enoweb

lyrics

: Before and after Science :

Album cover


original title of first edition



NO ONE RECEIVING


It will shine and it will shudder as I guide it with my rudder
On its metalled ways
It will cut the night before it as it leaves the day that saw it
On its metalled ways
Nobody passes us in the deep quiet of the dark sky
Nobody sees us alone out here among the stars
In these metal ways
In these metal days

Through a fault of our designing we are lost among the windings
Of these metal ways
Back to silence back to minus with the purple sky behind us
In these metal ways
Nobody hears us when we're alone in the blue future
No one receiving the radio's splintered waves
In these metal ways
In these metal days


Alternative hearings:

It will shine and it will shudder == It will shine and it will shatter (-- R Carlberg)

Nobody sees us alone == If nobody sees us alone (-- R Carlberg)

On its metalled ways == on its metal base == On its metal ways (-- R Carlberg) == in these metal waves (in line with the rather chromelike sound iI always got from the track, which I always took as very similar to the first track on AGW; both albums have a very unique introduction to them -- Ward)

Through a fault of our designing == Through no fault of our designing

No one receiving the radio's splintered waves == No one receiving the radio signal waves (-- Jim Sullivan) == No one receiving, the radio spits with rage (-- George Lewandowski) === No one receiving the radio split in waves (-- Louis Steiner)

n. shock: thanks much for printing the lyrics, or i would never be able to make a guess at many. one correction though: the line in 'no one receiving' that is printed "back to silence back to minus" doesn't seem quite right. i have heard it as "and the silence like tinnitus" (sp.?), which makes more sense in context. the song makes many references to being closed off from others and to interference, so a little ear ringing suits the purpose. thanks.

Tony Napoli: "The radio splintered with age" ? Thank you for your obsession.

References:

According to Russell Mills, the line 'On its metalled ways' is from the poem Burnt Norton by T.S. Eliot. -- Craig Clark



BACKWATER


Backwater!
We're sailing at the edges of time
Backwater!
We're drifting at the water-line
Oh, we're floating in the coastal waters
You and me and the porter's daughters
Ooh, what to do? Not a sausage to do.
And the shorter of the porter's daughters
Dips her hand in the deadly waters
Ooh, what to do in a tiny canoe?

Black water!
There were six of us but now we are five
We're all talking
To keep the conversation alive
There was a senator from Ecuador
Who talked about a meteor
That crashed on a hill in the south of Peru
And was found by a conquistador
Who took it to the Emperor
And he passed it on to a Turkish Guru...

His daughter
Was slated for becoming divine
He taught her,
He taught her how to split and define
But if you study the logistics
And heuristics of the mystics
You will find that their minds rarely move in a line
So it's much more realistic
To abandon such ballistics
And resign to be trapped on a leaf in the vine.


Alternative hearings:

Dips her hand in the deadly waters == Tips her hat at the deadly waters (-- Rob)

He taught her how to split and define == He taught her how to spend every dime (-- George Lewandowski) == He taught her how to spread them behind (-- R Carlberg) == He taught her how to split and deline - as in "delineate", shortened to make it scan.(-- Rob) == He taught her how to spit and devine [The old folk thingy where you spit on your palm, then slap your other hand down onto to it. Whichever way the spit squirts out, that's the direction you should take.] (-- Daniel J. Wojcik)

You will find that their minds rarely move in a line == you will find that their minds really move in a line (-- shawn o'neal)

to abandon such ballistics == to abandon such publistics (although i'm not even sure that publistics is an official word) (-- shawn o'neal)

In "Black Water", the line is certainly "It's much more realistic to abandon such ballistics" given the reference to "rarely move in a line" in the previous line. Ballistics == the study of projectiles in flight. (-- Kevin J. Maroney)

Christian Jordal: I am sending you this mail regarding the debate on the lyric pages. It regads the song Backwater from the Before And After Science album. Instead of "He taught her how to split and devine" could it possibly be "He taught her how to spite the devine"? I know it seems unlikely that the sofisticated and eloquent Mr. Eno would rhyme devine with ... devine. But it makes much more sense to my interpretation of the song's lyric.

Ian Williamson: Love your approach to lyric presentation - for years I've sung: "it's much more realistic to abandon such 'complistics'" - surely that's what Brian is neologising, as an unravelling of the previous complexity? Just a thought.

Ian Williamson: My previous email was wrong - I've just listened - you're right it is ballistics not complistics!

Nicky -- I understood one line to be "...gave it to the emperor, and he passed it on to a Turkish MAROON", a maroon being some sort of freed slave, I believe, which fits in historically with S. America, conquistadores, emperors, etc. That's all. Glad to find the site.

