Peter Hammill - Skin 1985

  1. Skin
  2. After The Show
  3. Painting By Numbers
  4. Shell
  5. All Said And Done
  6. A Perfect Date
  7. Four Pails
  8. Now Lover
  9. You Hit Me Where I Live


    Skin

    There's a shiver down the spine
    of the body map...
    How come everything gets so physical?
    With your finger on the pulse and
    your head in the clouds
    Everything's so tactile
    In your private world,
    In your little world.
    
    Chorus:
    Under the skin you search for paradise
    Under the skin some kind of parasite
    remains concealed
    Under the skin a true identity, a memory
    will soon be revealed... under the skin.
    
    Hit that button, no time to lose -
    Everything's so immediate,
    You'd have it all right now
    If you get to choose
    In your private world,
    Such a tiny world
    
    Is something out to get you under the skin?
    Full of the promise of paradise?
    Paradise now?
    
    Everything gets so physical,
    Everything's so immediate
    In your private world,
    Such a tiny world
    
    Does something get to you
    under the skin?

    After The Show

    He made a bit of money,
    That's something you might like to know
    He'll be drinking in the cafe on the corner
    After the show
    
    He's been so many people
    he wore them all like poisoned vests
    still playing the soliloquy from Hamlet
    close to his chest.
    
    Where do the actors go
    after the show?
    Where do the actors go?
    
    He had his hour of glory,
    that's something you should keep in mind
    When he's drinking in the cafe on the corner
    there's no sense of time
    just waiting on for Godot,
    convinced he's been here years before...
    he's taken that philosophy in German
    square on the jaw
    
    Where do the actors go
    after the show?
    Where do the actors go?
    
    He made a bit of money
    that's something you might like to know
    he'll be drinking in the cafe on the corner
    after the show
    
    Where do the actors go
    after the show?
    Where do the actors go?

    Painting By Numbers

    It's not that complicated,
    no more than a clench of fist -
    she want to paint her heart out,
    she want to tell it as she sees it is.
    Authority condemns her,
    they say to paint's a waste
    without a base,
    some bedrock of idea.
    
    Painting by numbers doesn't add up,
    Painting by numbers doesn't add up,
    it's passionless bed-rest,
    work-body that's headless,
    a head that's without heart -
    painting by numbers doesn't add up to art.
    
    Her constant vows mean nothing,
    not content alone that sells -
    The Market Theory beckons,
    no-one remembers what the story tells,
    no-one remembers passion,
    we just recite the line
    that art is fine and fashion costly.
    
    Painting by numbers doesn't add up;
    safety in numbers, put your hands up
    in mute surrender...
    they'll break her or bend her
    for the heart on her sleeve.
    Painting by numbers all the modern world believes.
    
    And the whole thing falls apart
    when the movement's more important than the art;
    when we're more concerned
    with what's been thought than said
    this is the moment when the culture's dead.
    
    It's not that complicated,
    it's simple as can be:
    she want to paint her heart out,
    they want a programme for the B.B.C.
    where academic critics can talk of art that's fine
    like holy wine - the Blessed Intellectuals!
    
    Painting by numbers, safety in numbers...
    The poets from Venus assume that they've seen us -
    they're quick to depart.
    Painting by numbers doesn't add up to art.

    Shell

    Turn a card, turn a page, the action
    sure to start, second-stage reaction
    to illogical thoughts on random lines
    in a Borges dream we move toward
    the writing of lives.
    
    Leave it out, leave it in, no edits -
    with a shout, with a grin I said
    it was a certainty that I'd arrive
    in an Escher sketch we walk around
    the drawing of lines.
    
    The character uncertainty
    as he contemplates his lot
    and tries to move with urgency
    though he's rooted to the spot.
    
    On the brink, on the edge, but lately
    what I think, what I said escapes me
    in a flash, a tiger burning bright
    does the visionary trance obscure
    the burgeoning night?
    
    And she said "What are you doing?"
    And he said "What do you think?"
    Oh, no,
    what on earth are we doing?
    
    The characters procrastinate
    on the threshold of the door;
    there's something here that fascinates,
    though the meaning's still unsure
    and the plot so thick...
    is it some kind of history?
    Sketch the thumbnail to the quick.
    Oh, even though it's full of contradiction,
    though it's flawed in the design
    this is no fiction, it's a lifeline.
    
    Here we are, there we went, full circle
    shooting stars, heaven-sent, turned turtle
    on the beach are shells are left behind
    life a library, like a memory
    of our ghost-written lives.

    All Said And Done

    All the words in the world
    wouldn't make you stay this evening
    though I scrabble around for any I can say...
    So hard to take our leave,
    so hard to stop believing.
    
    I guess we know this silence well enough,
    and you'll be going by and by;
    I'm scared that anything I offer
    might be taken for a lie.
    
    CH: All said and done,
    and there's no way to make it any different,
    I hold my tongue as you're walking away.
    So goodbye comes -
    oh, I don't want to make it difficult
    but nothing's easy
    when there's nothing left to say.
    
    Now we only talk as though time were heavy weather
    with a storm-cloud brewing on each hasty phrase...
    all the words in the world wouldn't put us back together.
    
    Maybe we had our opportunities,
    most of those chances passed us by;
    I'm scared that anything I offer
    might be taken as a bribe.

