When Death Went To Bed With A Lady

by Joseph Porter

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about

Now this is a turn up for the books. Mr Porter, towards the end of 1998,had taken to strumming a guitar in folk clubs. It is a side of him that some deplore, but those who have actually bothered to follow his progress over the last couple of years are forced to admit that having now come to grips with the thing, he does it rather well. The point is it's a live show, and involves a lot of talking between songs. Not even his monstrous ego is under any illusions about the entertainment value of three chords stretched over two 45 minute sets. So why record them? The firm needed something to send out as a demo. Sadly - or fortunately - the live show has more than superseded the performances on this CD, and it is now somewhat dated. It was offered up for sale largely because when all is said and done it's a good recording of 12 songs which had never been recorded before, and with the band in the workshops undergoing a major refit, who was to know when they might see the light of day. Some of the songs had been sat on the shelf for nearly a decade. Basically, if you like these lyrics, you'll like this CD. Better still, go and see a live performance. Recorded in Leeds in 1998, this is basically Mr Joseph Porter and an acoustic guitar. No overdubs, and definitely no A-flats, as that chord is a tool of Satan.

credits

released October 1, 1998

Allsongs and arrangements by Joseph Porter

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Blyth Power UK

Since 1984 Blyth Power have been playing and recording original music, which although regarded by many as fitting into the folk rock catergory goes so much further. Based around the lyrics of songwriter Joseph Porter, the band's sound is unique, and there is an atmosphere to Blyth Power that adds a depth to the music, and makes them more than just another pop group. ... more

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Track Name: The Ass In The Oak Tree
Send the hounds around the hills and make the people ring the bells
Search the houses and the fields reward the person first prepared to tell the tale
Where to seek and where to find the royal heir
Where to seek and where to find the Prince of Wales

Charles King of England ill fortune favoured thee
Who wore the crown and bore the sceptre undeservedly
Who left a son behind him who escaped across the sea
To return and raise the Scots against the parliamentaries

Lured south by guile and strategy with Worcester standing by
Outmatched and outmanoeuvred the prince was forced to fly
With many a mile to travel over many a mile to fly
Through many a hostile dawn concealed from many a watchful eye

With Matty Col and Tabitha I tracked the villain down
That all in a hollow oak tree in a forest glade was found
While his faithful old retainer stripped the branches all around
And searched for grubs and beetles in the leaf mould on the ground

I advanced into the clearing I addressed the royal tree
I deplore the use of force I said to intemperate degrees
But there's a cell in Worcester castle measures seven foot by three
My orders are to place you there and throw away the key

To Matty Col and Tabitha I said now we'll have some fun
And we beat and bit and kicked him 'til his royal senses spun
And his trousers stuffed with nettles 'til his royal jelly stung
His face was caked and bleeding and his clothes in tatters hung

As he wept and begged for mercy sore amazed was I to see
The son of a king knelt grovelling before the likes of me
He offered his servant's sexual favours money his ransom for to pay
If we'd betray the axe of parliament and send him on his way
Track Name: Fleurs Du Mal
Down on the street the trumpets blew
As a thousand ragged standards flew
But the drum beat's pattern never changed
As a clamouring rose from the street outside
The council fell to their knees and cried
With the peasants we must treat without delay

But there are rights of man and a rule of law
One for the rich and one for the poor
And one for a king that God anointed made
In consequence negotiations I disdain

Marie-Antoinette concurred
If they have no bread the Queen observed
And won't eat cake feed them hay
But let them shout and let them starve
While they cut the world in half
To our chamber let us take ourselves away

Then hand in hand to the brandy cask
We matched each other glass for glass
Kicked off our shoes composed ourselves to pray

Then all night through and the livelong day
Beneath royal courtly charms we lay
And thanks for all our blessings gave
While the people fought the people roared
Shook their fists at the palace walls
Broke the door and the bars gave way
And they found us there in deepest dreams
Conscience clear in sleep serene
In the sunbeam's blessed rays

Then a messenger came from the outer wall
Pressed his face to the marble floor
Excuse my intrusion majesties
But your guards are fighting hand to hand
In the western halls and the barbican
I deem it meet and prudent now to leave

But Marie-Ann the Queen and I
Sent him back to the walls to die
Took to our bed and dismissed the chambermaid
Track Name: Cider Dreaming Time
How's the weather Jack? It's terribly cold
The wind's up from Weston I'm whipped to the bone
And there's frost on the hedges and ice upon the road

The blacksmith's still ringing the morning's half gone
My legs are too short my greatcoat's too long
And my throat is as dry as the cider memories strong

