Well, I rang up Pantucci,
Spoke to Lu-chi,
I gave them all
They needed to know.
If affairs are proceeding
As we're expecting,
Soon enough the weak spots will show.
I assume you understand that we have options on your time,
And will ditch you in the harbour if we must:
But if it all works out nicely,
You'll get the bonus you deserve
From doctors we trust.

The Fat Lady of Limbourg
Looked at the samples that we sent
And furrowed her brow.
You would never believe that
She'd tasted royalty and fame
If you saw her now.
But her sense of taste is such that she'll distinguish with her tongue
The subtleties a spectrograph would miss,
And announce her decision,
While demanding her reward:
The jellyfish kiss.

Now we checked out this duck quack
Who laid a big egg, oh so black
It shone just like gold.
And the kids from the city,
Finding it pretty, took it home,
And there it was sold.
It was changing hands for weeks till someone left it by their fire
And it melted to a puddle on the floor:
For it was only a candle, a Roman scandal oh oh oh,
Now it's a pool.
That's what we're paid for
That's what we're paid for
That's what we're paid for here.

Lyrics submitted by mint_melody, edited by PaulMad

"Fat Lady of Limbourg" as written by Brian Eno

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

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The Fat Lady of Limbourg song meanings
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  • +2
    General CommentOne of the more Dada-esque offerings from a songwriter whose early career is typified by heaping helpings of the absurd. Like "The Great Pretender"--also on Side A of the Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy) LP--there's a woozy sense of nasty dealings underfoot, despite not much of a "smoking gun" in sight. One might labor to locate a specific element obviously over-the-top in terms of cruelty or perversion.

    Ah, but the description (in the second verse) of the Fat Lady of Limbourg! Close enough. The couplet:

    But her sense of taste is such that she'll distinguish with her tongue
    The subtleties a spectrograph would miss

    ...matches anything in "Seven Deadly Finns" for weirdness (followed up by an image truly nausea-inducing, if one thinks too hard about it). Either track would be a fine benchmark for Eno's playful perversity, most of which he--perhaps sadly--seems to have gotten out of his system, ultimately. Except for the odd bits of oddness on Side A of Before and After Science: the luxuriant wordplay of "Backwater" and the 'pataphysical madness of "King's Lead Hat". (These tendencies would crop up on My Squelchy Life, but only occasionally. An opinion based, of course, on those few tracks which ever saw legitimate release.)

    My knowledge of world history being neither deep nor wide, nevertheless I've noticed how Eno enjoyed making obscure references to pre-Modern Europe on Taking Tiger Mountain. There's the prominence of Limbourg, a city (located in what's now Belgium) of little significance today, but which once had been a great fortress. Intended, perhaps, to underscore the Fat Lady's faded ties with royalty. In a similar vein, Eno's protagonist of "Mother Whale Eyeless"--in yet another unlikely image--finds himself "plugging holes in the Zuider Zee." That body of water (spangled with zeds!)--once prominent in the map of the Netherlands--has vanished. This changeable (not to say "fluid") feature of the Dutch landscape is kept alive in memory by the Zuiderzee Museum (and by Eno's song).
    foreverdroneon January 17, 2011   Link
  • +1
    General CommentCool song.
    Nosdravdeon August 30, 2007   Link
  • +1
    My OpinionIf you'll recall, about 99% of Eno's music is without lyric. There's a reason for that. Brian Eno always believed that lyrics restricted the scope of meaning to a song and he said himself that most of his lyrics are for the purpose of rhyming and on the occasion, not the norm, he writes them for meaning. I love Fat Lady of Limbourg, one of my favorite songs from the album, but I honestly don't think it's lyrics have any hidden, underlying meaning. It's just a fun story.

    When it comes to "Here He Comes" from Before and After Science, while I suppose anything can be interpreted to one's liking, given Eno's bisexuality and my homosexuality, I find it very easy to believe that it's about cruising.

    The one album that I think while simplistic in it's great songs and great lyrics which tell an individual story for each song is Wrong Way Up with John Cale.

    pudman56on December 31, 2012   Link
  • +1
    General CommentPantucci is a bakery in Switzerland and Argentina, Luchi is a type of bread, the duck's black egg is a Chinese dish. If it helps you in any way.
    ETorreson January 30, 2020   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI like this song a lot. It seems, like most of Eno's songs, to sort of laugh at organization and boundries. He's always blissfully transcending language, but in this song specifically he seems to be poking fun at government/police organizations. In the end, the men are paid to go on a huge investigation only to find a melted duck egg. How absurd!
    paranoid schizoidon October 28, 2007   Link
  • 0
    My InterpretationIt's about the creative process. From the thought in the artist's mind - through the shredder of the production companies - until the customer sees the poor result, far from what was intended.
    truleighon March 25, 2013   Link
  • 0
    General CommentReally. I had to make an account for this. Ugh. I thought for sure one of you would have picked up on the real meaning of this song. While I agree with some of what is written, I can remember as a Youth [ or yute]. growing up in NYC and speaking with friends about this song. It was unanimously agreed upon, Eno is actually talking about Opium. I guess none of you smoked opium before. Or, mainlined it. It is the best high. I mean, if I'm wrong, let Eno tell me I'm wrong. Like wrong, wrong, hahahaaaa. You smoke it, it melts down. You shoot it, you have to mix it down. Black opium in quantity used to come looking like an egg. A big black egg. Not like Hash, which was like a shoe sole. Hope that cleaqrs things up a bit. Yep. I was smoking Opium as a teen. I'm 61 now. Drugs didn't kill me, obviously. Hahahahaaaaaaaaa. Luego,
    Lentleon May 16, 2020   Link

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