Van der Graaf Generator - Present 2005

  1. Every Bloody Emperor
  2. Nutter Alert
  3. Abandon Ship!
  4. In Babelsberg
  5. On the Beach

  6. Every Bloody Emperor

    By this we are all sustained: a belief in human nature
    and in justice and parity...all we have is the faith to carry on.
    Imperceptible the change as our votes become mere gestures
    and our lords and masters determine to cast us
    in the roles of serfs and slaves
    in the new empire's name.
    Yes and every bloody emperor claims that freedom is his cause
    as he buffs up on his common touch as a get-out clause.
    Unto nations nations speak in the language of the gutter;
    trading primetime insults the imperial impulse
    extends across the screen.
    Truth's been beaten to its knees; the lies embed ad infinitum
    till their repetition becomes a dictum
    we're traitors to disbelieve.
    With what impotence we grieve for the democratic process 
    as our glorious leaders conspire to feed us
    the last dregs of imperious disdain
    in the new empire's name.
    Yes and every bloody emperor's got his hands up history's skirt
    as he poses for posterity over the fresh-dug dirt.
    Yes and every bloody emperor with his sickly rictus grin
    talks his way out of nearly anything but the lie within
    because every bloody emperor thinks his right to rule divine
    so he'll go spinning and spinning and spinning into his own decline.
    Imperceptible the change as one by one our voices falter
    and the double standards of propaganda
    still all our righteous rage.
    By this we are all sustained: our belief in human nature.
    But our faith diminishes - close to the finish,
    we're only serfs and slaves
    as the empire decays.

    Nutter Alert

    It might come in a letter,
    darkness falls in a telephone call;
    I await the unexpected
    with one ear to the party wall.
    Is it the pricking of the conscience,
    is it the itching of hair shirt,
    is it the dictionary definition
    of a precipice to skirt?
            It's the nutter alert.
    Though this face is familiar
    something in it has bred contempt;
    I never asked for your opinion
    or your back-handed compliments.
    Oh, but here comes that special nonsense
    all the words out in a spurt,
    the unhinging of the trolley
    as the mouth begins to blurt...
            it's the nutter alert
    I can see we're in trouble
    from that glint in the eye you've got;
    there's no sense to the story,
    comprehensively lost, the plot.
    And how contorted is that logic
    you so forcefully exert:
    you're a car crash in the making,
    head-on, that's a racing cert.
            It's the nutter alert,
            this is the nutter alert.

    Abandon Ship!

    Oh, the heptagenarians got behind the decks
    while the skeleton crew went through the motions.
    It was only the medication that was keeping them erect.
    Yeh, the devil got the best tunes
    so god knows what comes next.
    And it's difficult to think of anything less magic
    than the aged in pursuit of the hip.
    At the lifeboat station there's a mounting panic...
    they're going overboard for this one -
            abandon ship!
    Oh, the humanitarians took themselves below
    while they tried to debate the latest motion;
    meanwhile only the medication served to keep them on the go.
    So it's devil take the hindmost:
    we sail on the sloop John Doe.
    And it's difficult to think of anything that's factual
    now we find ourselves in Alzheimer's grip;
    so at disembarkation it's no names, no pack-drill,
    we're all anonymous on this one -
            abandon ship!

    In Babelsberg

    The city's spread beneath my feet,
    but not the one that I was after
    while I've been pounding out this beat
    the length of the Kudamm.
    Street legends on the tourist map,
    a fading script in Gothic,
    out in the studio they're 
    rehearsing in drag for a lark.
    Come on, let's get lost in the dark.
    Tale another step, another move, another pace,
    what isn't written in the manuscript is a note to play with grace
    and if I exit from this story in a way I might retrace
    it will have fallen through the cracks when I come back
    in any case
    another time's another place.
    The city's spread beneath my feet
    from the top of the Mercedes tower
    and I can see the darkness closing in
    hour by hour.
    But I can't take another step, no filling in, no cut and paste,
    a bankrupt process for the memory, this terrain is laid to waste.
    No, nothing's written in the history books 
    that doesn't leave a nasty taste;
    so should I start to tell the story
    will you put me in my place?
    'Cause it'll all be crash and burn
    when I any case
    another time's another place.
    Just when did this get broken?
    I don't know where to begin -
    I got a Ubahn ticket and a Flohmarkt token....
    I'm in trouble in the rubble of Berlin
    The light is getting dimmer,
    the walls of history close in.
    In Babelsberg they're hunting 
    for a different Stimmung
    that predates the war.
    That was before,
    that was before,
    that was a different Berlin,
    that was another Berlin,
    that was before in Berlin.

    On the Beach

    If we had all the time in the world
    we might talk about how it used to be.
    We could have thrown in our cards
    when the going got hard
    but evidently we went on interminably.
    Right now I want to walk towards the sea,
    hoping you're still in step with me.
    All joking apart let's play it from the heart
    because at last even the Silver Surfer agrees:
    the wave you brave 
    rides on a deeper complexity.
    Ah, come on: surf's up!
    Even the Silver Surfer agrees.

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Sergey Petrushanko, 1998-2023