It began when they come took me from my home
And put me in Dead Row
Of which I am nearly wholly innocent, you know
And I'll say it again
I am not afraid to die

I began to warm and chill
To objects and their fields
A ragged cup, a twisted mop
The face of Jesus in my soup
Those sinister dinner meals
The meal trolley's wicked wheels
A hooked bone rising from my food
All things either good or ungood

And the mercy seat is waiting
And I think my head is burning
And in a way I'm yearning
To be done with all this measuring of truth
An eye for an eye
A tooth for a tooth
And anyway I told the truth
And I'm not afraid to die

Interpret signs and catalogue
A blackened tooth, a scarlet fog
The walls are bad, black, bottom kind
They are sick breath at my hind
They are sick breath at my hind
They are sick breath at my hind
They are sick breath gathering at my hind

I hear stories from the chamber
How Christ was born into a manger
And like some ragged stranger
Died upon the cross
And might I say it seems so fitting in its way
He was a carpenter by trade
Or at least that's what I'm told

Like my good hand I
Tatooed E.V.i.l. Across it's brother's fist
That filthy five!
They did nothing to challenge or resist

In Heaven His throne is made of gold
The ark of his Testament is stowed
A throne from which I'm told
All history does unfold
Down here it's made of wood and wire
And my body is on fire
And God is never far away

Into the mercy seat I climb
My head is shaved, my head is wired
And like a moth that tries
To enter the bright eye
I go shuffling out of life
Just to hide in death awhile
And anyway I never lied

My kill-hand is called E.V.i.l.
Wears a wedding band that's G.O.o.d.
'Tis a long-suffering shackle
Collaring all that rebel blood

And the mercy seat is burning
And I think my head is glowing
And in a way I'm hoping
To be done with all this weighing up of truth
An eye for an eye
And a tooth for a tooth
And I've got nothing left to lose
And I'm not afraid to die

And the mercy seat is smoking
And I think my head is melting
And in a way I'm helping
To be done with all this twisted of the truth
A lie for a lie
And a truth for a truth
And anyway, I saw no proof
And not a motive why

And the mercy seat is melting
And I think my blood is boiling
And in a way I'm spoiling
All the fun by all this consequence of truth
An eye for an eye
And a truth for a truth
And I've got nothing left to lose
And I'm not afraid to die

And the mercy seat is waiting
And I think my head is burning
And in a way I'm yearning
To be done with all this measuring of proof
An eye for an eye
And a tooth for a tooth
And anyway there was no proof
And not a motive why

And the mercy seat is waiting
And I think my head is burning
And in a way I'm yearning
To be done with all this measuring of proof
An eye for an eye
And a tooth for a tooth
And anyway I told the truth
And I'm not afraid to die

And the mercy seat is waiting
And I think my head is burning
And in a way I'm yearning
To be done with all this measuring of proof
A lie for a lie
And a truth for a truth
And anyway there was no proof
And I'm not afraid to die

And the mercy seat is waiting
And I think my head is smoking
And in a way I'm hoping
To be done with all these looks of disbelief
An eye for an eye
And a tooth for a tooth
But anyway I told the truth
And I'm not afraid to die

And the mercy seat is-a waiting
And I think my head is burning
And in a way I'm yearning
To be done with all this measuring of proof
Of an eye for an eye
And a tooth for a tooth
And anyway I told the truth
And I'm not afraid to die

And the mercy seat is-a waiting
And I think my head is burning
And in a way I'm yearning
To be done with all this measuring of proof
An eye for an eye
And a tooth for a tooth
And anyway I told the truth
And I'm not afraid to die

And the mercy seat is-a waiting
And I think my head is burning
And in a way I'm yearning
To be done with all this measuring of proof
Of an eye for an eye
And a tooth for a tooth
And anyway I told the truth
And I'm not afraid to die

And the mercy seat is-a waiting
And I think my head is burning
And in a way I'm yearning
To be done with all this measuring of proof
Of an eye for an eye
And a tooth for a tooth
And anyway I told the truth
And I'm not afraid to die

And the mercy seat is waiting
And I think my head is burning
And in a way I'm yearning
To be done with all this measuring of proof
Of an eye for an eye
And a tooth for a tooth
And anyway I told the truth
But I'm not afraid to lie

And the mercy seat is-a waiting
And I think my head is burning
And in a way I'm yearning
To be done with all this measuring of proof
Of an eye for an eye
And a tooth for a tooth
And anyway I told the truth
But I'm not afraid to lie

And the mercy seat is-a waiting
And I think my head is burning
And in a way I'm yearning
To be done with all this measuring of proof
Of an eye for an eye
And a tooth for a tooth
And anyway I told the truth
But I'm afraid I told a lie


Lyrics submitted by Dressed2Depress

"The Mercy Seat" as written by Mick Harvey Nicholas Edward Cave

Lyrics © MUSIC SALES CORPORATION

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Mercy song meanings
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4 Comments

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  • +2
    General CommentGotta be one of my favourite Cave songs. The desperation is insane. The John the Baptist inspiration is obvious but I tend to think Cave puts more than a little of himself into the character as well.
    mackkaon June 18, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General CommentSo no one commented on this yet? Hard to believe. A great song about John the Baptist...a little creepy too, as is most of Nick Cave's work.
    milk_and_honeyon February 22, 2007   Link
  • 0
    Song MeaningReally wonderful song,so touching!But could you explain why this has to do with John the Baptist??This relationship is not so obvious to me...
    Thanks
    armagezonon January 13, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThe "She" in "She cried mercy" was Herods wife. John the Baptist was imprisoned by Herod because he renounced Herod's divorce from his first wife and marrying his brother's wife. I'm guessing the second verse refers to her asking John the Baptist to forgive Herod while he was improsoned. "I asked her to get down on her knew" is obviously his denial of that forgiveness. The third verse refers to his death at her request; to have his head brought to her on a platter. Brilliant, emotional depiction of a very grim Biblical event!
    dave152427on June 22, 2014   Link

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