Death was everywhere in the air
And in the sounds
Coming off the mounds of Bolton's Ridge
Oh, death's anchorage
When you rolled a smoke or told a joke
It was in the laughter and drinking water
Approached the beach as strings of cutters
Dropped in the sea and lay around us

Death was in the ancient fortress
Shelled by a million bullets
From gunners, waiting in the copses
With hearts that threatened to pop their boxes
As we advanced into the sun
Death was all and everyone
Death was all and everyone

As we, advancing in the sun
As we, advancing, every man
As we, advancing in the sun

Death hung in the smoke and clung
To 400 acres of useless beachfront
A bank of red earth, dripping down
Death is now, and now, and now
Death was everywhere
In the air and in the sounds
Coming off the mounds of Bolton's Ridge
Oh, death's anchorage
Death was in the staring sun
Fixing its eyes on everyone
Rattling the bones of the Light Horsemen
Still lying out there in the open

As we, advancing in the sun
We, advancing, every man
We, advancing, in the sun
Sing, "Death to all and everyone"

Lyrics submitted by stentorian, edited by clovus

All And Everyone [Demo] Lyrics as written by Polly Jean Harvey

Lyrics © Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd.

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All and Everyone song meanings
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  • +4
    PJ Harvey: "One of the conflicts that affected me a great deal was the Gallipoli campaign in the First World War. Something about the dreadful mismanagement and the shocking waste, needless waste, I thought about it a lot and really affected me, because to me it had such resonance with the wars that are going on today."

    I love this song. It is just amazing in the drama of the way it builds up and then the evocative chorus just hangs there. When I hear it, I can see in my mind's eye the landscape of Gallipoli and the soldiers advancing, and there is so much poignancy in the beauty of the sunny hills juxtaposed with imminent death. I love the language she has used to tell the story in this song, it makes all of it feel so immediate and real, and I was not surprised at all when I read that PJ heard or read many survivors' first hand accounts while doing research for this album.

    To get into specifics... and it's awful to dissect my favourite song like this really, but I can't help myself...

    The first verse makes reference to ANZAC troops landing on the coast at Gallipoli, some time during the campaign. "Death was everywhere" because at Gallipoli, unlike on most battlefields, there was no safe ground: the Turks were up higher and had a great view of everything, so you could be shot down anywhere, anytime. At ANZAC Cove, "Bolton's Ridge" is one of the landmarks nearest to the sea, so you would be near it while coming ashore. There was an ANZAC post there. At first I thought the "sounds coming off the mounds" might be the moans of the wounded, but now I think it was definitely the sound of artillery fire, which by many accounts was nightmarishly loud and echoed off the cliffs. "Death's anchorage" - again we are near the sea. The cutters were the small wooden boats used to ferry soldiers ashore from bigger troop carriers that had brought them there. Under enemy fire they would get holes in them and sink, hence "strings of cutters dropped in the sea and lay around us".

    "the ancient fortress shelled by a million bullets" - there are a number of ancient fortresses in that area. They weren't actually at ANZAC Cove. Eleven of them guarded the Narrows, the ocean straits that boats passed through bringing soldiers to Gallipoli. "gunners waiting in the copses" - if you don't know the word "copse", it's an English term for a small dense group of trees. The Turks were hidden uphill from the ANZACs, with orders to fight to the death to keep them from gaining higher ground. You can imagine how hard their hearts would have been beating under such circumstances - "hearts that threatened to pop their boxes". I like that she makes mention of the feelings of the Turkish soldiers. They fought bravely under just as dreadful conditions as the Allied forces had. This album is never one sided, it evokes suffering that could be experienced by any human being in any war. "we advanced into the sun" - when the ANZACs came ashore, they were moving west to east. They usually landed just after dawn, when the sun is coming up in the east, hence "into the sun".

    "the smoke" is made by the firing of artillery guns, all WWI battlefields were hung with this smoke. "400 acres of useless beachfront" is the territory held by the ANZACs. "A bank of red earth" - the soil at Gallipoli is an orangey-red colour. I imagine a lot of the trenches would have had a bank of red earth at the edge, probably made more red by all the bloodshed. "The Light Horsemen" were sent to Gallipoli, without their horses, as reinforcements. In the battle of the Nek on 7 August 1915, Light Horsemen from several brigades were sent out in repeated waves, which were immediately mown down by Turkish gunfire. The latter waves should not have been sent out, because the attack was obviously so futile. In a campaign which threw away many men's lives this was one of the most tragic instances. "The bones of the Light Horsemen" were left "lying out there in the open" and could not be retrieved until after the war was over.

    As for singing "death to all and everyone", I wondered whether this might be the name of an actual song that PJ might have heard of in her research. WWI soldiers did have songs that they sang to bolster their spirits while attacking, such as one called "This little bit of the world belongs to us". If you interpret it less literally, the singing soldiers are facing up to their life on the battlefield, where death could come at any second and it was their job to try and deal it out in return.
    zillahon April 24, 2011   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI believe this has to do something with a battle during WWI in Turkey called the Battle of Lone Pine.…

    The article says something about Bolton's Ridge and Plateau 400 which might be what PJ is referring to in the "400 acres of useless beachfront" line.
    KeyboardSMASHon April 22, 2011   Link
  • +1
    General Commentbeautiful pacifist song.
    yurigon May 14, 2011   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThanks for this thorough analysis zillah. Yes it's copses, not corpses - please correct.
    QuintessODon September 22, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General CommentTo respond to KeyboardSMASH's comment: The "400 acres of useless beachfront" is referring to the approximately 400 acres of land held by the ANZAC troops during the Gallipoli campaign. It was "useless" as it was dry, scrubby and mountainous, not good farming land (and it didn't wind up being of much military use either).

    I feel the song is evoking the latter days of the ANZACS at Gallipoli in general; I don't see any details that make me think it's talking about Lone Pine in particular. Also, regarding the line about how death "rattled the bones of the Light Horsemen, still lying out there in the open": the charge of the Light Horse Brigades (7 August 1915) and the battle of Lone Pine (5-10 August 1915) were on at the same time. There would have been no time for the bodies to turn to "rattling bones". It was quite "normal" to not be able to retrieve the bodies at Gallipoli, there were very many who lay where they fell and were never confirmed dead, only permanently Missing In Action. To say the Light Horsemen are "still lying out there", feels like we are looking at the battlefield some time after 7 August, between then and December when the troops were evacuated.
    zillahon April 24, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General CommentLight horsemen, not "night" horsemen, silly!
    SuzyJunkyon October 21, 2013   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThere is the suggestion that this is a pacifist song. I'm not sure I'd agree. I know Polly has said in interview that the intention of the whole album was to tell the stories truthfully and respectfully. That's not quite the same. Gallipoli must have been horrific for all involved and the song conveys this well. I'd hope that many people might think twice about supporting ANY war effort after listening and thinking about this song. Polly though does not voice an opinion as such - it is us as the listeners who do that.

    I'd say that All and Everyone is one of the more standout tracks on the album but the whole album speaks to me more than any single track. It is an extraordinary and harrowing experience but ulimately wothwhile!
    PBAon June 14, 2012   Link

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