Her Majesty the Decemberists

by The Decemberists

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02:14

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released 09 September 2003

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Track Name: Shanty For The Arethusa
We set to sail on a packet full of spice, rum, and tea-leaves.
We've emptied out all the bars and the bowery hotels.
Tell your daughters do not walk the streets alone tonight
Tell your daughters do not walk the streets alone tonight.

To tell the tale of the jewess and the mandarin chinese boy
He led her down from her gilded canopy of cloth.
And through her blindfold she could make out the figures there before her
And how the air was thick with incense, cardamom and myrrh.

So goodnight, boys, goodnight
Say goodnight, boys, goodnight

We set to sail on a clipper that's bound for South Australia
The water's warm there, the natives dark and nubile.
But if you listen, quiet, you can hear the footsteps on the cross-trees
The ghosts of sailors passed, their spectral bodies clinging to the shrouds.

So goodnight, boys, goodnight
Say goodnight, boys, goodnight
Track Name: Billy Liar
Billy Liar's got his hands in his pockets
Staring over at the neighbor's, knickers down.
He's got his knickers down.

So the summer is eternity for you?
Sleeping in until your father's shaking you down
He's shaking you down.

And the mailroom shift gets a real short thrift
As you dole out the packages, no-one seems to want you around
All skulking around.

Let your legs loll on the lino
'Til your sinews spoil
Will you stay here for a while, dear,
'Til the radio plays something familiar?
Plays something familiar.

All a-drifting, he's the nogood boyo
Sent a-fishing for a whalebone corset frame
(The only catch all day)

So he sits and lets the current take him
A gentle breeze will leave his pants in disarray
And at his ankles laid.

As he drifts to sleep with a moan and a weep
He is decked by a Japanese geisha with a garland of pearls
How she twists and twirls!

Let your legs loll on the lino
'Til your sinews spoil
Will you stay here for a while, dear,
'Til the radio plays something familiar?
Plays something familiar.
Track Name: Los Angeles, I'm Yours
There is a city by the sea
A gently company
I don't suppose you want to?

And as it tells its sorry tale
In harrowing detail
Its hollowness will haunt you

Its streets and boulevards,
Orphans, and oligarchs
And here's a plaintive melody
A truncated symphony.
An ocean's garbled vomit on the shore:
Los Angeles, I'm yours.

O ladies, pleasant and demure
Sallow cheek'd and sure
(I can see your undies)

And all the boys you drag about
An empty, fallow fount
From Saturdays to Mondays

You bridge and tunnel crowd
Hanging your trousers down at heel.
This is the realest thing
As ancient choirs sing
A rushing rabble revels from above:
Los Angeles, my love.

O what a rush of ripe elan!
Languor on divans
Dalliant and dainty!

But the smell of burnt cocaine,
The dolor and the drain
It only makes me cranky.

O, great calamity
Den of iniquity and tears.
How I abhor this place!
Its sweet and bitter taste
Has left me wretched, wretching on all fours
Los Angeles, I'm yours.
Track Name: The Gymnast, High Above The Ground
The gymnast, high above the ground,
Limbers up and falls timber down.
Ankles splayed and all tied.
The gymnast long has arrived.
Lanky, your long sister lays
Waiting out this long light brigade.
Prayed for snow a long time.
And lanky, it long has arrived.

Through the tarlatan holes
You've been slipping, been slipping away.
And the weather will hold
It's been ever so, ever so gray.

But here as we're coming down
And we're calling out: it's a terrible, terrible tide
As it lights upon your eye.

But there on the motorway, reeks of marmalade,
It's a chemical, chemical kind
As it lights upon your eye
Lights upon your eye.

The bosun calls upon the quay.
Compass gone, he long has lost his way
To lighthouse shine, to calm tide.
The bosun long has arrived.

Through the tarlatan holes
You've been slipping, been slipping away.
And the weather will hold
It's been ever so, ever so gray.

But here as we're coming down
And we're calling out: it's a terrible, terrible tide
As it lights upon your eye.

But there on the motorway, reeks of marmalade,
It's a chemical, chemical kind
As it lights upon your eye
Lights upon your eye.
Track Name: The Bachelor And The Bride
There's a wrinkle in the water
Where we laid our first daughter
And I think the wind blows sweetly there.
Over there.

And the windows and the cinders
And the willows in the timbers.
The infernal rattling of the rain
Still remains.

"But I," said the bachelor to the bride,
"Am not waiting for tonight.
No, I will box your ears
And leave you here stripped bare."

Hear the corncrakes and the deerhooves
And the sleet rain on the slate roof.
A medallion locked inside her hands.
In her hands.

And his fingers, are they telling
Of the barren of her belly?
Do his calluses cure her wrinkled brow
Even now?

