"Paris 1919" as written by and John Cale....
She makes me so unsure of myself
Standing there but never talking sense
Just a visitor you see
So much wanting to be seen
She'd open up the door and vaguely carry us away

It's the customary thing to say or do
To a disappointed proud man in his grief
And on Fridays she'd be there
And on Wednesday not at all
Just casually appearing from the clock across the hall

You're a ghost la la la
You're a ghost
I'm in the church and I've come
To claim you with my iron drum
La la la

The Continent's just fallen in disgrace
William William William Rogers put it in its place
Blood and tears from old Japan
Caravans and lots of jam and maids of honor
Singing crying singing tediously

Efficiency efficiency they say
Get to know the date and tell the time of day
As the crowds begin complaining
How the Beaujolais is raining
Down on darkened meetings on Champs Elysee

Lyrics submitted by Greyshoes, edited by Wouterkaas

"Paris 1919" as written by John Davies Cale


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Paris 1919 song meanings
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  • +3
    General CommentThe song is about a failed wedding in the wake of WWI, as such using the runaway bride as a metaphor for Europe's tentative peace.
    robwyattfanon July 12, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General Commentthe third verse and the choruses seem to hint at the idea of crusades/driving people out of their land.
    jtn191on September 08, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General Commentor maybe it's about being stood up at a wedding?
    jtn191on September 08, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General CommentKey phrase: "The continent's just fallen in disgrace." Everyone was relieved WWI was over, but also aware nothing had been resolved (and the situation had in fact become worse, as is clear in hindsight).

    The title of the album refers obliquely to diplomatic meetings which took place after the war. Though in exactly what way, I can't explicate. Perhaps it was more of a jumping-off point, as opposed to a theme. Most of the songs seem more personal, with occasional political or cultural references.

    "William William" etc. could be Leighton William Rogers. I don't know. My knowledge of world history is poor (as is typical of Americans).

    A wonderful phrase, isn't it: "...open up the door and vaguely carry us away," somewhat reminiscent of "seducing down the door" from Paris 1919's lead-off track "A Child's Christmas in Wales".

    Though my favorite here has to be "maids of honor singing crying singing tediously," Cale's brilliant phrasing maintaining the same tone of melancholy whimsy as elsewhere, avoiding lapsing into silliness. Not an easy trick; compare Robyn Hitchcock's "My Wife and My Dead Wife" (also a great song but definitely silly).
    foreverdroneon December 30, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI was missing the obvious. The Paris Peace Talks of 1919 led to the Treaty of Versailles. In which the contemporary political and intellectual giants of Europe utterly failed to make The War to End All Wars live up to its billing in any shape or form. Thus inadvertently laying the groundwork for the second Great War.
    foreverdroneon December 30, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI think William William etc. refers to the famous American journalist, humorist, and performing artist "Will" Rogers, who wrote a short collectiom titled "The Cowboy Philosopher on the Peace Conference" at about this same time.
    akronzipfanon July 15, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General CommentAs for the chorus and its "drum." two ghostly possibilities come to mind: a reference to either the Drummer of Tedworth, or the Drummer of Cortachy?
    wfgodoton June 14, 2018   Link
  • 0
    My OpinionA great song.

    I was just listening to it and had the thought that perhaps Cale is using the metaphor of Paris in 1919 to comment on his own times?

    What made me think that is that the line "William, William, William Rogers" might be a reference to President Richard M. Nixon's Secretary of State from 1969-1973 William Rogers. That William Rogers was deeply involved in the Paris Peace Talks which eventually ended the Vietnam War.
    ellisveneron May 05, 2017   Link
  • -1
    General Commentthis song is so great.
    precipitateon May 14, 2007   Link
  • -1
    General Commenttotally agree with you! but no idea on the meaning :(
    carrotkinson August 11, 2007   Link

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