n unseen ruler defines with geometry
An unrulable expanse of geography
An aerial photographer over-exposed
To the cartologist's 2D images knows
The areas where the water flowed
So petrified, the landscape grows
Straining eyes try to understand
The works, incessantly in hand
The carving and paring of the land
The quarter square, the graph divides
Beneath the rule a country hides

Interrupting my train of thought
Lines of longitude and latitude
Define and refine my altitude

The curtain's undrawn
Harness fitted, no escape
Common and peaceful, duck, flat, lowland
Landscape, canal, canard, water coloured

Crystal palaces for floral kings
A well-known waving span of wings
Witness the sinking of the sun
A deep breath of submission has begun


Lyrics submitted by delenda

Map Ref. 41°N 93°W song meanings
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6 Comments

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  • +2
    General CommentMy Bloody Valentine did a great cover of this
    s7409651on May 16, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General CommentSeems to be related to Talking Heads "The Big Country" but without Byrne's bitterness. The unseen ruler could be God, but it always reminds me of Slartibartfast from Hitchhiker's -

    "Look at me - I design coastlines. I got an award for Norway... I've been doing fjords all my life...for a fleeting moment they become fashionable and I get a major award." — Slartibartfast, HHGTTG

    Great song, and strange that in the late 70's we had this spate of cartographic ramblings.
    dave100003on November 29, 2014   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis song reminds me, for obvious reasons, of those plane trip scenes in the Indiana Jones movies.
    timothyrealon September 27, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentLOVE
    stereocaseon November 16, 2008   Link
  • 0
    Song MeaningA flight over open fields and planes as surveyed by someone only acquainted with maps of a region, mind utterly blown, enraptured with the experience of seeing such vistas, such living enormity.
    Cynothoglyson October 31, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentEllington said that he didn't believe in categories. Wire, with this song, has elaborated his point abstrusely.

    What is Map Ref. 41N 93W? It's a longabout way of referencing a town called Centerville in Illinois.

    Human-defined categories are our way to understand our world - "whatever the man called a living creature, that was its name."

    (Genesis 2:19), but defining things has a way of defeating our understanding of things as they are.

    "Chorus: Interrupting my train of thought/ Lines of longitude and latitude/ Define and refine my altitude"

    Labeling the chorus is obvious and reinforces the point that categories reinforce preconceived notions about how we perceive

    the world.
    ThisUsernameWasTakenFuckOffon December 10, 2012   Link

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