back to the annotated mountain goats index

Back of Babylon Springs Cover of Babylon Springs

Babylon Springs

Title: Babylon Springs 1 2
Released: 2006
Label: 4AD

Liner notes

renewable inspiration provided by old videotape of dangerous religious cults: long life to your children, old videotape

Demos for Ox Baker Triumphant, Alibi, and Wait for You were released on Seven for Australia.

Table of contents

  1. Ox Baker Triumphant
  2. Alibi
  3. Sail Babylon Springs
  4. Sometimes I Still Feel The Bruise
  5. Wait For You

Ox Baker Triumphant 3 4 5

I will rise from the swamp
Where they dumped my private plane
I'll be clutching the life preserver
In my teeth
And I will find the highway
And I will flag down a truck
Worry lines on my forehead
Blank stare underneath

And when I come back to town
I'm gonna cast my burden down
A little worse for wear
Practically walking on air

I will thank my ride
And claw my way back inside
To the guts of the building where my enemies
Hide in the dark like roaches
And I will signal the camera crew
And everyone will do what he's been trained how to do
Sweat dripping from my face 6
As my moment approaches

Click your heels, count to three 7
I bet you never expected me
A little worse for wear
Practically walking on air

Alibi 8 9

I got off work just past eleven
Laid one finger to the breeze
You can almost taste the action
On nights like these
Trees were bending in the wind
You were forty miles away
And I was headed in your direction
I've been waiting all day
I've been waiting all day

Moon over West Covina 10 was huge and white
And I was like a patient on a table
Headed for the light
Lean toward the center divider
Feel the wind in my hair
Keep a light up in your window
I'm gonna be right there
I'm gonna be right there

With a gleam in my eye
And an almost airtight alibi

Down by the chemistry building
I found a quiet place to park
And I made my way down the street toward your place
Stepping lightly in the dark
Climbed the steps up to your doorway
Like a man prepared to jump beneath a train
It's real warm outside tonight
Maybe tomorrow it rains
Maybe tomorrow it rains

Inside your room we shut the window
And we turned on a fan
And we lay there together in the darkness
I can keep a secret if you can
Finishing one another's sentences
Like a pair of identical twins
Your boyfriend's out of town until Tuesday
And nobody saw me come in
Nobody saw me come in

With a gleam in my eye
And an almost airtight alibi

Sail Babylon Springs 11 2

And meanwhile downstairs
I'm setting up shop
A little too proud
To let the matter drop
And I can hear you up there
Isn't it romantic?
You're huffing and puffing rearranging
Deck chairs on the Titanic 12
And I reach for a glass of cool water drawn
From the rivers of Babylon 13

And meanwhile outside
The stars have come out
And the humid summer air
Pulls at the ring in my snout
And you stand at your window looking down
And I spread wide my arms
Jump if you want to jump
Jump if you want to
The water's warm

I know
I know 'cause I've been swimming
Blindly along through the rivers of Babylon

Sometimes I Still Feel the Bruise 14 15

This is just to say hello
And to let you know
I think of you from time to time
I know I never really knew you
But somehow I miss you
And wish that you'd stayed in my life

Making contact gets harder
As the silence grows longer
And isn't it only me
Who'd like us to see each other
How I would hate to be a bother
The way we left it was you'd ring

I'm under no illusion
As to what I meant to you
But you made an impression
And sometimes I still feel the bruise
Sometimes I still feel the bruise

Now and then I'll stumble on
What I've misplaced but never lost
An ache I first felt long ago
Though you've appeared and disappeared
Throughout these past few years
I'd be surprised if you now showed

Making contact gets harder
As the silence grows longer
And why would you think of me
When you were not the one in love
When you were not the dreamer
When you were just the dream?

I'm under no illusion
As to what I meant to you
But you made an impression
And sometimes I still feel the bruise
Sometimes I still feel the bruise

Wait For You 16

When it came time to wait for you
I took the bus to Malibu 17
Found a café by the ocean
Watched the sky for signs

And a rainbow in the west
Wrapped its coils around the earth like a serpent
I felt like I was going to suffocate

But I knew this was not the day
You would finally come my way
But I waited all the same
Watched the water through the window

And a rainbow in the west
Held its head beneath the waves and grew dimmer
Nothing anyone could do I suppose

Credits

An enormous thank you to the truly awesome Patrick Lickman, also known as echo on the Mountain Goats forum, who did a huge amount of work on this and other pages. He is a rock star. He can be contacted most easily on Twitter, where his username is @PatrickEchoEcho. Thanks also to Caliclimber, from whose incredible Flickr page the album art comes, and compared to whom I am not worthy, etc.

