Down on Cyprus Avenue
With a childlike vision leaping into view
Clicking, clacking of the high heeled shoe
Ford and Fitzroy, Madame George
Marching with the soldier boy behind
He's much older now with hat on drinking wine
And that smell of sweet perfume comes drifting through
The cool night air like Shalimar

And outside they're making all the stops
The kids out in the street collecting bottle-tops
Gone for cigarettes and matches in the shops
Happy taken Madame George
That's when you fall
Whoa, that's when you fall
Yeah, that's when you fall
When you fall into a trance

Sitting on a sofa playing games of chance
With your folded arms and history books
You glance into the eyes of Madame George
And you think you found the bag
You're getting weaker and your knees begin to sag
In a corner playing dominoes in drag
The one and only Madame George

And then from outside the frosty window raps
She jumps up and says, Lord, have mercy I think it's the cops
And immediately drops everything she gots
Down into the street below
And you know you gotta go
On that train from Dublin up to Sandy Row
Throwing pennies at the bridges down below
And the rain, hail, sleet, and snow

Say goodbye to Madame George
Dry your eye for Madame George
Wonder why for Madame George
And as you leave, the room is filled with music
Laughing, music, dancing, music all around the room
And all the little boys come around, walking away from it all

So cold, and as you're about to leave
She jumps up and says, hey love, you forgot your gloves
And the gloves to love, to love the gloves
To say goodbye to Madame George
Dry your eye for Madame George
Wonder why for Madame George
Dry your eyes for Madame George

Say goodbye in the wind and the rain on the back street
In the backstreet, in the back street
Say goodbye to Madame George
In the backstreet, in the back street, in the back street
Down home, down home in the back street
Gotta go, say goodbye, goodbye, goodbye
Dry your eye, your eye, your eye, your eye, your eye

Say goodbye to Madame George
And the loves to love to love the love
Say goodbye, goodbye, goodbye
Say goodbye goodbye, goodbye, goodbye to Madame George
Dry your eye for Madame George
Wonder why for Madame George
The love's to love, the love's to love, the love's to love
Say goodbye, goodbye

Get on the train
Get on the train, the train, the train
This is the train, this is the train
Whoa, say goodbye, goodbye, goodbye, goodbye
Get on the train, get on the train

Lyrics submitted by yuri_sucupira, edited by domenicos, BenEden, cyranose

"Madame George" as written by Van Morrison

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group, Warner Chappell Music, Inc.

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Madame George song meanings
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  • +4
    My InterpretationI guess it's set before the partition of Ireland, and therefore the narrator isn't Van Morrison, but a protestant schoolboy in Dublin. The song begins with his adult self in a reverie on Cyprus Avenue, remembering bygone days, seeing himself as a teenager, clutching history books, entranced by the sight of Madame George, a glamorous transvestite, leading a drunken soldier boy back to her flat.

    The narrator finds himself in the flat, a sort of speakeasy, with gambling, drinking, drugs and dancing on offer - and perhaps sex. The narrator is captivated by this outré character and her Bohemian life. It's a place to which he returns again and again. The song tells of two episodes from the flat: a police raid which results in Madame George throwing the drugs out of the window; and the final tearful goodbye, as the narrator leaves for a new life in Belfast.

