I went out walking the other day
The wind hung wet around my neck
My head it rung with screams and groans
From the night I spent amongst her bones
I passed beside the mission house
Where that mad old buzzard, the reverend,
Shrieked and flapped about life after your dead
Well, I thought about my friend, Michel
How they rolled him in linoleum
And shot him in the neck
A bloody halo, like a think-bubble
Circling his head
And I bellowed at the firmament
Looks like the rains are hear to stay
And the rain pissed down upon me
And washed me all away
Saying


Papa won't leave you, Henry
Papa won't leave you, Boy
Papa won't leave you, Henry
Papa won't leave you, Boy
Well, the road is long
And the road is hard
And many fall by the side
But Papa won't leave you, Henry
So there ain't no need to cry


And I went on down the road
He went on down the road
And I went on down the road
He went on down the road


Well, the moon it looked exhausted
Like something you should pity
Spent an age-spotted
Above the sizzling wires of the city
Well, it reminded me of her face
Her bleached and hungry eyes
Her hair was like a curtain
Falling open with the laughter
And closing with the lies
But the ghost of her still lingers on
Though she's passed through me
And is gone
The slum dogs, they are barking
And the rain children on the streets
And the tears that we will weep today
Will all be washed away
By the tears that we will weep again tomorrow


Papa won't leave you, Henry
Papa won't leave you, Boy
Papa won't leave you, Henry
Papa won't leave you, Boy
For the road is long
And the road is hard
And many fall by the side
But Papa won't leave you, Henry
So there ain't no need to cry


And I went on down the road
He went on down the road
And I went on down the road
He went on down the road


And I came upon a little house
A little house upon a hill
And I entered through, the curtain hissed
Into the house with its blood-red bowels
Where wet-lipped women with greasy fists
Crawled the ceilings and the walls
They filled me full of drink
And led me round the rooms
Naked and cold and grinning
Until everything went black
And I came down spinning
I awoke so drunk and full of rage
That I could hardly speak
A fag in a whale-bone corset
Draping his dick across my cheek
And its into the shame
And its into a guilt
And its into the fucking fray
And the walls ran red around me
A warm arterial spray
Saying


Papa won't leave you, Henry
Papa won't leave you, Boy
Papa won't leave you, Henry
Papa won't leave you, Boy
Well, the night is dark
And the night is deep
And its jaws are open wide
But Papa won't leave you, Henry
So there ain't no need to cry


And I went on down the road
He went on down the road
And I went on down the road
He went on down the road


It's the rainy season where I'm living
Death comes leaping out of every doorway
Wasting you for money, for your clothes
And for your nothing
Entire towns being washed away
Favelas exploding on inflammable spillways
Lynch-mobs, death squads, babies being born without brains
The mad heat and the relentless rains
And if you stick your arm into that hole
It comes out sheared off to the bone
And with her kisses bubbling on my lips
I swiped the rain and nearly missed
And I went on down the road
He went on down the road
Singing


Papa won't leave you, Henry
Papa won't leave you, Boy
Papa won't leave you, Henry
Papa won't leave you, Boy
Well, the road is long
And the road is hard
And many fall by the side
But Papa won't leave you, Henry
So there ain't no need to cry


And I went on down the road
He went on down the road
And I went on down the road
He went on down the road
Bent Beneath my heavy load
Under his heavy load
Yeah, I went on down the road
Yeah, he went on down the road



Lyrics submitted by Girgo

Papa Won't Leave You, Henry song meanings
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10 Comments

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  • +1
    General CommentThis definately has ties to his book, "And The Ass Saw The Angel". Really good. Full of bleakly disturbing images, yet with subtle and sometimes overwhelming beauty.
    The "mad old buzzard, the reverend" must be Abie Poe, from the book. And "The night I spent amongst her bones" sounds lke when he finds the remains of Cosey Mo, but this seems less logical. Also, in the book children born during the three years of rain are called "Rain Children". I don't imagine this is directly related to the novel, but they definately share inspiration.
    Killjoy192000on February 10, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI would argue that this might, lyrically, be Nick finest song - which is a statement considering this is one of his best lyrical albums.

    As for what it's all about - i think there's a lot of room for interpretation here - to me it sounds like the whole thing is about Brazil and this is a exaggerated amalgamation of the sights and sounds he experienced while living there - with possibly some dream imagery thrown in for good measure. Might not be specifically about Nick personally, but maybe the persona of a haunted man attempting to escape the world in south america and finding it just as bad there, if not worse. But then again, couldn't that be Nick personally?
    StickityWicketon July 03, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentWho is Henry?
    SweetDeannaon September 15, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General Commentfavourite song of the album if not one my fav cave songs ever.... the live verison on Live Seeds is incredible aswell (if not better) and to answer ya question i was told the whole line of "papa wont leave you henry" was a nusery rhyme that he use to sing 2 his son (who isnt named) henry, but ye he use to sing this to him or so i heard
    LessThanJake4Lifeon April 17, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI awoke so drunk and full of rage
    That I could hardly speak
    A fag in a whale-bone corset
    Draping his dick across my cheek

    One of Nick's best lines, but then, he's written so damn many!
    wickie2109on December 31, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentNick Cave's most underappreciated and overlooked song.
    I love how visual the music is.
    It's almost like it creates its own western.
    TheAbsolutionHowlon April 18, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI think Stickity is right. The references to babies born without brains, favelas and death squads definitely point to that country. The "fag" reference might in reality be about trannies: a lot of transexual people come from Brazil (of course, it's not like there aren't any in other countries, quite the opposite)
    Marquezon January 27, 2010   Link
  • 0
    MemoryThis song was my introduction to Nick and I never tire of listening to it. Agree with all posts heretofore. There's definitely remnants of 'The Ass Saw the Angel' in there - just the word 'Papa' conjures up all that Deep South related imagery. 'Babies born without brains' is a clear nod to the Brazilian thalidomide scandal. Incredible song - it really was a watermark in Nick's REAL crossover from the expressionist to the storyteller.

    Champeron May 05, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General CommentWell, it reminded me of her face
    Her bleached and hungry eyes
    Her hair was like a curtain
    Falling open with the laughter
    And closing with the lies
    But the ghost of her still lingers on
    Though she's passed through me
    And is gone

    'She' was Anita Lane!
    Champeron May 05, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General CommentSpent an age-"spotted"
    Above the sizzling wires of the city....

    Nick was heavy on the brown in Sao Paulo.
    Champeron May 05, 2011   Link

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