Clockwork Music


  • Breakfast in Chemnitz
  • The Young Man with the Girlfriend & the Guitar
  • Lucky
  • We All Said Thank You Very Much 
  • Over The Hills
  • Bang! 
  • Lost in the Woods
  • My Mother Taught Me How To Waltz
  • Black & White
  • We All Said Stop The War
  • The Rainbow’s End
  • Clockwork Music

Lyrics from the album


Breakfast in Chemnitz (Chemnitz, 2002)

“Good morning, Karl,
how’s it been going?
The sun’s been shining,
& it’s been snowing
& on the Street of Nations
the wind is blowing
sharp as cheap razors…
Yes the workers of the world
have got new freedoms,
no, books aren’t burned now,
it’s just no-one reads them,
& on the Street of Nations,
now we don’t need them,
we let them eat Big Macs
for breakfast in Chemnitz…”

“Yes well,” says Karl
“I expect the Stasi
tapped all my phone calls
& took away my car keys,
but on the Street of Nations,
the trams that pass me
don’t know where they’re going…
& the problem is,
it’s still the same town,
the answer isn’t in just
changing some names round,
but on the Street of Nations,
who turns the trams round
& gets coffee hot
for breakfast in Chemnitz…”

& the workers of the world
keep working
turning base to gold,
waiting for the sun to rise
& the wind to change…

“Yes well,” says Karl,
“It was nice to chat, you
miss having breakfast
when you’re a statue,
& on the Street of Nations
there was this caff you
could get such good coffee…
Now there’s a Kaufhof
the size of Berlin,
but the sun’s still shining
& the world’s still turning
& on the Street of Nations,
the wind is blowing
sharp as black coffee,
for breakfast in Chemnitz…”

The Young Man with the Girlfriend & Guitar (Ilmenau, 2002)

It seems he still exists
I saw him just the other day, 
the next Bob Dylan
is well on his way, 
he’s got the world at his feet, 
his head is high among the stars, 
forget the puddles in the car park, 
he’s the young man
with the girlfriend & guitar. 

Da, da. da, da, da , da, da, da, da
he’s freewheelin’, the young man
with the girlfriend and guitar. 

She’s hanging on his arm & every word
like they were poetry, 
just like Suze Rotolo back in 1963,
& he tells her how it was, how it went 
as they climb into her mummy’s car, 
forget the fact he lives in Acton, 
he’s the young man… 

I must have had the wrong guitar, 
Sure never looked that way at me, 
me & my first second-hand Eko Ranger
learning G C D (Sweet Jane), 
now I do the blues in the former DDR, 
& I’m drinking to myself
& the young man… 

He’s walking through walls, 
he’s walking on water, 
while I don’t believe what I see in this mirror
he’s freewheelin’…  

Lucky (Ilmenau, 2002)

You see him every Saturday
& every Wednesday too, 
waiting for his luck to change.
You bring your quid, you join the queue,
your chance to make
your dreams come true, 
& when it does he’ll buy wings
& head south into the sun, flying.
They say money can’t buy happiness, 
at least you can have fun trying, 
when you’re lucky.  

You see her every Saturday… 

When you’re lucky 
you can stick 2 fingers up and walk away
from the job, the dole, the rain, the cold, 
the going shopping, growing old, 
& all the things you never did, 
like washing up & unmade beds, 
& all the things you did instead, 
the lonely husbands, wives and kids, 
the boss, the shite, the endless queue
of people queuing up, like you, to buy 
tickets for nowhere… 

You see them every Saturday 
& every Wednesday too, 
& maybe if he’d just look round one day 
she’s say “I’ve had enough of this,”
& he’d say “I have too,”
& they’d stick 2 fingers up and walk away, 
& of course it would be raining
& they’d have a cup of tea together,
& it might not last forever, 
but temporarily, despite the weather, 
they’d be lucky.  

You see them, not just Saturday
you see them every day, 
waiting for their luck to change, 
queuing up for water, 
queuing up for papers, 
waiting for their luck to change,
& if it does they’ll buy wings
& head north across the borer,
where there’s food & running water,
& soldiers cannot get you,
& everybody’s lucky….  

