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Soul Music

Annotations | Information | Quotes

- [cover] The cover of Soul Music bears more than a passing resemblance to the cover of the album Bat out of Hell by Meatloaf, one of the 70s best-selling rock albums.

- [p. 5] "This is also a story about sex and drugs and Music With Rocks In."

For anyone living in a cave: the classic phrase is "sex and drugs and rock 'n' roll".

- [p. 5] "Well... ...one out of three ain't bad."

With the many Meatloaf references in Soul Music it is perhaps no surprise many people think they've spotted another one here, namely to the ballad 'Two Out of Three Ain't Bad' on Bat out of Hell.

But in this case both Terry and Meatloaf are simply using a normal English phrase that's been around for ages. There is no connection.

- [p. 7] "A dark, stormy night."

"It was a dark and stormy night" has entered the English language as the canonical opening sentence for bad novels. Snoopy in Peanuts traditionally starts his novels that way, and Terry and Neil used it on p. 11/viii of Good Omens as well.

I never knew, however, that the phrase actually has its origin in an existing 19th century novel called Paul Clifford by Edward George Earle Bulwer-Lytton. Someone kindly mailed me the full opening sentence to that novel, and only then did I understand how the phrase came by its bad reputation:

"It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents -- except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness."

There even exists a Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest, in which people try to write the worst possible opening sentences for imaginary novels. The entries for the 1983 edition of the contest were compiled by Scott Rice in a book titled, what else, It Was a Dark and Stormy Night. I am told that there were at least three such compilations released.

- [p. 10] "It was always raining in Llamedos."

Llamedos is 'sod em all' backwards. This is a reference to the town of Llareggub in Dylan Thomas' short prose piece Quite Early One Morning. That story was later expanded into Under Milk Wood, a verse play scripted for radio. In that version the name of the town was changed to the slightly less explicit Llaregyb.

Apart from that, Llamedos is instantly recognisable to the British as the Discworld version of Wales. The double-l is a consonant peculiar to the Celtic language (from which Welsh is descended), hence also Buddy's habit of doubling all l's when he speaks.

- [p. 10] "[...] a fizzing fuse and Acme Dynamite Company written on the side."

Acme is an often-used 'generic' company name in American cartoons. Particularly, most of the ingenious technical and military equipment Wile E. Coyote uses in his attempts to capture the Roadrunnner is purchased from Acme.

One of my proofreaders tells me he has a Pink Floyd Dark Side of the Moon t-shirt manufactured by ACME. Make of that what you will.

- [p. 11] "The harp was fresh and bright and already it sang like a bell."

Chuck Berry's 'Johnny B. Goode' is considered by many (and with the possible exception of 'Louie, Louie') to be the greatest rock 'n roll song of all time. It begins:

Way down Louisiana close to New Orleans,
Way back up in the woods among the evergreens...
There stood a log cabin made of earth and wood,
Where lived a country boy name of Johnny B. Goode...
He never ever learned to read or write so well,
But he could play the guitar like ringing a bell.


This philosophical question was of course first posed by none other than the famous Ephebian philosopher Didactylos, in Small Gods.

- [p. 15] "As far as looks were concerned, Susan had always put people in mind of a dandelion on the point of telling the time."

To begin with, in order to understand the dandelion reference, read the annotation for p. 10 of The Light Fantastic .

Next, many people on a.f.p. have been wondering if Susan was perhaps based on somebody specific, especially since Terry describes her appearance in such great detail. Various candidates were suggested, ranging from Neil Gaiman's Death (from his The Sandman stories) to Siouxsie Sioux (singer for the Goth band Siouxsie and the Banshees), to Dr Who's granddaughter.

Terry replied:

"As far as I'm aware, the Death/Dr Who 'coincidences' are in the mind of the beholders :-) Death can move through space and time, yes, but that's built in to the character. I made his house bigger on the inside than the outside so that I could have quiet fun with people's perceptions -- in the same way that humans live in tiny 'conceptual' rooms inside the vastness of the 'real' rooms. Only Death (or those humans who currently have Death-perception) not only sees but even experiences their full size."

"I have, er, noticed on signing tours that (somewhere between the age of ten and eighteen) girls with names like Susan or Nicola metamorphose into girls with names like Susi, Suzi, Suzie, Siouxsie, Tsuzi, Zuzi and Niki, Nicci, Nikki and Nikkie (this is in about the same time period as boys with names like Adrian and Robert become boys with names like Crash and Frab). This is fine by me, I merely chronicle the observation. I've always had a soft spot for people who want to redesign their souls.

She got the name because it's the one that gets the most variation, and got the hairstyle because it's been a nice weird hairstyle ever since the Bride of Frankenstein. She's not based on anyone, as far as I know -- certainly not Neil's Death, who is supercool and by no means a necronerd."

I agree with Terry about Neil's Death. She's a babe. Go read the books.


Jim Steinman is the song-writing and production genius behind rock star Meatloaf. In 1977 he wrote the all-time classic 'Paradise by the Dashboard Light', which opens with the lines:

Well, I remember every little thing
as if it happened only yesterday.
Parking by the lake
And there was not another car in sight

In 1981, Steinman recorded the album Bad For Good by himself (he either had a falling out with Meatloaf or the latter had voice problems at the time -- the story is not clear on this point) but in any case Steinman had originally intended the album as a Meatloaf project, but eventually decided to use his own vocals). On that album appeared a song (soliloquy, really), called 'Love and Death and an American Guitar', which begins similar to 'Paradise', but quickly goes off in an entirely different direction:

I remember every little thing
as if it happened only yesterday.
I was barely seventeen
and I once killed a boy with a Fender guitar

When Soul Music came out, it immediately became a question of utmost importance (no, I don't know why, either) to Pratchett annotators all over the world to find out whether Terry based Death's outburst on the original Meatloaf track, or on the later Steinman song.

Eventually, somebody attended a book signing and asked Terry then and there. The answer: Terry's source was Jim Steinman's own version of the song.