The blackthorn with ivy is tangled around
Here on the hillside at the edge of the town
Where old friends lie buried in the cemetery ground

Amidst bottles and barrels and collapsible chairs
We danced in the tent at the Caryland Fair
Though I would never have asked were I sober
So I'll thank you to answer me frankly I think I'm prepared

I was a stoker called up to the sea
Of thunder and battle I distantly dreamed
While I stoked the furnaces and swore at the smoke and the steam

Long nights at the drill hall with the local home guard
Were battles with skittles Woodbines and darts
Watched by pictures of film stars who smiled from cigarette cards

On the Great Western Railway the company store
Took air-raid precautions the fortunes of war
Filled the streets with American soldiers
Who were sport for my daughters the long and the short and the small

Come foxhounds and hunters in topcoats and tails
I'll follow on with my shovel and pail
For there's nothing so fine for the roses
And I grant you my garden grows nicely but Lord how it smells

I'll find my way home in a moment or more
To the black Suffolk-latch on the yellow street door
Where my heart knows the way but my feet aren't always sure

Now the cups in the cupboard mean nothing to me
The matches the kettle the sugar and the tea
Are all lost in the kitchen with the mice and the memories

But if life is all stories in parallel lines
That the present the past and the future define
I promise before I'm much older
That we'll meet again in the Cider Dreaming Time
Track Name: After The Horse Has Bolted
The city lay flattened and churned
The heroes weary homeward turned
Hunger sated victory earned
Priam's palace sacked and burned

That's where they washed the spears
That's where they fought for ten long years

But the cat has run away with the cream
Left their king with a half spent queen
So all is not as well as it seems
As they act the great reunion scene

But that's how it has to be
That's what the men expect to see

Not Helen stony-faced
Forced to confront her dark disgrace
Limp in her husband's bleak embrace
She said revenge is sweet enjoy the taste

If that's what you wantIs that why you came
You made your bed now you'd better make it over again

Said Menelaus adressing the sea
Did all the cream of our mythology
Cross the world to restore to me
The biggest whore in the Pelopenese

Is that why we lit the fuse
Is that what we fought so hard to do

I was visited she replied
Stung by a devil that itched inside
That split me open and forced me wide

And he was far far richer than you
Hung like a centaur handsome too

And I'd never wanted anything more
I never had it better than this before
I never asked for war
I really didn't think it would matter at all

Because that's what people do
And that's why I half assumed
You'd do it to me so I might as well do it to you

It's celebrated in popular verse
How Helen went from bad to worse
Actors soldiers and athlete's cursed
The gorgon's head beneath her skirts

But that's what people said
It's got teeth and fangs and serpent's heads

And classical history states
That she lived on down from age to age
Star of record screen and stage
For the public's pleasure and the public's rage

Because that's what people want
That's what people need
As only a fool would refuse to accept or believe

Only a fool like me
Track Name: Death And A Lady
Death swept away by a lady
In the course of his duties espied
In robes richly dressed embarked upon his quest
For glory as an angel disguised
He let the groom take his horse to the stable
By the butler was conducted to her side
His heart he produced as he knelt and pressed his suit
And engaged her affectionate eye

Away then she led him to her chamber
To listen while he told her of his plans
And there without duress over menthol cigarettes
She readily gave in to his demands
Sir she said I'd never trust a stranger
But since you are an angel I'll be damned
He stripped and he peeled 'til his long bones revealed
He said here I have damnation in my hand

Then Death went to bed with the lady
Coupling they cast their masks aside
He rattled shook and roared while she beneath implored
As he took her where no doves will ever fly
Then sir she said you never were an angel
When trembling they had quenched each other's fires
He answered her no nor ever will be so
And you never were an angel besides

They fled and were wed fast together
Each strives to keep the other satisfied
But somewhere far away it's over darkness and the grave
That death and his lady preside
Track Name: The Glorious Vanquished
Are they blind these lords of Gaza in their strong towers
Who declare Samson pillow smothered and stripped of his powers
O stolid Philistines stare now in amaze
At my foxes running in your cornfields with their tales ablaze
At swung jawbone and bees swarming in the stark lion's hide
At these the gates of well-walled Gaza a-clank to my stride

Are we blind these days or am I blinder still
That would bend their rule of iron to my weaker will
Now fine flung phrases and stumbling disbelief
At the jagged stone embrasures and the broken teeth
Of fallen angels across the spiked cannon in the gun pits splayed
Won't chase the eager ravens from the open grave

