Swear I'm not Paul: The Annotated Divine Comedy - Liberation

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Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Annotated Divine Comedy - Liberation

Although technically the second album from the Divine Comedy, Liberation is recognised as the band's first proper release, not least by Neil Hannon, who has had Fanfare for the Comic Muse deleted (although it might be worth something if you own a copy).

Liberation came out in August 1993, and featured the following band members:
Neil Hannon - Vocals, guitars, bass guitar, piano, keyboards, harpsichord, and organ
Darren Allison - Drums and Percussion
Lucy Castle - Viola and Violin
Monica Scott - Cello
Quentin Hutchinson - French horn



FESTIVE ROAD

An ordinary day down on Festive Road1
The children will play and never will know
That when Mr Benn of No. 52
Walks in through that door
Peculiar events will ensue

The shopkeeper peers through spectacles round
As Benn wanders in and shuts out the town
The shopkeeper wears his customary grin
'Cause he knows when they go to try on his clothes
Each fantasy chosen begins.





1 Mister Benn was a children's television and book character, created by David McKee. Every morning he left his house on 52 Festive Road to go to a Fancy-Dress Costume Shop. At the shop, Benn would put on a costume and leave through a magic door to an adventure determined by the costume. These included costumes for a knight, balloonist, caveman, cowboy, pirate, and astronaut. Of all the available costumes, Neil Hannon himself seemed most interested in Benn's regular world clothes of suit and bowler hat. c.f. Bell x1 'Just Like Mister Benn'.



DEATH OF A SUPERNATURALIST1

See my solitude
Where once was truth now only doubt
Touch my tortured skin
Torn from within and from without
Kiss my blistered lips
My fingertips frost-bitten and grey
Heal my wound within
And watch the dead skin fall away

See what can’t be seen
Between the table and the chair
Touch what can’t be touched
The national trust2 don’t own the air
Kiss what can’t be kissed
This is the risk we have to take
Heal what can’t be healed
And feel the dead skin fall away

Only you and I know exactly how it feels
To unblinker a narrow mind
And by doing so reveal the obscurity of life
The intensity of dreams
Only you and I have realised exactly what it means

See the infant sun
Whose time has come to climb the mist
Touch the autumn sky
Burned by the supernaturalist
Kiss the purest lips
The morning slips into the day
Rising from the bed
We feel our dead skin fall away



1 The song begins with a quote from EM Forster's A Room With a View, specifically the 1985 James Ivory film of the book, starring Daniel Day-Lewis. It was one of the few films Day-Lewis did not receive an Academy Award nomination for. He probably wasn't sufficiently destitute and depressed.
2 The National Trust for Places of Historic Interest or Natural Beauty is a mouthful if nothing else. No wonder people refer to it as merely the National Trust. Its aim to preserve the coastline, countryside, and buildings of England, Wales, and Northern Ireland. It was founded in 1895 and administers many national treasures across Britain. Many of the lands under its preservation are inalienable, meaning they cannot be sold. This contrasts sharply with land in Ireland, which nobody can buy.



BERNICE BOBS HER HAIR1

Bernice bobs her hair in the barber's in the square
All her new-found friends are there to see it done
Bernice bobs her hair
She's been driven to despair
'Cause her cousin doesn't care about anyone

Her hair was long
Her hair was dark
Her hair flowed down her back
And now it lies upon the floor
Bernice runs out the door

Marjorie had told her what to wear to the parties
Marjorie had told her what to say to the boys
Now Marjorie was jealous of her social advances
And presented her with this choice





1 Bernice Bobs Her Hair is an F. Scott Fitzgerald story from 1920 first published in the Saturday Evening Post. The story centres on the titular character Bernice who feels as if she is outside the social circle, however, through tutelage she learns to be appealing, particularly to men. This angers her tutor, Marjorie (who is also her cousin), who makes Bernice follow through on her threat of "bobbing her hair" (one of her methods to win the attention of the opposite sex), and thus Bernice returns to being a social outcast. In the end, Bernice gets her own revenge by cutting off Marjorie's pigtails. The story is very much of its time, as anyone who has watched America's Next Top Model will tell you. I mean, look at Amber Rose.