I suppose I might as well mention the rest of the story while I'm at it, or else my mailbox will start filling up again: in 1993, Steinman and Meatloaf finally teamed up together again and recorded the album Bat out of Hell II -- Back to Hell. The track called 'Wasted Youth' turned out to be a re-recording of 'American Guitar', but it is still recited by Jim Steinman himself.

- [p. 20] "I MAY BE SOME TIME, said Death."

Terry likes this quote -- it's the third time he's used it. See also the annotations for p. 226 of Reaper Man and p. 170 of Small Gods.

- [p. 21] "'You know salmon, sarge' said Nobby. 'It is a fish of which I am aware, yes.'"

A parody of the History Today sketches by Newman & Baddiel, where two old professors use a discussion on history to insult each other. These often started with a similar style of exchange along the lines of: "Do you know the industrial revolution?" "It is a period of history of which I am aware, yes".

- [p. 22] "'Are you elvish?'"

The way everyone keeps asking Imp if he's elvish resonates with our world's 'are you sure you're not Jewish?', but it's of course also a play on the name 'Elvis', which eventually leads to the joke explained in the annotation for p. 284.

- [p. 23] "'Lias Bluestone,' said the troll [...]"

See the annotation for p. 86 of Moving Pictures .

- [p. 23] "'Imp y Celyn,' said Imp."

This gets pretty much spelled out in the text: "Imp y Celyn" is a Welsh transliteration of 'Bud of the Holly', i.e. Buddy Holly. Terry originally mentioned this name on alt.fan.pratchett without giving the explanation. It took the group quite a while to figure it out, but luckily there are some Welsh people on the Internet...

- [p. 24] "'Glod Glodsson,' said the dwarf."

As his name indicates, Glod Glodsson is the son of the irritable dwarf Glod we learned about earlier in the footnotes for Witches Abroad.

- [p. 25] "[...] what you would get if you extracted fossilized genetic material from something in amber and then gave it a suit."

What Terry means is that Mr Clete is a bit reptile-like. The reference is to the blockbuster novel/movie Jurassic Park, in which various murderous lizards were brought to life using prehistoric DNA found in amber-fossilized mosquitoes.

- [p. 27] "'Gimlet? Sounds dwarfish.'"

"Gimlet, son of Groin" is a dwarf appearing in the well known Harvard Lampoon parody Bored of the Rings by the famous Dutch author Tolkkeen with four M's and a silent Q. The original dwarf being, um, lampooned here is of course Tolkien's Gimli, son of Glóin.

In the Discworld canon, this is the first time Gimlet makes an actual on-stage appearance, though he has been mentioned a number of times before, most notably in Reaper Man (see the annotation for p. 30 of that book).

- [p. 27] "'Give me four fried rats.' [...] 'You mean rat heads or rat legs?' 'No. Four fried rats.'"

This is a spoof of the restaurant scene in The Blues Brothers. Jake orders "Four fried chickens and a coke", and the waitress (Aretha Franklin) asks him whether he'd like chicken wings or legs, etc. Even the "best damn fried rat in the city" is a direct paraphrase of a Blues Brothers quote.

- [p. 27] "'And two hard-boilled eggs,' said Imp. The others gave him an odd look."

This is partly a continuation of the Blues Brothers reference (after Jake asks for the fried chickens, Elwood asks for two slices of dry toast), and at the same time a nod to the Marx Brothers. In the cabin scene from A Night at the Opera, Groucho is giving his order to the steward outside the cabin; Chico is calling out: "And two hard boiled eggs!" from inside, Groucho repeats it to the steward, then Harpo honks his horn and Groucho says: "Make that three hard boiled eggs." This happens several times, with Groucho ordering a multi-course meal in between. At one point Harpo adds a second honk, in a different pitch, and Groucho adds: "And one duck egg." At the end Harpo produces a long series of honks in assorted tones, and Groucho says to the steward: "Either it's foggy out, or make that a dozen hard-boiled eggs."

- [p. 29] "'I won that at the Eisteddfod,' said Imp."

The eisteddfod is a real Welsh concept, originally a contest for poets and harpists. Nowadays, I'm told, it is more of a generic arts and crafts fair/contest, and it has spread as far as Australia, where the annual Rock Eisteddfod, according to one of my correspondents, is one of the most entertaining and highly competitive interschool activities around.

- [p. 30] "[...] a thin slice of a face belonging to an old woman."

(See also the scene that starts on p. 181.) The attitudes and mannerisms of the old woman owning the pawn shop are very like those of Auntie Wainwright in the BBC sitcom Last of the Summer Wine.

For quite a number of episodes she ran the funny old antiques shop from which many props and plot devices were available. When people entered the shop, she often appeared holding a double barrelled shotgun and describing herself as a "poor defenseless old lady" or calling from just off the scene to describe the many (non-existent) security devices she has installed. She always charged too much and "It's funny you should say that" is a phrase she used a lot.

- [p. 33] "Just a stroke of the chalk..."

I'm not sure if it warrants an annotation, but I was fairly puzzled by this bit when I first read Soul Music. Only on re-reading did it dawn on me that what Terry is trying to tell us here is that chalked on the guitar is the number '1'. This will turn out to be rather significant, later on.

- [p. 35] "'You're not going to say something like "Oh, my paws and whiskers", are you?' she said quietly."

The White Rabbit in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland: "'The Duchess! The Duchess! Oh my dear paws! Oh my fur and whiskers!'".

Terry doesn't like the Alice books very much, though. See also the Words From The Master section in Chapter 5.

- [p. 36] "[...] 'Shave and a haircut, two pence' [...] Bam-bam-a-bambam, bamBAM."

'Shave and a haircut, two bits' is a classic rock 'n' roll rhythm (used in just about everything Bo Diddley did, for instance). It was most recently reintroduced to the public as a punchline to a joke in the movie Who Framed Roger Rabbit.

- [p. 37] A-bam-bop-a-re-bop-a-bim-bam-boom.

