"The Undercover Man" as written by and Hammill....
Here at the glass - all the usual problems,
All the habitual farce.
You ask, in uncertain voice, what you should do
As if there were a choice

But to carry on miming the song
And hope that it all works out right.
Tonight it all seems so strange - my spirit feels rigid,
My body deranged;

Still that's only from one point of view
And we can't have illusion between me and you,
My constant friend, ever close at hand -
You and the undercover man.

I reflect: 'It's very strange to be going through this change
With no idea of what it's all been about
Except in the context of time...'
Oh, but I shirk it, I've half a mind not to work it all out.

Is this madness just the recurring wave of total emotion,
Or a hide for the undercover man,
Or a litany - all the signs are there of fervent devotion -
Or the cracking of the dam?

It's cracked; smashed and bursting over you,
There was no reason to expect such disaster.
Now, panicking, you burst for air,
Drowning, you know you care

For nothing and no-one but yourself
And would deny even this hand which stretches out towards you to help.
But would I leave you in this moment of your trial?
Is it my fault that I'm here to see you crying?

These phantom figures all around you should have told you,
You should have found out by now,
If you hadn't gone and tried to do it all by yourself.

Even now we are not lost: if you look out at the night
You'll see the colours and the lights seem to say
People are not far away, at least in distance,
And it's only our own dumb resistance

That's making us stay.
When the madness comes, let it flood on down and over me sweetly,
Let it drown the parts of me weak and blessed and damned,
Let it slake my life, let it take my soul and living completely,

Let it be who I am.

There may not be time for us all to run in tandem together -
The horizon calls with its parallel lines.
It may not be right for you to have and hold in one way forever
And yet you still have time,

You still have time.

Lyrics submitted by 3rd_Uncle

"The Undercover Man" as written by Hammill

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

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The Undercover Man song meanings
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  • 0
    General CommentI'm thinking someone going through puberty- look and see for yourself, I think it all fits well.
    Aquatarkuson February 17, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General CommentHammill writes some stunningly complex lyrics. This one appears to have several of his recurring "themes".
    Specifically, Mirrors and Illusion or the difference between perception and reality.
    I think the narrative arc is of a performer (Hammill) staring into his mirror and questioning his motives for being who he is.
    He's talking to his reflection - "You and the Undercover man". The undercover man is his subconscious.
    The cracking dam is a maybe reference to the possible consequences of self doubt. It's interesting to me that it also appears to be Hammill offering his own hand to his drowning self.I think this may mean that we have in ourselves to power of self control.
    PBAon April 15, 2018   Link

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