"Death On The Stairs" as written by and Peter/barat Doherty....
From way far across the sea
Came an Eritrean maiden she
Had a one track mind and eyes for me
Half blinded in the war

With a pale young Anglican
Who said he'd help her all he can
Showed her Jesus and his little un-holy friend
She had no mind to please him
Just say 'ta-ra' and leave him behind

There's a little boy in a stairwell who says
"I hate people like you"
Got matches & cable TV half of less than 50p
We all clambered over the balcony
Banging on the window waking Steve
Bringing with a true love his un-holy friend
If you really need it
You just won't leave it behind

So baby please kill me
Oh baby don't kill me
But don't bring that ghost round to my door
I don't want to see him anymore

Please kill me
Oh baby don't kill me
Just don't bang on about yesterday
I wouldn't know about that anyway

Monkey asked the mouse before
If she loved anybody more than he
It turns you into stone
Now I'm reversing down the lonely street
To a cheap hotel when I can meet the past
And pay it off and keep it sweet
It's sweet like nothing no
It's just like nothing at all

Yes I've seen you there
How could I help but stare
It rips the heart out off your baby
Now I've taken far too much to see
Or think or touch what's real
I'm stranded on this street that
Paved my only way home

You really need it oh
You just won't leave it behind

So baby please kill me
Oh baby don't kill me
But don't bring that ghost round to my door
I don't want to see him anymore

Please kill me
Oh baby don't kill me
But don't bang on about yesterday
I wouldn't know about that anyway
Oh no

He got nothing he got nothing at all


Lyrics submitted by Xiphoid

"Death on the Stairs" as written by Peter Doherty Carl Barat

Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

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Death On The Stairs song meanings
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32 Comments

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  • +6
    General CommentIt's about drugs and addiction, and the excitement and romanticism around it.

    The Eritrean maid is a reference to the Abyssinian maid in Kubla Khan, an opium-induced poem by Coleridge. That is in turn about the ecstasy, irreversibility and unholy nature of addiction. I'll just quote that whole section:

    "A damsel with a dulcimer
    In a vision once I saw:
    It was an Abyssinian maid,
    And on her dulcimer she played,
    Singing of Mount Abora.
    Could I revive within me
    Her symphony and song,
    To such a deep delight 't would win me
    That with music loud and long,
    I would build that dome in air,
    That sunny dome! those caves of ice!
    And all who heard should see them there,
    And all should cry, Beware! Beware!
    His flashing eyes, his floating hair!
    Weave a circle round him thrice,
    And close your eyes with holy dread,
    For he on honey-dew hath fed,
    And drunk the milk of Paradise."

    (Abyssinia became Ethiopia, and Eritrea split from Ethiopia. And Abyssinia doesn't scan. They obviously had an encylopedia, eh?)

    The anglican bit I think is a pretty much unrelated jab at middle/upper-class morality - the Eritrean maid as an asylum seeker taken advantage of by an apparently selfless theology type, but she sees through him and runs away.

    Bit of romanticism (punk rock kids with less than 50p, imagine!), then "bringing with a true love" drugs/alcohol to a friend (probably an ex-band member). The insistence it is out of affection ties in with the "stranded on this street that paved my only way home". They themselves understand the same insistent draw, and swing between feeling of it as a salvation, and realising the wretchedness of their situation. They act towards their friend as they do towards themselves, unsure of whether they are salving a wound or simply feeding an addiction.

    The rest is mostly a repetition of the same theme, ecstasy against addiction. "Sweet like nothing, It's like nothing at all", "But don't bring that ghost round to my door I don't wanna see him anymore".

    I don't understand the monkey and mouse bit, though the motel is a seedy and secret location for getting high. Even if you grow up and become respectable, you'd still have to go back and feed your addiction. It makes an indelible mark, like an awful crime from your past. If you want to keep it quiet you must pay it off.

    Finally I think the title is a reference to overdosing in a tower-block stairwell, as the final limit, the lowest and most desperate end-point of a heroin addict who can’t escape.
    JB0UKon June 19, 2010   Link
  • +3
    General CommentCarl once said to Pete "its either the top of the world or the bottom of the canal" - he had a big fear of wasting his life and ending up eating cold beans out of a tin and watching daytime telly on a fuzzy TV - they grew to call this concept 'death on the stairs' - the miserable state that some people become, and thats what this song is about.

    It's one of my fave Libs tracks, but the newer version that comes with the 'Dont Look Back Into the Sun' single is awesome - far better than the original.
    monsoonboyon April 19, 2007   Link
  • +2
    General CommentThis is a very, very good song - one of The Libs' best for me. The lyrics are all over the place but they're pretty fantastic. I love the way he says 'half of less than 50p' instead of 'less than half', it always makes me smile. 'I'm stranded on the street that once paved my only way home' is a really lovely line too.
    shanemurphyon July 29, 2005   Link
  • +2
    General CommentDeath On The Stairs, is basically pissing your life down the drain, staying in bed untill noon, watching day time telly and doing fuck all. Well, thats what Carl Barat and Pete Doherty reffered to it as.
    DeathOnTheStairson October 29, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General CommentFrom way far across the sea
    Came an eritrean maiden she
    Had a one track mind and eyes for me
    Half blinded in the war

    With a pale young Anglican
    Who said he'd help her all he can
    Showed her Jesus and his little un-holy friend
    She had no mind to please him
    Just say 'ta-ra' and leave him behind

    There's a little boy in a stairwell who says
    "I hate people like you"
    Got matches & cable TV half of less than 50p
    We all clambered over the balcony
    Banging on the window waking Steve
    Bringing with a true love his un-holy friend
    If you really need it
    You just won't leave it behind

    So baby please kill me
    Oh baby don't kill me
    But don't bring that ghost round to my door
    I don't wanna see him anymore

    Please kill me
    Oh baby don't kill me
    Just don't bang on about yesterday
    I wouldn't know about that anyway

    Monkey asked the mouse before
    If she loved anybody more than he
    It turns you into stone
    Now I'm reversing down the lonely street
    To a cheap hotel when I can meet the past
    And pay it off and keep it sweet
    It's sweet like nothing no
    It's just like nothing at all

    Yes I've seen you there
    How could I help but stare
    It rips the heart out off your baby
    Now I've taken far too much to see
    Or think or touch what's real
    I'm stranded on this street that
    Paved my only way home

    You really need it oh
    You just won't leave it behind

    So baby please kill me
    Oh baby don't kill me
    But don't bring that ghost round to my door
    I don't wanna see him anymore

    Please kill me
    Oh baby don't kill me
    But don't bang on about yesterday
    I wouldn't know about that anyway
    Oh no

    He got nothing he got nothing at all
    luke.mac1on September 03, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentAnother brilliant song. I love the lines "From way far across the sea
    came and Eritrean maiden she
    had a one track mind & eyes for me".
    badroboton May 21, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI love this song, one of the best on the CD in my opinion, next to Time For Heroes. Even though the entire CD kicks ass.
    NudeGirlon June 30, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General CommentSuberp song, i love the way it flows and changes speed throughout. Up the Bracket 10/10
    weeharvon October 13, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General CommentYeh its great but hasn't anybody noticed a chunk of the lyrics missing?

    "Please don't kill me..."
    Nightfreakon December 07, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General Commentthese lyrics are a little off and ye they did miss out the ''please dont kill me'' bit completely
    Sheon December 28, 2004   Link

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