A-wap-ba-ba-looba-a-wap-bam-boom, one of rock 'n roll's most famous phrases, from Little Richard's 'Tutti Frutti'.

- [p. 38] "'[...] oh, you're a raven, go on, say the N word...'"

The N word is, of course, 'Nevermore' from Edgar Allan Poe's 'The Raven'. See also the annotation for p. 191 of Reaper Man .

- [p. 42] "The wizard who thought he owned him called him Quoth, [...]"

The line from 'The Raven' fully goes: "Quoth the raven, 'Nevermore'."

Quoth the Raven -- get it?

- [p. 42] "Lunch was Dead Man's Fingers and Eyeball Pudding, [...]"

Terry explains that this is "based on the UK tradition of giving horrible names to items on the school menu, such as Snot and Bogey Pie. Eyeball Pudding was usually semolina, Dead Men's Fingers are sausages. At least, they were at my school, and friends confirm the general approach."

+ [p. 42] "Miss Butts [...] practised eurhythmics in the gym."

Eurhythmics (literally: "good rhythms") is an existing form of movement therapy that originated in Europe in the late 19th century, which aims to study the rhythmic underpinning of music through movement (it is of course also where pop band Eurythmics got their name from).

In its early years, the more philosophical aspects of Eurhythmics were not always properly recognised, which often led to classes that were, according to one author, "little more than 'the place were the rich girls from the village went to learn dancing'", which of course ties in neatly with the Quirm College for Young Girls.

Note that Miss Butts' co-founder of the College is Miss Delcross, and that the Eurhythmics method was created by the Swiss composer Emile Jaques-Dalcroze.

There is also a resonance here with the two of the earliest pioneers of women's education in the UK: Frances Mary Buss (principal of the North London Collegiate School) and Dorothea Beale (head of Cheltenham Ladies College, still considered one of the poshest schools in England). These two suffragettes were household names in their time, and still retain some fame. Their names are forever linked together in the satirical rhyme:

Miss Buss and Miss Beale,
Cupid's darts do not feel.
How different from us,
Miss Beale and Miss Buss!

- [p. 48] "There's a floral clock in Quirm. It's quite a tourist attraction."

A flower display common in the more genteel and down-at-heel seaside resorts in the shape of a clock face, with the design of the face picked out in flowering plants of different colours. The more clever ones use flowers which open and close at different times of day, thus in principle allowing the time to be told by looking at the flowers. The less subtle ones just have a clock mechanism buried in the middle, and big hands.

- [p. 52] "There's a song about him. It begins: You'd Better Watch Out..."

The real world equivalent of this song is of course 'Santa Claus is Coming to Town'. I just love how Terry completely reverses the meaning of that song's opening line, without changing a single word.

- [p. 52] "The Hogfather is said to have originated in the legend of a local king [...] passing [...] the home of three young women and heard them sobbing because they had no food [...]. He took pity on them and threw a packet of sausages through the window."

This recalls the legend of the original (Asiatic) St Nicholas, bishop of Myra in what is now Turkey, who threw a bag of gold (on three separate occasions) through the window of a poor man with three daughters, so the girls would have dowries, saving them from having to enter lives of prostitution.

I don't know about other countries, but in the Netherlands we still celebrate St Nicholas' day (on December 5th) instead of Christmas. Let me rephrase that. We do celebrate Christmas, but we have no tradition of a fat man in a red suit going ho-ho-ho while delivering presents. Instead, we get St Nicholas ('Sinterklaas'), who also wears red, and comes over from Spain each year (don't ask) to ride a white horse (not named Binky, as far as I know) over the rooftops and drop presents down the chimneys.

- [p. 54] "Behind it, in the turf, two fiery hoofprints burned for a second or two."

I have received I don't know how many emails pointing out that this resonates with the burning tire tracks left by the time-travelling DeLorean in the movie Back to the Future.

- [p. 56] "[...] the sky ahead of her erupted blue for a moment. Behind her, unseen because light was standing around red with embarrassment [...]"

Binky is obviously going very fast, since the visible light in front of him is blue-shifted and behind him red-shifted, something normally only associated with astronomical objects.

- [p. 57] "The Soul Cake Tuesday Duck didn't apparently have any kind of a home."

The Discworld equivalent of the Easter Bunny. See also the annotation for p. 139 of Lords and Ladies .

- [p. 59] "[...] C. H. Lavatory & Son [...]"

It is a curious but true fact that we owe the modern flush toilet as we know it to a Victorian gentleman by the name of Thomas Crapper. Mr Lavatory is obviously his Discworld counterpart.

And before I start getting mail about it: no, Crapper didn't really invent the flush toilet himself, but he made several improvements to the design (shades of James Watt here, see the annotation for p. 153 of Reaper Man ), and he certainly sold a lot of them to the British army. For more information about Thomas Crapper, read Cecil Adams' More of the Straight Dope.

- [p. 61] "'What d'you call this, then, Klatchian mist?'"

The British expression this refers to is 'Scotch mist', used to describe things that persist in being present or existing despite statements to the contrary. For example:

Worker A: "Someone's buggered off with me three-eighths Gripley!"
Worker B: (holding up three-eighths Gripley allegedly buggered-off with by person or persons unknown) "What's this then? Scotch mist?"

- [p. 69] "'Normal girls didn't get a My Little Binky set on their third birthday!'"

My Little Pony is a toy aimed at young girls: a small plastic pony (in bright pink, or blue, etc.) with long hair which you can (allegedly) have endless fun combing.

- [p. 73] "'You mean like... Keith Death?'"

I doubt very much if this is a true reference, but when I saw this I couldn't help thinking: Rolling Stone guitarist Keith Richards always looks like Death. No reason why Death shouldn't look like a Keith, is there?

- [p. 77] "'Er,' she said, 'ANYONE HERE BEEN KILLED AND CALLED VOLF?'"