Then the barracks rang with laughter I'm the fool
Who sought to chase the lamprey from the lily pool
Who went to tilt at windmills but only fire breathing dragons found
That singed the laurel branches from the heroes brow
Who from the saddle crashing through briar patches to the ground
Cast aside my colours and made good my rout

Now the giants armour flashing and the wild jackal's bark
Make David cast his slingshot missiles wide of the mark
Sportsmen wager as Daniel meets his end
Forsaken by his maker in the lion's den
And Christ our Saviour bloody in the tomb still lay
When Mary knelt beside him on the third day
Christ our Saviour bloody in the tomb was lain
Nor rose He thereafter but died in vain
Track Name: Devil And Sister Helena
Sister Helena has cast off her veil
Hung up her habit abandoned her cell
She's run away from the priory bells
Her vows and virtues forsaking

She's rented a house on the Yarlington Road
There in the ever-green garden to grow
Lichens and ivy and stools for the toads
And mosses for poultices making

Of Sister Helena the ladies believe
That her left foot is cloven she walks in her sleep
That naked by moonlight she dances with beasts
But no one can claim to have seen her

There's rumours there's hearsay and travellers tales
That she's taken in tomcats and cowry shells
For mustering magic and murmuring spells
To answer the Devil's subpoena

Behind Flemish lace curtains they're venting their spleen
They'll be wagging their tongues as they're pouring the tea
So it's best if you're not in her company seen
It just breeds conjecture and scandal

And you won't be forgiven you won't be excused
For they haven't much patience they haven't much use
For a bird in the bush as what's sauce for the goose
Is a kick in the balls for the gander

So don't tell me lies
If your alibi isn't watertight
Tell me where were you on Saturday night
That's when I saw you under the yellow street light
With the Devil and Sister Helena
Track Name: To Whose Gods
Man has raised the pyramids alone
Has mountains through his efforts and endeavours overthrown
With pain strength and discipline his deities outgrown
And carved his initials on their stones

Let the earth move the monuments and mounds
Let acid rain eradicate and the rolling oceans pound
What can never last forever let in time be broken down
And let history cast the ruins underground

Of the stone circles fallen and decayed
Let quarrymen and masons come and take the bones away
Ship them out from railheads a thousand tons a day
And let no trace or memory remain

To new skies the wire towers reach
In factories in railway yards and iron foundries
At Cambois power station lying smouldering by the sea
And to new Gods let these cathedrals be

And when the time capsule opens on our age
Will a future generation stand bewildered and amazed
Among the brick stacks cooling towers and masonry remains
And ask to whose Gods were these cathedrals raised?
Track Name: Edward Lay Bare
To Wallis A Sonnet
At night the unrepentant head
Of Wallis shares the royal bed
Where Wallis lays with royal Edward bare
To share his sleep and share his dreams
To dip his royal thighs between
The duties of a royal queen to share

There were strangers at the station
Conversations strained
Journalists debating at the bar
An equerry was waiting
To lead you to the train
And there was Special Branch protection in the Pullman restaurant car

Let the House of commons bicker
Let the palace bolt its doors
Don't let Alice through the looking glass today
The transatlantic clipper
Is ready now to board
So what the Lord has given
Let the lady take away

And underneath the royal cot
Scented with forget-me-nots
In Royal Doulton chamber pots their confluence prepares
To lay Edward bare

Edward Lay Bare
Empire O Empire what has begun
Lust has betrayed your most royal of sons
That King was anointed whose reign had begun
Scandal betrayal and ruin overcome
And squandered a birthright for a beggarly sum
But such is his will and a King's will be done

Captain my Captain make up your mind
Pack up your troubles or leave them behind
A horse for your kingdom but not for your wife
Stand up and whisper or stand up and fight
Stand up and be counted or lay down and die
Most royal most regal most ridiculous knight

It's all up with you
Harry George the lion and the unicorn too
Britannia won't waive the rules
Clear out your desk and give us the keys to your room
Hang up your crown on the hook in the hall
Put on your outdoor shoes and pull the door to

Edward O Edward eighth of that name
Biting your tongue as you struggle and strain
The taxis are waiting she's chartered a plane
Van Dieman has asked you to dinner again
And Chancellor Hitler is tugging your chain
Get off the pot now and let them take you away

It's all up with you
Harrods Lourdes the wines and the Wimbledons too
You're over and done with you're through
Try to reflect with pride and dignity do
Goodbye to Hello and Vanity Fair and the rest of the press reviews
You're yesterday's news

