Peter Hammill - Roaring Forties 1994

  1. Sharply Unclear
  2. The Gift of Fire (Precursed)
  3. The Gift of Fire (Talk Turkey)
  4. You Can't Want What You Always Get...
  5. ... If You Haven't Got It Yet
  6. A Headlong Stretch
  7. Your Tall Ship


    Sharply Unclear

    You've never shown a trace of human frailty,
    No-one could ever catch you on the hop:
    Each post-modern take on the action would find you
    already, in principle, totally hot,
    all self-referential commentary
    and a marketing man's sense of talk shop.
    
    The sharper the image you cut
    the more you seem unreal;
    so sharp you could cut yourself,
    transparently ideal.
    
    We all know that hard-boiled look,
    you cooked it up to face down the stares;
    I feel like I'm walking on eggshells around you,
    as though you're already no longer quite there.
    You acknowledge your trauma,
    your neurosis is stripped and laid bare.
    
    The sharper the image you cut
    the more you disappear;
    so sharp you could cut yourself,
    somehow this transparency's unclear.
    
    All the mirrors in your playroom,
    they twist your psycho-epidermis into shape.
    No doubt you emerged in your make-up believing
    quite simply, believing that you'd got it taped
    but the vacancy you offered
    is already a Cheshire Cat gape.
    
    The sharper the image you cut
    the more you disappeared;
    so sharp you could cut yourself -
    are you still really here?
    And the sharper the image you cut
    the more you seemed a fake,
    so sharp you could cut yourself,
    transparently opaque.......
    And the sharper the image you cut
    the less you seemed alive,
    so sharp, but this open book's
    transparently jive.
    
    You were so sharp you cut yourself,
    so sharp you could cut yourself,
    you were so sharp you made yourself transparent
    and transparently unclear.

    The Gift of Fire (Precursed)

    (instrumental)

    The Gift of Fire (Talk Turkey)

    Like a wind in the wilderness
    like a swell on the ocean
    would the spell be unbroken if it was never phrased?
    
    She was always the precious child,
    she was always a strange one,
    a derangement runs deep down through her innocent gaze.....
    
    The gift of fire and the gift of tongues,
    the gift to see what Goddess Fortune held in store -
    pretty soon there were whisperings of witchcraft
    from the couple next door.
    She had the gift of talk turkey,
    the gift of talk turkey.
    
    She had no message for the marketplace,
    she was inflamed by each moment,
    she had the silver spoon of soothsay for destiny.
    She was always coming on with
    the gift of fire and the gift of tongues;
    family affair, it was a fortune that they'd got -
    pretty soon they were cooking up a story
    for the communal pot;
    on the prime time slot
    they shot the gift of talk turkey.
    
    Oh now she can't stop talking about the way she sees is
    and she can't stop talking about her prescience.
    She can't stop talking, how dangerous that is
    and she can't stop talking, no, she can't stop talking..
    
    It's the curse of the fire and she's burning up before us
    in the talk of tongues, flames that lick around the dross;
    the gift of fire, if she's burning up before us
    it's our communal loss, the inevitable cost
    of the gift of talk turkey.
    
    What a windfall of wickedness
    when truth gets warped to perversion;
    in the official version
    they'll always make it quite plain
    what we're really not meant to see.
    The gift of fire consumes all those who touch it
    and the gift of tongues is always double-edged;
    they grew aware that she would take them to the ledge
    so pretty soon they were working up a story
    about the bets they could hedge.
    
    The gift of fire and the gift of tongues...
    they take her name and they grind it in the dust;
    all at once they've got alibis to cover any possible bust
    and she's gagged, bound and trussed
    by the gift of talk turkey.
    