Anyone Here Been Raped And Speak English? was the British title of a book about newspapers' foreign correspondents by Edward Behr, who also wrote The Last Emperor. In the US this book was released under the name Behrings.

The phrase refers to a story concerning a BBC journalist in a refugee camp in the Belgian Congo. He was investigating some of the atrocities being committed there, and was looking for a victim to interview. Unfortunately he didn't have a translator and the victims only spoke French. Finally in desperation the journalist wandered through the camp calling out "Anyone here been raped and speak English?".

- [p. 78] "'Hi-jo-to! Ho! Hi-jo-to! Ho!'"

This is from Wagner's opera Die Walküre. I don't have to explain what valkyries are, do I?

- [p. 82] "[...] at war with Hersheba and the D'regs [...]"

The name D'regs is not only a pun on 'dregs', but also refers to the Tuaregs, a nomadic Berber tribe in North Africa. The Tuaregs are also the desert marauders who attack Fort Zinderneuf in the movie Beau Geste (based on the book by P. C. Wren).

The name 'Hersheba' (a pun on 'Hershey Bar' / 'Beersheba') is something that Terry came up with in 1992 on a.f.p., when he was more or less thinking out loud about the many people who didn't get the Djelibeybi reference (see the annotation for p. 17 of Pyramids ):

"[...] say Djelibeybi OUT LOUD -- I must have had twenty letters (and one or two emails) from people who didn't twig until the third time round... oh god... do they have them in the US? Should it have been called Emmenemms, or Hersheba... hmm, Hersheba... could USE that, yes, little country near Ephebe..."


I'll just let Terry himself handle this one:

"Just so we don't get a zillion postings about cartoon films and comics and movies that Soul Music has been copied from: the whole Klatchian Foreign Legion bit has its roots in 'Beau Geste', which was the Foreign Legion movie. It must be one of the most parodied, echoed and copied movies of all time -- it was so influential that it is probably where most people's ideas of the FFL originate."

- [p. 84] "There was a riot going on."

This line is a fairly cliché rock 'n roll text fragment. It is used in quite a few songs, most notably in 'Riot in Cell Block #9', a song that has been performed by everybody from Dr Feelgood to the Blues Brothers. There's A Riot Goin' On is also the name of a famous 1971 funk album by Sly and the Family Stone.

- [p. 88] "[...] the Vox Humana, the Vox Dei and the Vox Diabolica."

The Vox Humana is an existing organ stop (to be precise: a reed-type stop with a short resonator, common in baroque organs), and so is the Vox Angelicii. But my sources are divided as to whether the Vox Dei actually exists. About the Vox Diabolica everyone is in perfect agreement: ain't no such thing, and never was.

- [p. 88] "He raised his hands."

The Librarian powering up the organ resonates with the scene in which Marty McFly turns on Doc Brown's guitar amplifier in Back to the Future.

- [p. 89] "[...] except the legendary harp of Owen Mwnyy [...]"

Owen Mwnyy is pronounced as 'Owing Money' (in Welsh, the 'w' is a vowel, pronounced as a 'u'). Also, Owen Myfanwy was a Welsh folk hero, and of course all Welsh folk heroes are dab hands with the harp, which is the Welsh national musical instrument.

'Owen Money' is also the stage name of a well-known Welsh musician, comedian and radio presenter.

- [p. 90] "'Cliff? Can't see anyone lasting long in this business with a name like Cliff'."

A reference to Cliff Richard -- see the annotation for p. 45 of Johnny and the Dead .

- [p. 91] "'Moving around on your seat like you got a pant full of ant.'"

James Brown, the Godfather of Soul: 'I've got Ants in my Pants and I want to Dance.'

- [p. 92] "They've got one of those new pianofortes [...]' 'But dat sort of thing is for big fat guys in powdered wigs."

Johann Sebastian Bach was invited to Potsdam for the very purpose of trying out King Frederic of Prussia's new pianofortes.

- [p. 93] "... the beat went on ..."

'The Beat Goes On' is a song by Sonny Bono (yes, the dude who used to be married to Cher).

- [p. 95] "'Hello, hello, hello, what is all this... then?' he said [...]"

Stereotypical British policeman's phrase. See the annotation for p. 55 of Guards! Guards! .

- [p. 95] "'He can't stop us. We're on a mission from Glod.'"

"We're on a mission from God" is perhaps the most famous quote from the Blues Brothers movie.

- [p. 98] "'As soon as he saw the duck, Elmer knew it was going to be a bad day.'"

A nice double reference. To begin with, the cartoons Terry is referring to here are Gary Larson's Far Side cartoons (which I can highly recommend. Just try to avoid the collections published after 1990 or so. They're not that bad, but the earlier ones are significantly better).

Second, there are the eternal cartoon conflicts between Elmer Fudd, hunter, and Daffy Duck, duck. Usually, when Elmer meets Daffy, it will turn out to be a bad day for him.

- [p. 101] "Along the Ankh with Bow, Rod and Staff with a Knob on the End"

Not a reference to anything specific, but there used to be dozens of travel books with names like "Along the [fill in river] with [gun and camera, rod and line, etc]", usually written by retired Victorian army men.

These cliché-ridden travelogues were already being parodied as early as 1930 by George Chappell in his Through the Alimentary Canal with Gun and Camera.

- [p. 101] "'Blert Wheedown's Guitar Primer,' he read."

Blert Wheedown puns on Bert Weedon, famous for his many "play in a day" guitar primers, which are mainly bought by doting but slightly out of touch grandmothers for grandsons who'd rather have "The Death Metal book of three chords using less than three fingers".

- [p. 105] "[...] when Mr Hong opened his takeaway fish bar on the site of the old temple in Dagon street?"

For a full explanation of Mr Hong's tragic fate, see the annotation for p. 149 of Men at Arms .

- [p. 107] "'We call him Beau Nidle, sir.'"

Beau Nidle = Beau Geste + bone idle.

- [p. 110] "There was a path, though. It led across the fields for half a mile or so, then disappeared abruptly."