I WAS BORN YESTERDAY

I... I was born yesterday
And I believe all that you say
I have no choice
I must obey you
Is this the first or the second day
Of the rest of my life?
Well hey
Why should I care either way
If what you say is true?

Saturday morning, 18th of December
I cannot remember
The last time that I saw such a young ballerina
In love with the loveless
In tune with a tuneless old upright piano
Standing en pointe
Going through each position with gentle precision
She measures each movement
Her classical features and elegant waistline
Are going to waste as she pleases her parents

What if they died on the road to Rathmines1
Where a dog in two minds times his run to perfection
An orphan at last
She'd be sick in the loo-bowl2
Then go to the funeral and cry by the graveside
Then she would sleep with the first man she sees
And she'd catch some disease
Which she would give to her doctor
She'd cook her own breakfast and she'd cook his as well
Yeah and they'd both get on swell
Even though he was married

You are a part of me
I am a part of you
Why should I let you walk all over me?
All over me



1 Rathmines is a suburb of Dublin, located on the more prestigious southside of the city. However, since I lived there for a year or so, it has become much less prestigious.
2 A loo-bowl is another name for a toilet. Other terms for toilets include WC, washhouse, potty, johns, Leitrim, and jacks.



YOUR DADDY'S CAR

We took your daddy's car
And drove it to the sea
We fooled around for hours
And then when we got tired and it got dark
We found a place to park
And we watched the sun set fire
To the sea

Can you feel the sadness in our love?
It's the only kind we're worthy of
Can you feel the madness in our hearts
As the key turns and the engine starts?
Engine starts

We took your daddy's car
And drove it into town
We steamed into a bar
And we bought the biggest bottle of champagne
And driving through the rain
We sang: "God bless this car, and all who sail in her!"1
Can you feel the sadness in our love?
Well, it's the only kind we're worthy of
Can you feel the madness in our hearts
As the key turns and the engine starts?

Engine starts
We took your daddy's car
And wrapped it round a tree
We didn't know what for
We didn't feel like driving any more
It was so good
We got bored

And we are driving from the day we are born
Can you feel the sadness in our love?
Well, it's the only kind we're worthy of
Can you feel the madness in our hearts
As the key turns and the engine starts?
Can you feel
The engine
Start?





1 Play on the traditional good luck message exclaimed at the launch of a new marine vessel, "May God bless this ship, and all who sail in her", usually uttered by a buxom lady. Got to give those sailors something to think about while out at sea.



EUROPOP1

Hello
What would you like to know?
What would you like to hear?
What if I just disappear inside myself?
Hello
What would you like to know?
Who would you like to see?
Who would you like me to be if not myself?

And the Europop (pop) makes me dizzy
And I just can't stop (stop) 'til it's finished
And I don't know what (what) you find funny
'Bout the Europop and the love of money

Hello
Where is it cool to go?
When is it cool to leave?
What is it cool to breathe inside myself?
Hello
Don't tell me what I already know
Don't show me what I've already seen
Don't take me where I've already been inside myself

Financial gain is a very pleasant thing
The transitory pleasure that it brings
Counts for nothing

So
What is there left to know?
What is there left to say?
Nothing

And I thank God that you're aware
Oh thank God that you're aware
Of the earth and of the air
And of the girls making like they don't care
That they are blessed and you are cursed
With the conscience of the universe
Of the mind and of the soul
And reduction science2 digging itself a hole
And I thank God that you're aware
Oh thank God that you're aware
It's taken time but I think you'll find
That everything is alright





1 Europop is an alleged genre of "music". It originated in the 1970s, and has been stuck in heads ever since. Sing it with me: "ooh, eeh, ooh ah ah, ting tang walla walla bing bang".
2 Reduction science, or Reductionism, is an approach to understanding things by breaking them down to the interactions of their smallest parts. It is in direct opposition to the holistic approach. Only reductionism can really show you the truth, like how it's actually a little gremlin inside your television painting on the pictures and doing all the voices. Since the introduction of flat screen televisions, the amount of gremlin child labour has increased tenfold.



