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Marillion - Script for a Jester's Tear CD (album) cover





4.24 | 2069 ratings

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5 stars The year was 1983. Music charts were filled with what we would later come to realize was some of the worst music ever committed to vinyl – Michael Jackson, Culture Club, Wham!, Spandau Ballet, The Eurythmics, Paul Young, Men at Work… heavy drinking and depression seemed to be the only answer.

And to make things worse, all my mystic heroes from our days of musical nirvana were abandoning us in search of pop stardom and fleeting fame – Genesis, Kansas, ELP, Yes, Pink Floyd, and King Crimson were all laying down turds they would spend the next decade trying to distance themselves from. I was spending my days trying to find some comfort in the modest efforts of Asia, Saga, and the technically excellent but hard to stomach Rush, wearing out all my old albums, and trying to get through the long, cold winter in my college dormitory with some semblance of sanity intact.

Then, as the snow gave way to early spring, I happened across a most unusual import album cover on a fresh-air trip to my local new & used record shop. The cover showed a creepy-looking, caffeine and cigarette addled jester clutching his violin and struggling to pen the notes to some (presumably) brilliant and angst- ridden epic. I spent hours just studying the album artwork after shelling out $10 to make it mine. The crinkled up parchment with the lyrics to Yesterday lying in the violin case; the out-of-place horned lizard perched on the hard-backed wooden chair; the magazines, newspapers, and album covers strewn about the back cover (including what appears to be a copy of Floyd’s A Saucerful of Secrets lying on the floor). Who the hell were these guys, and what was one of their albums doing in a neighborhood record shop in Wichita, Kansas?

So I played it. And played it. And played it. Couldn’t get enough. The voice of Fish was haunting, abrasive, strident, but most of all intoxicating. This was a guy who was really going through some kind of mental distress, and I could feel it in every note. The production was crisp, clear (compared to the muddy mixes of the 70’s I was used to at the time). The spitting contempt in lines “To eliminate those who would trespass against you” and “Death in the shadows he'll maim you, he'll wound you, he'll kill you for a long forgotten cause” on Forgotten Sons, and the interspersing of snippets from the Lord’s Prayer and Hark, the Herald Angels Sing were poignant and sobering. Here was an anti-war song nearly a decade after our Vietnam War, and long after similar sentiments from Lennon, CSN, Joan Baez had faded. The band wore it well, and convincingly.

The posers in the Garden party filled me with contempt, representing all those pretentious, condescending bastards I waited on in restaurants and got cut off by on the freeway, primping and sneering as they moved through life on a different plane than the one I knew and struggled to survive in.

The line on Script… – “I never did write that love song, the words just never seemed to flow”, was so haunting and reminiscent of the aftermath of every lost love from my younger years that I must have played that track a hundred times, and each time it spoke in different ways. I had written those words myself, in my dreams, over and over – and now I was hearing them in the flesh.

He knows, you Know was a jumble of pain, misery, fated thoughts, and words that meant nothing, and also everything, flowing through my head for weeks –

“Blank eyes / purple fever, streaming through frosted pane You’ve learned your lesson far too late from links in chemist chain; You've got venom in your stomach, and got poison in your head, You should have stayed at home and talked with father - listen to the lies he fed”

What the hell did it mean? What difference did it make – the pungent smoke made it all the more clear, and more cryptic at the same time.

The songs were all long, wandering, introspective, brooding, just what I needed to disappear into and escape the fast-changing world around that was fast ceasing to make any sense. The earth Moms and happy times, hippy love, the innocent naivety of the flower children, was slipping away fast, replace by pastel-clad, self-absorbed plastic people of the sort Frank had warned us.

But this was real, spoke volumes, and was mine. These songs and the warming sunny days of spring were dismal and exciting at the same time. Things were changing, but that was okay, I guess… Not like I (or anyone else) had much choice. Time marched on, and so did I.

“Decisions have been made, decisions have been made I've conquered my fears, the flaming shroud

Thus ends the web”


ClemofNazareth | 5/5 |


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