This would be a good description of Wheatfield with Crows by Van Gogh, who took his own life shortly after finishing this painting.

- [p. 114] "Her mother's favourite dish had been Genocide by Chocolate."

'Death by Chocolate' is an existing dish, as well as a chain of restaurants in New Zealand and Australia.

- [p. 114] "MORPHIC RESONANCE, he said, [...]"

Another reference to Rupert Sheldrake's theories. See the annotation for p. 54 of Mort .

- [p. 121] "The next table was occupied by Satchelmouth Lemon [...]"

Louis Armstrong's nickname was Satchmo, which was short for Satchelmouth. The 'Lemon' part of the name also ties in with black artists by way of the legendary bluesman Blind Lemon Jefferson.

- [p. 122] "She was quite attractive in a skinny way, Ridcully thought. What was the tomboy word? Gammon, or something."

Gammon is the lower end of a side of bacon. What Ridcully is thinking of is the word 'gamine', which does have the same meaning as 'tomboy'.

- [p. 123] "'It looks like a spike at the front and a duck's arse, excuse my Klatchian, at the back.'"

"Duck's arse" is, in fact, the correct name for the type of fifties' rock 'n roll haircut more politely described as a duck tail haircut: one with the hair long in the back.

"Excuse my French" is a euphemism, said after swearing.

- [p. 127] "'A song about Great Fiery Balls. [...] Couldn't really make out the words, the reason bein', the piano exploded.'"

Jerry Lee Lewis used to set fire to his piano using gasoline while playing his immortal 'Great Balls of Fire'.

- [p. 130] "[...] much later on, on the day when the music died, [...]"

The day of the infamous 1959 plane crash that killed Buddy Holly, the Big Bopper and Ritchie Valens all in one go is commonly referred to as "the day the music died". Years later, Don McLean would immortalise the phrase even further in his song 'American Pie', but that song is definitely not the original source.

- [p. 130] "Ridcully was going to say, oh, you're a rebel, are you, what are you rebelling against, and he'd say... he'd say something pretty damn memorable, that's what he'd do!"

In the 1954 movie The Wild One, starring Marlon Brando as Johnny, the following exchange occurs:

Girl in a bar: So Johnny, what're you rebelling against?
Johnny: What've you got?

- [p. 130] "'mumblemumblemumble', said the Dean defiantly, a rebel without a pause."

The name of the classic movie is Rebel Without A Cause. Starring James... Dean.

- [p. 131] Song Titles.

'Don't Tread On My New Blue Boots' is Carl Perkins' 'Blue Suede Shoes', 'Good Gracious Miss Polly' is Little Richard's 'Good Golly Miss Molly' and 'Sto Helit Lace' is the Big Bopper's 'Chantilly Lace'.

- [p. 131] "'That bit where you said "hello, baby",' he said. 'Why'd you do that?'"

'Chantilly Lace' begins with The Big Bopper treating us to his half of a telephone conversation with the young lady in question. It starts: Helll- (then drop about an octave) -lllllo (then up a little bit) ba- (huge glissando up the scale, beyond where he started) aaaaaaaaaaybeeeee!

- [p. 138] [...] LIVE FATS DIE YO GNU [...]

After James Dean's legendary motto: "Live fast, die young, leave a good-looking corpse."

- [p. 139] "'Adrian Turnipseed, Archchancellor.'"

This is probably just a coincidence, but Donald Turnupseed was the driver of the car that collided with James Dean in the crash that killed him. Donald was only slightly hurt.

- [p. 141] "It took him and Gibbsson, the apprentice, [...]"

That's of course Gibson, of guitar-building fame.

- [p. 144] "'I'll throw in the space between the strings for free, OK?'"

Another Blues Brothers reference. When Elwood and Jake are buying their instruments from 'Ray's Music Exchange', Ray Charles makes the comment about the electric piano that he'll "throw in the black notes for free".

- [p. 144] "'[...] if anyone comes in and tries to play [...] Pathway to Paradise [...] he's to pull their head off."

'Pathway to Paradise' is the Discworld version of Led Zeppelin's rock anthem 'Stairway to Heaven'.

The song's characteristic guitar riff is so often played in music shops that the patrons get really fed up with it, so it's quite common to see "No Stairway" signs, or in the case of one particular shop in Denmark Street, London, a sign saying: "Anyone who uses the instruments here to play 'Stairway To Heaven', 'Paranoid' or 'Smoke On The Water' should seriously consider whether they have a future in rock and roll."

- [p. 145] "'They say there's a background noise to the universe? A sort of echo of some sound? [...] It wouldn't have to be very loud. It'd just have to be everywhere, all at once.'"

What Ponder tries to describe corresponds to our universe's cosmic blackbody microwave radiation, which is indeed a uniform background radiation, spanning all frequencies and coming with the same intensity from every part of the sky at every time of the day in every season. The explanation for this phenomenon is that it is radiation originating with the Big Bang that started our universe.

- [p. 147] "This scene took place in Crash's father's coach house, but it was an echo of a scene evolving all around the city."

Placing them in the coach house is a reference to the "garage band" phenomenon.

- [p. 149] "'The Cavern!'"

The Cavern was the name of the night club in Liverpool where the Beatles played their first performance. It is worth noting that in The Streets of Ankh-Morpork we can see that The Cavern is located on Quarry Lane. This not only recalls 'Penny Lane', but before the Beatles became the Beatles, they called themselves the Quarrymen.

- [p. 149] "Gorlick and Hammerjug were songwriters, [...]"

A reference to the musical composers Rogers and Hammerstein, who wrote the songs for The Sound of Music (amongst many other musical scores).

Note also that 'stein' is a word the English (not the Germans) use for 'jug'.

- [p. 150] "Except the one about Hiho."

The Hiho song is first mentioned in Moving Pictures; see the annotation for p. 73 of that book.

- [p. 150] "'And me an' my friends can walk towards you with our hats on backwards in a menacing way, Yo!'"

Rat music = rap music.

