Peter Hammill - Chameleon in the Shadow of the Night 1973

  1. German Overalls
  2. Slender Threads
  3. Rock And Role
  4. In The End
  5. What's It Worth?
  6. Easy To Slip Away
  7. Dropping The Torch
  8. In The Black Room
  9. The Tower
  10. Thunder
  11. In The Black Room (II)


    Manheim; rainy Saturday with no money nor friend,
    only Tequila can end the boredom.
    Try to reach London for a pocket of hope;
    we're children, we grope in the dark.
    Hugh spends his last Mark on coffee and cheese...
    I feel just like a refugee...
    Rathaus-keepers and traffic police,
    middle-aged maids with rotting teeth
    industrial magazines and old Sunday Times;
    reading material/bleeding lines.
    What are we doing here?
    Memorial manace, eager for revenge,
    has begun to bend our minds.
    Shower-curtain imperative in the presence of acid;
    now, feeling placid is death.
    I try to hold my breath as the P.A. comes down...
    here we all are in Ktown!
    The Big Wheel never fails to grind around;
    it drags me up/drags me down
    Seven sentenses wonder 'Can this be real,
    or am I become a performing seal?'
    Why are we dying here?
    I walk the streets alone, try to find a sign of love,
    I've crushed the plaster-bone in the freaky clubs,
    I have bit the fruit
    but all I live for is to play
    and I'm tired of the nights and the days
    of airports, taxis and motorway showers,
    grooping for a key in the afterhours.
    David takes to travelling in the van,
    He knows that we all can understand;
    we're at the mercy of the Kosmos Tour,
    making a pilgrimage to the German Lourdes...
    but we're still crippled here.
    Cathedrals spiral skywards, I think I'm getting vertigo,
    I think I don't know what is real.
    On a more sudden spotlight, one more madness is over...
    I must not show a sign of fear.
    Words echo round my ears, I think I'm going to laugh...
    think I'll just go and take a bath, Guess I'll wash my clothes,
    don't you know I'll grow to go and make my name,
    maybe a servant in the Fame game;
    stake my sane and rest my life on the line...
    Now lay me asunder and rend my mind;
    at the fall of the curtain let this be my ghost...


    I saw your picture in the Evening Standard:
    you were wearing your battle dress.
    I really must confess
    that I shed a silent smile for you - 
    it had really blown my mind,
    I wonder, are you still so kind?
        Are you still so pure?
    There are other rhymes around here somewhere,
    but I'm not sure how they fit...
    Jenny, penny for your thoughts, I wonder how you're 
        thinking now;
    I hesitate to visualise: our worlds are much too 
    that's a sign of the times.
    Time was when I read your cards
    and wrote the numbers in the dust;
    I can't remember what they were, but anyhow,
    I missed the cusp
    so, so long, and so, goodbye
    Do you think I'll recognise you by your hair
        or by you mind now?
    We start out together
    but the paths all divide:
    when there areno more crossroads
    I open my eyes 
    and find I'm walking on alone
    through the snowy cold...
    I wonder if I'll make it through the night?
    I'm an author and an actor too;
    you're a model in the zoo...
    I'm just thinking on which side of the bars
    I'm looking through.
    If I prophesied an avalance
    would you wait and call my bluff?
    If I gave you just a little song
    would that be enough
    to save your life
    or is the knife already turning in my hand?


    Watch for the silent moments, only waiting to be saved.
    Wait for the Liemaker; he comes again
    and sinks his barbs through honesty;
    roll him over with all possible speed!
    Don't let him touch you with the candle of his need
    or let him be, hysterically ravaging your grave.
    You are emotion picture, re-run at single frame.
    You are the instant playback, no chance to change;
    smile and smile, living diary!
    Roll you over before it's too late:
    before you're exposed to the monochrome phase...
    which can relate only fear and hate through the haze.
    I am the automated arrow, homing on the heat of pain;
    I am the Peacebringer... It is so strange,
    I feed on grief and grieve through joy.
    So roll me over and turn aside;
    don't let me look into the mirror of your eyes
    for fear that I
    may steel the life
    you gradly gave.