References:

According to Richard Poynor, Eno's fascination with the concept of heuristics goes back to 1971, when he was involved in a recording of 'Paragraph 2' and 'Paragraph 7' of The Great Learning by Cornelius Cardew. Although the score imposes few constraints on its performers, Eno learnt with interest that individual performances do not diverge significantly from one another, nor does the piece degenerate into chaos. According to Eno, 'the fact that this does not happen is of considerable interest, because it suggests that somehow a set of controls which are not stipulated in the score arise in performance, and that these "automatic" controls are the real determinants of the piece.' (Eno's emphasis). For Eno, this was the beginning of a long interest in cybernetics -- Craig Clark (quoting More Dark Than Shark)

There's a line in this that I've always heard as "He taught her how to split and devine". Which I've always interpreted as a reference to the yarrow stalk method of consulting the I Ching. Given Eno's Oblique Strategies, this seemed the obvious interpretation to me... (-- Dr Andreas Schöter)



KURT'S REJOINDER


Burger cruising just above the ground, ground, ground
And gunner puts a burnish on his steel
Anna with her feelers moving round, round, round
Is sharpening her needles on the wheel.

Burger Bender bargain blender shine, shine, shine
And gunner burn the leader on the fuse
Bundle up the numbers counting three - six - nine
Here's Anna building webs across our shoes.

Celebrate the loss of one and all, all, all
And separate the torso from the spine
Burger Bender bouncing like a ball, ball, ball
So Burger Bender bargain blender shine.

Do the Do-si-do, do the Mirror Man
Do the Boston Crab, do the Allemande.


Alternative hearings:

Do the Boston Crab == Do the Buster Crabbe

Many difficult hearings here and I can't claim definitive answers. However to my ears the first line sounds like "Belgruzie just above the ground..." although I can find no reference to a name like this. In the second line it sound to me like "Cata" rather than "gunner." Again no reference. The first line of the second stanza is definitely German and I don't speak German, so I have to give it to you phonetically. My Langenscheidt's German- English Dictionary is no help either. You need to find a German-speaker to translate: "Burgerlende de fahrgenflende schein, schein, schein." Again in line 2 stanza 2 I hear "Cata" or "Gana" rather than "gunner." Stanza 3 last two lines: "Burger Bender" is the "Burgerlende" and the last line repeats the German line from above. As for the coda heard echoed and mixed back, it could be what you have posted, but I hear no "Do the" in the do-si-do, and it sure sounds like "Buster Crabbe" rather than "Boston Crab." Tough calls though -- he doesn't make it easy! (-- R Carlberg)

I had always assumed that what sounded like "Anna" was the female name, Anna. But you mentioned "Cata"... The names generally given to the fourth-dimensional versions of "up-down", "left-right" and "forward-backward" are... Ana and Kata!!! So perhaps this is a reference to those fourth-dimensional spatial directions. The surreal imagery of the rest of the lyrics could well support this?(-- Rob)

In 'Kurt's Rejoinder', I thought Brian was singing "Hannah" not "Anna" as reference to Dadaist collagist Hannah Hoch (colleague of Schwitters). (-- Michael Greco)

Last lines: "For those who know who the mirror man is, you mustn't grab that halo, man!" (-- One4daBook)

What I hear at the end of that song is, "When you Do-si-do with the Mirror Man, then you've lost a prayer with any other man." I only mention them because I've found them to be words to live by (-- Peg)

At the end of song..... "For those who know, when you're near a man, then you musn't grab any other man!" It could be in reference to Robert Fripp! (-- Peter Joneth) Ehhh? -- EnoWeb

References:

"There is some uncertainty as to who actually does the recital of Kurt Schwitters' Ursonate [which appears in the backgound of the song]: Eno believes it is Schwitters himself, whereas Russell Mills believes it to be by Eberhard Blum. Schwitters was a Dadaist artist from Hanover who was forced to flee Nazi Germany after Hitler declared his work to be decadent; Eberhard Blum made several recordings of Schwitters' abstract poems, and is regarded as an 'accomplished Schwitters interpreter'." (Richard Poyner, More Dark Than Shark)

Boston Crab -- a hold in wrestling.



KING'S LEAD HAT


Dark alley (dark alley) black star
Four turkeys in a big black car
The road is shiny (bright shine) the wheels slide
Four turkeys going for a dangerous ride
The lacquer crackles (black tar) the engines roar
A ship is turning broadside to the shore
Splish splash, I was raking in the cash
The biology of purpose keeps my nose above the surface (Ooh)
King's lead hat put the innocence inside her
It will come, it will come, it will surely come
King's lead hat was a mother to desire
It will come, it will come, it will surely come.

