"Cygnet Committee" as written by and David Bowie....
I bless you madly,
Sadly as I tie my shoes
I love you badly,
Just in time, at times, I guess
Because of you I need to rest
Because it's you
That sets the test

So much has gone
And little is new
And as the sparrow sings
Dawn chorus for
Someone else to hear
The Thinker sits alone growing older
And so bitter

"I gave Them life
I gave Them all
They drained my very soul
I crushed my heart
To ease their pains
No thought for me remains there
Nothing can they spare
What of me?
Who praised their efforts
To be free?
Words of strength and care
And sympathy
I opened doors
That would have blocked their way
I braved their cause to guide,
For little pay

I ravaged at my finance just for those
Those whose claims were steeped in peace, tranquility
Those who said a new world, new ways ever free
Those whose promises stretched in hope and grace for me"

I bless you madly,
Sadly as I tie my shoes
I love you badly, just in time,
At times, I guess
Because of you I need to rest, oh yes
Because it's you
That sets the test

So much has gone
And little is new
And as the sunrise stream
Flickers on me,
My friends talk
Of glory, untold dream, where all is God and God is just a word

"We had a friend, a talking man
Who spoke of many powers that he had
Not of the best of men, but ours

We used him
We let him use his powers
We let him fill our needs
Now we are strong

And the road is coming to its end
Now the damned have no time to make amends
No purse of token fortune stands in our way
The silent guns of love
Will blast the sky
We broke the ruptured structure built of age
Our weapons were the tongues of crying rage

Where money stood
We planted seeds of rebirth
And stabbed the backs of fathers
Sons of dirt

Infiltrated business cesspools
Hating through our sleeves
Yea, and we slit the Catholic throat
Stoned the poor
On slogans such as

'Wish You Could Hear'
'Love Is All We Need'
'Kick Out The Jams'
'Kick Out Your Mother'
'Cut Up Your Friend'
'Screw Up Your Brother or He'll Get You In the End'

And we know the flag of love is from above
And we can force you to be free
And we can force you to believe"

And I close my eyes and tighten up my brain
For I once read a book in which the lovers were slain
For they knew not the words of the Free States' refrain
It said:
"I believe in the power of good
I believe in the state of love
I will fight for the right to be right
I will kill for the good of the fight for the right to be right"

And I open my eyes to look around
And I see a child laid slain
On the ground
As a love machine lumbers through desolation rows
Plowing down man, woman, listening to its command
But not hearing anymore
Not hearing anymore
Just the shrieks from the old rich

And I want to believe
In the madness that calls 'Now'
And I want to believe
That a light's shining through

And I want to believe
And you want to believe
And we want to believe
And we want to live
Oh, we want to live

We want to live
We want to live
We want to live
We want to live
We want to live

I want to live
I want to live
I want to live

I want to live
I want to live
I want to live


Lyrics submitted by global, edited by Mellow_Harsher

"Cygnet Committee" as written by David Bowie

Lyrics © EMI Music Publishing, TINTORETTO MUSIC

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Cygnet Committee song meanings
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  • +9
    General CommentI disagree. I think that this is about David realizing just how bigoted and self-destructive the hippy movement really was. He puts himself in the role of the one who sacrificed so much to make a change, yet was betrayed by the very people who were his compatriots in the cause. This was the feeling of many women who were part of the hippy movement, when they realized that the men who they protested and fought alondside didn't care if their newfound freedoms extended to women or not, hence the feminist movement didn't really get off the ground until the late 60's/early 70's. This feeling of betrayal is why so many feminists were/are so hateful. David is the Thinker who sits alone growing bitter as he reflects on all the sacrifices he made for a bunch of ingrates. His verses all start out by saying "so much has gone and little is new" meaning that while he thought that the hippies were different and sought a new way of life, in actuality they were no different than the "old rich" they tried to cut down, much like Robespierre and his band of butchers in France. He recants for us the attitudes of the hippies as they speak of someone who they don't really like or think much of, but because they are useful, they will use him and drain him as long as they are able. David goes on to describe the ironies of the hippy message of love and peace. He they used this front to attack and degrade their opponents and try to claw their way up. He uses the phrases "stabbed the backs of fathers" and "stoned the poor" which clearly show his condemnation of their actions. The slogans he quotes are increasingly ironic, going from the seemingly benign, "Wish you could hear" to the blatantly hostile "Screw up your brother or he'll get you in the end." With this progression, he is illustrating how step by step, the hippies got further and further away from their ideals and eventually completely rejected with their actions the ideals they once held dear. The hippy movement became the "love machine,... ploughing down man, woman,... but not hearing anymore" How ironic that the hippy movement, which had such loftly aspirations, degraded into a corrupt "love machine" in the course of just a few years. David feels betrayed and he wants to believe, but he can't anymore. "I bless you madly, sadly as I tie my shoes." An expression of tired irony. A man who is drained and exhausted moves on.
    hairyliberalon March 18, 2006   Link
  • +5
    General CommentOne of the most passionate songs I have ever heard
    BenDon2000on June 09, 2002   Link
  • +2
    General CommentWe listened to this as teenagers, stoned, and it meant SO much. Decades later, in the clear light of day, it means so much more. Definitely the definitive Bowie dystopian rant.
    Libraquariuson October 12, 2004   Link
  • +2
    General CommentIt\'s about Bowie realizing the world wasn\'t going to change like he and all the other people in the movements of the sixties thought it would. It\'s about blessing people who are still fighting the power, as he prepares to leave the arena. It\'s about sitting and listening to talks of revolution and realizing that you and your friends have become part of the machine, and that the revolution will never happen. It purges the guilt, love and failed dreams of his generation.
    ndoon March 23, 2005   Link
  • +2
    General CommentBest bowie song ever....

    I have to agree with hairyliberal on this one. Seems to have got it what I had always interpreted it to mean.
    ziggy77on August 17, 2007   Link
  • +2
    General CommentAccording to Wikipedia, there happens to be a specific real-life event that had a hand in inspiring this song:

    "During 1969 Bowie and then-girlfriend Angela Barnett lived in Beckenham, where they ran the Arts Lab, trying to encourage young people to be creative. However, Bowie soon quit the Arts Lab, when he realized that most people were coming just to see him perform and not to participate. His disappointing encounter with the hippies during this time is the basis for the song, as he felt he was used and abused by the teens: 'I gave them my life... They drained my very soul...'"
    Sandwich-Mastaon May 20, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI actually deconstructed this for an English essay, a year or so ago. Bowie songs are awesome to deconstruct!!!
    Anyway, it was in relation to Orwell's 1984, and while the album "Diamond Dogs" is supposed to be Bowie's abandoned stage-play for 1984, this song is just so similar to how Orwell sets up the world of Big Brother.
    "I will kill for the good of the fight for the right to be right" is very similar to the slogans of 1984, and the ministries themselves.
    "Screw Up Your Brother or He'll Get You In the End" is the way the children are trained to be paranoid of everyone, and to report them to the government officials.
    "screams of the old rich" is a reference to the old rich that are mentioned several times in Orwell's book.
    It might be a long shot, but if Bowie liked it enough to base an entire album on it, why not one of his early songs....?
    abscenceofsanityon December 16, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentEpic.
    Cisiteon December 26, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General CommentMan... I love this song
    thegoodtimesguruon January 02, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General Commentbut what does it mean? i just heard it when i wasn't a teenage anymore and i couldn't get stoned again... :(
    is it about the new age cult groups in bloom at that era?
    raindog_mxon February 19, 2005   Link

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