The sun had been up for a couple of hours,
Covered the ground with a layer of gold.
Spirits were high and the raining had stopped,
The larder was low, But boy that wasn't all.
Eleventh Earl of Mar
Couldn't get them very far.
Daddy! Oh Daddy, You Promised.

Out on the road in the direction of Perth,
Backwards and forwards in a circle they went.
Found a city half open and ready to greet,
The conquering heros, with blisters on their feet.
Eleventh Earl of Mar
Somehow got them all this far.
Daddy! You Promised, You Promised.

See the Stewart are dressed up
He's got eyes in the back of his head.
Who came in a cockleshell boat
That could only just float,
Couldn't even lift a sword.
Dressed too fine and smelling of wine.

Daddy you've got to go!
Here come the bishop all dressed up
He's gonna bless you if you're ready to pay
One wave of his funny old stick,
There's a band of light across your eyes.

Waited a week still they hadn't appeared,
That glorious timing that everyone feared.
So they're riding along on the crest of a wave,
They're headed for London, And that will be their grave
Eleventh Earl of Mar
Well he couldn't get them down that far
Daddy! I'm waiting, I'm waiting

Time to go to bed now
Never seems too keen
To be a guest now
In a house of dreams

Flying from a hillside
Beckoning the trees
A sailboat's awning
Mimicking the breeze

I'm fighting gravity falling
My Daddy won't let them get me
A voice screams seems to be calling
The face turns features are burning.

Daddy, you've got to go!
See the fifteen going by,
Tell the Lairds and the Lords
They're running backwards today,
And once again you stand alone.

Bury your memories bury your friends,
Leave it alone for a year or two.
Till the stories go hazy and the legends come true,
Then do it again. Some Things never end.
Eleventh Earl of Mar
Won't be going very far.
You Promised, You Promised, You Promised.

Lyrics submitted by Demau Senae

Eleventh Earl of Mar Lyrics as written by Steven Hackett Michael Rutherford


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Eleventh Earl Of Mar song meanings
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  • +5
    General Comment

    The lyrics were actually written by Mike Rutherford, not Tony Banks. "I had this idea after reading this history book about a failed Scottish rising. I liked the idea of him -- he was a bit gay, a bit camp, and a bit well-dressed."

    The numbering method for Earls of Mar varies, so the John Erskine of the song is also considered the 6th and 22nd Earl of Mar, depending on where one starts counting.,_22nd_Earl_of_Mar

    effingtonon June 24, 2010   Link
  • +5
    General Comment

    Wind and Wuthering occupies something of a pivotal role in the Genesis canon. The last album to feature Steve Hackett, it is also seen by many aficionados as their last "great" album. This school of thought runs approximate to the dictum that after Hackett left, the music became less "progressive", and simplified over a period of time to the point where Genesis evolved from a "prog" band who occasionally wrote "pop" songs, to a "pop" band who occasionally wrote "prog" songs.

    Whilst this analysis is seriously flawed, there are, as with most examples of generalisation, grains of truth in amongst the chaff. To these ears, Wind & Wuthering represents the last Genesis album where the counterbalance of Collins and Rutherford as a dynamic and inventive rhythm section, Hackett's poignant but sharp tonal colouring, and Banks' grand romantic tendencies led to a musical result that was much greater than the sum of its individual parts. It also represents the last "narrative" based lyrical album that Genesis were to make, in as much as, with the exception of Afterglow and Your Own Special Way, the songs are character based, or are based on story rather than experience. More of this later.

    But, turning to the album itself, the central themes that run through almost all of the songs, are the ideas of illusion, and disillusion - lost love and lost innocence. This places an interesting parallel with Selling England By The Pound, where a similar air of lament (in this case for the loss of a particular kind of national character and identity) runs through most of the work. The difference of course, being that the primary lyricist of the "themed" songs on Selling England had now departed, and the wordplay and barbs inherent in Gabriel's lyrics are replaced by the romantic allegory of Banks and Rutherford, and the dry wit of Hackett on Blood on The Rooftops.

    The illusory aspect is first introduced by means of the cover - a grey autumnal scenario with a tree whose foliage turns out to be scores of birds, leaving the tree bare and alone.

    The album opens with Eleventh Earl of Mar, a grand musical piece based on the Jacobite rebellion of 1715, which introduces the idea of innocence (the narrative voice is alternately entirely third person, and that of the protagonist's young son), and failure, in the ultimately unsuccessful campaign. The child's dreams are blended with the naiveté of the observations - "One wave of his funny old stick, there's a band of light across your eyes".

    Musically Eleventh Earl is a piece de resistance - one of the strongest songs that they ever wrote, to these ears. The balance between electric rock and acoustic balladry is carefully and skilfully crafted, and the dynamic of the rhythm section suggests that time spent playing the Trick Tour with an accomplished, edgy and rhythmically impatient counterpart had galvanised them somewhat.