In New Delhi (smelly Delhi) and Hong Kong
They all know that it won't be long
I count my fingers (digit counter) as night falls
And draw bananas on the bathroom walls
The killer cycles (humdrum), the killer hurts
The passage of my life is measured out in shirts
Time and motion (motion carried) time and tide
All I know and all I have is time
And time and tide is on my side
King's lead hat put the poker in the fire
It will come, it will come, it will surely come
King's lead hat was a mother to desire
It will come, it will come, it will surely come.

The weapon's ready (ready Freddy) the guns purr
The satellite distorts his voice to a slur
He gives orders (finger pie) which no-one hears
The king's hat fits over their ears
He takes his mannequin (tram line) cold turpentine
He tries to dial out 999999999
He dials reception (moving finger): he's all alone
He's just a figment on the telephone!
King's lead hat made the Amazon much wider
It will come, it will come, it will surely come
King's lead hat was the poker in the fire
It will come, it will come, it will surely come
King's lead hat was a mother to desire
It will come, it will come, it will surely come
King's lead hat put the innocence inside her
It will come, it will come, it will surely come.


Alternative hearings:

The killer cycles (humdrum), the killer hurts --
The kilocycles (humdrum), the kilohertz

I count my fingers (digit counter) as night falls == I count my fingers (digit counters), there's nine thumbs (-- Daniel J. Wojcik)

And draw bananas on the bathroom walls == I draw my manners on the bathroom wall (-- Bill Richmond)

The passage of my life is measured out in shirts --
The passage of my life is measured in insurance (-- Lee Rodgers) == The passage of my life is made without insurance (-- Dan Cross) == The passage opens, light is measured and it shuts." (-- D Krueger)

He's just a figment on the telephone! == He's just a victim of the telephone (-- J. Greis)

King's lead hat put the innocence inside her / It will come, it will come, it will surely come. == king's lead hat put the innocence inside or / it will come, it will come, it will surely come. (I always liked that idea: hide the innocence, or "it" will find us!) (-- Lisa Carrico)

Dear Enoweb folks, Okay, my wife and I were just dancing around listening to Before and After Science on my new speakers, when we decided to pay a visit to the lyrics page on Enoweb. Imagine our surprise at discovering that no one had submitted the way we've always heard the line you transcribe as: In New Dehli (smelly Dehli) and Hong Kong. It's kind of surprising to say it, but I've been listening to this album far too often for over fifteen years now, and in that time everyone who's ever joined me for dancing around and singing along to King's Lead Hat has heard the line as: In New Dehli (smelly belly) and Hong Kong. I've never owned my own copy of More Dark that Shark, and maybe your transcription comes from it, but if that's really what he says, I'm a little disappointed. Then again, if that's what I hear, I suppose it's good enough for me.

Just found yr site. Great stuff. Looking through the lyrics I saw one thing wrong. In "King's Lead Hat", the word is not "turkeys" but "darkies", a British derrogatory term for black people. Just thought I'd let ya know. (--Brad S)

OK, I have been an Eno fan for 20 years. I have spent many, many hrs listening to "King's Lead Hat", and it is surely the most difficult of his songs to decipher lyrically. Your comments, however, are most interesting because my friends and I have always heard the following line as I have indicated... (I'm copying one of them to make sure....) "I count my fingers (did you count them?) as night falls..." This makes sense to me in the context of the other "call and response" segments contained in the lyrics. Since there will never be a definitive answer from anywhere other than Eno himself, I guess we just add this to the pile...... (-- Brian Magill)

Ah, but "digit" is another word for finger/thumb and might be a typical example of Eno word-play... (-- EnoWeb)

Robert P.M. Hart: I too have always thought the lyric in 'King's Lead Hat' was "four darkies and a big black car", an image of fear not necessarily having to do with race but intentions.

Ozo: I may be a novice to alot of Eno's other works, but I have listened to this album for over 20 years. And I swear he says "flunkies", not "turkies". "A ship is turning broadside to the shore." = A ship is turning, comes back to the shore." Also; "He's just a figment of the telephone." = "He's just a victim of the telephone." Also; "The biology of purpose keeps my head above the surface,oh." = "The biology of flatfoots(slang for beat cops) keeps my head above the surface,oh."

