Vital (live) by Van der Graaf 1978

  1. Ship Of Fools
  2. Still Life
  3. Last Frame
  4. Mirror Images
  5. Medley: Plague / Sleepwalkers
  6. Pioneers Over C
  7. Sci-Finance
  8. Door
  9. Urban
  10. Nadir's Big Chance

    Ship of Fools

    The captain's in a coma, the lieutenant's on a drunk;
    the owner's in his cabin with his special friend, the monk;
    the midget's on the bridge, dispensing platitudes and junk--
    those wild and special places,
    those strange and dangerous places,
    those sad, sweet faces,
    it's a Ship of Fools.
    The nurse in black seamed stockings, she's already on patrol
    for fake fur starlets panicked by the watering-hole;
    everybody's waiting for the drama to unfold
    in those cold and treasured places,
    those old and degenerate places;
    those posed, posed, empty faces
    it's a Ship of Fools.
    Run, rabbit, run, you're the only one
    that can do it;
    turn, baby, turn, there's a ring of fire
    and you've got to go through it.
    Fun, baby, fun, when the sands have run
    to the limit
    turn, baby, turn, there's a ring of fire
    and you're in it.
    Looking for logic and adventure down the dark end of the street,
    open city, open season, open lips that gleam so sweet
    offer kisses like piranhas to the soft flesh of your feet,
    and any man's poison is every man's meat
    in those mad and special places,
    those sad and desparate places,
    those sad, sweet soul embraces,
    it's a Ship of Fools
    Those strange and special places
    those wild and dangerous places,
    those dead, dead, dead faces....
    It's a Ship of Fools;
    no rules.

    Still Life

    Citadel reverberates to a thousand voices, now dumb:
    what have we become? What have we chosen to be?
    Now, all history is reduced to the syllables of our name--
    nothing can ever be the same: now the Immortals are here.
    At the time, it seemed a reasonable course
    to harness all the force of life
    without the threat of death,
    but soon we found
    that boredom and inertia are not negative,
    but all the law we know, and dead are Will and words like survival.
    Arrival at immunity from all age, all fear and all end...
    Why do I pretend? Our essence is distilled
    and all familiar taste is now drained,
    and though purity is maintained, it leaves us sterile,
    living through the millions of years,
    a laugh as close as any tear....
    Living, if you claim that all that entails is
    breathing, eating, defecating, screwing, drinking,
    spewing, sleeping, sinking ever down and down
    and ultimately passing away time
    which no longer has any meaning.
    Take away the threat of death
    and all you're left with is a round of make-believe;
    marshal every sullen breath
    and though you're ultimately bored by endless ecstasy
    that's still the ring by which you hope to be engaged
    to marry
    the girl who will give you forever--
    that's crazy, and plainly
    it simply is not *enough*.
    What is the dullest and bluntest of pains,
    such that my eyes never close without feeling it there?
    What abject despair demands an end to all things of infinity?
    If we have gained, how do we now meet the cost?
    What have we bargained, and what have we lost?
    What have we relinquished, never even knowing it was there?
    What chance now of holding fast the line,
    defying death and time
    when everything we had is gone?
    Everything we laboured for and favoured more
    than earthly things reveals the hollow ring
    of false hope and of false deliverance.
    But now the nuptial bed is made,
    the dowry has been paid,
    the toothless, haggard features of Eternity
    now welcome me between the sheets
    to couple with her withered body--my wife.
    Hers forever,
    hers forever,
    hers forever
    in still life.

    Last Frame

    Pretty keen - yes, my hobby keeps me busy;
    and if I talk to myself, what's the crime?
    In the darkroom I am a dealer in space and time...
    when all memory is mellowed,
    when the photograph is yellowed,
    still it never lies.
    There you are, your eyes laced with secret pleasure,
    saying you're on the way to change,
    deouring in inordinate measure
    every diversion that's arranged.
    For every appetite, a cruel attraction,
    but there's a panic in your actions;
    oh, I never saw you look so strange.
    fixing memory chemically,
    holding time on the stop-clock,
    hanging back from that last rframe
    just in case it didn't show you
    in the way I used to know you...
    I thought you'd always stay the same.
    (But you won't.)
    The red light, the silver, the black and the bromide;
    the silence, the waiting for overview.....
    The past seems under-exposed, low tide,
    but still the images ghost through.
    And you're there in the bath,
    which is all this has led to,
    and I can't say your path
    is a right one to choose....
    But then
    I only have a negative of you.

    Mirror Images

    If I'm the mirror and you're the image
    then what's the secret between the two,
    these 'me's and 'you's, how many can there be?
    Oh, I don't mind all that around the place,
    as long as you keep it
    well away from me.
    I've begun to regret that we ever met
    between the dimensions.
    It gets such a strain to pretend that the change
    is anything but cheap...
    with your infant pique and your angst pretensions
    sometimes you act like a creep.
    And now I'm standing in the corner,
    looking at the room and the furniture
    in cheap imitation of alienation and grief.
    And now we're going to the kitchen,
    fix ourselves a drink and a cigarette,
    getting no closer to being the joker or thief.
    Still, I reflect, this nervous wreck
    who stands before me can see as well,
    can surely tell that he's not yet free;
    he can turn aside, but can no more ignore me
    than know which one of us is he,
    than tell what we are going to be,
    than know which one of is me.
    And now we're going to the kitchen,
    fix ourselves a drink and a cigarette,
    getting no closer to being the joker or thief.
    These mirror images,
    these mirror images
    won't stay, go away, are no help.
    In these mirror images of myself
    there are no secrets.