    The song is about a juvenile infatuation with someone fearlessly living a life which breaks all the rules, and a wistful reflection of adolescent freedom and possibility.
    Paegaon November 04, 2013   Link
  • +4
    My InterpretationI have a very strong emotional connection to this song. He perfectly captures the adolescent fascination with someone living completely outside the rules. It's a defining moment that many sensitive artists will relate to, the feeling of liberation that you feel in the presence of someone who simply doesn't obey the rules you were brought up to believe as the order of the world itself. In this sense, it also articulates a sense of the uncanny, the occult, which have a long association with transvestitism. In native American cultures the two-spirited or transgendered were considered to have a stronger connection to the spirit world because of the fluidity of their identity. It's also a reminiscence on a young man's imagination of the adult world. Young people can distinguish authenticity better than grown-ups, and the narrator of the song senses something different in Madame George, and this has a profound effect on him, so much so that it acts as a kind of landmark in his personal history around which many memories orbit. I wouldn't say it can be reduced to a this happens and then this happens and then this happens kind of narrative, as the nostalgic perspective of the song is so poignant that the song comes to be about memories of childhood and its defining moments generally.
    chellspeckeron April 09, 2014   Link
  • +2
    General CommentThose are backgrounds on the subject. But I think the mood of the song is basically that feeling when you know you've moved on from youthful days... and you're stepping into a new life. It nostalgic.
    Fypaston June 16, 2005   Link
  • +2
    General CommentThe main theme of the song is about leaving the past behind. The character of Madame George is considered by many to be a drag queen, although Morrison himself denied this in a Rolling Stone interview.[2]He later claimed that the character was based on six or seven different people: "It's like a movie, a sketch, or a short story. In fact, most of the songs on Astral Weeks are like short stories. In terms of what they mean, they're as baffling to me as to anyone else. I haven't got a clue what that song is about or who Madame George might have been
    SPLINTER318on August 11, 2008   Link
  • +2
    General CommentSomeone pointed out the Van himself states it doesn't have a specific meaning. Even if it did, it wouldn't matter. This song, like most good songs, is very open to interpretation, so you all are correct, except anyone claiming their opinion is more correct since they are an "expert". There's nothing wrong with the "drug dealer" interpretation, especially since she is so worried by the cops and dumps some stuff. I think drugs were just being used, myself. Besides their ability to provide background info, you can usually ignore "experts" when it comes to art.

    Personally, I felt more inclined to the idea of her being a prostitute. Am I the only one who took the "drag" line as meaning trannie, but that it is simply a girl wearing male clothing, perhaps just as a joke? Or maybe wearing some of her john's clothing, as they goof around afterwords? It reminds me of the whorehouse scenes in James Joyce's Ulysses. I do like the idea of it simply being "drag on a cigerette" though too. Regardless of all that, it is a haunting and sad song that makes me think of the things I left behind growing up.
    clovuson October 02, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThis is about a transvestite living in Belfast. THis man is very nice and socialable. Every one goes to his parties and eats his food but wont even look him in the eye. He is a very sad character and Van feels for sympathetic and maybe even empathetic. Then the cops show up or maybe george gets frustrated with the whole thing and just says that in order to clear the room. He then realizes he doesnt belong and has to leave. But he must leave out the back so noone will see him(is he ashamed?) He decides to go from the Sandy Row(protestant Ireland) to Dublin (Catholic). ANd finally he says goodbye in one of the most beautiful touching parts in music, in my opinion. This song is a little iffy on the exact meaning but in any event its sad stuff.
    johnpauljones86on May 03, 2004   Link
  • +1
    General CommentA sadly neglected masterpiece - one of greatest works of art last century
    vasnmoGoon April 30, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General Commentits actaully about a transvestite drug dealer from dublin who used to travel to belfast to do business which is where van came in contact with him when he himself was just a boy. maddame georges death obviously had an effect on morrison. "dry your eye for maddame george"
    willardon October 21, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General CommentWillard- I am a Van Morrison expert and I can assure you that Madame George was not a drug dealer. Anyway, having said that, this is probably Van Morrison's greatest song alone for the string bit at the end. Tear jerking stuff. Madame George is still alive, by the way, living as a recluse in Eire where it was more liberal than Ulster.
    alfiebabyon March 08, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentVan absolutely denies this is about a transvestite living in Belfast.

    The action in the song takes place in Dublin - the swirling "the loves to love to love the love....." is sexual congress - don't see Van doing it with a tranny!!

    btw - Michelle Rocca lives in Dublin - a premonition?
    Van came south to Dublin long before it was fashionable - ahead of his time, as ever.
    vasnmoGoon March 23, 2006   Link

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