    A Perfect Date

    A perfect date to hesitate.
    I hope it won't be too long.
    
    You're a sucker for the punch
    and the telegraph bells are ringing
    now it's coming to the crunch
    as you stumble on the Jaffa Gate.
    I think you know how it happens on the stage
    when the heavenly choir are singing
    you've been taken by a perfect date.
    
    You made the Mount of Venus your Jerusalem,
    you're marking time as symbol for debate,
    you hope to find some moment close to infinite,
    you hope to find a perfect date.
    
    A perfect date to hesitate.
    The future beckons us on.
    There comes a time to hesitate -
    I hope it won't be too long.
    
    You're a sucker for the punch...
    ...you've been taken by a perfect date.
    You've been playing on a hunch
    and the strings of your heart are zinging:
    Yeh, you cut loose from the bunch
    But that doesn't mean you've sealed your fate
    I think you know how it happens
    Though it's strange
    When the heavenly choir start singing
    You've been taken by a perfect date

    Four Pails

    Four pails of water and a bagfull of salts
    
    That is all we are, that is all a man comprises
    Chemicals alone with no spirit, soul or ghost
    Nothing so bizarre
    No amount of faith disguises what is true
    is what we fear the most
    
    Nothing can survive save the things
    men leave behind them
    Any other case would be really too absurd
    If thoughts remained alive
    Surely modern science would find them
    No, the soul is nothing but a word
    
    All the wonders Man achieves
    emerge from cerebral tissue
    Chemical reactions' ebb and surge
    From that Thing that is you...
    It's a sad philosophy
    But better sad than wrong
    Face the truth instead
    When you're dead you're dead,
    When you're gone you're gone
    
    Now she's gone
    Four pails of water and a bagfull of salts
    That is all she was, all my lover represented -
    That sounds just as mad as saying she will never die
    Fools may clutch at straws
    but truth must not be circumvented
    As the tree falls, so must that tree lie!
    
    No that sounds so odd
    Once I would have preached it brightly
    Now questions appear I rationally can't ignore...
    Nothingness or God
    Which of them seems more unlikely?
    Once I would have answered clearly
    Now I only think I'm nearly sure
    (Chris Judge Smith)

    Now Lover

    In the here and now...
    Between sensation at the nerve-ends
    And arrival of information at the cortex
    Time elapses
    So, you see, each time we touch
    We did so in the past
    
    Now, lover,
    Slicing through time in a perfect curve
    Due for a moment of energy
    Somehow we'll get what we most deserve
    In the here and now
    
    In the here and now
    Although completely different people
    In the moments before and after having sex
    We are time-locked
    Cracked, forgotten statues, we are
    strangled in the undergrowth
    Lost in ancient magic, we are motion
    We are wonderful flow
    We are time-locked,
    Unknowing of the code, but addicted to the pulse
    
    Now, lover,
    Melt in the crucible, flesh and blood
    Bodies consumed by the catalyst,
    Somehow we'll raise our sights from the mud
    We are always now,
    We are Always Now!
    
    If we were always here and now
    Instead of slightly, now and then
    So immaterial, so lost, embracing all
    The grace that comes before the fall
    
    If we were always here and now
    Electric shiver in the spine
    How could we turn away, see life as grey and drab?
    How come we don't see what we have?
    
    If we were always here and now
    Soul to soul and skin to skin...
    Is it some kind of make-believe,
    Is it some kind of dream we're in
    With a mint copy of original sin?
    
    In the here and now...
    Between sensation at the nerve-ends
    And arrival of information at the cortex
    Time elapses
    
    Cracked, forgotten statues, we are
    strangled in the undergrowth,
    Lying on the mattress of the magic
    and the wonderful
    Nothing really matters as we're
    sucked in by the undertow...
    We are Motion, we are Feeling, we are Now!
    
    Although completely different people
    In the moments before and after having sex
    We are time-locked, we are time-locked,
    Though we know each time we touch
    We did so in the past
    
    Now come on, come on, lover
    Slicing through time in a perfect curve
    Due for a moment of energy
    Somehow we'll get what we most deserve...
    In the here and now
    Melt in the crucible flesh and blood
    Bodies consumed by the catalyst
    Surrender to nothing, welcome the flood
    of the here and now
    Slicing through time in a perfect curve
    Due for a moment of energy
    Somehow we'll get what we most deserve
    Melt in the crucible, flesh and blood
    Bodies, consumed by the catalyst
    Surrender to nothing, nip the thought in the bud
    We are always now,
    We are Always Now!
    
    If we were always here and now...

    You Hit Me Where I Live

    There was something in the conversation
    Ancient languages were breaking through
    I was falling for infatuation
    How about you?
    You say it's nothing special
    That's just the way it is...
    You hit me where I live
    Though I drink the cup it leaves me thirsting
    What on earth am I supposed to do?
    When I try to speak I find my bursting
    heart is full of you...
    You say it's only natural
    You say forget and forgive...
    You hit me where I live
    I was once the man who felt no passion
    I was nothing till I fell for you
    You're a duellist (dualist) in your own fashion
    Eyes that run me through...
    You say that it's a mixed blessing
    But I should take the gift you give
    You hit me where I live
    
    


Russian Peter Hammill / Van der Graaf Generator Page
Sergey Petrushanko hammillru@mail.ru, 1998-2017