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  The Ralph Fiennes Patrol
  (3:26) [2/20/00]
  For Joe Mitchell & Hank Mohaski
  Liner Notes

You never know how fast you've been going 'till you're standing by the side of the road,
'Cause I swear I saw Sir Ralph Fiennes just blow past this place.
He didn't wave, but he left the same way that he came here:
Right out of thin air, with a smiling new name, a recognizable face.

So, I'll slam the door
En route to another town.
We'll play a gig,
& then we'll amble around:
Heath drives the van
While John directs him (& farts)
Down to the Quickie Mart where
Hicks will buy us all some pop tarts.

(Road trip.

Slurpie sip.

Soundcheck's up.

Load up the truck.)

& I wished I was Ralph Fiennes, oh -----
But I know I am not;
& I wished could play like Bob Mould, no -----
Just more roadkill on the highway of fame left to rot.

(Tonight it's:
New Jersey!
Next stop is:

Like we used to get filled up on dumb ideas,
Like, "The record scout'll show like he said,"
But now our only fill-ups are at Phillips 6-6
To gas-up for the long trips ahead.
We said, "Let's get in the van,
& swirl around from state to state,"
But now this cruising seems beyond my control.
We got stuck in the low dives
Trying to find the source of instant fame
Like we were some kind of Ralph Fiennes Patrol.


North C-A-R-O-L-I-N-A!

Oh Lord.)

& I swear that when we started out, now,
This was not the game-plan:
When we tore it up on the half-pipe
& swore that we'd be Hüsker Dü.
But after 12,000 Mountain Dew cans
& 14,000 smokes later,
I'm just too tired to be the rock idol
That I'll always want to.

So I'll slam the door
To all the highways long gone.
I'll slam the door
To all our skateboarding songs,
& all the times
Around the curbs until dawn
& ask ourselves:
Now I know that was wrong.

(Turn the page.

Empty stage.

We used to sit around

"How come we haven't made it?")

& I know no one's gonna ask, "Oh,
Whatever happened to that Ralph Fiennes Patrol?" when I'm old.
M-I-S-S-I-S-S-I-P-P-I'll shred this scene.
W-I-S-C-O-N-S-I-N ----- Goodbye Bob Mould.
C-A-L-I-F-O-R-N-I'll skate to scot-freedom.
M-I-N-N-E-S-O-T-A ----- Runaway Ralph Fiennes.
P-E-N-N-S-Y-L-V-A-N-I'm thrashing on home, boys!

Oh, I-yi-yi-yi-yi
'Cause I-yi-yi-yi-yi
Oh, I-yi-yi know I am not.

(One more night:


Song title aside, the protagonist here isn’t the preeminent Welsh leading man but in fact a bit-part rocker too meek to even eponymize his own autobio, with Fiennes symbolizing to him the ultimate “overnight” success. But when you’re under the smoking hood of a gig van, things become clearer, & the interstate ditch this guy’s standing in neatly signifies his 15-year rut of touring in obscurity. He & his bandmates may never be remembered by the bar owners, audiences, & fellow musicians they endlessly toiled to impress, but while the pa radisial “making it” often never comes, there is an honor to be found in even just the striving.

Paul Attanasio - Quiz Show (Spoken by Ralph Fiennes) / Beck - “Mixed Bizness” / Marshall Crenshaw - “2541” / Nick Lowe - “You Got The Look I Like” / Pixies - “Subbacultcha” & “Letter To Memphis” / Chris Mills - “The Fresh Young Mouth” / Bob Dylan - “What Was It You Wanted?” & “Ring Them Bells”

"Roadrunner, Roadrunner
Going faster miles an hour
Gonna drive to the Stop 'n' Shop
With the radio on at night
And me in love with modern moonlight
Me in love with modern rock & roll
Modern girls and modern rock & roll
Don't feel so alone, got the radio on . . .
I'm in love with Massachusetts
And the neon when it's cold outside
And the highway when it's late at night . . .
The highway is your girlfriend as you go by quick
Suburban trees, suburban speed
And it smells like heaven."
- Jonathan Richman, "Roadrunner" (1976)

"Twangy sounds of the cheapest kind
Like 'Guitar sale $29.99'
Bold and brash, stark and still
Like the heat's turned off
And you can't pay the bill.
How in the world were they making that sound?
Velvet Underground."
- Jonathan Richman, "Velvet Underground" (1992)

"After the glow the scene the stage the set
Talk becomes slow but there's one thing I'll never forget
Hey you gotta pay your dues before you pay the rent

I'd want a range life
If I could settle down If I could settle down
Then I would settle down

Out on my skateboard the night is just hummin'
And the gumsmacks are the pulse
I'll follow If my walkman fades then
I got absolutely no one
No one but myself to blame
Don't worry, we're in no hurry
School's out, what did you expect?

Out on tour with the Smashing Pumpkins
Nature kids, they don't have no function
I don't understand what they mean and I could really give a fuck
Stone Temple Pilots, they're elegant bachelors
They're foxy to me are they foxy to you
I will agree, they deserve absolutely nothing, nothing more than me
Dream dream dream dream . . . So alive!"
- Stephen Malkmus, "Range Life" (1994)

"They say no person can do it all
but you want to in your head
But you can't be Shakespeare
and you can't be Joyce
so what is left instead . . .

When you pass through humble
when you pass through sickly
When you pass through
I'm better than you all
When you pass through
anger and self-deprecation and have the strength to acknowledge it all
When the past makes you laugh
and you can savor the magic
That lets you survive your own war
You find that that fire is passion
and there's a door up ahead not a wall . . .

And if the building's burning
move towards the door
but don't try to put the flames out
There's a bit of magic in everything
and then some loss to even things out."
- Lou Reed, "Magic And Loss" (1992)

"Look around, around
The second drummer drowned
His telephone was found
Music scene's crazy
Bands start up each and every day
I saw another one just the other day
A special new band . . .
But I don't care, I care, I really don't care
Did you see the drummer's hair?
Advertising looks and chops a must
No big hair!
Songs mean a lot when songs are bought
And so are you
Face right down to the practice room
Attention and fame's a career."
- Stephen Malkmus, "Cut Your Hair" (1994)

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