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Post Info TOPIC: Death Comes to Town (and the Maiden)


Master Of The Universe

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Death Comes to Town (and the Maiden)
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I've always thought Death Comes to Town is a bit of an oddball, lyrically speaking. It doesn't really fit with the tortured relationship laments of the Freaks/Separations period, or the more observational/sexy stuff that came along later. Then someone mentioned to me the other day that it's clearly a retelling of the Death and the Maiden story, which to my shame I'd never heard of. However, it'sapparently been a well-known motif in art and musicfor hundreds of years, its best-known manifestations being in paintings by Edvard Munch and Egon Schiele, and in a folk song (better known as Death and the Lady) that's been done by countless people, as folk songs generally are. The premise ofboth is a young girl being seduced by the Grim Reaper, and then dying (of course).

The best-known recording of the song that young Jarvis might have heard is probably the one by Shirley and Dolly Collins, from 1970:

As I walked out one morn in May
The birds did sing and the lambs did play,
The birds did sing and the lambs did play;
I met an old man,
I met an old man by the way.

His head was bald, his beard was grey,
His coat was of a myrtle shade,
I asked him what strange countryman,
Or what strange place,
Or what strange place he did belong.

My name is Death, cannot you see?
Lords, Dukes and Ladies bow down to me.
And you are one of those branches three,
And you fair maid,
And you fair maid must come with me.

I'll give you gold and jewels rare,
I'll give you costly robes to wear,
I'll give you all my wealth in store,
If you'll let me live,
If you'll let me live a few years more.

Fair lady, lay your robes aside,
No longer glory in your pride.
And now, sweet maid, make no delay,
Your time is come,
Your time is come and you must away.

And not long after this fair maid died;
Write on my tomb, the lady cried,
Here lies a poor distressed maid,
Whom Death now lately,
Whom Death now lately hath betrayed.

Obviously it couldn't be said to be the same song, but I think the premise is unmistakeable. There's also the fact that (according to Steven Havenhand) DCTT was apparently first used in a one-off stage piece at the Leadmill about Death coming to Sheffield.

Anyone got any thoughts?



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Someone Like The Moon

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Death Comes to Town (and the Maiden)
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I always thought that "Death Comes to Town" was just a tad influenced (lyrically) by "The Seventh Seal" by Scott Walker ("The face within the booth was Mr. Death" / "Through confession's grill Death's laughter was heard" / "A young girl on a stake" etc etc). Also, I think you mentioned in your book that "Rattlesnake" (recorded at the same time) has a similar intro to this song. However, what you say above makes much more sense.



-- Edited by Ian on Tuesday 29th of January 2019 07:29:51 PM

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The Only Way is Down

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Great interpretation! I'd like to read more in Truth & Beauty deluxe and revised.

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Sorted

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RE: Death Comes to Town (and the Maiden)
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This is a nice thread! A bit off-topic but I remember that since I'd only listened to Death Goes To The Disco version before knowing about the original one (and I guess for cultural differences as well), for the longest time I thought that the Death was actually the girl! I felt a bit dumb when I found out about the full lyrics



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Master Of The Universe

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RE: Death Comes to Town (and the Maiden)
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Eamonn wrote:

Great interpretation! I'd like to read more in Truth & Beauty deluxe and revised.


Thank you but doubtful!



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Someone Like The Moon

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Sturdy wrote:
Eamonn wrote:

Great interpretation! I'd like to read more in Truth & Beauty deluxe and revised.


Thank you but doubtful!


Does this call for a petition? :)

To be fair, I think we have had more than our money's worth. For example, Steven Havenhand and Peter Mansell have both posted on this forum, plus we have had the reissues and some old live recordings have surfaced (i.e. "Didn't Feel a Thing"). For me, the best part about the book is from the start until about 1992 because that period was never covered in any detail before. If any other ex-members appear it would probably be cheaper and easier if they did some sort of blog or online Q&A.

(and I still wonder if Captain Sleep will ever surface)



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Master Of The Universe

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Oh I'd really like to do a revised version, there's just no way I could commit the time to do it properly (plus Omnibus Press weren't interested last time I asked). Give me 5 grand and I'll do it!

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The Only Way is Down

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That's peanuts...Jarvis gets 100k+ to put together a no-doubt slim volume of musings on creativity, which he still hasn't delivered two years after it being announced and likely to include regurgitated notes from his so-called "legendary Power-Point slides" and lectures on music from a decade ago...just d'unt seem right...

What if you tried to crowd-fund it Mark? 250 people to chip in 20 each doesn't seem insurmountable...a bit more to cover production or alternatively keep it as an ebook.

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Someone Like The Moon

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RE: Death Comes to Town (and the Maiden)
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Sturdy wrote:

Oh I'd really like to do a revised version, there's just no way I could commit the time to do it properly (plus Omnibus Press weren't interested last time I asked). Give me 5 grand and I'll do it!


Did you get any more ex-members from before 1992 coming forward? It would be great to hear what they had to say.

If a revised edition came out I would definitely buy it and would certainly be interested in crowdfunding.



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Master Of The Universe

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Death Comes to Town (and the Maiden)
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Well... I met Magnus Doyle, Steven Havenhand and Tim Allcard (and Jarvis and Candida, actually) after I'd finished, and had contact with Mark Swift and Pete Mansell. That was all 15 years ago though! To be honest it's probably not the right time for me to embark on a remake of the book at the moment, so hold that Crowdfunder for now. Who knows though, maybe one day!

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