    The song completes with the imprecation to wait until everyone forgets, and do it again - "some things never end"

    Which leads us nicely into One For The Vine, the first solo Banks song on Wind & Wuthering. This deals again with disillusion, fatalism and failure, and reinforces certain ideas introduced the song before. The saga of a man finding himself the unwanted focus of a people's aspirations as a result of an act of cowardice - "Then one whose faith had died, Fled back up the mountainside" - "A misplaced footfall made him stray, From the path prepared for him" (my italics), his reluctance to assume the mantle of responsibility sees him take solace in his own thoughts, in a section than can either be read as quasi-Biblical, or more prosaically as plain Dutch courage.

    "He walked into a valley, All alone There he talked with water, and then with the vine"

    I have always taken the reference to talking with water, and the vine, to indicate a reference to the fermented fruit thereof, especially when taken in conjunction with the Steward from Eleventh Earl - "Dressed too fine, and smelling of wine". In fact, I see the two songs as different perspectives of the same type of event, which is all the more interesting, given that the two were written by different lyricists.

    The culmination of the song, as with Eleventh Earl, introduces the cyclic concept, which is the lynchpin of One for the Vine. The "hero" is trapped within the cycle of events described by the song - and is therefore doomed to repeat them. Just as, once the dust has settled, the protagonists, or their offspring, are free to repeat the same mistakes in Eleventh Earl of Mar.

    Musically, whilst this song is something of a perennial favourite amongst Genesis cognoscenti, and it must be said that it is a song I do enjoy, it is evidence of the Problem With Tony And Steve. Put simply, The Problem… was that Banks' music was beginning to be arranged such that there was progressively less room for Hackett to manoeuvre in, within the context of the song itself. This was probably (and this, like most of these thoughts, is pure conjecture), down to several factors. Firstly, the advent of synthesiser technology meant that from a position at the line-up's inception, where lack of equipment and stage budget had led to necessity becoming the mother of Genesis' (and Gabriel's) invention, and Hackett and Banks had to create the sounds that they wanted to put across by means of innovative use of the available resources (readers are pointed in the general direction of Return Of the Giant Hogweed's instrumental introduction and centre pieces, and the solo sections of The Musical Box, as well as the interplay on Dancing With The Moonlit Knight, and The Battle Of Epping Forest, amongst many others), now Banks had the technology to play a lot of these parts himself. And so he did. In this it is instructive to hear the Three Sides Live version of One For The Vine, where Stuermer plays several lines originally covered by keyboard, on guitar, to the Wind & Wuthering version, where Hackett is very much sidelined by the grand sweep of Banks' overdubbage. The writing was starting to appear on the wall…….

    There then follows Your Own Special Way, which is for me one of the least satisfying moments of the album. The song begins in what by now could almost be termed archetypical acoustic Genesis - a 12-string guitar playing a chord progression liberally sprinkled with suspensions. However, the arrangement of the song, with its awkward transition from verse to chorus, indicates that the band themselves may have had some difficulty knowing quite where to take the song. The chorus also has the faintest of Eagles-esque US radio tinge to it, which may have been prophetic, but in 1977 sits rather uncomfortably with the rest of the album.

    And then we get to the middle eight, which is in its own (special) way a microcosm of the changes in Genesis from 1971 to '77. Whilst the Genesis of Nursery Cryme and Foxtrot would have possibly arranged an obviously unconnected piece of music into a delicate acoustic vignette, which may still have sat apart from the main body of the song, but provided a pleasant diversion, what we have in the middle of Your Own… is what sounds for all the world like bored noodling on a Fender Rhodes electric piano.

    Which is a shame, because the song does deserve better. In a way Genesis were still an album away from mastering the art of the intimate (as opposed to the tragic-classic) ballad, and the reading of the song on Steve Hackett's Genesis Revisited album shows that the song itself is not at all without merit - merely that the arrangement applied in 1977 did the song very little justice.

    Lyrically the song is relatively lightweight, which is not to decry the lyrics - merely to point out that sometimes simple is sufficient.

    Side one of the album ("this all used to be fields, you know"), concludes with Wot Gorilla, which is the subject of some Genesis apocryphal folklore. Commonly held belief has it that Hackett was very distressed at the inclusion of this song, at the apparent expense of the song that ended up as the title track of his second solo album, Please Don't Touch, apparently because Phil "couldn't get into it".

    The short instrumental, the closest relative to Brand X in the Genesis portfolio (with the possible exception of "It's Yourself", which could have sat comfortably on Moroccan Roll) is fundamentally a short theme, which is improvised on, taken to a middle eight with a suitably church-esque organ segment, and then reprised. Pleasant enough, but once again somewhat guilty of being the sort of aimless noodle that within months they would be decrying bands like Yes/ELP et al for specialising in.

    And so, on to turning the record over.

