Standing by the old canal
By the gasworks
Celebrate the ghost flow by
When the love hurts
And the medicine man here 24/7
You can get it fast in Armageddon
Everyone on the way to Heaven

Call for prayer is common round here
In the morning
We wash our faces go to work
There is no warning
That it all gets better when life is straight
It's bigger than you and the Welfare State
We will keep singing it's not too late
For you

Lyrics submitted by shrodes

Herculean song meanings
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  • +1
    Song ComparisonThe lines "Standing by the old canal / By the gasworks" always remind me of "Dirty Old Town" by The Pogues. I think it's an hommage.
    GringoTacoson June 18, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI love this song. Have no Idea what it's about though. Life I guess.
    yugaquantoon January 17, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentCan't stop listening to this one... Easily one of the catchiest songs of '07.

    [The Letterman performance made me love this song even more... beautiful violins...]
    el_chisoon March 19, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentLovely song... but there are unfortunately a few little mistakes I feel the need to nitpick, shrodes.

    *Standing on the dark canal = Standing BY the OLD canal
    *on the way to heaven so = .... SLOWLY
    *the ghost gone by = ... FLOW by
    *The wind keeps singing it's not too late = and WE WILL keep singing.... (I actually like your line better than the real one, but there we are).

    N.B. I got this from the booklet with the TGTB&TQ album.

    OK, on with the meaning..... first 5 lines, I think signify somebody mourning a dead loved one, or a loved one who they parted with for whatever reason.

    "And the medicine man here 24/7
    You can get it fast in ArmaggeddoN
    everyone on the way to Heaven/So.... " = Medicine is provided so readily to so many older people nearing death (Everyone on their way to heaven).... maybe to with euthanasia?

    "Call for prayer is common round here/In the morning
    We wash our faces go to work
    There is no warning
    That it all gets better when life is straight
    It's bigger than you and the Welfare State
    The wind keeps singing it's not too late
    For you" = People pray for good things to happen to them, and then suddenly good things happen when they least expect them to.....

    Also, how did they create those boopy-type noises at the start?
    selbydate16on March 28, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThe song is sort of set in W1 London, By the Kensal gasworks and the old Kensal Green cemetary that lies there.

    W1 is a cool place, because it´s not overly hip and over-commercialized, like Nothing Hill just to the south (God I hate Nothing Hill).

    Like all good poetry, this song defies explanation.
    But there are some traits to pick up for us Navaho Indians:

    Our protaganist is sort of melancholic, feeling the wings of history by the gasworks, but luckily "The medicin Men" are there (The infamous W1 Drug dealers obviously).

    "The welfare state" is british socialism, and perhaps Albarn is commenting on the control state and the CCTV cameras rigged all over town.

    Ultimately a dark song, but still a very hopeful one.
    Homertownon April 06, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentDamon is up there with my favorite poets. Fantastic song and like everyone else im still trying to make sence of it. Hey Homertown whats W1?
    Larrowon July 17, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI think it's about death.
    Something that's gonna happen to all of us sometime.
    But that you should do something with your life, before it's to late.

    It's a very dark and sad song.
    choanon August 28, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis song sounds like something Radiohead would do circa Amnesiac.

    Best song on the album, bar none. Like choan said, it is very dark and sad...perhaps the protagonist knows that his existence means nothing to the rest of the world, that history will go on no matter what he does.

    Rather amibguous lyrics,
    T_Capon September 07, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentFor those who don't know what W1 is, it's a postcode in West London (hence the W).
    selbydate16on November 30, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI read that it was inspired by a whale that swam up the Thames.
    jonnydmobileon July 17, 2008   Link

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