marshall: Looking at the lyrics page for B&AS -- knowing going in about "King's Lead Hat"'s title being obviously inspired by Talking Heads I heard the lyrics which Enoweb renders as
: The killer cycles (humdrum), the killer hurts
: The passage of my life is measured out in shirts
like this:
: The killer psychos (humdrum), the killer hunts
: The passage of my life is measured out in shunts
...thinking that "killer psychos" is a nice reference to Talking Heads' "Psycho Killer." Not clear on precisely when B&AS was recorded, but pretty likely that if he'd heard of Talking Heads by then, he was familiar with that tune. As for trying to interpret line #2, "shunt" is often used to describe the circulation & diversion of blood (e.g."The deoxygenated blood is then shunted into the vena cava.") Looking up the word in an online dictionary, however, I came across this juxtasposition of two definitions for the noun "shunt": 3. Electricity. A low-resistance connection between two points in an electric circuit that forms an alternative path for a portion of the current. Also called bypass. 4. Medicine. A passage between two natural body channels, such as blood vessels, especially one created surgically to divert or permit flow from one pathway or region to another; a bypass. Seems that "shunt" has a rich variety of associations if coupled with a reading of line #1, "The kilocycles (humdrum), the kilohertz," but the problem is it doesn't rhyme as perfectly.

Ian Williamson: I know KLH is so hard to decipher but I agree with the writer who says it's 'darkies' not 'turkeys', a racist term. As for the rest I must have been making it up because I always had: "Delhi Belly" i.e. diarrhoea, not "smelly belly" or "smelly Delhi" and "They kill the psychos, they kill the hertz" (just a pun) (but wouldn't swear to it) and "what does he dial?" not "cold turpentine" (but wouldn't swear to it). and the guns 'turn' not 'purr'.

Earl Olsen: He dials reception - He dial in cycles (I like cycles better)

Gary Mcleod: Love the site, just a little observation on the lyrics of 'King's Lead Hat' which seems to have been missed in the alternative hearings. The lyrics clearly refer to "Four monkeys in a big black car" which relates to the later mention of "Draw bananas on the bathroom walls." Keep up the great site!

References:

The words in brackets in the fifth line of the third verse ( tram lines ) may be incorrect. Eno didn't write anything down for this part of the line, preferring to improvise at the microphone.

King's lead hat is an anagram of Talking Heads.

I count my fingers -- possibly a reference to the phrase "I'm not saying he can't be trusted, but after shaking hands with him, you need to count your fingers."

He tries to dial out 999999999 -- 999 is the Emergency Services phone number in Britain (equivalent to 911 in the U.S.)

The passage of my life is measured out in shirts -- compare the line: I have measured out my life with coffee spoons, from T.S. Eliot's poem The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.

In King's Lead Hat, "the passage of life is measured out in shirts" could also have been influenced by The Beatles' 'Hey Bulldog' where they sing "Some think that happiness is measure out in miles" later alternating with 'years' and 'you' in the place of 'miles' in subsequent verses. This reference would tie in with other Rock references in the song (i.e. "splish, splash" and "time is on my side") (-- Michael Greco)

Another little thing I noticed is in 'King's Lead Hat'. One of the 'echoes' says 'ready freddy' and this could be another reference to rock - Queen's 'Crazy Little Thing Called Love', a similar echoing to the word 'ready' sung by lead voice Freddie Mercury goes 'ready freddie'. (-- Nicola)

In "King's Lead Hat", it is highly unlikely that "Ready Freddie" is a reference to Queen's "Crazy Little Thing Called Love", since "Crazy Little Thing" wasn't released until 1979, two years after B&AS. (-- Kevin J. Maroney)



HERE HE COMES


Here he comes
The boy who tried to vanish to the future or past
Is no longer here with his sad blue eyes.

Here he comes
He floated away and as he rose above reason
He rose above the clouds, he was seven feet high.

Here he comes
The night is like a glove and he's floating like a dove
That catches the wind in the deep blue sky.

Here he comes
The boy who tried to vanish to another time
Is no longer here with his sad blue eyes.

Here he comes
Here he comes
Ooh ooh ooh ooh
Ooh ooh ooh ooh
Ooh ooh ooh ooh
Ooh ooh ooh ooh

Here he comes
The boy who tried to vanish to another place
Sees us following here all one at a time.

Here he comes
And we're checking out each other's supplies
And looking at the eyes of all the others standing in the line.

Here he comes
The night is like a glove and he's floating like a dove
With his deep blue eyes in the deep blue sky.

Here he comes
The boy who tried to vanish to the future or past
Is no longer alone among the dragonflies.

Here he comes
Here he comes
Ooh ooh ooh ooh
Ooh ooh ooh ooh
Who will remember him?
Who will remember him?


Alternative hearings:

Sees us following here all one at a time == Sees us following him all one at a time (-- R Carlberg)

And we're checking out each other's supplies == And we're checking out each other's surprise

Who will remember him? -- Who will remember me?