    All In a Mouse's Night is the second Banks song on Wind & Wuthering. And it is at this point that Hackett's criticisms of the band upon leaving - namely that the group were increasingly becoming self-referential and complacent - start to have some of the reviewer's sympathy. It is presumably only coincidence, that side two track one of the last three studio Genesis albums (not counting the anomalous Lamb Lies Down..) have narrative based songs with a comedic element. From criminals playing cat and mouse games, to cats and mice. And bread bins. In amongst what is really a quite one-dimensional lyric, there still remains the parallel of defeat being snatched from the jaws (literally) of victory, and the use of illusion as an explanation or substitution for the mundane events of accident - although there's probably a big difference in scale between a failed rebellion and a jam jar, that rather depends on whether you're a Jacobite or a small hungry bundle of fur with a sore head.

    Musically, All In a Mouse's Night begins with another grand romantic sweep of keyboard, and is something of a precursor for the next album - as the lead guitar is almost entirely conspicuous by its absence except at the end of the song. When it does arrive, however, the solo is played with the economy and taste that Hackett was and is rightly feted for.

    From illusion as a substitute for the humdrum, to the propensity of the humdrum creating the artifice of illusion - a beautifully poignant piece of classical playing leads us into Blood On The Rooftops, Hackett's main lyrical and musical input to Wind & Wuthering. In a similar manner to Selling England By The Pound, the density of references to the English culture and mindset of the mid 1970's is impressive, but can make the song a little impenetrable if one is not familiar with all of the nuances contained within. The references to arcane English existence merge together to create a miasma of the mundane, giving the song an otherworldly romantic sheen emphasised by Banks' sweeping keyboards during the choruses. This was definitely territory that would not be visited again by the band, although the arrangement of the guitar and keyboard does have some vague echoes in Say It's Alright Joe, from And Then There Were Three.

    Unquiet Slumbers……starts with another throwback to the days of Genesis as a "woody" band, with Hackett's classical playing overlaid across Rutherford's 12-string, and the Mellotron of Banks. Sharp-eared listeners may recognise the initial melody as being very similar to Please Don't Touch, from Hackett's album of the same name. (If at first you don't succeed….) Moving into a passage redolent of Entangled from the previous album, the piece builds into the drumroll that presages….."In That Quiet Earth"

    Which splits into the Hackett bit (The first passage, played by Steve on numerous solo tours), and the Banks/Collins/Rutherford bit (which found its way into several Genesis medleys in the 1980s). One of the last truly great instrumentals that Genesis recorded, and with fine playing and solo work from all concerned, especially Banks during the Zeppelin-esque latter section. A restatement of the theme to close, and then into Afterglow.

    Which is another Banks song, a song of redemption and renewal, amongst lost love. Lyrically, the simplicity of the imagery and the poignancy of the words make this one of his finest songs. There is an almost valedictory feel to Afterglow, which in hindsight is almost entirely appropriate. The final chords fade into the distance, with the added benefit of the drumming being tastefully appropriate to the feel of the song, rather than the "How fast can we play the part from More Trouble Every Day from Roxy and Elsewhere tonight Chester?" bombast that ensued when the song was transferred to the stage. And then the song is over. And then, as they say, there were three.

    aja501473on October 31, 2013   Link
  • +3
    General Comment

    The song is about the Scottish Jacobite uprising of 1715, and how ineffectual John Erskine, Lord of Mar (sometimes considered the Eleventh Earl of Mar) was in this campaign. It also pokes at James III and VIII (the Old Pretender) as a bit of a sissy boy ("Couldn't even lift a sword."), the French, for sending him to Scotland in inadequate ships ("cockleshell boat").

    All in all, Tony Banks has great fun reviling English aristocrats and the whole notion of monarchy in general. The song is one of my favorite Genesis tunes (in fact i just played it while looking for the link below) , and I feel Wind & Wuthering is the best Genesis album of all, closely followed by Trick of a Tail. But that's another post... ;-)

    Check for a detailed history lesson.

    blunneyon September 28, 2005   Link
  • +2
    General Comment

    based on the true story of the 11th earl of mar, who was some imporant person at a young age and a bit of brat with it too!

    timbo.hon January 05, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    My favorite song off the last great Genesis album, though I will give two albums afterwards credit where due.

    inpraiseoffollyon November 27, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    I have always interpreted it a bit more generally, as a satire of how "leaders" were chosen based on social status rather than actual leadership ability. It's clear the Earl is a hopeless leader, but he's in charge because of his class.

    Ironically, the song seems to imply that his hopelessness actually saves the lives of his men because he couldn't get them to the battlefront in time ("...couldn't get them down that far"), where everyone else is killed ("...and that will be their grave").

    MisterMarcuson July 15, 2013   Link
  • -1
    General Comment

    Great start to one of my favourite albums... saying that, i think its the weakest song on the album. Followed by the masterpiece "One For the Vine" it didn't really stand a chance :)

    I think the meaning is self-explanatory. Hands down to Mr. Banks

    Arialon April 21, 2008   Link

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