this.

So, there's a part of the song where Phil Lynott, the singer, is talking to one of his boys, about some of their friends who have been away somewhere for a while and are back, and he's basically reminiscing about old times.  In particular, he talks about this one incident that happened at their mutual friend Johnny's place.  He doesn't get into particulars, but there was an attractive woman there, one who liked to dance a lot and who was already known to the guys in this crowd for her dancing prowess. Well, long story short, on the night in question she got up and slapped Johnny's face.  

If you ask me, from what we know about Johnny, he probably had it coming, but that's not what I want to ask about.  I'm wondering about the line right after Lynott recounts the face-slapping.  Almost every internet lyrics site I've seen transcribes the line as, "Man, we just fell about the place.  If that chick don't wanna know, forget her."

Here's the thing: I had always heard the line as , "Man, we just fell up out the place," as in, they left. But now I'm really not sure.  Why would Johnny and friends have left Johnny's own place in response to the slap?  I don't know, but to my mind there are just as many question with the "fell about the place" transcription.  For starters, what does "fell about the place" even mean?  That they trashed the place?  Probably not, because again: Johnny's place.  Does it mean they cracked up laughing?  If so, why does he seem to be so angry towards the slapper in the following line?  

To my mind, none of these internet lyrics sites can be trusted -- they're basically all google bait, and most of the transcriptions on there are uploaded by users anyway, without being checked.  Many of them, for example, have Lynott singing, in the first couple of lines, "I still think them cats are great." Which is just comically wrong, and would honestly be kind of embarrassing, if lyrics transcription web sites were capable of emotion.

So I'm just wondering if people can tell me: Is "fell about the place" a commonly used expression in Phil Lynott's native Ireland?  Is "fell up out the place"?  Or alternately, was anyone reading this personally acquainted with him during his lifetime by any chance?  I would really like to know for sure what he's singing here, and the internet is surprisingly little help so far.  I'm hoping it can redeem itself starting now.


  1. "If you ask me, from what we know about Johnny, he probably had it coming" <- If you ever doubt yourself as a writer, reread this line and remember you've got the stuff.

  2. I always assumed "fell about the place" meant they laughed their arses off.