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Paris 1919
John Cale Lyrics


She makes me so unsure of myself
Standing there but never ever talking sense
Just a visitor you see
So much wanting to be seen
She'd open up the doors and vaguely carry us away

It's the customary thing to say or do
To a disappointed proud man in his grief
And on Fridays she'd be there
But on Mondays not at all
Just casually appearing from the clock across the hall

You're a ghost, la la la la la la la la la
You're a ghost, la la la la la la la la la
I'm the church and I've come
To claim you with my iron drum
La la la la la la

The Continent's just fallen in disgrace
William, William, William Rogers put it in its place
Blood and tears from old Japan
Caravans and lots of jam
And maids of honor singing, crying, singing tediously

You're a ghost, la la la la la la la la la
Yes, you're a ghost, la la la la la la la la la
I'm the bishop and I've come
To claim you with my iron drum
La la la la la la

Efficiency, efficiency, they say
Get to know the date and tell the time of day
As the crowds begin complaining
How the Beaujolais is raining
Down on darkened meetings on the Champs-Élysées

You're a ghost, la la la la la la la la la
You're a ghost, la la la la la la la la la
And I'm the church and I've come
To claim you with my iron drum
La la la la la la

You're a ghost, la la la la la la la la la
You're a ghost, la la la la la la la la la
I'm the church and I've come
To claim you with my iron drum
La la la la la la

You're a ghost, la la la la la la la la la
You're a ghost, la la la la la la la la la
I'm the church and I've come
To claim you with my iron drum
La la la la la la

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group
Written by: John Davies Cale

Lyrics Licensed & Provided by LyricFind
To comment on specific lyrics, highlight them
Most interesting comments from YouTube:

Marco T

She makes me so unsure of myself
Standing there but never ever talking sense
Just a visitor you see
So much wanting to be seen
She'd open up the doors and vaguely carry us away
It's the customary thing to say or do
To a disappointed proud man in his grief
And on Fridays she'd be there
But on Mondays not at all
Just casually appearing from the clock across the hall
You're a ghost, la la la la la la la la la
You're a ghost, la la la la la la la la la
I'm the church and I've come
To claim you with my iron drum
La la la la la la
The Continent's just fallen in disgrace
William, William, William Rogers put it in its place
Blood and tears from old Japan
Caravans and lots of jam
And maids of honor singing, crying, singing tediously
You're a ghost, la la la la la la la la la
Yes, you're a ghost, la la la la la la la la la
I'm the bishop and I've come
To claim you with my iron drum
La la la la la la
Efficiency, efficiency, they say
Get to know the date and tell the time of day
As the crowds begin complaining
How the Beaujolais is raining
Down on darkened meetings on the Champs-Élysées
You're a ghost, la la la la la la la la la
You're a ghost, la la la la la la la la la
And I'm the church and I've come
To claim you with my iron drum
La la la la la la
You're a ghost, la la la la la la la la la
You're a ghost, la la la la la la la la la
I'm the church and I've come
To claim you with my iron drum
La la la la la la
You're a ghost, la la la la la la la la la
You're a ghost, la la la la la la la la la
I'm the church and I've come
To claim you with my iron drum
La la la la la la



/x/lurker

I've got a history degree and while I won't consider myself an "expert," my favorite period to study is around 1880-1930 which includes the period he's writing about here. I heard this song on the radio about a year ago and it became one of my favorites. I'll go line by line to say what my personal interpretation is.

"She makes me so unsure of myself
Standing there but never ever talking sense
Just a visitor you see
So much wanting to be seen
She'd open up the doors and vaguely carry us away."

-I'm not really sure what this is supposed to mean

"It's the customary thing to say or do
To a disappointed proud man in his grief"

-I interpret the "disappointed proud man" to be Europe itself, the nations of Europe directly before WWI considered themselves to be the most civilized nations in the world, but the extreme barbarism and cruelty of the war shook that belief within the European conscience. The most disappointed proud man would be Germany I suppose, who lost their overseas empire and had to pay reparations as a result of the war.

"And on Fridays she'd be there
But on Mondays not at all
Just casually appearing from the clock across the hall"

-Not sure what he's meaning here.

[Chorus]
You're a ghost la la la la la la la la la
You're a ghost la la la la la la la la la
I'm the church/bishop and I've come
To claim you with my iron drum
La la la la la la la la la la

-To me this is referencing how a lost or dead "ghost" of European identity was "claimed" in many nations by extremist political ideologies such as fascism. The references to "church" and "bishop" give a sense of something being dogmatic and authoritarian, and the "iron drum" is to me a reference to war, or militant philosophy. I.e. "drums of war," "iron" tools of war. Europe's identity and pride was shattered after WWI, and in many nations fascism arose to "claim" a sense of identity and history in those nations. For instance, Mussolini's Italy had the idea that they would reclaim the glory of ancient Rome, and Nazi Germany claimed itself as the successor of the Holy Roman Empire and the German Empire (Third Reich). A "bishop" claimed Europe's identity and pride with his "iron drum."