- [p. 151] "Troll gambling is even simpler than Australian gambling. One of the most popular games is One Up, [...]"

Two-up is an Australian form of gambling played extensively by Australian soldiers during both World Wars. Although generally illegal outside of licensed casinos, it can now be played in country towns during some local festivals.

Professional games are controlled by at least one 'boxer', who collects a 'rake-off' or commission from all winners. Bets may be placed either between players, or to cover the 'centre', representing the 'spinner's' stake. The spinner must back heads, and other players must back tails. Side bets may back either.

Two coins are placed on a 'kip' (a flat piece of wood), and the spinner tosses them in the air. If the coins don't spin properly or if they land one head and one tail, it is classed a 'no-throw' and all bets stand. If both coins land heads or both tails, bets are resolved. Players take turns as spinner and may continue to throw so long as they show heads. The spinner begins to collect winnings only after throwing three heads; subsequently, he may retire or place more bets. However, if the spinner 'dooks them' by throwing three successive heads, the boxer takes a percentage (usually about 10%).

There are a bunch of other conventions, such as calling "Come in, spinner" before each throw, and variations in the betting between casinos. I'm told that although the odds favour the house (as usual), the spinner's odds are better than other players'.

- [p. 152] "'I hired you a helper. [...] Meet Asphalt.'"

In the music scene, the person performing the same tasks for a band as Asphalt does is called a roadie. His name is therefore quite appropriate.

- [p. 154] "'Bee There Orr Bee A Rectangular Thyng', said Cliff."

The phrase is, of course: Be There Or Be Square.

- [p. 156] "''S called Insanity,' said Asphalt."

Puns on the name of the British pop group Madness.

- [p. 157] "'It says BORN TO RUNE,' said Crash, [...]"

A combination of the 'Born to Rule' slogan, and Bruce Springsteen's anthem 'Born to Run'.

- [p. 157] "'That's a bodacious audience,' said Jimbo."

This may well be a reference to the movie Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure, where the two protagonists use this word repeatedly. Later on, Crash also says 'Excellent!', another catchphrase from the movie.

- [p. 165] "'[...] would they remember some felonious monk or shout for Glod Glodsson?'"

One of my favourite Pratchett puns ever. Thelonious Monk is one of our world's most highly regarded jazz musicians (though he played the piano, not the horn -- you'd want Miles Davis for that).

- [p. 166] "'Cavern Deep, Mountain High?' said Glod."

'River Deep Mountain High', by many considered Phil Spector's last Great Production, for Ike and Tina Turner.

- [p. 167] "'It's the Gritz for you!'"

That's the Ritz in our world.

- [p. 175] "Si non confectus, non reficiat."

"If it ain't broke, don't fix it." See the annotation for the Discworld mottos in The Discworld Companion.

- [p. 177] "[...] a small, greyish-brown mongrel dog [...] sat peering into the box for a while."

A reference to the famous 'His Master's Voice' logo for the RCA records. The dog is probably Gaspode.

- [p. 178] "'You tellin' me ants can count?' 'Oh, no. Not individual ants...'"

An excellent explanation of the anthill as a metaphor for intelligence can be found in Douglas R. Hofstadter's Gödel, Escher, Bach.

- [p. 180] "'I know a golem. Mr Dorfl down in Long Hogmeat.'"

See the annotation for p. 204 of Reaper Man . Incidentally, 'long pig' is a name for human meat (we are supposed to taste like pork).

Dorfl will turn up later in Feet of Clay.

- [p. 182] "'Are you the Watch?' Glod bowed. 'No, ma'am. We're musicians.'"

The Blues Brothers again. See the annotation for p. 107 of Witches Abroad .

- [p. 183] "'And this one?' he said. 'It'll make the world end and the sky fall on me if I give it a tootle, will it?' 'Interesting you should say that,' said the old lady'."

In other words, the untarnished trumpet is actually the biblical last trump, which signals the end of the world.

- [p. 184] "'There were eight of them, led by... um... Cantaloupe.'"

That's Calliope. A cantaloupe is a kind of melon. Note that in our world's classical mythology there were nine muses. On the Discworld, this of course becomes eight. For another example of this mechanism in action, see the annotation for p. 101 of Eric .

- [p. 190] "'That's mexical, that is. They put the worm in to show how strong it is.'"

A piece of typical Discworld lexical confusion here: the name of the drink (and of the associated drug) is mescal, the country it comes from is Mexico. And yes, mescal is the original drink that has a worm at the bottom of the bottle.

- [p. 191] "'A-wrong-wrong-wrong-wrong, a-do-wrong-wrong,' said the other two maids."

The maids' chorus and the beehives are like those of the girl groups of the sixties; this quote itself is similar to the chorus in the Crystals' 'Da Doo Ron Ron'.

- [p. 194] "[...] someone who sat on a wall and required royal assistance to be put together again."

Terry means Humpty Dumpty, from the famous children's rhyme ("All the king's horses and all the king's men / Couldn't put Humpty together again."). From the description he gives it is clear that he is specifically referring to Humpty as he was portrayed by Tenniel in the illustrations for Lewis Carroll's Through The Looking Glass.

- [p. 198] "'So you want to be Music With Rocks In stars, do you?' 'Yes, sir!' 'Then listen here to what I say...'"

From The Byrds' 'So You Want to be a Rock 'n' Roll Star':

So you want to be a rock and roll star?
Then listen now to what I say.
Just get an electric guitar
Then take some time
And learn how to play.
And with your hair swung right,
And your pants too tight
It's gonna be all right.

- [p. 199] "'We're Certainly Dwarfs', said Dibbler. 'Yes, that might work.'"

Terry is a fan of a fairly obscure band (in Europe at least -- in America they are a bit better-known) called They Might Be Giants (he has mentioned on a.f.p. that their 'Where your Eyes don't Go' is the scariest song he's ever heard -- not that scary is a word I'd normally associate with TMBG, mind you, but then I don't know that particular song).