You have "Who will remember him?" as the lyric at the end of Here He Comes from Before and After Science. I always heard it as "Oooh, we'll remember him". Since there are a lot of "oooh's" just before, this might make sense. (-- Richard Sheehe)

Where have you been all my life! This is fantastic, Eno has ruled my music tastes for 25 year or so and one of my all time favorite songs is Here He Comes and I would like to make the following suggestions. The boy who tried to vanish to the future or past I think should be The boy who tried to vanish to the future of us (same goes for the same reference later in the song). The night is like a glove and he's floating like a dove I think should be The guy who's like a glove (the whole song is about a guy, he, the boy etc) Sees us following here all one at a time. Should be See us following him all one at a time (-- Tim Gavan)



JULIE WITH...


I am on an open sea,
Just drifting as the hours go slowly by.
Julie with her open blouse
Is gazing up into the empty sky
Now it seems to be so strange here
Now it's so blue.
The still sea is darker than before...

No wind disturbs our coloured sails.
The radio is silent, so are we.
Julie's head is on her arm;
Her fingers brush the surface of the sea
Now I wonder if we'll be seen here
Or if time has left us all alone.
The still sea is darker than before...


Alternative hearings:

No wind disturbs our coloured sails == No wind disturbs our coloured sail (-- R Carlberg)

In More Dark Than Shark, someone suggests that the narrator in Julie With is about to assault the girl... I think the lyrics suggest that he's already done it, she's dead and the spreading blood is what makes "the still sea... darker than before..." I hate having had that thought, since now it always intrudes on what had been such a peaceful sonic scene! (-- skip)



BY THIS RIVER


Here we are
Stuck by this river,
You and I
Underneath a sky that's ever falling down, down, down
Ever falling down.

Through the day
As if on an ocean
Waiting here,
Always failing to remember why we came, came, came:
I wonder why we came.

You talk to me
as if from a distance
And I reply
With impressions chosen from another time, time, time,
From another time.



This song appears in the Italian film La stanza del figlio (The Son's Room). Luca Minudel kindly translated it for EnoWeb's Italian visitors.

Da questo fiume
--------------------------------------

Ora siamo qui
bloccati da questo fiume
tu ed io
sotto un cielo che sta precipitando giù, giù, giù
da sempre, precipita giù.

Il giorno trascorre
come fossimo di fronte ad un oceano
attardandoci qui
per sempre, senza riuscire a ricordare perché siamo giunti qui, qui, qui:
mi chiedo <<perché venimmo qui?>>

Tu mi parli
come se fossi distante
io ti rispondo
con un tono che appartiene ad un tempo lontano, lontano, lontano
ad un tempo lontano.



SPIDER AND I


Spider and I
Sit watching the sky
On our world without sound.
We knit a web
to catch one tiny fly
For our world without sound.
We sleep in the mornings,
We dream of a ship that sails away,
A thousand miles away.



Alternative hearings:

On our world without sound == On a world without sound (-- R Carlberg) == in our world of sound (-- J.Greis)

I had always heard the line "We knit a web" as "Weave little web". (-- -y )

Ian Williamson: My favourite on the album - I agree with both of the alternative hearings - I will continue to sing "weave little web" and "Of a" not "On our", but there you go.


THE PRINTS


Before And After Science originally included four prints by Brian Eno's friend, artist Peter Schmidt. Ten songs plus four paintings makes Fourteen Pictures.


"The Other House" (177K JPEG)
"Look at September, Look at October" (203K JPEG)
"Four Years" (203K JPEG)
"The Road to the Crater" (140K JPEG)


THE PRESS PACK

A small portfolio was put together for the album. This consisted of six pages of notes plus photographs. The photos can be found in the images archive. The paper inserts included a picture by Russell Mills which seems unlikely to be contemporaneous with the original release... These are jpegs (up to 300k) as their grey background made them imposible to OCR without a lot of faffing about.

Brian's autobio -- Brian's musings -- list of released works -- Peter Schmidt on Brian -- Brian on Peter Schmidt -- Kurt's Rejoinder by Russell Mills



THANKS TO:


Craig Clark, Jay Sachs, Phil Gyford, R Carlberg, Lee Rodgers and other nameless denizens of the alt.music.brian-eno newsgroup who worked together in 1995 to create the transcriptions on which the EnoWeb's lyrics pages are based.


The references are not intended to indicate the "meaning" of the lyrics -- it's well-known that Brian did not intend his lyrics to have a set meaning and often selected words for the way they sounded. The references may, however, suggest some of the reasons why some words or phrases got chosen rather than others.


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