Stand or Fall

Album: Shuttered Room (1982)
Charted: 54 76
Play Video

Songfacts®:

  • Like most songs by The Fixx, "Stand or Fall" was composed by the band and produced by Rupert Hine, who told us: "'Stand or Fall' was always a lovely composition. And I knew from the very beginning of the first rehearsal that it was all going to be down to just these two guitar chords. And they are the two chords that open the song by way of an intro. But they're also the same two chords that permeate the entire track. They just played the two separate chords that really needed to stand out and be a hook in themselves, not just be two chords in a pop song. They really needed to stand out as two sonic moments that you would hopefully get tingles. And I tried to get them to have this sort of hair-on-the-back-of-the-neck quality just being played on a guitar.

    But of course, to devise that, we spent quite a few hours working on how we were going to create this unusual impression from sounds like a guitar player just playing two sprangy chords, when in fact it was quite cleverly crafted by a few tracks and a few different methodologies. It was constructed to produce that effect. I remember that most of all. And also the singing from Cy (Curnin) became a definitive vocal performance, the backing vocals particularly on the outro became a hook in themselves. It sounds like backing vocal, which became also a kind of… not a template, but certainly a subplot for lots of the production with the Fixx - I was always working very closely with Cy on completely fresh backing vocal ideas that came about during the recording process. But 'Stand or Fall' is still one of my most favorite production tracks, there's no doubt about it."
  • Rupert Hine also directed the video, which he considers one of his favorites, despite running into a problem with the horse. Said Hine: "It was a specially trained circus animal that often 'acted' in movies. However, as is so often typical, in these circumstances it proved to be difficult when asked to 'fall' (lie down), despite that being a very particular request upon booking. In the end, it had to pulled down with a rope.

    Interestingly, at the time the video was banned from UK showings... because, believe it or not, these scenes were deemed to look too much like the horse was dying! You have to remember that in those pre-MTV days (in Europe) the main shows for music on TV were all the 'kids' shows'."

Comments: 7

  • Jf from UsI always assumed the song was about World War I, the horrible slaughter that chewed up soldiers like an insatiable beast. Horrific carnage without hope, trench warfare and unimaginable conditions. Gas, artillery, going over the top. The movie 1917 captures some of this, as does All Quiet on the Western Front. Line morale (the trench line) has hit rock bottom (remember that in 1917 the French soldiers began to mutiny at the senseless orders to charge to their deaths). The lyrics sound so much like that war.
  • Lechef from ChicagoReleased in 1982, it’s about a fear of nearly everyone in Europe, a hot war between the Soviets (Red) and the NATO Alliance (Blue). It was a concern for many young people in Europe in the 80’s, as there was fairly constant tension, and the statements and policies of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, ramping up military spending and increasingly jingoistic. Short range nuclear missiles in West Germany, MX Missiles, “Star Wars” space lasers. Legitimate fear, as it turns out, because in 1983, we came close, twice, to nuclear exchanges. https://bit.ly/3ggt7xc

    The Euro Theater in this song is talking about continental Europe. Generally, Central Europe, from France in the West to Poland in the east.

    The songs lyrics, by virtue of being more impressionistic make it fairly timeless. My parents back in the 80’s might’ve told me not to do as their generation had done. Or really the generation before them, as my parents were hippies the whole 9. Our conversation would have been about a nuclear war, but you could just as easily see it being about global warming today. Or about internal strife. I’d like to think my brother would have the conversation with his kids about being more open to other people and seeking more justice for everyone. But whatever. It’s open to interpretation, but the Cold War was the thing at the time of the song.

    I LOVE the song for the music. But the lyrics are also close to my heart for their timeless nature.
  • AnonymousI always assumed that this song was about the Cold War between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. The threat of nuclear war was an ever present possibility, with Europe caught in the middle. "Crying parents tell their children, If you survive don't do as we did, A son exclaims there'll be nothing to do to, Her daughter says she'll be dead with you." Sounds like nuclear war to me.

    The writer conveyed the futility and meaningless of it all with the line "Our destiny relies on conscience, red or blue, what's the difference."

    Recall that the song was released in 1982, a time of awakening in Europe, when many folks were getting tired of being caught in the middle between to nuclear superpowers.
  • AnonymousWell it is indirectly referencing WW2.
    But ITS THE EURO THEATRE is in present tense.

    Red or blue what's the difference.

    US is divided into Red and blue states.

    And yes, when Europe rises again, which it will, with . . . well whaddyakno . . . Germany at the top. (Fourth largest Superpower on the planet. AGAIN.

    Again.

    It will indeed be stand or fall.
  • Larry Young from 55079,mn.I just saw the Fixx Saturday, dec.21 in mpls at the cedar cultural center. a great show, the band was on point and never faltered giving us the songs we wanted to hear. thanks guys!
  • Stephen from Temecula, Ca@Jim, I believe this song setting is in Europe during WWII. The Euro Theater is a term used to describe Europe which was being consumed by and involved in war. Stand or Fall is likely a reference to Hilter's march on the surrounding countries and how they either stood up to him or fell to his military power. The rest of the songs meaning takes off from there.
  • Jim from Pleasant Hill, CaIs this song about anything specific, or just general notions of rebellion in Europe? I always thought they were saying "stand up for" (which didn't make sense) when I hadn't seen the title or lyrics. But the meaning is still elusive.
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Who Did It First?

Who Did It First?Music Quiz

Do you know who recorded the original versions of these ten hit songs?

Jonathan Cain of Journey

Jonathan Cain of JourneySongwriter Interviews

Cain talks about the divine inspirations for "Don't Stop Believin'" and "Faithfully."

Donnie Iris (Ah! Leah!, The Rapper)

Donnie Iris (Ah! Leah!, The Rapper)Songwriter Interviews

Before "Rap" was a form of music, it was something guys did to pick up girls in nightclubs. Donnie talks about "The Rapper" and reveals the identity of Leah.

Emilio Castillo from Tower of Power

Emilio Castillo from Tower of PowerSongwriter Interviews

Emilio talks about what it's like to write and perform with the Tower of Power horns, and why every struggling band should have a friend like Huey Lewis.

Soul Train Stories with Stephen McMillian

Soul Train Stories with Stephen McMillianSong Writing

A Soul Train dancer takes us through a day on the show, and explains what you had to do to get camera time.

Jesus In Pop Hits: The Gospel Songs That Went Mainstream

Jesus In Pop Hits: The Gospel Songs That Went MainstreamSong Writing

These overtly religious songs crossed over to the pop charts, despite resistance from fans, and in many cases, churches.