Anyway, 'We're Certainly Dwarfs' appears to be the Discworld answer to this group, or at least to their name, and it may be amusing to know that the name was first suggested to Terry by a.f.p. reader Mike Berzonsky, during an early discussion about Discworld popular music. Mike wrote, way back in february 1993:

"Totally off the subject, this came to me last night. Terry's covered tons of stuff, but other than metamorphizing tapes in Good Omens, little on Rock n Roll. Since he's a fan of TMBG, maybe a dwarvish rock band, 'No, We Really Are Dwarves'. Since rock is so central to dwarf life, it makes sense to me that they'd have a band, although I understand that rich dwarves hire trolls to bang on anvils, so maybe Detritus could be the percussion section. And Dibbler could be their manager. No, better, Gaspode the Wonder Dog. And finding the references to the last forty years of music could be a blast. Just an idea."

Was this guy a prophet, or what? Terry replied:

"I've occasionally toyed with the Ankh music business. And I can promise you that if it ever happens, there'll be a group called 'We Really Are Dwarfs' :-)"

The rest is history.

The song mentioned later on in the text, 'Something's gotten into my beard' is not directly traceable to They Might Be Giants, or it would have to be to the track 'Fingertips' on Apollo 18, which features the line "Something grabbed a hold of my hand". Most people figure it is simply a reference to an entirely different song: Gene Pitney's 'Something's Gotten Hold of my Heart'.

- [p. 199] "'But you've got to spell it with a Z. Trollz."

In the sixties it was common for bands to get their names from intentional misspellings of common words. The best-known examples of this trend are probably the Byrds and Led Zeppelin.

- [p. 199] "'So now we're Suck,' said Crash."

Suck -> KISS.

- [p. 203] "[...] a name like JOE'S LIVERY STABLE, [...]"

So what we have here is the Discworld version of Joe's Garage, another well-known rock 'n roll concept.

- [p. 204] "Buddy sighed. 'You had a great house there, I expect?' said the troll. 'Just a shack,' said Buddy. 'Made of earth and wood. Well, mud and wood really.'"

'Johnny B. Goode' again. See the annotation for p. 11.

- [p. 204] "And the one they called the Duck Man had a duck on his head."

In Daniel Pinkwater's book Lizard Music a major character is the Chicken Man, an apparently homeless man who walks around with a chicken perched on his head (under a hat). The Chicken Man is a lot more together than The Duck Man -- he periodically does little street shows featuring the chicken, who does tricks. According to Pinkwater, the Chicken Man was based on a real person who lived in Chicago.

- [p. 209] "'They follow actors and musicians around,' he said, 'because of, you know, the glamour and everything --'"

While it is obvious that Buddy is talking about the phenomenon of groupies, it is also interesting to note that the word 'glamour' is sometimes used to mean magic spell or enchantment, making this sentence tie in nicely with the wizard's earlier beliefs that Music With Rocks In is somehow magical.

- [p. 212] "'The Surreptitious Fabric', said Jimbo."

The Discworld version of the legendary Velvet Underground.

- [p. 214] "'It's sort of deaf."

So, in effect they bought a Def Leppard, get it?

- [p. 214] More band names.

The Whom are The Who, The Blots are The Inkspots, and Lead Balloon are of course Led Zeppelin.

- [p. 215] "'Yes, but a rolling stone gathers no moss, my father says,' said Crash."

Notice how when the opportunity presents itself for the group to pick one of the most influential rock 'n roll group names imaginable, Crash and friends totally and utterly fail to see it.

- [p. 215] "THANK YOU, said the grateful Death."

A straightforward reference to the band The Grateful Dead. I didn't really think this was worth annotating, but people kept sending me mail about it, so...

- [p. 218] "'Nice curtains, by the way.'"

This is a reference to rock bands 'redecorating their hotel rooms', i.e. thrashing it beyond all recognition. Glod interprets the phrase more literally.

- [p. 218] "'[...] I'm going to put my rock kit on my back and take a long walk, and the first time someone says to me, "What are dem things on your back?" dat's where I'm gonna settle down.'"

In Homer's Odyssey, Odysseus was told by the spirit of Tiresias that if he ever made it back to Ithaca, he was to put one oar on his shoulder and walk inland, until he reached a people who knew nothing of sailing. There, he was to offer a sacrifice to Poseidon, after which he would be allowed to die after a happy old age, far from the sea.

- [p. 225] "[...] somewhere where no one remembers your name."

Since Death has actually gone to the Mended Drum, it's not too far-fetched to assume this is a nod to the theme song of Cheers, the bar "where everybody knows your name".

- [p. 225] "He built me a swing, Susan remembered."

Death's attempts to build a swing for Susan are a Discworld version of a cartoon that has been doing the rounds in offices all over the world. Usually the cartoon depicts 'swing-building' as an increasingly complex series of 'logical' steps representing an abstract process such as "the software life cycle". The finished item, looking somewhat like Death's completed swing, is typically followed by a final picture showing "what the customer wanted", namely, a tire hanging from a branch by a single rope.

- [p. 226] "'In like Flint, eh?'"

"In like Flynn" is the normal expression, going back to Errol Flynn's sexual transgressions -- at one point he was even charged with statutory rape, arrested and brought to trial, then acquitted.

- [p. 231] "I can feel it. Every day. It's getting closer..."

This is part of the lyrics to Buddy Holly's 'Everyday':

Everyday, it's a-gettin' closer,
Goin' faster than a roller coaster,
Love like yours will surely come my way, (hey hey hey)

- [p. 231] More song names.

'There's A Great Deal Of Shaking Happening' is Jerry Lee Lewis' 'Whole Lot of Shakin' Goin' On'. 'Give Me That Music With Rocks In' is Leiber and Stoller's 'Rock and Roll Music'.

- [p. 231] "'Hah. That'll be the day.'"

The title of one of Buddy Holly's greatest hits.

- [p. 232] "'I'd like a quarry,' said the troll. 'Yeah?' 'Yeah. Heart-shaped.'"