    I promise you, I won't leave a clue:
    no tell-tale remark, no print from my shoe.
    Still a steady trail to the water's edge -
    I will keep my pledge to the end;
    I intend to go free
    No more rushing around, no more travelling chess;
    I guess I'd better sit down, you know I do need the rest...
    Yes, it's time to resign with equanimity and placidity
        from the game.
        I can't explain;
        I can't relate...
    Have I done it all too late?
    Now is the time for the commission to report;
    till lately, I thought: I'd been planted.
    Trying hard to make it all come real,
    permission to feel is ungranted.
    But, now it's happening, I'd like to keep it private if I can;
    last words, last look, make a final stand.
    Now my number's come up on the Pools,
    guess I'll board Titanic for a cruise...
    Now is the time to make my status clear,
    too late, I fear, and lonely,
    as friends and enemies traverse the stage,
    all in a rage disown me.
    And all the pip-props shatter into dust about my ears;
    memory and conscience, hope and fear.
    As I crawl out further on the limb
    something tells me I am crawling in
        to unknown prophecies and lives -
        the rainbow's end is hemmed around with knives...
    As I stand on the boards and the stage lights grow dim,
    shall I go out of doors, or shall I maybe go in?
    Have I reached the point when I should take my cue
    and follow you and your signs?
    I can't remember my line
    at the prompter cat calls
    and the cards all fall
    in the strike
    All the pages are thin, all the corners are curled.
    Does the starshine fall in through my window on the world?
    or am I living our (the seeds of doubt) a chronicle of revenge?
    The willow bends
    as do my hands -
    do your understand?
    And will you still be my friend in the end?
     ......... When my mouth falls slack
               and I can't summon up another tune,
               shall I then look back and say
               I did it all
               too soon?


    What's it worth to be safe?
    What's the way to be sane?
    I could throw myself at the garden
        on my hands,
    prune the lawn and mow the roses,
    but I never understand
    how to go
    to ber free;
    in the end I only want to be me.
    Winter days here are mine;
    still, no bites, what's my line?
    I could hurl myself to the bonfire
        with all nerve,
    clear the path and weed the dead leaves,
    but I really just don't have the nerve
    to be part
    if that scene
    is this just some kind of strange dream?
    Think I'll walk to the sleeple, where the people
        are so inquisite.
    I could make it to the corner store and buy
        a hoard of derivatives
    Which way now... climb or coast?
    Will my eggs ever poach?
    I could throw myself in the frying pan
    for the sake of my name;
    hit the road or smile hermetically,
    but it's really never quite the same;
    every time a subtle twist,
    I think I'll grab my plot 
    and simply exist
    Or would that be
    a subtle slash at my wrists?


    My, friends, I never really thought you'd go,
    but, then, we know that's the way it happens here.
    Now time is like cat's cradle in my hands:
    we gather up the strands much to slowly
    The refugees are gone... they take their separate paths,
    obliterate the past: figures in an ash shroud.
    Susie, I guess you're on your way to be a star,
    but I don't know where you are: the only time I seem
        to see you is on T.V.
    It's so easy just to slip away...
    It's a year or two since I've seen you...
    I might
    have dropped you a line if I'd had time
    or the will.
    It's my fault too; I play a hermit's role
    of cars and stages, wages, supersoul
    hardly ever seem to get outside these days.
    So, dear friends, as we grow on we feel to grow away,
    can only live in the hope that some day
        it will all return.
    It's so easy just to slip away...


    We play games and every move
    is noted down as a subsequent cause
    and effectively chains our freedom and will to live:
    we settle in to simple survival,
    hanging on our pleasures grimly...
    we must never let them go...
    Our prison walls are slowly built,
    stone by stone and day by day
    no provision for escape,
    entombed alive in safety
    and decay.
    Time sets around us in killing frames,
    black border round our names.
    Our fingers lose their grip
    and the torch slips.
    The enemy for everyone
    is everyone, inside -
    I feel the hand of security
    creep on me with ice-cold fingers
    and crush my flower of freedom;
    I've lost the course of my adventure,
    all things I'm meant to do are lost.
    There is only one flame each
    to keep alive in the wind.
    but finally we snuff them out
    all by ourselves.
    We set traps and, in the end,
    fall into our own snares
    and have nowhere to go.
    Time ever moves more slowly:
    life gets more lonely
    and less real.