    Medley: Plague / Sleepwalkers

    (see VdGG Pawn Hearts and Still Life)

    Pioneers Over c

    Left the earth in 1983, fingers groping for the galaxies,
    reddened eyes stared up into the void, 1,000 stars to be exploited
    Somebody help me I'm falling, somebody help me, I'm falling down
    Into sky, into earth, into sky, into earth .....
    It is so dark around, no life, no hope, no sound
    no chance of seeing home again ...
    The universe is on fire, exploding without flame.
    We are the lost ones; we are the pioneers; we are the lost ones
    We are the ones they are going to build a statue for
    ten centuries ago or were going to fifteen forward .....
    One Last brief whisper in our loved ones' ears
    to reassure them and to pierce the fear
    standing at controls then still unknown we told the world we were
    about to go
    Somebody help me I'm missing, somebody help me I'm missing now
    touch with my mind, I have no frame,
    touch with my mind, I have no frame ...
    Well now where is the time and who the hell am I,
    here floating in an aimless way?
    No-one knows where we are, they can't feel us precisely ..
    There is no fear here.
    How can such a thing exist in a place where living and knowing
    and being have never been heard of?
    Doomed to vanish in the flickering light,
    disappearing to a darker night,
    doomed to vanish in a living death, living anti-matter, anti-breath
    Somebody help me I'm losing, somebody help me, I'm losing now
    people around, there's no-one to touch,
    no people around, no-one to touch.
    I am now quite alone, part of a vacant time-zone,
    here floating in the void,
    only dimly aware of existence, a dimly existing awareness,
    I am the lost one, I am the one you fear, I am the lost one,
    I am the one who went up into space, or stayed where I was,
    or didn't exist in the first place .....


    You got some shares in a speculative venture,
    you got some stock in a gilt-edged bond,
    you stretched out tight by the terms of debenture,
    the game is on....
    You chase the bulls in eternal corrida,
    the thought of loss is more than you can bear,
    you scan the index for a market leader,
    a tip and a prayer,
    You better see daylight:
    night comes on the City so soon.
    You say you are a christian capitalist,
    but you dance to a different tune.
    Jobs for the boys and dole for the shop-floor;
    rationalize, strip the assets and run
    If the contract stalls, then you've just got to cop more,
    ain't Monopoly fun?
    You made some pretty deals along the way,
    Judas and Faust are in accord.
    When the revolution comes you may be blown away,
    but I bet you'll end up on the board....
    Only the money.
    Only the money.
    Sometime in the future you may realise that the day
    you made your decision to follow money as a goal was
    you darkest dawn--and that, since then, you have
    venerated figures as deities; and, for you,
    people are just pawns.
    But that deal includes you:
    you're just an asset like the rest,
    and you, too, stripped naked, beg the Money-God
    not to put you to the test
    He's got no further use for you
    Now, there is silence on the floor.
    Clever money-computers chatter privately.
    No people any more.
    Only the money.


    He's a blind man, crouching by the pavement,
    only seeing with his third eye,
    and clutching at the astral shadow
    of every passer-by.
    He's a wise man, trumping all the answers;
    she's a wild girl, trying to keep his feet on the floor
    in whispered physical litanies:
    "Stay away from the door."
    "Oh, but we're all in this together," he says,
    "three-legged race across the floor;
    if only you'd loosen the handkerchief
    then I'd forget the door."
    "Ooh, that feels so much better," he says,
    "now you forget everything that I've said before
    and sit there all by yourself
    while I walk through the door."
    They're a blind man, crouching by the pavement,
    only seeing with his third eye,
    and clutching at the astral shadow
    of the door of a room
    called 'I'.


    Sometimes living for the moment
    sometimes going with the flow
    sometimes professing to be an exponent
    of the quiet life
    while night life
    surrounds me I sit
    and go crazy alone
    too many people and too little action
    too much exterior acting too little inside
    yet I still feel that manic attraction
    I've lived in the city for most of my life
    and suppose
    I'll be there when I die
    still going through the same old motions
    still qualifying everything I say
    responding urbanely to every emotion
    the city life freaks me
    the city life feeds me
    the city life blows me away

    Nadir's Big Chance

    I've been hanging around, waiting for my chance
    to tell you what I think about the music that's gone down
    to which you madly danced - frankly, you know that it stinks.
    I'm gonna scream, gonna shout, gonna play my guitar
    until your body's rigid and you see stars.
    Look at all the jerks in their tinsel glitter suits.
    pansying around; look at all the nerks
    in their leather platform boots, making with the heavy sound...
    I'm gonna stamp on the stardust and scream till I'm ill -
    if the guitar don't get ya, the drums will.
    Now's my big break - let me up on the stage,
    I'll show you what it's all about; enough of the fake,
    bang your feet in a rage, tear down the walls and let us out!
    We're more than mere morons, perpetually conned,
    so come on everybody, smash the system with the song.
    Smash the system with the song!

Russian Peter Hammill / Van der Graaf Generator Page
Sergey Petrushanko, 1998-2024