Franz Ferdinand: What does it all mean?

Scottish band Franz Ferdinand have been on the rise for a year or two already. Their bright slightly retro sound caught the attention of radio programmers in the UK, Europe and subsequently the US. But if you’re having problems working out the lyrics, you’re not the only one. Although the band assure people that there are specific meanings to their words, they are – at the very least – obscure.

The odd imagery in Franz Ferdinand’s lyrics could sound like just so much lyrical Polyfilla, pasted in to fill the verses. But in an article in UK website Gigwise, singer Alex Kapranos had this to say about the single “The Fallen”.

He explained: “It’s based on a number of different characters who are pretty enigmatic in their own right. These characters, Glaswegian characters, who maybe sometimes stumble on the darker side of life and maybe are from the rougher side of life.â€?

“And it’s imagining Christ coming back as one of these characters that we’d know from back home and what he’d do and imagining him coming back and turning the rich into wine and drinking them and walking on the mean and maybe getting on Mary Magdalene.â€?

In the song, this translates as: “And the Kunst won’t talk to you/ Because you kissed St. Rollox adieu/ Because you robbed a supermarket or two/ Well, who gives a damn
about the prophets of Tesco?”
Woah, anyone for “Glaswegian Pie”? The idea is an interesting one, that was perhaps better done in Joan Osbourne’s “What if God Was One of Us?”. But it raises a question: how far do we want to go to make ourselves understood? In this case, the answer is “not that far”, as Kapranos more or less admits it’s a private joke. But I can’t help drawing a parallel with, for example, U2 who would very definitely re-write until the message became crystal clear.

Put another way: is there any virtue in being obscure?

 

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