Peter Hammill - Sitting Targets 1981

  1. Breakthrough
  2. My Experience
  3. Ophelia
  4. Empress's Clothes
  5. Glue
  6. Hesitation
  7. Sitting Targets
  8. Stranger Still
  9. Sign
  10. What I Did
  11. Central Hotel


    BREAKTHROUGH

    The visitors find the children gone from school:
    aged relations sling their guns across the desks...
    there'll be no break-time for them unless
        they talk about tomorrow
        as though it's already on its way.
    Amen, oh yes, they're
        waiting for the breakthrough in time.
    
    The visitors hide no aces up their sleeves
    and the classroom pulses to many different drums.
    If only a breakthrough in time would come
    there'd be some chance for the visited ones.
        We could talk about tomorrow
        as though we believed in that.
        We could talk about it right now,
        and it would come as a shock
    to feel the fingernail grow on the trigger finger -
    still the visitors clock us
        waiting for the breakthrough,
        waiting for the breakthrough
            with time on our hands.
    
            (It's there all the time.)

    MY EXPERIENCE

    It was nothing, it came from nowhere at all, it was a casual remark,
            not a curtain-call.
    Late for breakfast - black coffee, brandy-laced...
            that look on your face.
    I'll remember last night; I'll look out for the signs;
    You were caught in the light
    Ref.    time after time
        it's been my experience that when the row gets serious
        a certain silence will fall...
        But I just can't stop it, why don't you tell me what's wrong?
        My heart goes like a rocket, the feeling's so strong.
        I just can't stop it, why don't you tell me what's wrong?
            Don't think about it too long.
    
    I could argue this another way, but on another day I might have to shout.
    You keep your mouth shut, but it's too late for that now:
            the word got out.
    In translation it's lost, in desperation it's mimed;
    is this Paradise lost, or Paradise time after time?
            Ref.

    OPHELIA

    That token drag on your cigarette,
    that well-known face in the fire,
    it could be someone you can't forget,
    someone you've learnt to admire.
        And it's strange
        how the feeling goes;
        all change -
    down the river Ophelia goes.
    
    You're treading water, the price is steep,
    you say you'll cope with it all;
    you've made some promises you can't keep,
    you throw yourself against the wall,
    you throw yourself against the wall.
        And it's strange...
    
    You heard a noise in the firegrate,
    you look to see who goes there -
    it's just the stranger, he's come too late
    and even he's unprepared
    to find the cupboard so bare
        And it's strange...
    down the river Ophelia goes.

    EMPRESS'S CLOTHES

    She's here now, perfume coiled like a thuggie scarf -
    such a powerful drug to make you so naked and clean.
        And you want to tell her
        there's so much to disclose
        this idea you've got to sell her
        a new set of empress's clothes.
    
    Who was that woman in the masquerade,
        do those eyes still give you fever?
    Who was that woman in the mystery-play,
        do you still want to please her?
    Where is the woman who can offer escape,
        do you look for your freedom?
        You see her
    
        Ref.
    
    You want her to wear that finery,
    the style that's never seen,
    you're trying to break the deadlock
    of this strangleholding scene...
        oh, look,
        a new set of empress's clothes!
    
    The here and now stands in your way;
    you carry the bell, book and candle...
    she won't make you go
    but she won't let you stay
    
        Ref.
    
    You want her to wear that finery,
    the style that's never seen;
    You're trying to break the deadlock
    of this strangleholding scene;
    she makes you want to confess it all -
    you don't know what it means,
    but she makes you see
        Empress's clothes.

    GLUE

    Halfway between the zoo
        and the temple of your Art...
    but what do you do
        with this motion of the heart?
    Who'll be looking for you
        when it all falls apart?
    
    Oh, but what do you do,
    and where do you start
    when people are the glue,
        when it all falls apart?

    HESITATION

    This is no time to hesitate,
    the line slips into overload;
    the mixture too thick,
    the touch too close to the motherlode.
    
