White Russian

[Track Info] [The Lyrics] [Explanation]

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White Russian - Track Info

  1. Album version (06:28) [Clutching At Straws (1987)]
  2. Live (Edinburgh, Scotland, - "The Playhouse", December 17/18/19th '87) (06:14) [The Thieving Magpie - La Gazza Ladra (1988)]
  3. Live (St. Goar, Germany - "Freilichtbuhne Loreley", July 18th '87) (07:15) [7", 12", CDS Warm Wet Circles (1987)]

    Notes: live versions follow studio version; both lack the musical box sound in the end. In 2) Fish makes a long spoken introduction to the song.

    Lyrics by Derek William Dick (Fish)
    Performed Live for the first Time: December 27th 1986

    Published by Marillion Music, Charisma Music Publishing Co. Ltd.

White Russian - The Lyrics

Where do we go from here?

Where do we go from here, where do we go from here
Where do we go from here, where do we go from here

They boarded up the synagogues uzis on a street corner
You can't take a photograph of uzis on a street corner
The DJ resigned today they wouldn't let him have his say
Surface scratched where the needles play, uzis on a street corner

Where do we go from here

Terror in Rue de St. Denis, murder on the periphery
Someone else in someone else's pocket,
Christ knows I don't know how to stop it
Poppies at the cenotaph,
the cynics can't afford to laugh,
I heard in on the telegraph there's uzis on a street corner

Where do we go from here, where do we go from here

The more I see, the more I hear, the more I find fewer answers
I close my mind, I shout it out but you know it's getting harder
to calm down, to reason out, to come to terms with what it's all about
I'm uptight, can't sleep at night, I can't pretend everything's alright.
My ideals, my sanity, they seem to be deserting me
but to stand up and fight I know we have six million reasons

They're burning down the synagogues uzis on a street corner
the heralds of the holocaust uzis on a street corner
The silence never louder than now, how quickly we forgot our vows,
this resurrection we can't allow, uzis on a street corner

Where do we go from here, where do we go from here

We buy fresh bagels from the corner store
Where swastikas are spat from aerosols
I sit in the bar sipping iced White Russian
trying to score but nobody's pushing
and everyone looks at everyone's faces
searching for signs and praying for traces
of a conscience in residence,
are we sitting on a barbed wire fence,
racing the clouds home, racing the clouds home.

We place our faith in human rights
In the paper wars that tie the red tape tight
I know that I would rather be out of this conspiracy

In the gulags and internment camps
frozen faces in nameless ranks
I know that they would rather be standing here besides me
Racing the clouds home, racing the clouds home.

You can shut your eyes, you can hide it away
it's gonna come back another day

racing the clouds home, are we racing the clouds home,
Racing the clouds home

(Hilton, Vienna)



EXPLANATION OF SONG ELEMENTS
Copyright 1997 Fraser Marshall, Matthew Anderson & Bert ter Steege.


White Russian

White Russian (Hilton, Vienna)

(Editor's note: this song was difficult to catalogue due to it's heavily political nature. I had great trouble deciding how much information to include about Nazi autocities, but eventually decided that the subject matter was too important to treat lightly. The song was written at a time when Kurt Waldheim was elected President of Austria despite the wide spread knowledge that that he was in all probability guilty of autrocities in WWII. This coincided with a rise in Neo-Nazi activity across Europe, a problem that sadly continues today. It is difficult to know when to say Marillion are just a band that we love and not to take it too seriously. Yes, of course, they are just a band, but this song makes a serious and vital point, and I cannot justify leaving out the horrible obscene details of the holocaust. As Fish says on the Gazza Ladra intro, 'It is now up to us...' Ed)

Debbie Voller: Fish: This is a heavy, soul-searching song that touches on politics and deals with the Jewish problem in Austria. Torch is observing all these things that attack his conscience and make him feel he should act and face up to reality. There's a big fight between the two halves of Torch; the realist and the escapist. But he chooses to run away and catches a plane home. He's in a real mess at the moment!

'Uzis'
9mm submachine guns, made by the Uzi company. They are apparently popular weapons (although I don't know anyone who owns one - Ed) due to their high firing rate and low malfunction rate. They are also compact and light. I don't wish to cast aspersions on Fish's gun recognising capability, but if it was Uzi's, then there is a perverse irony afoot. Uzi are an Israeli company...

'Rue de St Denis'
Steve Ross: Rue de St. Denis refers to the "red light" district of Paris - lots of pornography shops, prostitutes, drug dealers and other such activities of ill-repore. The violent nature of its nightly inhabitants have led to many crimes in the area.

