Peter Hammill - (In the) Black Room


(In the) Black Room

I - In the Black Room (I)
I was thinking about thinking
but it really didn't get me very far,
so I thought I'd throw a Tarot,
but I only got the Priestess and the Star.
There's a shadow cast on my future
Past the room and I agree to buy some time....
The cards don't tell truth nor lies,
only options and cusp lines:
the furniture in the black room.
I've been thinking about acid,
but, it seems, there's not a reason to believe.
I don't make a vital breakthrough
and it walks me like a dog upon a lead.
It's all unreal and, the way I feel,
I'd like to try and make it on my own....
Going to the feelings is fine:
I really have me a good pleasure cruise.
But, deep in my mind,
I'm no better or worse, just open to the walls.
Paint peels in the black of my room.
I'm only talking about myself, ordering my treasure shelf,
documenting present feelings as the future sets me reeling....
What I'll be is what I am,
I'm simply trying not to sham or fake.
Use vision as sense and not as crutch!
It doesn't matter all that much;
in the end we will all survive,
I'm trying not to pawn my life.
When I'm (maybe) old and strait-laced,
shall I then deny all that I feel?
In words of bitter compromise,
re-smelt the wrath that's in my eyes like steel?
Be a hermit then?
Or be a miser?
Be a man who hasn't managed yet to write his rules?
The Fool?
The future holds my hand in the room....
Well, then, my ghosts shall steer down through the years
and lay a hand upon my soul
like ice.
II - The Tower
So: onto the familiar top steps!
In cloud-scud moonlight glow
the Tower reels.
Am I, the blind man,
feeling for a path I know...
don't you know that I'm only feeling for how to feel?
Rats run.
Snakes coil.
stare out at the whispering night;
rub mud on their arms.
Mud boils.
whimper in the human vortex;
faces glow of worms.
III – Thunder
I think it's coming,
all signs are very near, all signs are that
pain shall come
and change shall run
down through my heart
and shake my knees
and now it is coming,
all around is the humming
of the World.
Too late, with my balance gone,
dead-eyed doll,
I'm falling, falling
back to where I began....
IV - In the Black Room (II)
I'm feeling like a kid again,
I'm feeling like I just walked in the door,
and with my head on fire
I wrote this song - I don't know who it's for.
Hands held fast in camera,
I'll swear I heard the Stammerer exclaim:
"I am a traveller, unraveller,
I only live through pain, and shame, and change!"
In my room, the secret tomb, I can see
future forms, space-time storms:
they're all me,
and I've only got to choose!
In my head I am dead, if I fall
in the trap,
the subtle lap,
a safety's pall....
but I'm living while I choose....
투고자: AldefinaAldefina, 火, 25/09/2018 - 17:53
최종 수정: sandringsandring, 火, 12/11/2019 - 10:56
투고자 코멘트:

Lyrics were copied from Peter Hammill's official site, but I corrected them according to what I was able to hear.

고마워요!감사 1회 받음


Peter Hammill: 상위 3
Idioms from "(In the) Black Room"
PiperAtDawnPiperAtDawn    月, 11/11/2019 - 18:44

The word past should be in the previous line ("There's a shadow cast on my future past"). Also, there shouldn't be an "a" before "safety" in "safety's pall".

AldefinaAldefina    月, 11/11/2019 - 22:38

I wonder why do you think the lyrics I submitted were wrong? I took them from Peter Hammill's official site ( - as always - but - as always - I corrected them according to what I heard, that's why these parts you mentioned were changed.

What you wrote is the same as on sofasound, but he clearly sings "a" and it cannot be "on my future past.", because he doesn't sing it this way.

Please, listen carefully to these parts and you will come to the same conclusion.

BTW, I also corrected many other lyrics from that source, because we should translate what the singer sings and not what was published somewhere, even if it were a Hammill's official site. Many lyrics there don't fit with the same song, so if you find a similar case before asking me to change what I already changed listen carefully, 'cause I can also make mistakes. Regular smile

PiperAtDawnPiperAtDawn    月, 11/11/2019 - 22:58

Yeah, I guess you're right with "a", I didn't even notice. But I'm pretty sure he sings "on my future past", it's one sentence rhythmically, and it makes sense as a way to condense "There's a shadow cast between the future and the past" to fit the meter. It doesn't really make sense to put it in the next sentence.

AldefinaAldefina    月, 11/11/2019 - 23:06

Let me disagree. The way he sings "Past the room" seems to be a one phrase and of course it makes sense. Why not?

[@sandring] Am I right, Nadia?