"The Continent's just fallen in disgrace
William William William Rogers put it in its place"

-"The Continent" obviously refers to Europe, which fell into disgrace during the war. "William(x3) Rogers" I think refers to both Captain William Wendell Rogers, a Canadian flying ace during WWI, and perhaps Buck Rogers, an American science fiction character who was an American veteran of WWI. Both refer to men from overseas who came to Europe to "put it in it's place." Many of the current and former colonies of European countries believed Europe to be the most civilized place in the world, but had that belief shaken or shattered when they came to Europe to fight and saw the sheer brutality of the war that Europeans had created and waged against each-other. People from French and British colonies in Africa and India were shipped to Europe to fight, and saw the nations they had been told all their lives were a superior civilization engaged in horrific bloodshed. This revelation was the cause of many anti-colonial sentiments back in European colonies, as colonial soldiers who came back from Europe no longer believed Europeans were as civilized as they had been told.

"Blood and tears from old Japan"

-Dignitaries from Japan were present at the 1919 treaty meeting, an "old" nation whose role in the war was very remote to Europeans. It was perhaps a sign of how small the world was becoming.

"Caravans and lots of jam
and maids of honor
Singing crying singing tediously"

-I know jam was a prized commodity among British soldiers during the war, and being able to have lots of it and go on vacations in caravans after the war was a sign of the prosperity to come. Maids of honor crying could represent women who lost sons and husbands in the war?

(Musical Break)

-Represents the peace and tranquility after the war has ended

"Efficiency efficiency they say
Get to know the date and tell the time of day"

-Could represent how efficient and industrial the world had become by this point in time, and how past ways of life were rapidly transitioning.

"As the crowds begin complaining
How the Beaujolais is raining
Down on darkened meetings on the Champs Elysées"

-Might reference how the average person complains about trivial matters such as wine, while "darkened meetings" (of radical political activists) are taking place that will change Europe's fate.

Anyway that's my personal take on it. It's a great song no matter how you interpret the lyrics!



Sergio Q

She makes me so unsure of myself
Standing there but never talking sense
Just a visitor you see
So much wanting to be seen
She'd open up the door and vaguely carry us away
It's the customary thing to say or do
To a disappointed proud man in his grief
And on Fridays she'd be there
And on Wednesday not at all
Just casually appearing from the clock across the hall
You're a ghost la la la
You're a ghost
I'm in the church and I've come
To claim you with my iron drum
La la la
The Continent's just fallen in disgrace
William William William Rogers put it in its place
Blood and tears from old Japan
Caravans and lots of jam and maids of honor
Singing crying singing tediously
Efficiency efficiency they say
Get to know the date and tell the time of day
As the crowds begin complaining
How the Beaujolais is raining
Down on darkened meetings on Champs Elysee



Claudio

She makes me so unsure of myself
Standing there but never talking sense
Just a visitor you see
So much wanting to be seen
She'd open up the door and vaguely carry us away
It's the customary thing to say or do
To a disappointed proud man in his grief
And on Fridays she'd be there
And on Wednesday not at all
Just casually appearing from the clock across the hall
You're a ghost la la la
You're a ghost
I'm in the church and I've come
To claim you with my iron drum
La la la
The Continent's just fallen in disgrace
William William William Rogers put it in its place
Blood and tears from old Japan
Caravans and lots of jam and maids of honor
Singing crying singing tediously
Efficiency efficiency they say
Get to know the date and tell the time of day
As the crowds begin complaining
How the Beaujolais is raining
Down on darkened meetings on Champs Elysee



Gabriela Luz

Lyrics:
She makes me so unsure of myself
Standing there but never ever talking sense
Just a visitor you see
So much wanting to be seen
She'd open up the door and vaguely carry us away

It's the customary thing to say or do
To a disappointed proud man in his grief
And on Fridays she'd be there
But on Monday's not at all
Just casually appearing from the clock across the hall

You're a ghost la la la
You're a ghost
I'm in the church and I've come
To claim you with my iron drum
La la la

The Continent's just fallen in disgrace
William William William Rogers put it in its place
Blood and tears from old Japan
Caravans and lots of jam and maids of honor
Singing crying singing tediously

You're a ghost la la la
You're a ghost
I'm the bishop and I've come
To claim you with my iron drum la la la

Efficiency efficiency they say
Get to know the date and tell the time of day
As the crowds begin complaining
How the Beaujolais is raining
Down on darkened meetings on Champs Elysee

You're a ghost la la la....



All comments from YouTube:

chris gordon

I heard this song for the first time yesterday and cannot stop playing it. Brilliant!

Mick Cullen

It's on my personal shortlist of truly perfect songs.

Clare Mccarron

And I heard it for the first time today. I also think .... brilliant!

lyonslaforet

Ditto for me except that I've been listening to John Cale for several years but I discovered this gem again only recently.

eruption257

I'm in the exact same situation today. I can't get over it.

Madeline H

This song is probably my earliest memory I can conjure. This has always been my dad's favorite song and since I was a baby he listens to this song all the time. A beautiful classic

saltemann

papi has good taste

mynosalad

I can't emphasize how well composed this song is, a truly great example of minimalism and Satie's influence on Cale.

David Hagan

I always get a shiver down my spine when he sings the lines "As the crowds begin complaining / how the Beaujolais is raining / down on darkened meetings on the Champs-Élysées..."

jh8856

There is nothing in pop music quite like this - which is as big a compliment I can make. The single greatest thing cale has ever done - and I bet secretly he knows it! And as others have said, the whole album is one of the greatest ever made. Wonderful lyrics too, no idea what they mean but a perfect match of words and music.

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