Peter Hammill - "Thin Air" 2009

  1. The Mercy
  2. Your Face On The Street
  3. Stumbled
  4. Wrong Way Round
  5. Ghosts Of Planes
  6. If We Must Part Like This
  7. Undone
  8. Diminished
  9. The Top Of The World Club


  10. The Mercy

    What I once thought was everlasting
    all of a sudden been and gone.
    It is finished, it is finished but mercy's moving us along.
    What can you carry for your brother
    when you can't stand up on your own?
    It's hard to keep up, it's hard to keep up,
    this part you have to do alone.
    
    Each time you make a resolution               (I get no sense
    who knows what lies in your intent.        of what you meant to say
    There goes the story, there goes the story    by way of a defence.)
    here comes the circular descent.
    
    If I say "good night and god bless"
    I might yet confess I'm hoping to see
    that when daylight breaks
    I will face a fait accompli.
    
    When the time comes I hope I'll say
    this is the moment I must stay
    my hand in mercy.
    I don't intend to let you go,
    I never meant to leave you lonely.
    This is the moment I must show
    my hand in mercy.
    
    What I perceived as everlasting             (I might be wrong...
    now I just see as overlong.            you still belong among those
    Beyond endurance, beyond endurance,        hungry to press on.)
    beyond this point you can't carry on.
    But I believe what someone told me:
    when we are pushed right to the edge,
    right to the limit, when it is finished
    it is the mercy.
    
    So I say "Good night and god bless, sleep tight".
    Counting sheep and closing my eyes
    I will drift away from the livelong day,
    up the wooden hill slowly climb.
    So I say "Good night and god bless, sleep tight".
    I must go outside and I might be some time.
    

    Your Face On The Street

    I'd see your face on the street
    often times as I went on my day to day.
    We were never to meet
    but a nodding acquaintance had come our way.
    
    I never paid it much mind,
    always assumed I'd continue to see you there.
    But of the mysteries behind,
    all the shadows before us we're unaware.
    
    	Don't swim out too far, for Christ's sake
    	 don't go in the bar, for Christ's sake
    	 don't get in the car....
    
    My heart skipped a beat					Don't let down your guard,
    when I chanced on a headline that featured you.	        don't swim out too far, 
    And here's your face on the street,              	don't go in the bar, 
    on a poster appealing for any clue....			don't get in the car....
    
    	You let down your guard for Christ's sake,
    	You went in the bar for Christ's sake,
    	You got in the car for Christ's sake.	
    
    What happened? 				You swam out too far for Christ's sake, 
    Where'd it go wrong?			you went in the bar for Christ's sake,
    You're there one moment,		you got in the car....
    the next you're gone.
    
    I see your face on the street now
    as a ghost apparition, you'll not come home.
    So much in life's incomplete -
    somehow in your disappearance I felt my own.
    
     						You swam out too far for comfort
    						you let down your guard forever,
    What happened? 					you went in the bar, for Christ's sake,
    Where'd it go wrong?				you got in the car for Christ's sake,
    You're there one moment 			you let down your guard forever,
    and there you're gone,				you let down your guard.
    gone forever just like that
    and all the future's fallen flat.
    

    Stumbled

    Wash your hands clean,
    don't let anybody see the dirty work.
    Keep those secrets
    locked away from sight forever,
    hidden safely where your darker side still runs berserk.
    
    So much stored-up resentment,
    all that background fallout from so long ago,
    it's still here to haunt you.
    In a trunk locked in the attic
    are the clothes that dressed the actions
    you discarded but you can't outgrow.
    There's a false wall in the basement
    where you hide away the history you dare not put on show.
    
    And when the hammer hits the nail upon the thumb
    then the unvarnished truth is what you stumble on.
    
    On your best behaviour,
    keep on playing out the lily-white,
    but you'll always be stuck there,
    going round and round in circles,
    the mistakes which you repeat form up the framework
    which defines your life.
    
    You couldn't quantify the depths you'd have to plumb
    or the damage you've collaterally done...
    still your own footprints are the tracks you stumble on.
    
    And it's less by design than by random occurrence
    that you filled up your timer, that you built up the current
    to spark the life you've led, the person you've become.
    With the end in sight the excuses are all gone.
    
    The truth is, this conclusion's what you've stumbled on:
    behind you lies the wreckage that you've stumbled from.
    

    Wrong Way Round

    Instrumental
    

    Ghosts Of Planes

    The air is thin, the air is thin,
    the Top of the World Club's what we're in.
    How thin the air, how thin the air,
    the Top of the World Club isn't there.
    