"But I," said the bachelor to the bride,
"Am not waiting for tonight.
No, I will box your ears
And leave you here stripped bare."
Track Name: Song For Myla Goldberg
Myla Goldberg sets a steady hand upon her brow
Myla Goldberg hangs a crooked foot all upside down
It comes around it comes around it comes around it comes around

Pretty hands do pretty things when pretty times arise
Seraphim in seaweed swim where stick-limbed Maya lies
It comes around it comes around it comes around it comes around

Still now you're waiting to grow
Inside you're old
Sew wings to your pigeon toes
Put paper to pen and spell out Eliza

We begin with sticky shins, make sticky then our shoes
Shoes beget to clothes and hat 'til sticky's sticking too.
Finiculi, finicula, finicule, finicula..

Listen in as shin-kicked Jim relates his story sad
About a boy who kicked until his shins were all but rubber bands
But now I know New York I need New York I know I need unique New York.
Track Name: The Soldiering Life
Ambling madly all over the town
The arbor wall you likened to a whisper
I likened to a radio.

You were a brickbat, a bowery tough,
So rough they culled you from a cartoon.
Pulled out of your pantaloons.

But you, my brother in arms,
I'd rather I'd lose my limbs than let you come to harm.
But you, my bombazine doll
The bullets may singe your skin and the mortars may fall.
But I have never felt so alive
Than tonight, huddled in the trenches,
Gazing on the battlefield.
Our rifles blaze away.
We blaze away.

Corporal Bradley of regiment five
In proud array, standing by the bathing
Soldiers and the stevedores.

But you, my brother in arms,
I'd rather I'd lose my limbs than let you come to harm.
But you, my bombazine doll
The bullets may singe your skin and the mortars may fall.
But I have never felt so alive
Than tonight, huddled in the trenches,
Gazing on the battlefield.
Our rifles blaze away.
We blaze away.
We laid on the mattress and tumbled to sleep
Our eyes aligned, swaddled in our civies
Cradled in our dungarees.
Track Name: Red Right Ankle
This is the story of your red right ankle
And how it came to meet your leg
And how the muscle, bone, and sinews tangled
And how the skin was softly shed

And how it whispered, "Oh, adhere to me
For we are bound by symmetry
And whatever differences our lives have been
We together make a limb."
This is the story of your red right ankle.

This is the story of your gypsy uncle
You never knew 'cause he was dead
And how his face was carved and rift with wrinkles
In the picture in your head.

And remember how you found the key
To his hideout in the Pyrenees
But you wanted to keep his secret safe
So you threw the key away.
This is the story of your gypsy uncle.

This is the story of the boys who loved you
Who love you now and loved you then
Some were sweet, some were cruel and snuffed you
Some just laid around in bed.

Some had crumbled you straight to your knees
Did it cruel, did it tenderly
Some had crawled their way into your heart
To rent its ventricles apart
This is the story of the boys who loved you
This is the story of your red right ankle.
Track Name: The Chimbley Sweep
I am a chimbley, a chimbley sweep
No bed no lie, no shoes to hold my feet
Upon the rooftops in dead of night
You'll hear me cry, I'll shake you from your sleep

To hear me weep
"Your day will come indeed
For I am a poor and a wretched boy
A chimbley, chimbley sweep."

I am an orphan, an orphan boy
I've known no love, I've seen no mother's joy
A dirty doorstep my cradle laid
My fortune's made: I'll shake you from your sleep

To hear me weep
"Your day will come indeed
For I am a poor and a wretched boy
A chimbley, chimbley sweep."

"O lonely urchin!" the widow cried.
"I've not been swept since the day my husband died."
Her cheeks a blushing, her legs laid bare
And shipwrecked there I'll shake you from your sleep

To hear me weep
"Your day will come indeed
For I am a poor and a wretched boy
A chimbley, chimbley sweep."
Track Name: I Was Meant For The Stage
I was meant for the stage
I was meant for the curtain
I was meant to tread these boards
Of this much I am certain.

I was meant for the crowd
I was meant for the shouting
I was meant to raise my hands
With quiet all about me.

Mother, please be proud
Father, be forgiving
Even though you told me, "Son,
You'll never make a living."

And from the floorboards to the flies
Here I was fated to reside
And as I take my final bow
Was there ever any doubt?

And as the spotlights fade away
And you're escorted through the foyer
You will resume your callow ways
But I was meant for the stage.

The heavens at my birth
Intended me for stardom
Rays of light shone down on me
And all my sins were pardoned.

I was meant for applause
I was meant for derision
Nothing short of fate itself
Has affected my decision.

And from the floorboards to the flies
Here I was fated to reside
And as I take my final bow
Was there ever any doubt?

And as the spotlights fade away
And you're escorted through the foyer
You will resume your callow ways
But I was meant for the stage.
Track Name: As I Rise
I have come a few miles
I've got blisters on my slipper'd feet
As I rise
As I rise

California's okay
But I think I might stay in the shade
For a while
For a while

Ladybug, ladybird
You're the prettiest song I heard
In a while
In a while