"Rook" as written by and Andy Partridge....
Rook, rook, read from your book
Who murders who and where is the treasure hid?
Crow, crow, spill all you know
Is that my name on the bell?

Rook, rook, gaze in the brook
If there's a secret, can I be part of it?
Crow, crow, before I'll let go
Say, is that my name on the bell?

Soar up high, see the semaphore from the washing lines
Break the code of the whispering chimneys and traffic signs
What's the message that's written under the base of clouds?
Plans eternal, I know you know, so don't blurt out loud

Rook, rook, by hook or by crook
I'll make you tell me
What this whole thing's about
Crow, crow, why can't you show
If that's my name on the bell?

On the wings of night, I fly too, above field and stream
My head bursting with knowledge 'til I wake from the dream
If I die and I find that I had a soul inside
Promise me that you'll take it up on its final ride

Rook, rook, gaze in the brook
If there's a secret, can I be part of it?
Crow, crow, before I'll let go
Say is that my name on the bell?
Is that my name on the bell?


Lyrics submitted by pumkinhed

"Rook" as written by Andy Partridge

Lyrics © EMI Music Publishing, BMG RIGHTS MANAGEMENT US, LLC

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Rook song meanings
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    General CommentNOTES:

    Here's Andy Partridge on the meaning of this song, as quoted by Chalkhills.org's "Reel by Real" discography:

    "I was frozen with writers block. Then suddenly this song came out. I was really frightened. I mean, I couldn't even finish the demo because I was in tears. It felt like seeing yourself in a mirror and recognising your own mortality. Maybe it's something in the chord changes. I don't understand the lyrics, which is rather exciting."

    While he says he himself doesn't understand it, the song uses a bunch of tropes that may help in deciphering it:

    -Title: The rook/crow/raven is an ominous creature associated with death in a bunch of European cultures. In Celtic mythology crows could be psychopomps (creatures that ferry souls down to the world of the dead, as in the lines "If I die..." in this song). And of course in Poe's famous poem "The Raven," the speaker repeatedly questions the raven about the afterlife: will he ever see his beloved Lenore again? A similar scenario to that of this song.

    -"Read from your book": the idea of a book that records the destinies of everyone and especially the fates if mortals in the afterlife is also very common in Western mythology, perhaps best remembered in the form of the Book of Life mentioned in the Bible, in Revelation.

    -"Is that my name on the bell?" Cities used to have big bell towers, and the bell would be ritually tolled to accompany a funeral procession. This association between bells and death was cemented by a famous line from a John Donne sermon, "Ask not for whom the bell tolls: it tolls for thee." Keeping this famous quote in mind gives a sense of irony to this line of the song: the speaker is failing to recognize Donne's point: we're all doomed to die, so you may as well write your name on the bell.

    -"Gaze in the brook": another common folk-tale trope, gazing in a reflective surface like the magic mirror in "Snow White" in order to be shown hidden truths.

    -"Before I'll let go": In the Odyssey, Menelaus has to hold onto the shape-shifting god Proteus while Proteus changes forms repeatedly until he finally gives up and tells Menelaus what he wants to know. This kind of thing happens in other ancient stories, like when Jacob wrestles "a man" (God or an angel?) in Genesis until he gets the man to agree to bless him.
    tommythecat42on February 26, 2016   Link

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