"He alone can read the signs"

Part of the Annotated Lyrics Horslips Pages

Recorded On - Covered By - General Notes from Albums - General Notes on the Song - Annotated Lyrics - Comments

You'll find him hard to recognise,
Cos he won't dress in black.
He wears a suit of gold lamé,
With velvet front and back.
But he can touch your trembling heart,
Can touch your very soul:
He'll take you with him when he leaves,
He'll make your dreams turn old.

Some people say that he's a fiend,
A devil in disguise.
He'll promise love and happiness
Bright lights before your eyes.
And still you know you can't refuse,
No matter what you think.
You just got to taste the glamour
Ovations as you sink.

Ride your nightmare,
On your ride to hell,
Ride your nightmare,
On your ride.

He alone can read the signs
And he can read them well,
But where he gets his power,
There's no one here can tell.
So if you're out alone at night,
Be sure to take a friend.
Cos it gets awful lonely,
In a world that never ends.

He's sure to come a calling
When the shades of night are drawn
a twisted blackthorn in his hand,
He'll linger until dawn.
You wish to stay forever young,
But only he knows how,
It's his blessing, it's his curse,
And it's your decision now...

Recorded On:

  1. The Book of Invasions: A Celtic Symphony

Covered By:

  1. Horslypse - Tribute with a Capital T, Omagh

General Notes from the Album:

Their first confrontation was alarming for the Milesians who faced spectres and monsters conjured by the Tuatha. Honourable in defeat, the Tuatha retired to a hidden world parallel to ours where life, immortal, goes on as before.

Notes on The Book of Invasions: A Celtic Symphony, Horslips Records

General Notes on the Song:

Ride To Hell is, in essence, a fairy tale.

It was written specifically to provide the album with an epilogue. As I speculated on the Tuatha's decision to go underground, or into a parallel universe or psychic realm, I automatically came to consider the many old folk tales that tell of strange occurrences and happenings at the fairy rath, usually after dark.

Every tribe, society and nation has its own fairy tales. There are plenty of stories of people being tempted to enter the fairy realm. Some came back. Others were lost forever. I wondered what it might be like to be propositioned in such a way. And who or what might offer such enticement? Usually it was the promise of a pot of gold, vast treasures or eternal youth, that swayed the individual.

The brothers Grimm set their stories in the landscape of their environment. In the folktales collected by W.B. Yeats in rural Ireland, the storytellers sometimes referred to the fairy folk as "the gentry".

However, rock'n'roll being the medium, the rock'n'roll lifestyle became the thatched village of Irish folk memory and I fell to giving the story a slightly different twist. Fame, celebrity and adulation became the prizes on offer should the listener opt to buy into the spellbinding fantasy.

The subject became a clumsy metaphor for a lot of the stuff I'd been observing around me.

Fairy tales being an expression of the collective unconscious, I felt it would be fun to invoke some talismans and also provide rather blatant clues to three great contemporary cultural archetypes. Elvis, Dylan and the Hardest-working Man in Showbusiness, Soul Brother Number One. For me, Ride To Hell remains the psychic interface between Walt Disney's Darby O'Gill and the Little People and James Brown's King Heroin.

Eamon Carr, email to the site, November 2010

Annotated Lyrics:

"suit of gold lamé"
The man standing next to Elvis is Nudie Cohn who created the gold lame suit in 1957. This creation rocketed Nudie to stardom and cemented his place in fashion history. He is also given credit for being the first designer to put rhinestones on the outfits of country music singers, which led to the term Rhinestone Cowboy.

Elvis first wore the gold lamé suit on March 28, 1957 during a performance at the International Amphitheater in Chicago. He wore the complete suit (jacket, pants, belt, tie and shoes) just two more times, in St. Louis the next night and later in the week in Toronto.

Phil Arnold, "Images in Gold Lamé"The Elvis Blog, 03 August 2008

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First Posted: 12 December, 2010
Last Revised: 13 December, 2010