TIMEWATCHING

When I fall asleep it could be forever1
So I'll never fall asleep again
When I fall apart put me back together
And my life will be complete

Maybe it's tonight
Maybe tomorrow night
Next week
Next month
Next year
We've only time to fear

When I fall behind in the quest for pleasure
I shall treasure this short time with you
We shall not be chained
We shall not be tethered
And we'll never be unkind

If I fall in love it could be forever
So I'll never fall in love
But the moment I can feel that you feel that way too
Is when I might fall in love with you
Fall in love with you



1 Much of this song is a play on the popular Victor Young/Edward Heyman song 'When I Fall in Love'. There have been hundreds of cover versions of the song, but none better than the Rick Astley version, which reached #2 in the UK Singles Chart.



THE POP SINGER'S FEAR OF THE POLLEN COUNT1

Laugh at the tears you're crying
Smile while your head explodes
You don't have to take this lying down
So blow your nose, baby
Just get your fingers clicking
To the rhythm and the rhyme
Otherwise, you'll just be kicking around
And that's a crime
How can you talk that way
On such a lovely day?
When sunshine comes your way
It's time to make some hay
I fall for this season every time
When it's hot and everybody smiles
I can't help myself
I'm in love with the summertime
Even when I get hayfever, I find
I may sneeze but I don't really mind
As long as I'm in love with the summertime
Oh, stop your belly-aching
We all know what it's like
There ain't a pill I haven't taken, I guess
But that's alright, baby
'Cos your daddy's car is waiting
To take us to the sea2
She feels like celebrating life
And so should we!
How can you talk that way
On such a lovely day?
When sunshine comes your way
It's time to make some hay
I fall for this season every time
When it's hot and everybody smiles
I can't help myself
I'm in love with the summertime
Even when I get hayfever, I find
I may sneeze but I don't really mind
As long as I'm in love with the summertime
I fall for this season every time
When it's hot and everybody smiles
I can't help myself
I'm in love with the summertime
Even when I get hayfever, I find
I may sneeze but I don't really mind
As long as I'm in love with the summertime





1 The pollen count is a measurement of the amount of pollen in a cubic metre of air. The higher the number, the more hayfever sufferers will be affected. How they (a) measure air, and (b) count the individual grains of pollen is beyond me. That would require some damn powerful magnifying glass.
2 c.f. 'Your Daddy's Car'



QUEEN OF THE SOUTH

Please don't look at me that way
You'll only make me want to say
Something I will regret
You are April you are May
What a stupid thing to say
Just forgive me and forget
That I ever opened my mouth
And let it all come out
Let it all flood out

I am worried for your health
Put something warm around yourself
Don't let your feet get wet
I'm in love and I'm in pain
If I say something stupid again
Oh just forgive me and forget
That I ever opened my mouth
And let it all come out
Let it all flood out
Queen of the South1
She has opened my mouth
And let it all come out
Let it all flood out

Something is getting in the way
What it is I cannot say
I wish we had never met





1 I'm not sure which Queen of the South this refers to, but it's surely not the Scottish football team, Queen of the South FC, founded in 1919 and located in Dumfries. If anyone does know who it refers to, leave a message in the comments, below.



