"The Nine Funerals of the Citizen King" as written by Tim Hodgkinson....
Down beneath the spectacle of free
No one ever lets you see
The Citizen King
Ruling the fantastic architecture of the burning cities
Where we buy and sell
La la la la la la la la la la la la
That the Snark was a Boojum all can tell
But a rose is a rose is a rose
Said the Mama of Dada as long ago as 1919

You make arrangements with the guard
Halfway round the exercise yard
To sugar the pill
Disguising the enormous
Double-time the king pays to Wordsworth
More than you or I could reasonably forfeit to buy...
Double-time the king pays to Wordsworth
More than you or I could reasonably buy...
If we live (we live) to tread on dead kings
Or else we'll work to live to buy the things we multiply
Until they fill the ordered universe.

Down beneath the spectacle of free
No one ever lets you see
The Citizen King
Ruling the fantastic architecture of the burning cities
Where we buy and sell
La la la la la la la la la la la la
That the Snark was a Boojum all can tell
But a rose is a rose is a rose
Said the Mama of Dada as long ago as 1919....


Lyrics submitted by razajac, edited by AmitAmely

The Nine Funerals of the Citizen King song meanings
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    Song MeaningThis song discussed two subjects, loosely related by the location - Paris, France.
    The verses discuss the befalling of the French monarchy, and the chorus is a set of references to the Dada art movement.

    "The Citizen King" is Louis Philippe I, king of France in the years 1830-1848.
    He replaced King Charles X following the 1830 revolution, and embraced the constitution of 1791, turning France into a constitutional monarchy.
    He got the name "Citizen King" from the people of France at the beginning of his reign, when he was still very popular.
    But the policy instituted by the government that he appointed favoured the wealthy bourgeoisie and the gaps between classes were deepened.
    By 1846, France was in a state of economic crisis, and another revolution soon started.
    In 1848, angry crowd flooded the streets of Paris, raising barricades and setting fires.
    The king decided to flee France, fearing for his life, and managed to do so by disguising himself as an English man called "Mr. Smith".
    He settled in Surrey, England and lived there till his death in 1850.

    So my interpretation, given the facts above, is that the first verse ("Down beneath the spectacle of free") and the second verse ("You make arrangements with the guard") refer to these events.
    "The spectacle of free" may be the riot of the crowds that demand freedom.
    "The burning cities" may refer to the fires set by the rebels in Paris.
    The verse "You make arrangements with the guard, halfway round the exercise yard, to sugar the pill, disguising the enormous..." may be a description of Louis Philippe's escape in second person narrative.

    The 3rd verse mentions some person called "Wordsworth" who get paid a large sum of money by the king.
    I assume it is the English poet William Wordsworth, even though it has nothing to do with the historical facts.
    Wordsworth is known as a pioneering Romantic poet, but he's also known for being very opinionated in regards to the politics of England's neighbours, in particular France and Spain.
    Wordsworth and Louis Philippe lived in the same era, but there's no documentation of any meeting or direct correspondence between the two.
    There are some documents that show that Wordsworth was a King Louis Philippe I sympathiser, but this was not expressed in any of his major releases.

    The verse "Double-time the kind pays to Wordsworth" may be some kind of an accusation that Wordsworth was bribed to express his support in King Louis Philippe.
    Another option is that it's a speculation that Wordsworth got paid to help the king escape France.
    Neither are historically true.

    The 1848 revolution was led by the low classes, who suffered from unemployment and poverty. The phrases that mention buying and selling in the first and third verses may refer to that.
    The 4th verse seems like a criticism on the modern-life consumers culture, in perspective to the revolutions that brought down the monarchies.
    People fought hard to remove the monarchies because they couldn't buy anything, but now that they "tread on dead kings", they turn into consuming automates that spend their entire time buying products that "multiply until they fill the ordered universe".

    The choruses don't seem to be related to any of this.
    They contain a sequence of cultural references, related to the Dada art movement.
    "The Snark was a Boojum" is a quote from Lewis Carroll's none-sense poem "The Hunting of the Snark" from 1876, which was, in a way, a precursor of Dada.
    "A Rose is a Rose is a Rose" is a quote from Gertrude Stein's none-sense poem "Sacred Emily" from 1922. Stein was a prominent figure in the Dada art scene in Paris.
    "Mama of Dada" may refer to Stein, but it is also a dub given to the American Dada artist Beatrice Wood.
    Dada as an organized artistic movement existed from 1916 till mid 20s, until its followers abandoned and joined other artistic movements, such as Surrealism and Social Realism.
    1919 was not a significant year in the history of Dada, but it fits better in a song form when phrased as "nineteen nineteen".
    Another cultural reference may be hidden in the first verse: "The Fantastic Architecture" is a book from 1969, compiled by the Neo-Dada multimedia artist Dick Higgins.
    AmitAmelyon October 21, 2014   Link
  • 0
    Song MeaningThe title "Nine Funerals of..." refer to the eight failed assassination attempts of king Louis Philippe I
    AmitAmelyon October 21, 2014   Link
  • 0
    General CommentReally like the line "That the Snark was a Boojum / All can tell."
    ;
    If you read the poem, it's pretty obvious what Henry Cow is getting at: We're told that being nice, well-behaved, and conducive to the designs of Western Civ and its bankers and other elites is a Good Thing; which is like hunting the Snark.

    But in Carroll's poem, the Snark they pursue turns out to a Boojum. And that means the complete, eternal anhillation of the hunter's being.

    In other words, this is Henry Cow's way of saying that we're being sold a bill of goods.
    razajacon February 08, 2017   Link

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