A reference to the strange-shaped swimming pools rock and movie stars are supposed to have built for themselves.

- [p. 236] "It was called Hide Park [...]"

A 'hide' is in fact an Old English measure of land. The definition varies, but it is usually the amount considered adequate for the support of one free family with its dependants, and at an earlier time this in turn was defined as being as much land as could be tilled with one plough in a year.

Hyde Park is also the name of a largish open space in the centre of London where the Rolling Stones headlined a massive free concert in 1969.

- [p. 237] "'Whoever heard of a serious musician with a glove?'"

Part of Michael Jackson's image is his always wearing one glove on stage.

- [p. 237] "'Dwarfs With Altitude'"

Reference to the gangster rap group Niggaz With Attitude (NWA), and the general concept of "having an attitude".

- [p. 244] More band names.

Boyz from the Wood are Boyz 'n the Hood (which is a movie, not a band, incidentally), and &U are U2.

- [p. 244] "'[...] proper music with real words... 'Summer is icumen in, lewdly sing cuckoo,' that sort of thing.'"

One of the oldest (if not the oldest) known songs in the English language is the 'Cuckoo Song': "Sumer is icumen in, lhude sing cuccu". 'Lhude' means 'loud', not 'lewd'.

- [p. 244] "'Well, it's got a beat and you can dance to it,' [...]"

This, usually followed by something like "I'll give it a 92", is a cliché made famous by the TV music show American Bandstand, hosted by Dick Clark in the 50s and 60s. American Bandstand was televised daily in the afternoon (weekly, in later years) and helped introduce such stars of the era as Chubby Checker, Paul Anka and Frankie Avalon.

- [p. 245] "'I... won this,' said Buddy, in a small distant world of his own. 'With a song. Sioni Bod Da, it was.'"

'Bod Da' is Welsh for 'be good'. Ergo, 'Sioni Bod Da' = 'Johnny B. Goode'. See also the annotation for p. 204.

- [p. 244] "The right kind of name for musicians ought to be something like Blondie and His Merry Troubadours."

'Blondie' was the name of the band fronted by Debbie Harrie in the late seventies and early eighties. Blondel was the name of the troubadour who, according to legend, went around singing at castles in search of King Richard Lionheart.

- [p. 247] "Anyone else fancy a hot dog? Hot dog? [...] Hot dog? Right. That's three hot d--"

Another replaying of a Blues Brothers scene, only they did it with orange whip instead of hot dogs.

- [p. 249] "'Cwm on?'"

See the annotation for p. 89. 'Cwm' is Welsh for valley. (Note that the Discworld has a Koom Valley...)

- [p. 256] "'We could do 'Anarchy in Ankh-Morpork',' said Jimbo doubtfully."

Puns on the punk anthem 'Anarchy in the UK', by the Sex Pistols.

- [p. 263] "'It's a masterpiece,' said the Dean. 'A triumph!'"

Triumph is a British make of motorcycle, comparable in quality and history to the Harley Davidson.


Death is paraphrasing lines made famous by Arnold Schwarzenegger in his role as the Terminator. Interestingly enough, the music accompanying the scene in question in Terminator II is the song 'Bad to the Bone'...

There is an even more subtle reference hidden here, however. After this scene, Death will be riding towards the site of the crash in "a coat he borrowed from [the] Dean", and that is another line from Don McLean's 'American Pie' (see the annotation for p. 130). Terry has confirmed on a.f.p. that the reference is indeed intentional.

- [p. 264] "The flower-bed erupted.'"

This is the written counterpart to Josh Kirby's cover painting, and likewise a Discworld version of Meatloaf's Bat out of Hell, both the album sleeve and the song.

- [p. 266] "'He... he had a rose in his teeth, sarge.'"

A reference to the Skull and Roses motifs used for many of the Grateful Dead's album covers and concert posters.

- [p. 274] "He held up a hand. It was transparent."

Another resonance with the first Back to the Future movie. When the timelines start to converge, and Marty is also on the verge of being erased from the one he's currently in, his hand becomes transparent, just as he's playing guitar. When he recovers, he is asked to play something else, and he launches into... 'Johnny B. Goode'.

- [p. 274] "There was a roar like the scream of a camel who has just seen two bricks."

See the annotation for p. 221 of Pyramids .

- [p. 275] "A small fingerbone rolled across the stones until it came up against another, slightly larger bone."

In light of the earlier Terminator references, most of my correspondents think this scene replays the one in Terminator II where the T-1000 model Terminator, after having been frozen by liquid nitrogen and then shattered, slowly starts to reassemble itself.

+ [p. 276] "'Please!' she shouted. 'Don't fade away!'"

'Not Fade Away' is the title of one of Buddy Holly's songs.

Neil Young's lyric "It's better to burn out than to fade away" was already a well-known rock cliché, but became infamous when it was quoted by Nirvana's Kurt Cobain in his suicide note.

There is of course also the continued more literal resonance with Back to the Future here (see the annotation for p. 274).

- [p. 277] "'This is your brain on drugs...', said Jimbo."

An American anti-drugs television campaign in 1987 used the text "This is your brain. This is your brain on drugs. Any questions?" voiced over the image of a whole egg followed by one of a scrambled egg sizzling in a frying pan. The phrase immediately entered popular culture and has since been parodied or referred to many, many times.

- [p. 284] "Gloria sighed. 'Sometimes it's hard to be a woman,' she said."

The opening line from Tammy Wynette's torch song 'Stand By Your Man'.

- [p. 284] "'I'd swear he's elvish.'"

This paragraph is the culmination of the Elvis running gag (see the annotation for p. 22), but in order to appreciate it you have to know that Kirsty MacColl had a big hit a decade or so ago with a song called: "There's a guy works down the chip shop swears he's Elvis".

- [p. 285] "So you're a rebel, little Death? Against what? Death thought about it. If there was a snappy answer, he couldn't think of one."

See the annotation for p. 130.

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