VICTORIA FALLS

I don't know where I am

Who's that boy you're leaning on
(Victoria1 ceases to care)
You're not the only one
(Virginia2 creeps through the air)
Summer evening, summer sun
(Virago3 will publish her diaries when she's dead)
To the world
(Unlocking the dreams in her head)
And the world is blind
(Unstable, unhinged and unfed)
She'll wed the summertime
(Unable to answer the questions of her life)

I don't believe you I don't believe
I don't really need to I don't need Victoria
I won't let Victoria fall

When the night has come and gone
(His ghostly perfection remains)
Melting in the morning sun
(His pale saint complexion unchanged)
Lovers go and lovers come
(And some stay for longer but never long enough)
His shadow lingers on
(Victoria ceases to care)
His shadow fades like a pop song
(Virginia creeps through her hair)
Death to the supernatural one
(Virago will publish the story of her life)
Queen of the South

I don't believe you I don't believe
I don't really need to I don't need Victoria
I won't let Victoria fall

I don't defend you
(I don't defend you)
I don't recommend you but
(I don't recommend Victoria)
I won't let Victoria fall away
(Victoria)



1 Victoria (1819-1901), Queen of the United Kingdom from 1837-1901. Member of the House of Hanover and serving regent while Prime Ministers such as Benjamin Disraeli and William Ewart Gladstone were in power. Victoria was also the Roman goddess of victory. The waterfall Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe was named after the Queen of England by explorer David Livingstone. He should have called them the Livingstone Falls and gotten all the acclaim himself.
2 Here's a question for you: which of these Virginias does this refer to? Answers on a postcard to the usual address.
3 A virago is a strong woman, especially one who features in war. c.f. GI Jane



THREE SISTERS1

This Autumn breeze shall strip the trees
And freeze me to the bone
Why must these three sisters tease
Their lonely brother so?

Knowledge is a curse
But ignorance is worse I fear
Would you agree my dear?
I have watched you grow
From the same seed as my own shall grow
And they will never know how

How this Autumn breeze shall strip the trees
And freeze me to the bone
Why must these three sisters tease
Their lonely brother so?
I don't know
I don't know

Pleasure is a sin
And abstinence shall win this day
And that's the way it's gonna stay
Black Parisian lace
Your salvation-my disgrace
My God
Where did you go wrong?

I don't know if I can stop my eyes
From drifting slowly over holy temples of the soul
No self control

That Autumn chill is with me still



1 This song is based on the play of the same name by Anton Chekhov, written in 1900 and inspired by the three Bronte sisters. In the play Andrei is the only brother of the three sisters Olga, Maria, and Irina, and after accumulating large gambling debts becomes a laughing stock and a failure in the eyes of his sisters and of the entire town. See what happens when you gamble? That said, Ireland are 18-1 to win the Eurovision. Not bad odds.



EUROPE BY TRAIN

1



1 It's pretty hard to talk about lyrics for an instrumental song.



LUCY1

I travelled among unknown men,
In lands beyond the sea;
Nor, England did I know till then
What love I bore to thee.

'Tis past, that melancholy dream!
Nor will I quit thy shore
A second time; for still I seem
To love thee more and more.

Among thy mountains did I feel
The joy of my desire;
And she I cherished turned her wheel
Beside an English fire.

Thy mornings showed, thy nights concealed,
The bowers where Lucy played;
And thine too is the last green field
That Lucy's eyes surveyed.

She dwelt among the untrodden ways
Beside the springs of Dove,
A Maid whom there were none to praise
And very few to love:

A violet by a mossy stone
Half hidden from the eye
-Fair as a star, when only one
Is shining in the sky.

She lived unknown, and few could know
When Lucy ceased to be;
But she is in her grave and, oh,
The difference to me

A slumber did my spirit seal;
I had no human fears;
She seemed a thing that could not feel
The touch of earthly years.

No motion has she now, no force;
She neither hears nor sees;
Rolled around in earth's diurnal course,
With rocks, and stones, and trees.





1 The lyrics here are all from William Wordsworth, specifically his three of his five Lucy poems. So not only does Hannon include a song with no lyrics on the record, then he follows it by totally stealing someone else's words. Read all five poems here, and then if you're feeling like it, copy and paste them as song lyrics.

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