    Time - there's so little time
    to do anything that's not useless...
    you tried for a little while
    to hide your face from the future.
    Now you thought it was released,
    you find that it's captured,
    it sticks to your hand, you can't let it go.
    Wat you knew as pain
    has turned into rapture,
    but nothing goes away, it just changes...
    you know it's the right tempo, right place,
    but something's gone wrong with the
            cardiograph
    Oh, your day shadow and your night face,
    you thought it was forever
        - but it doesn't last.
    
    Time, there's so little time
    to do away with the tension;
    I try for a little while
    to put it all in suspension.
    I thought I was released,
    I find that I'm captured,
    the groove sticks, it won't let me go.
    The glass stain is now seen as fractured
    and try as I may I can't change,
    but I know it's the wrong tempo, wrong place
    and something's gone wrong with the
            autograph
    Oh, the day shadow and the night face
        conspire into prophecy...
    
    This is no time for hesitation.
    This is no time to hesitate,
    it's no time to look for another road;
    the shiver begins,
    the touch too cold on the motherlode
    
    This is no time for hesitation,
            hesitation,
            hesitation.

    SITTING TARGETS

    We can talk about it in the car;
    we can talk about it with the drive.
    Keep your eyes on the road up ahead,
    (don't forget what we said about)
    staying alive.
    If we'd been stuck just a few hours more
    I'd have cracked up, I'd say.
    No you never can tell when it's coming;
    it's so hard getting out of the way;
    to be sitting targets is surely
    no better than running away...
    Sitting targets in the car
    I'll be thinking about it -
        not so far, no so far to drive.
    
    Ooh, this time we made our getaway,
    we'd been stalling for too long.
    Keep your eyes on the road up ahead
    while I try to forget what's been going wrong
    (what's been going on...)
    You'd better check up on the CB,
    see what Tail-End Charlie say:-
    "Oh you never can tell how it's going,
    no you never can see how it's been,
    but to stay sitting targets is surely
    no better than living a dream."
    Sitting targets in the car
    I've been thinking it over, it's
        not so far, not so far to drive.
    
    In the car...
    We can talk about it in the car,
    surely we can talk about it some other time.
    Keep your eyes on the road up ahead -
    I don't seem to be able to use mine
    and I'm losing control of my body
    and I'm running scared...
    Oh, we're left with a black-and-white movie,
    a positional state of affairs,
    an obsessional interest in moving
    just to prove that we're there,
    sitting targets in the car.
    I'll be thinking about it, not so far to drive
    Sitting targets in the car,
    I've been thinking it over, it's
        not so far, not so far,
        not too far to drive.

    STRANGER STILL

    Stranger still in another town,
    how normal to sit out the dance,
    eating the good meal by myself,
    toasting the empty glass;
    and they're already setting out
            the next place,
    already forgetting about the last.
    No, nothing could be less strange
    in entropy
    no change, no change, no change.
    No danger in a normal life,
    better steady down the adrenalin pump.
    Excess refraction in the mirror
    only leads to the quantum jump...
    Oh, but it leaves me in limbo;
    how strange, what a stranger I become.
    No, no, nothing could be less strange
    in entropy
    no change, no change, no change.
    
    No, I know how to behave
    in the restaurant now,
    I don't tear at the meat with my hands;
    if I've become a man of the world somehow
    that's not necessarily to say
    I'm a worldly man.
    
    Keep on shuffling the menu
    and the order never comes on time.
    No, there's only diffraction patterns, 
    no reading between the lines;
    only the rate of emission,
    and reason allows no rime.
    Nothing could be less strange
    in entropy
    no change, no change, no change.
    No, nothing could be less strange...
    
    Entropy...
        ... a stranger, a worldly man.

    SIGN

    Wrong drink to order.
    Suspicion grows,
    wrong situation...
    
    Oh, no-one knows where you've gone to
    in the pagan night
    and the neon reflections
    spread cadmium white.
    You came here looking for something
    but this wasn't it, quite.
    Hey, take a Polaroid, exit,
    and well you might.
    