It's all up with you
Bride on a broomstick glide down the underground gloom
In Deathrace 2002
A nation of ignorance washing their hands in your wounds
Thou saint and redeemer our saviour and queen
Did you cry for the camera crew
On the third day when they opened your tomb
Track Name: Valley Of The Kings
Father forgive me I'm going to sin
I'm going to phone another sick day in
Make sure the six o'clock alarm bell never rings
It's still dark in the morning at five fifteen
The hands of the clock glow luminous green
They don't care that I've unfinished business in unfinished dreams
Wake me up gently with kindness and tact
My vision is dim and my jawline slack
When my system has been disconnected my limbs won't react

When God made man in his image in clay
He made him to move in mysterious ways
But God is in trouble if He can't do without me today

Father forgive me don't answer the door
Don't open the curtains and if the agency call
Tell them I won't kiss the hem of their robe anymore
You can say I'm in trouble tell them I'm ill
Tell them my haemorrhoids are troubling me still
If you'll make my excuses you can tell them whatever you will

Wake me up gently but don't make me go
I don't want to hear and I don't want to know
That I'm not going to reap what I can't make the effort to sow

Dawn breaking down the Valley of the Nile
Get ready to work all day among the sandstone piles
Here's the whip the bit the pick to split the clay
And your muddy hands to clear the spoil away
Congratulations the job's yours
Here's your sweatsuit and your coveralls
Here's the whip the bit the pick to split the clay
And your muddy hands to clear the spoil away
And here's the spit you've got to lick to strip your dignity away

Father forgive me you always do
You know I've come to depend on you
I know that you don't understand you don't have to approve
Discretely and silently steal from the room
Leave me in tumbling down entombed
Entrapped in my fragrant surroundings in slumber cocooned
Track Name: Rubenstein
Lady Barnard had been slaughtered her lover too was killed
As a thousand farmer's daughters lie deflowered in the fields
We can all join hands in a floral dance and rehearse our juggling skills

Aaron Isaac Rubenstein his home was forced to flee
Refuge took in Hamburg in 1943
And along the Baltic seabord with a false identity

They came and took his family and great it gave him pain
For they sent them off to Poland in cattle trucks entrained
Left him nothing but his wedding ring and his father's watch and chain

Now it's of four and twenty Nazis my story I will tell
They came early in the morning and caught him unawares
Took him by the left leg and flung him down the stairs

First they robbed him of his watch and chain, they robbed him of his ring
And with forty jolly jackboots they kicked him cheek and chin
And when they broke his little fingers o for pity he did sing

Said Amon Düul the commandant said Amon Düul said he
You are a son of Abraham as we can plainly see
So you must off to Buchenwald where hanged you will be

Möller got his wedding ring the Devil took his fee
The state had all his money and the world his legacy
But Sturmbahnfuhrer Neumann gave the watch and chain to me

Aaron's with his maker now and tonight will merry be
And the lesson of this tragedy for a lesson there must be
Is that rape abuse and murder are no cause for levity
Track Name: Wintersfiend
Spring rises green on the hillside
Scarlet her mantle unfolds
The hart and the hare for battle prepare
As Winter relaxes her hold
The bullocks aroused on the meadow
By Chauntacleers rose before dawn
While little boy blue wonders dazed and confused
For whom should he blow on his horn

She said come to my house and you won't want to leave in the morning
She said if you once leave your boots at my door
She has prepared with meticulous care
Through the eyes of her spies and informants
But if she fails then to soothe and protect her bruised self-respect
She must endeavour to compromise yours

Borne in on a riptide of brambles
Her retinue spread like a tail
Spangled and maned with the sun in her train
Summer broke into the pale
To camp on the roof of the forest
Through the green fields they clattered and danced
Until sated and spent they collapsed in their tents
And extinguished the hurricane lamps

Then she offered to light me a candle
She promised to summon by bells
The birds and the bees and down on her knees
Offered weddings and beddings as well
But your hope bites a bullet in anger
Roses are red as your glare
Lavender's blue but what can you do
When Johnny won't come to the fair

This summer has been too demanding
I've never dug deeper before
But it strikes me as hard that I've travelled so far
And have nothing to show for it all
So I'll be glad when the season is over
And Winter along in a while
With the wind and the rain to blight and blacken your name
To hammer to crack and bespatter and slacken your smile

She says pack up the sauce of your troubles and kick them behind you
She says don't let them darken your door
She writes with fire on ice to comfort protect and remind you
That she'll be there sooner than you expect
With deepest respect
Fraternally and gratefully yours