Apparantly in theearly 1990's the government made a concerted effort to clean up the district through gentrification and policing (I don't know if this has been successful, though).

I don't know if Fish is refering to a specific incident or an unknown (to me anyway) historical event that took place there. He may be simply refering to the nightly chaos for which the Rue de St. Denis area is (was) infamous.

'Six million reasons'
The estimated number of Jews exterminated in the Holocaust during World War Two. The actual number of deaths has never been definatively calculated, but most figures fall in the region of 5.5-6.5 million.

'Heralds of the Holocaust'
Brewers: The Herald was an officer whose duty it was to proclaim war or peace, carry challenges to battle, and messages between soveriegns etc. Heralds had their attendants called pursuivants. Nowadays, war or peace is still declared by the heralds, but their chief duty as court functionaries is to superintend court functions.

'Iced White Russians'
White Russians were those counter relolutionaries who remained loyal to the Tsar at the time of the Lenin-led Bolshevik revolution of 1917. Also the name of the inhabitants of Byelorussia.

According to the Clutching at Straws tourbook, a White Russian is a cocktail containing vodka, coffee liqueur, and cream or milk.

'Trying to score but nobody's pushing'
Somebody told me that this is a reference to getting hold of ('scoring') illicit substances from a dealer. But I'm sure that's not true.

Steve Ross: To support the explanation provided, a drug dealer is also known as a "pusher". Hence one would go to a dealer or a "pusher" to "score" drugs.

'Gulags and internment camps'
The Soviet Experience - Gulags.
Compton's Interactive Encyclopedia says:

During the early years of the Soviet regime under Nikolai Lenin, the Cheka (secret police) was given the authority to send persons to concentration camps without trial. By 1922 there were 23 camps in various locations. During Stalin's rule, from 1924 to 1953, the number of camps and prisoners greatly increased. Many so-called corrective labor camps were set up in northern Russia and Siberia, especially during the First Five-Year Plan, which lasted from 1928 to 1932, when thousands of wealthy peasants were driven from their farms. The Great Purges of 1936 to 1938 added many more prisoners to what were said to be essentially institutions of slavery. In 1922 the agency operating the camps, the Cheka, was replaced by the Unified State Political Administration (OGPU). In 1934 this agency was replaced by the NKVD (People's Commissariat for Internal Affairs), which, after several further reorganizations, was replaced by the KGB (Committee of State Security) in 1954. With the occupation of Poland in 1939 and the incorporation of the Baltic States into the Soviet Union in 1940, many citizens of these countries were sent to the camps. After the war with Germany began in 1941, many prisoners of war were added, never to be heard from again. Stalin also imprisoned Soviet soldiers who had been captured and returned, arguing that capture was the same as treason. After Stalin's death in 1953 many prisoners were released and some camps closed. During the post-Stalin relaxation in the political climate, it is believed that a number of camps were converted into more moderate corrective labour colonies. But beginning in the 1960s, under the rule of Leonid Brezhnev, the political climate hardened once more, and many more prisoners were added.

The German Experience - Internment Camps
Compton's Interactive Encyclopedia says:
The first concentration camps were established in 1933 for confinement of opponents of the Nazi Party. The supposed opposition soon included all Jews, Gypsies, and certain other groups. By 1939 there were six camps: Dachau, Sachsenhausen, Buchenwald, Mauthausen, Flossenburg, and Ravensbruck. The outbreak of war caused a great demand for labour, and other camps were added. The most notorious was Auschwitz in conquered Poland. Inmates were required to work for their wages in food. So little food was given, however, that many starved. Others died of exposure or overwork. The dead bodies were burned in huge crematoriums in or near the camps.
The most horrible extension of the concentration camp system was the establishment of extermination centers after 1940. They were set up primarily to kill Jews. This slaughter is known as the Holocaust. It is believed that from 18 to 26 million people were killed in them, including 6 million Jews and 400,000 Gypsies. Prisoners in these camps were also used for barbaric medical experiments.

Internment:
Compton's Interactive Encyclopedia says:
'detention of political prisoners and members of national or minority groups who are confined for reasons of state security, exploitation, or punishment; under international law, a belligerent country may intern enemy merchant ships in its ports, property owned by enemy civilians (enemy aliens), and enemy civilians themselves; neutral countries are obliged to intern belligerent troops that enter their borders and belligerent war vessels and prizes that enter their harbors and fail to leave after stated time'


Sources:


Last Modified: 27 Jul 2000