The question: in their song: Such a shame (video), Talk Talk (album It's my life, 1984, remember, old folks), with the voice of Mark Hollis, sings (full lyrics):

Such a shame to believe in escape; 'A life on every face', but that's a change. Until I'm finally left with an '8'; Tell me to relax, I just stare.

What does left with an '8' number reference mean in that context?

Some other verses in the song play in the same field, apparently:

Number me with rage

Number me in haste

The dice decide my fate

The meaning seems related to dice cast. A single standard 6-face die cannot yield 8, but other less standard polyhedral dice (8-, 12-, 20-face polyhedra, used in war-games and role-playing games) can:

Wikipedia: polyhedral dice

Since they are non-standard, I will assume two 6-face dice are cast. Probabilities for the two dice cast is about 14 % for an eight.


1 Answer 1


The lyrics are inspired by this story of a psychiatrist who bases his actions/decisions on the cast of a dice: The Diceman, a novel published in 1971 by George Cockcroft (pen name Luke Rhinehart). Mark Hollis, who also studied child psychology at university, recalls a "scene when he’s in party for an hour undergoing about ten different personality changes and that idea seemed quite appropriate in terms of what we’re doing." It can be self-referential as well, relating to lyrics writing. According to M. Hollis, "I’ve just written ten times as many lyrics as I needed and thrown the dice on which ones go in". A possibility is that the "Finally left with an 8" is the outcome of the dice, which led to the choice of these cryptic lyrics.

When one casts two dice, the most probable outcome is 7, with probability 16.7%. Eight, as well as six, is the second most probable outcome (about 14%). My (over-)interpretation is that everyone has a fate just slightly different from that of the average person, who does not exist, except in statistics and polls.

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    english.stackexchange.com/a/167597/44619 (if someone goes nitpicking)
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jul 10, 2016 at 8:22
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    But realistically speaking, it's impossible to throw an 8 on a single die/dice. See ...on the cast of a dice... there has to be two. Oh, the blog actually says "the roll of a dice" and "the cast of a dice". I think I may have opened a can of worms.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jul 10, 2016 at 8:25
  • @Mari-Lou A You can have an "eight" with those non-standard dice shapes Jul 10, 2016 at 8:46

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