"Incubus" as written by Derek William Dick, Mark Kelly, Steve Rothery and Pete Trewavas....
When footlights dim in reverence to prescient passion forewarned
My audience leaves the stage, floating ahead perfumed shift
Within the stammering silence, the face that launched a thousand frames
Betrayed by a porcelain tear, a stained career

You played this scene before, you played this scene before
I the mote in your eye, I the mote in your eye
A misplaced reaction

The darkroom unleashes imagination in pornographic images
In which you will always be the star, always be the star, untouchable
Unapproachable, constant in the darkness
Nursing an erection, a misplaced reaction
With no flower to place before this gravestone
And the walls become enticingly newspaper thin
But that would be developing the negative view
And you have to be exposed in voyeuristic colour
The public act, let you model your shame
On the mannequin catwalk, catwalk
Let the cats walk, and the cat walks

I've played this scene before, I've played this scene before
I the mote in your eye, I the mote in your eye
A misplaced reaction, satisfaction

You can't brush me under the carpet, you can't hide me under the stairs
The custodian of your private fears, your leading actor of yesteryear
Who as you crawled out of the alleys of obscurity
Sentenced to rejection in the morass of anonymity
You who I directed with lovers will, you who I let hypnotise the lens
You who I let bathe in the spotlights glare
You who wiped me from your memory like a greasepaint mask
Just like a greasepaint mask

But now I'm the snake in the grass, the ghost of film reels past
I'm the producer of your nightmare and the performance has just begun
It's just begun

Your perimeter of courtiers jerk like celluloid puppets
As you stutter paralysed with rabbits eyes, searing the shadows
Flooding the wings, to pluck elusive salvation from the understudy's lips
Retrieve the soliloquy, maintain the obituary
My cue line in the last act and you wait in silent solitude
Waiting for the prompt, waiting for the prompt

You've played this scene before


Lyrics submitted by BitterBosh

"Incubus" as written by Mark Kelly Derek William Dick

Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

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Incubus song meanings
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4 Comments

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  • +2
    General CommentWhen Marillion first played 'Incubus' live in 1984, Fish's introduction explained what the song was about. He said that the song begins where 'The Web' ends. The song character from 'The Web' is now starting to come to terms with the departure of his girlfriend, and is moving on with his life. 'Incubus' refers to pornographic polaroids that were taken during the relationship that the character still has. At first the photographs are another reminder of what he has lost, but he eventually comes to see them as a source of power, because he knows that he could upset his ex's new life if he published them in a 'readers' wives' magazine. Fish's story described a chance meeting with the girl and her new boyfriend in a pub, and a casual comment that reminds her that he still has the photos. He doesn't necessarily have to publish the photos to get his revenge, the possibility of publication hangs over her in the same way that the end of the relationship hung over him in 'The Web'. I think the 'courtiers' were simply the ex's friends who looked down on the song character at the time of the break-up. However, my memories might be a bit distorted now, so to hear it from the Fish's mouth, you could try to get a bootleg from the Fugazi tour.
    jutro1967on July 24, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentPholks, I am at a complete loss. WHat does this song mean? Is it about the past life of an ex-diva? Is it about masturbation and the supposedly guilty feeling thereafter (I've never felt it!)? HELP!!!

    But brilliant song this. Great music.
    TomBombadilon February 07, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI've always thought this is about an actress who started off in porn movies but eventually becomes a star. She has hidden her origins and denied her past but it comes back to haunt her. The leading actor/director from her previous films feels rejected and betrayed by her as he feels he gave her everything and made her a star but she just wiped him from her memory ‘like a greasepaint mask’. I think he may have been her lover but she moved on and left him with only her films (thus the masturbation/darkroom scene). He plans his revenge, rehearses his scene and exposes her past in a public setting (perhaps a film premier) to she shock of her 'courtiers', rendering her speechless, panicked and with a wrecked career.
    MuddlinThroon October 06, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentMost likely no one will ever read this but....Having read the comments I certainly think there is some truth to the literal sense of the lyrics, as I am sure that real events inspired the writing of the lyrics. As an artist, however, I can tell you that no matter my subject matter in the end I am writing about myself. To me, this piece is a deep reflection on the artists part. Exactly who is it that is trying brush him under the carpet, or hide him under the stairs.... It would be interesting to hear what Fish thinks these some many years later
    Patrick1204on May 31, 2015   Link

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