    With easy grace they crawl
    across the shadow-shifting city sky,
    an aerial flotilla,
    the ghosts of planes pass by.
    
    Their gravid bellies bursting,
    gravity distended out of shape;
    from the consequence of action
    history offers no escape.
    
    Arrival and departure,
    all points in between now coincide.
    Here's a ticket to oblivion.
    Onward passage is denied.
    
    The air is thin, the air is thin,
    the Top of the World Club's what we're in.
    How thin the air, how thin the air,
    the Top of the World Club isn't there any more.
    

    If We Must Part Like This

    Already there's no case for special pleading, 
    no points to score, no blow by blow.
    I look around the room that we'll be leaving.
    Even while you're here beside me I already know
    			I miss you so.
    
    How soon we make our move towards hereafter
    where we will reap what has been sown.
    A shadow chills the music, stills the laughter.
    Promise that you'll stay forever, say you'll never go.
    			I miss you so.
    
    I turn my eyes, stare into the distance,
    the light that dies, the door that's closed.
    No last goodbye, if we must part like this
    			I miss you so.
    
    I feel so strange and restless, dislocated,
    I'm homesick even though I'm here at home.
    Nostalgic for the future, I have waited...
    my shaking hands, the lump that's in my throat.
    Even while I'm here beside you
    			I still miss you so.
    
    And it's too late to make it any different;
    the wave that breaks, the tide that flows
    outrageous fate is tearing us apart -	
    			I miss you so.
    I turn my eyes, stare into the distance.
    The light that dies, the door that's closed.
    No last goodbye, if we must part like this
    			I miss you so, so much.
    It won't make any difference
    to say how much it hurts, I know.
    No last goodbye, if we must part like this,
    			I miss you so,
    			I miss you so,
    			I miss you so.
    

    Undone

    I mark the high days and the holidays
    red-letter on the page;
    fast-forward into memory,
    prepare to be upstaged.
    The envelopes I push against
    so rapidly become
    a wrap to keep me safe and warm
    but soon enough I'll be undone.
    
    And if, for instance, I had spent a lifetime
    in the service of cleanliness and godliness
    I'd still be washed up now.
    
    My history doesn't make much sense,
    no corner has been turned.
    The future's brooding and immense
    and everything I've learned 
    seems tiny in the scheme of things,
    the reckoning's begun -
    I hold together what I can,
    the stitches bound to come undone.
    
    And, for example, if I'd spent a lifetime
    in pursuit of miraculously common sense
    I'd still feel stupid now.
    I'm waiting on a final clue,
    a final validation
    of what I did,of what I hid,
    of all I called my own.
    
    Our high days and our holidays
    are numbered, every one.
    So quick the hours rush away
    and everything we've left's undone.
    

    Diminished

    Was it only my imagination
    or were we once agreed, in full accord,
    that we would meet in time for reconciliation,
        for the scratching of old debts
        and the settling of old scores?
    
    Once upon a time you think you'll live forever -
    only goes to show, in truth, that you
        don't even know you're born.
    
    Round and round we trod our drilled, diminished circles,
    measured out our days in pleasantries -
        what treasures we forswore.
    
    It was only my imagination,
    I thought I'd got away with what I'd done before.
    I'm unprepared for this investigation.
    
    I'm so scared of what's in store.
    

    The Top Of The World Club

    And the future spread before us like a feast,
    we saw clearly to the curve of the horizon,
    felt like everything we'd wanted was in reach,
    all we so eagerly awaited
    And the perfume on the air,
    oh, I could taste it....
    
    (Decline and fall, decline and fall
    is coming to us....
    
    And when the fall comes it will hit you pretty hard
    when the fortified castle proves a house of cards
    and the sweet cup of plenty's shattered into a million shards.
    
    Your Weltanschauung is now cut down at the core
    and your self-estimation's falling through the floor
    now there's not much still standing of the edifice by which you once swore
    and which you used to adore.)
    
    The air is thin, the air is thin,
    the top of the world club's what we're in;
    how thin the air, how thin the air,
    the top of the world club isn't there any more.
    My crawling skin, my crawling skin,
    what circle of hell are we fallen in,
    so dread and drear, so dread and drear,
    the pressure above an atmosphere, open-jawed.
    All the stars are darkening,
    all the stars extinguishing one by one.
    
    Worlds we thought were ours to own
    disappeared and gone,
    disappeared,
    disappeared.
    




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