  1. Babylon Springs EP, Nall, retrieved February 27, 2014.

Footnotes

  1. Babylon Springs is part of the informal series of Biblical references.

  2. Babylon was an ancient city prominently featured in the Bible. 2

  3. The long story behind this song is told in a few places, an excellent version being at City Arts and Lectures, Herbst Theater, San Francisco, February 24, 2009:

    "It's not autobiographical, but it's based on a moment that I had that was a good moment with my stepfather where… so, I was a big wrestling fan, when I was in the fifth and sixth grade, I loved professional wrestling. And it was a small thing then, the WWF existed, but that was the East Coast syndicate, it was all divided up regionally, and it was a poor man's game. It cost $5 to get into the wrestling matches, and you'd see 12 of them, and it was — poor people went to see them and enjoy them, and my family wasn't rich, and we would go to the wrestling matches because my stepfather's father had been a wrestling promoter in Indiana, and he would tell me about how stuff worked, but I didn't choose to believe a lot of it 'cause I liked to believe in the good and the evil of my heroes and the villains…

    "This guy Ox Baker gets interviewed by Jeff Walton, the interviewer on Channel 56, I think, and Jeff says to Ox Baker, 'So what are you gonna show to the LA audience?' And Ox Baker says, "When I tell you that the blood is going to roll from Chavo Guerrero's eyes, and you'd better bring your handkerchiefs so you can dip it into the blood." And I knew it was supposed to sound evil, but it just didn't really make any sense. And I was like, I cocked my head and said, 'What is…', and my stepfather said, 'Oh, how sad.' And I said, 'What?', and he said, 'Well, he's inarticulate.' … But I liked Ox Baker because of his unintelligent evil, this evil that was too primal to really be chained by reason. So twenty-five years later I wrote this story about how, you know, all the wrestling stuff is real and they try and do away with Ox Baker and he comes to have his revenge on them."

    See also the excellent banter on the June 27, 2012 Swedish-American Hall, San Francisco show which gives more context, concluding, "This song is my dream of Ox Baker being forced to leave town and then coming back to his normal arena to seek revenge on those who would wrong him."

  4. The demo for Ox Baker Triumphant was released on the Seven for Australia online release. In his notes, John says, "demo for babylon springs ep lead-off. as I remember it took me all morning to get this one right." What's Up You Australians, posted April 15, 2008 10:11 PM, March 2, 2014.

  5. Ox Baker, born Douglas A. Baker, is an American professional wrestler.

  6. Sometimes sung alternately as "Blood dripping down my face". See for example the February 24, 2009 Herbst Theater show in San Francisco, or the June 27, 2009 Swedish-American Hall show.

  7. A reference to the ruby slippers in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, a film adaptation of Frank L. Baum's children's novel. In the film, Dorothy, the young protagonist, can return home to Indiana anytime she wears the slippers by clicking them three times and saying, "There's no place like home". Sometimes this allusion is make more clear when John sings the line as "Click your ruby-slippered heels". See for example the June 27, 2009 Swedish-American Hall show.

  8. "This is a song about infidelity." Zoop, Farm Sanctuary, June 17, 2007

    "[This] is a song about how sometimes you may find yourself sleeping with somebody… and you may say to yourself about that situation, 'Boy, it's going to be horrible if her boyfriend ever finds out… 'cause he's probably gonna be mad when he finds out I'm sleeping with his girlfriend. That's — boy, he'll be mad as hell. I'd prefer not to think about that now that I think about it, I'd think rather think about how nice she is. Ah, yeah, isn't she awesome? She deserves a good boyfriend like me, somebody awesome like me who really understands her and really appreciates what she's all about.' You might get to thinking that way. It's a delusional sort of thinking that can only result in terrible sadness. I don't mean to be the guy who breaks the news to you, yet must I be the guy breaking the news to you that it's not gonna — it's gonna end very badly. And to the girl in the audience who is also part of that equation — you know that's bogus." Masonic Temple, Brooklyn, New York, May 16, 2008.

  9. The demo for Alibi was released on the Seven for Australia online release: "original demo for 'alibi' from the babylon springs ep. I thought I would make demos for the for-australia ep be a partial focus of this set ok!" What's Up You Australians, posted April 15, 2008 10:11 PM, March 2, 2014.

  10. West Covina is a city in Los Angeles County, California.

  11. Sail Babylon Springs is part of the informal series of Biblical references.

  12. To "rearrange the deck chairs on the Titanic" is an idiom meaning to do something pointless or insignificant that will soon be overtaken by events, or that contributes nothing to the solution of a current problem. It refers to the RMS Titanic, a passenger liner infamous for sinking on its maiden voyage in 1912.

  13. Perhaps related to Psalm 137: "By the rivers of Babylon — there we sat down and wept when we remembered Zion." Holman Christian Standard Bible, retrieved March 2, 2014.

  14. Sometimes I Still Feel The Bruise is part of the informal series of cover songs.

  15. Sometimes I Still Feel the Bruise was originally performed by Trembling Blue Stars, on their album Broken By Whispers.

  16. Like Ox Baker Triumphant and Alibi, a demo for Wait for You was released on the Seven for Australia online release. Commenting on the song, John wrote, "last demo from babylon springs. almost called that ep 'wait for you' because I am fond of this song." What's Up You Australians, posted April 15, 2008 10:11 PM, retrieved March 2, 2014.

  17. Malibu is a city in Los Angeles County, California.