We All Said Thank You Very Much (Ilmenau, 2002)

I’m writing to say thank you very much 
for that fiver that you sent , we were most touched. 
We said: well there you are, things could be worse
as the accountant showed it briefly to the nurse.  
It’s the thought that counts with us, 
much like the pension, 
the off chance of a New Year’s Honours mention, 
when our accountant showed us his award
we quite forgot the plumbing
on the ward had broken down
& we all said: thank you very much 

Thank you for your wife & for the Queen, 
what a wonderful inspiration both have been, 
wealth & family problems – how they cope! 
What would we do without them & our soaps? 
such a comfort now that crime has been increased
old Mrs Crippen, she’s been burgled twice
& both times the police were very nice about it, 
& we all said: thank you very much

Thank you very much for those new laws, 
I can’t think how we coped with things before, 
with all those freedoms, 
& the things we’d nationalised, 
it’s all been privatised, 
& thank you for the vision and the dream, 
a modernised Great Britain at full steam, 
where every toddler surfs the internet.
It’s just a pity that our plumbing
hasn’t quite been modernised yet… 
But we all said: thank you very much.  

Over the Hills (Ilmenau 2001)

Surrounded by hills, 
the sky a thin line, 
pale gold in between
high forest, low cloud, 
the home of the poet,
the quares of great culture, 
the old workers’ quarter, 
& where the Jews had to live.  

Over the hills, snow falls like poetry, 
each flake a mystery, each flake like you & me,
over the hills, on Buchenwald. 

People like us, in weather like this, 
we never asked what happened to those
people like us in weather like this
people like us sent over the hill…

A postcard from Bechenwald, 
Bitter weather… 
the cell block… the cellars… 
the crematorium… the children’s shoes… 
the buttons from the dump., 
one shaped like a heart, & red, for love…
Just outside the wire, to entertain
he wives & children of the officers, 
they built a small zoo.
The commandant had to put up signs
ordering the guards
not to tease the animals… 

In weather like this, when it suits the state
that there’s someone to hate all over the hill, 
before the wind blows ashes like snow
people like us must learn to say “no”.

Bang! (Ilmenau, 2002) 

I’m sorry if you 
got the wrong impression, 
I never meant 
for things to go this far, 
but that signature’s a forgery, 
that photography, that isn’t me.  
I’m sure I never promised you 
the earth, the moon, the starts.  
My lawyers say
you’ll find that you’re mistaken
that piece of parchment 
isn’t worth  a damn.  
& if you want your money back 
because I won’t be coming back, 
don’t forget who made me what I am 
when the balloon went bang.  

All our operators,
have gone home now, 
it looks like all your waiting
was in vain, 
standing on your corner
like some Mary Magdalene, 
with your chocolates & your lilacs
getting ruined in the rain.  
I’m afraid
we’ve discontinued milk & honey, 
if you’re lucky
you might find a tin of spam, 
& if you want somebody 
to complain to, well I’m sorry 
don’t forget what made me what I am 
when that balloon went bang.  

Don’t blame me for the Rights of Man
these falling leaves, these grains of sand, 
this nausea, this paradox, 
this curving space, Pandora’s box, 
these clever words that never rhyme, 
you crowded out from primordial slime 
to watch the game shows on TV – not me!  

Heaven’s like 
your hotel in Majorca (unfinished) 
but you’ve done very nicely 
building hells
from the ones inside your head 
to your Gulags and KZs
the devil says you’ve all done very well.  
Except of course there isn’t any devil, 
he’s just your average Uncle Joe or Sam, 
but I thought you’d like a name,
someone else to blame
& don’t forget you made me who I am 
when that balloon went bang.  

Lost in the Woods (Amstadt & Ilmenau 2003)

You take a wrong turning,
or maybe you don’t,
the road must lead somewhere,
but maybe it won’t,
The road that you started
turns into a track,
there aren’t any signposts
& no turning back.
You’re losing the plot now
your maps are no good,
the stars don’t make sense anymore
& you’re lost in the woods.

Of course it’s a nightmare
& soon you’ll wake up
put the break on the tabl
& the tea in the cup.
But when your son has his nightmares
what can you do?
“I was lost in the soords, daddy,
& you were lost too.”
Your real father has black hair,
you’d reach him if you could,
he’s just missing in action, covered in snow
& lost in the woods.

you say you’ll be ok, you try not to cry,
at the door & the window
& the waving goodbye,
the woods full of soldiers, the dark & the cold,
there aren’t any choices, you grow up and grown old.
All our pebbles & breadcrumbs
might not do much good,
but we will light candles for each other
when we’re lost in the woods.

My Mother Taught Me How To Waltz (Ilmenau 2002/3)

I’m watching the snowflakes, those beautiful girls,
see how they pirouette, dance & swirl, 
they’re gone when you touch them, 
this world has its faults, 
but my mother taught me how to waltz.  

She taught me to glide & to count 1,2,3
for the beautiful girls she thought
waiting for me to ask them to dance, 
this world has its faults, 
but mother taught me how to waltz.  

