The Fall: 10 Essential Songs

Hear highlights from late, great post-punk malcontent Mark E. Smith's sprawling four-decade discography

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"How I Wrote 'Elastic Man'" (1980)

The Fall's leader was always a wordsmith first and foremost. "Writing lyrics is what I got into rock music for," Smith said to Q. By 1980, with the Fall having attained a unique status as an outsider band for everybody, he finally took his literary fixation and looped it back around on itself. "How I Wrote 'Elastic Man'" is about a writer imprisoned by his past success and resentful of being defined by his old work rather than respected for his new. Granted, it's couched in surrealist pop-art, dark humor and an awkwardly stiff country beat that teeters between parody and tribute. The song's narrator, frozen by fan expectation, confesses, "I'm living a fake/People say, 'You are entitled to and great'/But I haven't wrote for 90 days." In addition to anthemizing writer's block, Smith may well have been the first to express impostor syndrome in popular music.

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