PiperAtDawnPiperAtDawn    月, 11/11/2019 - 23:25

Well, firstly because it drastically changes the meaning of "There's a shadow cast between the future and the past". He's obviouslty talking about the past here, so even if he changes the words around to better fit the meter it should still be about the past, not something going past the room. Secondly, the phrase in the second sentence is "the room and I agree to buy some time". "Past" doesn't fit there at all, unless you remove the period, then it makes sense, but it's still a very strange sentence (and yes, "future past" is also a strange phrase, but you can see the idea - the current present will be the past of the future, the "future past", which matches being between the future and the past in the other version of the lyrics). But in the lyrics he uploaded the second sentence is "the room and I agree to buy some time", there's nothing going past the room and it doesn't make sense to move "past" there if you're condensing these two lines to better sing them. And thirdly, just try reading it while putting even a small pause between these two sentences:

There's a shadow cast on my future.
Past the room and I agree to buy some time....

It becomes completely lopsided towards the second sentence! However, if you read it as:

There's a shadow cast on my future past.
The room and I agree to buy some time....

while putting a pause between the sentences, it sounds rhythmically pleasing. You can even make the pause as long as you want, it reads well this way. When he sings it, he slightly extends the word "future", so the division after "past" becomes less pronounced, but that's just two sentences being sung very close together.

sandringsandring    火, 12/11/2019 - 10:24

Absolutely. He sings "Past the room" - That's a modifier of place.

PiperAtDawnPiperAtDawn    火, 12/11/2019 - 10:45

Okay, so I'll make one last argument. Let's say it's a modifier of place. What does "Past the room and I agree to buy some time...." even mean? It doesn't make sense. And why would "past" in the version on his official site:

There's a shadow cast between the future and the past;
the room and I agree to buy some time....

Change from "past" as in time there to a modifier of place here:

There's a shadow cast between the future and the past;
the room and I agree to buy some time....

That would mean he decided to rearrange the words to fit the meter, but make past have a different meaning. And you could say "the room and I agree to buy some time...." is a silly sentence, and that's true, but it's there in a version he himself uploaded, so it's obviously intended.

AldefinaAldefina    月, 11/11/2019 - 23:29

Okay, let's leave it until Nadia replies. First I would like to know her opinion.

AldefinaAldefina    月, 11/11/2019 - 23:37

Sorry, it's time for me to go to bed now. Just one thought: The sentence The room and I agree to buy some time sounds even more strange to me and doesn't seem to make sense. Can a room agree? Room has no will and cannot express its emotions, 'cause it cannot have them. Well, that's what the logic tells me. On the other hand poetry doesn't have to be logical... Just a thought...

PiperAtDawnPiperAtDawn    火, 12/11/2019 - 08:28

Oh yes, the sentence is obviously silly, but it's there in the other version on his site, so it has to be intended.

AldefinaAldefina    火, 12/11/2019 - 16:08

Don't trust the lyrics you can find on the artists sites. And don't think that artists upload them. Even in booklets added to CDs there are mistakes. I can recall at least one case with Chris de Burgh - "Spanish Train". That's why I correct what I submit, but I can also misinterpret what I hear.

As for the strangeness of this part it's not the first lyrics with such strange expressions. I interpret them my way when translating. That gives me the freedom for expressing how I understand these lyrics and I find it great. Those who prefer literal translations should stay away from Hammills songs.

PiperAtDawnPiperAtDawn    水, 13/11/2019 - 07:35

I'm pretty sure Hammill either personally manages the site or provides the text to put there since all of the news updates are written from his perspective, and he has a history of writing updates for fans with his newsletter. Also, knowing how he treats his music, I don't think he'd like drastically incorrect lyrics to be on his official site. The only reason I'm meantioning strangeness is because that's one of the arguments against my proposed version of the lyrics. Personally I find "The room and I agree to buy some time" to be completely fine, and certainly in line with other turns of phrase that he likes to use like "Now I am the stranger I stay in", but since I don't know exactly what he means by the room agreeing with him to buy some time, I can't really make the argument in favor of that on the merits of what it actually means.

sandringsandring    火, 12/11/2019 - 11:00

There's a shadow cast on my future past the room - that's the sentence. I've deleted the full stop that used to be there.
PiperAtDawn, that's exactly what Peter is singing on this very video. Why - only he himself can answer.

sandringsandring    水, 13/11/2019 - 07:52

Vadim, Andrzej and I as a mod and an editor have to follow THIS site's rules which tell us to put down the lyrics sung in a video. In my translation, you can get the idea of a shadow cast on Peter's future past the room. It's pretty clear. I've been into Peter's lyrics for a couple of decades and I hope I understand him well enough. Let's not dwell on this matter any longer. Thank you for understanding Regular smile