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Discography

Her Majesty The Decemberists

Released September 2003

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  1. Shanty For The Arethusa

    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 the clipper that’s bound for South Australia
    The weather’s warm there, the natives are 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.

  2. Billy Liar

    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 shrift
    As you dole out the packages, no-one seems to want you around
    All skulking around.

    Let you legs loss 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 a no-good boyo
    Sent a-fishing for a whalebone corset frame
    (His 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 you legs loss on the lino
    ‘Til your sinews spoil
    Will you stay here for a while, dear,
    ‘Til the radio plays something familiar?
    Plays something familiar.

  3. Los Angeles, I’m Yours

    Los Angeles, I’m Yours

    There is a city by the sea
    A gentle 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 it hears
    A plaintive melody
    Truncated symphony
    An ocean’s garbled vomit on the shore,
    Los Angeles, I’m yours

    Oh ladies, pleasant and demure
    Sallow-cheeked and sure
    I can see your undies
    And all the boys you drag about
    An empty fellow found
    From Saturdays to Mondays
    You hill and valley crowd
    Hanging your trousers down at heel
    This is the realest thing
    As ancient choirs sing
    A dozen blushing cherubs wheel above
    Los Angeles I love

    Oh what a rush of wry belan (?)
    Languor on divans
    Dalliant and dainty
    But oh, the smell of burnt cocaine
    The dolor and decay
    It only makes me cranky
    Oh great calamity,
    Ditch of iniquity and tears
    How I abhor this place
    Its sweet and bitter taste
    Has left me wretched, retching on all fours
    Los Angeles, I’m yours.

  4. The Gymnast, High Above The Ground

    The Gymnast, High Above The Ground

    The gymnast, high above the ground,
    Limbers up and falls timbers down.
    Ankles splayed and all tied.
    The gymnast long has arrived.

    Lazy, your long sister lays
    Waiting out this long light brigade.
    Prayed for snow a long time.
    And lazy, 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 sounding 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 sounding 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

  5. The Bachelor And The Bride

    The Bachelor And The Bride

    There’s a wrinkle in the water
    where we laid our first daughter
    And I think the wind blows so 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 hand
    in her hand
    And his fingers are they telling
    of the barren of her belly
    And his callouses cure her furrowed 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.”

    “But I,” said the bachelor to the bride
    “am not waiting for tonight.
    No, I will box your ears
    and take your tears
    and leave you, leave you here
    stripped bare.”

  6. Song For Myla Goldberg

    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 and seaweed swim where stick-limbed Myla 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
    to 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 finiculi 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

    Still now you’re waiting to grow
    Inside you’re old
    Sew wings to your pigeon toes
    Put paper to pen
    To spell out “Eliza”
    Eliza
    Eliza

  7. The Soldiering Life

    The Soldiering Life

    Ambling madly all over the town
    The call to arms, you’re likened to a whisper
    I liken to a radio
    You were a brick bag a bowery tuff, so rough
    They called 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
    I never felt so much life
    Than tonight
    Huddled in the trenches
    Gazing on the battle field
    Our rifles blaze away
    We blaze away

    Corporal Bradley of regiment five
    And proud array standing by the bathing
    Soldiers and the stevedores
    We laid on the mattress and tumbled to sleep
    Our eyes align, swaddled in our civies
    Cradled in our dungarees

    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
    I never felt so much life
    Than tonight
    Huddled in the trenches
    Gazing on the battle field
    Our rifles blaze away
    We blaze away
    We blaze away
    We blaze away

  8. Red Right Ankle

    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 an ripped with wrinkles
    In the picture in your head
    And remember how you found the key
    To his hide-out 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
    And some were sweet and some were cold and snuffed you
    And some just layed around in bed
    And some, they crumbled you straight to your knees
    Did it cruel, did it tenderly
    Some they crawled their way into your heart
    To rend your ventricles apart
    This is the story of the boys who loved you
    This is the story of your red right ankle

  9. The Chimbley Sweep

    The Chimbley Sweep

    I am a chimbley, a chimbley sweep
    No bed to 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 are 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.”

    For I am a poor and a wretched boy
    A chimbley, chimbley sweep

  10. I Was Meant For The Stage

    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 these hands
    With quiet all about me. oh, oh.

    Mother, please, be proud.
    Father, be forgiven.
    Even though you told me
    ‘Son, you’ll never make a living.’ oh, oh.

    From the floorboards to the fly,
    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. oh, oh.

    From the floorboards to the fly,
    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.

  11. As I Rise

    As I Rise

    I have come a few miles.
    I got blisters on my slippered feet
    As I rise, as I ri-ise.
    California’s ok.
    But I think I might stay in the shade
    For a while, for a whi-ile.
    Ladybird, ladybird
    You’re the prettiest song I heard
    In a while, in a whi-ile.
    La di dah, la dah, la di dah dah dah la dah, la la la, la dah dah-ah.