    Sign the picture, get out of the frame;
    sign the picture, and throw it away.
    Sign the picture, sign the picture,
    throw the picture away.
    
    Now she turns her attention
    and her camera on you:
    this could be all of the moments
    that you'll ever live through,
    oh, but your heart beats the rythm
    of primeval tattoo...
    I hear you make your excuses
    as you usually do.
    
    Sign the picture, get out of the frame;
    sign the picture, and throw it away;
    Sign the picture, sign the picture,
    throw the picture away...
        ... although it's going to come back.
    
    You've got a certain knack
    of making of such things
        auspicious signs.

    WHAT I DID

    A pretty pass in the rear-view mirror,
    it's coming on the overtake...
    I've got to stop panicking,
    got to stay cool,
    got to learn to live with my mistakes.
    Overdue debt to the taxman,
    I tried to have and eat my cake.
    
    I think I must have been crazy in retrospect;
    all the lines run together.
    They just don't seem to connect.
    I want to update my memory,
    I want to rewrite my past...
    Ooh, now I found out: no chance.
    
    I think I must have been crazy
    to do the stuff I did
    I think I must have been crazy, crazy, crazy.
    
    I think I must have been crazy
    but that's the price we pay -
    every lucky throw of the dice
    will come back to us one of these days
    I want to update my memory,
    I want to rewrite my past,
    I don't like what it's telling me,
    it all floods back so fast;
    I guess I was my own worst enemy,
    now I've come to a pretty pass.
    A pretty pass, a pretty pass,
    there's nothing pretty in the past
    
    I think I must have been crazy, crazy.
    Crazy to do what I did.

    CENTRAL HOTEL

    I found myself lying on the balcony,
    stripling terror, naked to the bone;
    the secret asteroid jungle nearly done for me -
    I saw it all just a moment ago.
    I know I'd better watch out
        for the Central Hotel...
    I'm not going back.
    
    Repetition, superstition, singularity,
    though every cell in the body has changed
    the walls move in well-accustomed hilarity -
    the circuit changes,
    but the joke stays the same.
    I know I'd better watch out
        for the Central Hotel
    I think I'd better get out,
        I'm not feeling so well.
    And I won't be going back,
    not if I can help it.
    
    I can't help it, I can't help it
    if I still am what I was;
    I can't help it, I can't help it,
    can't stop the therefore because
    I can't help it.
    The grace of god shows I'll be going on,
        I'll be coming back.
    
    I know nothing of the miles of the marathon,
    I hear nothing of the footfall behind,
    I search for rythm and I find that I haven't one
    slow motion in the runner's mind.
    I know I'd better watch out
        for the Central Hotel
    I think I'd better get out,
        I'm not feeling so well
    I know I'd better check out,
        but anyone here can tell
    I'll be coming back, I'll be back.
    
    I'm the Central Hotel
    
    
    Breakthrough * My Experience * Ophelia % Empress's Clothes +^ Glue Hesitation *+ Sitting Targets *+^ Stranger Still % Sign *% What I did +^ Central Hotel + All songs by Peter Hammill, Recorded at Sofa Sound, Nov '80 - Feb '81 Dubbed and mixed at Crescent Studios, Bath, Feb/Mar '81 Cut by Arun at the Master Room Produced, arranged, recorded and played by Peter Hammill, with invaluable contributions from: David Lord : Engineering (Crescent) Guy Evans : Drums(*) Phil Harrison : Synthesisers (%) David Jackson : Saxes + Whistles (+) Morris Pert : Percussion (^) Management: Gail Force Ltd., 55-59 Shaftsbury Ave., London W.I. For support, tolerance, inspiration, criticism etc. thanks are due to the following:- Hilary, Gail, Norma, David F., David R., Peter G., Glen, Ida, Richard, Gordian, John, Nicolas and GUS.


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