    But she can't stop talking, though her audience disappears
    and she can't stop talking about her prescience.
    She can't stop talking, though she knows that no-one hears
    She can't stop talking, she can't stop talking,
    She can't stop talking - how miraculous this is!
    She can't stop talking, just like Bernadette.
    She can't stop talking, how dangerous that is,
    and she can't stop talking, she can't stop talking,
    no, she can't stop talking about the way she sees it is,
    she can't stop talking, just like Joan of Arc.
    She can't stop talking - Man, how dangerous she is,
    she can't stop talking,
    she can't stop the gift of talk turkey,
    the gift of talk turkey.
    
    No, she can't stop talking.

    You Can't Want What You Always Get...

    Give it a bit of hard on the rudder
    hot on the heels of foot to the floor;
    setting your mind on one thing or the other,
    do you still find you're
    always wanting something more?
    
    Yes, and the thing you want forever
    is always the thing you can never have -
    I want doesn't get.
    
    Try out the line of 'This is original';
    spin out the story: 'This is brand new';
    give a bit of 'I never felt like this before';
    cut to the chase: 'I only want you'.
    
    And the one you want forever
    will always be the one you can never have....
    
    (Here's a message from the future I want
    you don't have time to forget.... doesn't get
    Here's a message from the darkside: I want
    better live with your regrets.) Doesn't get
    
    And the thing you want 's forever -
    it's always, the thing you can never have....
    I want doesn't get.
    
    Who was it told you you were the gifted one?
    Who was it said that yours is the lucky star?
    Somehow you're always looking to shed your next skin,
    always too busy to be who and what you are,
    still the one you chase forever
    turns into the one you can never have.
    
    (Here's a message for your present I want
    and there isn't any catch: doesn't get
    better live the life you're living, I want
    no conditions are attached.) Doesn't get
    
    You can't live a life as constant acquisition,
    you're missing the present,
    always looking to live in the future tense;
    
    You build up your hopes for Corpus Non Delicti....
    the crack of temples -
    who're you going to sue for recompense
    when the thing you want forever
    will always be the thing you could have had?
    
    (Here's a message from the future I want
    that you'd better not forget..... just means I lack
    Here's a message from the darkside but I don't want
    better live with your regrets. to turn the clock back
    Here's a message for the present I want
    if you haven't got it yet: doesn't get
    better live the life you're living.) I want
    Doesn't get.

    ... If You Haven't Got It Yet

    (instrumental)

    A Headlong Stretch

    i. Up Ahead
    
    Passage assured
    on the good ship Goodbye
    dare I raise up my eyes
    to stare into the rigging?
    
    (Preparing to go/come home..)
    
    All we could have done
    we're at pains to explain
    but all our might in the main
    is only empty promise
    unfulfilled at last
    still no-one can be blamed
    for breaking daily bread,
    thinking ahead.
    
    Blessed with strange grace
    and reluctant to face
    ineluctable fate,
    I say I saw the future
    I said forget the past
    but I'll not hear the last
    of lives I've never led,
    thinking ahead.
    
    ii. Continental Drift
    
    We make the beds in which we'll stretch
    in unconscious pre-planning;
    tending and hedging our bets
    thinking we're thinking ahead.
    
    Out of the blue comes the given life,
    out of the window volition.
    In small miracles, in constant reinvention
    we make sense of each current position.
    
    Every choice that we make, every trick that we turn up
    appears in its principle sound.
    Yeh, we're self-made men, masters of our destiny,
    free and unbound.......
    
    In to the heart comes the brave new world
    where we're slaves to the strength of conviction.....
    I believe decisions come like continents to conquer
    like I believe we're no strangers to fiction.
    
    Every road that we take
    means a journey rejected
    we pretend we can still have it all
    every future we dream a virtual reality
    only vanity still holds us enthralled
    when the best laid plans of mice and men
    all unravel in the judgement call.
    
    Pride still make us ride for a fall.
    
    Surely we look ripe for a fall,
    surely we look ripe for a fall;
    maybe we just ride for the fall.
    
    iii. The Twelve
    
    The jury's out upon the matter
    and they can barely bear to admit
    that all the time we spend planning
    in the end will matter not one whit.
    