    I was thinking about thinking but it really didn't get me very far,
    so I thought I'd throw a Tarot but I only got the Priestess and the Star.
    There's a shadow cast between the future and the past:
    the room and I agree to buy some time...
    The cards don't tell truth nor lies,
    only options and cusp lines
    the furniture in the black room.
    I've been thinking about acid, but, it seem there's not a reason to believe.
    I don't make a vital breakthrough and it walks me like a dog upon a lead.
    It's all unreal and, the way I feel,
    I'd like to try and make it on my own...
    Going to the feeling is find:
    I really have me a good pleasure cruise.
    But, deep in my mind,
    I'm no better or worse, just open to the walls.
    Paint peels in the black of my room
    I'm only talking about myself, ordering my treasure shell,
    documenting these present feelings as the future sets me reeling...
    What I'll be is what I am,
    I'm simply trying not to sham or fake.
    Use vision as sense and not as crutch!
    It doesn't matter all that much;
    whatever happens we'll all survive.
    I'm only trying not to pawn my life.
    When I'm (maybe) old and strait-laced, shall I then deny all that I feel?
    In words of bitter compromise, re-smelt the wrath that's in my eyes
    like steel?
    Be a hermit then?
    Or be a miser?
    Be a man who hasn't managed yet to write his rules?
    The Fool?
    The future holds my hand in the room...
    Well, then my ghosts shall steer down through the years
    and lay a hand upon my soul
    like ice.


    So: onto the familiar top steps!
    in cloud-scud moonlight glow
    the Tower reels.
    I, the blind man,
    feeling for a path I know...
    don't you know that I'm only feeling for how to feel?
    Rats run.
    Snakes coil.
    stare out at the whispering night;
    rub mud on their arms.
    Mud boils,
    whimper in the human vortex;
    faces glow of worms.


    For pain shall come and change shall run
    down through my heart
    and shake my knees
    and NOW it is coming,
    all round is the humming
    of the World.
    Too late! With my balance gone,
    dead eyed doll,
    I'm falling, falling
    back to where I began...


    I'm feeling like a kid again,
    I'm feeling like I just walked in the door,
    and, with my head on fire,
    I wrote this song - I don't know who it's for.
    Hands held fast in camera,
    I'll swear I heard the Stammerer exclaim:
    "I'm a traveller, unraverller.
    I only live through pain, and shame, and change!"
    In my room, the secret tomb, I can see
    future forms,
    space/time storms:
    they're all me,
    and I've only got to choose!
    In my head I am dead if I fail
    In the trap,
    the subtle lap,
    safety's pall...
    but I'm living while I choose......
    (CASCD 1067 1973) Recorded om Febriary and March, 1973 at Sofa Sound, Sussex Engineer and factotum: Rodney Sofa and Rockfield Studios, Monmouthshire Engineers: Ralph "Newport" Down, Pat Moran Mixed at Trident Studios, London W.1. Engineer: David Hentschel THE UMBRACEOUS ENSEBMLE: PETER HAMMILL: Vocals and tesseraschizoid warbling, acoustic and electric guitars. electric and grand pianos (bar leapfrog), one flight of mellotrons and some Gothic harmonium GUY EVANS: (a) Drums and cymbal (b) The Thundering Horseman of the Darkest Dawn DAVID JACKSON: Acoustic and electric tenor and alto saxophones, flute, screams in the night and icy waterfalls HUGH BANTON: Bomber, banshee, organ and leapfrog piano, foot and hand bass, the Rack NIC POTTER: Bass and Cortina All "Songs" by PETER HAMMILL (courtesy of Panel Enterprises) Cover by PAUL WHITEHEAD (in contact with subject, Endeavour (B.M.A.) and Arcturus) Photography: O.D. TROELLER (Sussex and Scacchi) BETTINA HOHLS (Hamburg foliage) CONDUCED by JOHN ANTHONY and PETER HAMMILL (Mr. Anthony's costume: Fab Creations (Millinery) Ltd.) ANCILLARIES: The Tin, dogs, socks, the Beaufort Arms, Antipodeanism ("The tape is rolling"), pink champagne, General Hospital, Nationwide and Subbutio (Poland 3 Scotland 2). Side One -------- German Overalls (Jaxononsax) Slender Threads Rock and Role (Nic "Killer" Potter, Randolph (a), The Honker) In the End Side Two -------- What's it Worth (Mellifluteous David) Easy to slip away (Ni ..... and Davi .....) Dropping the torch (In the) Black Room (Sandwiching) The Tower (Electrostatic Retrospective)

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