By the time I grew up it was over forever, 
beautiful girls went to discos where everyone
danced round each other
then shagged in the car park… 
But my mother taught me how to waltz.  

I’ve a wife & two children, everthing’s fine, 
I can get through most days
on a bottle of wine, 
& I’m watching the snowflakes, 
this world has its faults, 
but my mother taught me how to waltz.  

Black & White (Leuven 2003)

The faceless peasants hug their families, 
take their places, black & white, 
beneath the battlements of the twin towers, 
the prancing horses of the knights, 
the ruthless venom of the bishops
& their shambling, helpless king, 
& the Queen in all her terrible power & glory… 

But it’s only a game, who cares who wins, 
a game of chess between good friends
You always start off with that pawn first,  
& I think: should I do too? 
You usually start off with a coffee, 
so the safest thing to do 
is to stick to drinking pintjes, 
& see who makes the first mistake, 
tonight you lose your Queen first, 
but that pawn gets me checkmate… 

Our great leaders should just sit down, 
put the pieces on the board, 
buy each other a beer or a coffee,
something we could all afford, 
& if it would be all black & white then, 
& no people need get killed, 
but our great leaders are too stupid
to understand the rules… 

Us faceless peasants hug our families..
take our places, 
black & white…

Happily Ever After

I met you at this service station
I recognised your silhouette
You had a brand-new 2nd hand Astra
but that same old cigarette
We’d been up & down the motorway
10,000 times in your old van
How long can you keep going nowhere?
You get more money in a covers band

You’re with someone I don’t remember, but I pretended that I did
Then you opened up that Astra & out tumbled all your kids
When I woke up the dream stayed with me, like a song goes round & round
Sometimes I think that it’s the dreaming more than the coming true that counts

For all that going nowhere between the darkness & the lights
We all lived happily ever after tonight.   

We All Said Stop The War (Ilmenau 2003)

I keep seeing us everwhere,
as far as the eye can see
it’s like a river overflowing…
We got Muslims, we got Christians,
we got pagans, we got Jews,
we got atheists, anarchists, socialists,
we even got a Liberal or two,
on the day we all said Stop The War.

We got keffiyehs, we got t-shirts,
hijabs & rainbos scarfs,
placards that say we’re angry,
placards that make you laugh,
we got whistles, badges, banners,
10,000 djembes & salsa band,
we got pensioners, we got pushchairs,
arm in arm & hand in hand
on the day we all said Stop The War.

We got the acrtress & the bishop,
we got tankies, we got Trots,
some got extra sandwiches
in case their mates forgot,
we got respectable housewives from suburbia
who’ve never done this sort of thing before,
with the International Sex Workers of the World
united & the boy & the girl next door
on the day we all said Stop The War.

There was wot’s’er name from off the telly,
& that blood I met called Steve,
but we are more than just 2 million,
we are Ramallah & Tel Aviv,
we are New York, Paris, Berlin, Moscow,
Cape Town, Cairo, Bangkok to Glasgow,
it’s like a river overflowing, 
on the day we all said Stop The War. 

The Rainbow’s End (Erfurt 2001)

You tell me when it’s raining, 
you tell me when it’s fine,
even when it isn’t,
like I can’t tell rain from shine.  
Anyway, I’ve heard it all before,
from the Party Men, so certain & so sure,
paradise, next year, next week,
next door, & nothing worth the price
they ask you for at the rainbow’s end.  

Now all you want is money,
all we need is youth,
in all the songs they sung me
there was precious little truth,
Anyway, a song is just a song,
the Party Men now say
our dreams were never wrong,
the Paradise that never was is gone,
we wake up , feed the kids & carry on…

The Neubaus all stands empty,
there’s no work left to do,
they’re closing down the libraries
& all the poets too.  
Just when you think you’ve heard
that sound before,
it’s just the wind come knocking at your door,
there isn’t any “somewhere”, anymore, 
& nothing worth the price they ask you for…

But sure as there is sunshine,
sure as there is rain,
surely comes the rainbow
& we start the dream again…  

Clockwork Music (Leuven-Ilmenau 2002)

The night is a crow, 
lifting black feathers to fly, 
frightened away by 
a child’s orange ball, bouncing
kaleidoscope colours into the sky, 
these are the boxes where
we keep our lives.  

The night is a crow, 
flown away back to the trees, 
but our nightmares won’t go away so easily.
They hide behind headlines
& the smiles on TV, 
these are the boxes where
we keep our lives. 

A turn of the key, 
& in these little boxes, 
mechanically & incognito, 
clokcwork music plays
& ballerinas dance…