    Though I've certainly considered
    every vital pro and con
    I get no scent of an acquittal
    I lose the drift..... the signs are wrong
    What's going on?
    
    (Twelve signs of the zodiac,
    twelve hours to face,
    the twelve disciples all aquiver,
    twelve arrows strike a twelve-tone case.)
    
    Round and round in repetition
    of the flight from boredom into thrill
    and all the time we're waiting on the punchline,
    the hollow laugh within "we will'.
    
    What won't we give to take up
    the turning over of a new leaf?
    No-one ever reaching future perfect.....
    before we know it, beyond belief
    we come to grief, we hit the reef.
    
    iv. Long Light
    
    Signs serial
    adrift in the air
    immaterial
    face up to the phosphor flare.
    
    Ghost essence
    fuels fire in the rig
    incandescence
    let's dance out the mystery jig.
    
    Jig,
    dance the dance of mystery light
    dance the dance, jig,
    dance the dance infernally bright.
    
    Dark water
    dark fire down below
    ...storm quarter
    time to dance out the mystery - no!
    
    The twelve will swing us to completeness
    eight from the cradle to the grave
    and all our future projection's
    only second guessing seventh waves.....
    A break in the connections
    we thought were built to last
    here's a change in the weather,
    Tsunami time
    the wave's already rolling in towards us from the past.
    
    v. Backwards Man
    
    It's only looking backwards
    that you retrace your hand
    it's only in a moment of reversal
    that you can see where you stand
    ease out, come through the film and through the mirror
    welcome the backwards man.
    
    Oh yes, the beach still stirs the ocean,
    and soon the tide will turn the moon round
    all is forgiven and all was foreseen -
    all's as it ever could be.
    
    Ends forced motive out of meaning
    means all even out in the end
    retracing steps
    in the process you learn to stand,
    learn to walk again
    so much gets forgotten, so much is forsworn
    in retrospect.
    
    Did I really do that?
    Was I ever so young....?
    
    It's here, looking backwards
    that you confront your own face
    it's only in such moments of reversal
    that you're secure in place.
    Through the fire backwards
    again and again
    return to base.
    
    vi. As You Were
    
    It's some relief
    to find the possible in store
    beyond belief
    in overtime, I'm overboard
    uncharted waters, full fathom five,
    the future's rising, it's just arrived.
    
    It's not the same
    as I imagined it would be
    but there's no blame
    if every life's imaginary.
    
    And if I get quite what I deserve
    that'll end the sentence, the time I've served
    a full stop to the sentence.....
    
    When it's all done you willed the person you've become
    in serious fun it's as you were that you become
    and so it's done.
    
    vii. Or So I Said
    
    I saw the future
    or so I said.....
    How strange they seem,
    the lives I've never led,
    thinking ahead.
    
    (I'm ready to come home....)
    So head on,
    headlong,
    headstrong.
    
    (I'm ready to go....)

    Your Tall Ship

    Far, so far away, surely you remember
    log book pages frayed
    that fanned the flames of long ago -
    guttered in the grate:
    shadows in the embers....
    look away, look for home.
    
    Voices on the air, running with the current;
    wind and tide set fair,
    ship to shore the message goes,
    all in love is fair -
    across the raging torrent,
    sail away, sail for home;
    look away, look for home.
    
    Land-locked lovers, landlub friends, in procession:
    all rites of passage have an end,
    look away, sail away,
    sail your tall ship home.
    
    We are ocean-borne, far from any harbour,
    from our moorings torn,
    ghosts that fly for all we know.....
    turn to face the storm
    that's building off to starboard;
    sail away, sail for home,
    look away, look for home.
    
    Look away in the Roaring Forties.
    
    Land-locked lovers, littoral friends,
    the succession never ends....
    the spirit's willing to carry on;
    all rites of passage make us strong.
    
    Sail away,
    sail away,
    sail your tall ship home.
    


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