Thursday, 21 November 2013

Don't PAY the Ferryman

Liturgy in Rila Monastery, the largest and most famous Orthodox Monastery in Bulgaria (Photo Yannis Zabetakis)


"Don't Pay the Ferryman" is a single by Chris de Burgh from the album The Getaway.

It was produced in 1982.

The song tells the story of a man who boards a ferryboat and sets off. A storm approaches and the ferryman demands payment from the patron. The song's narrator warns the passenger not to pay the ferryman until the boat arrives at its destination on the other side.

The repetitive lyrics are believed to have a connection with mythology.

The song describes the ferryman as "the hooded old man at the rudder" and seems to connect to the classic image of the Grim Reaper, a hooded being (usually a skeleton) who leads lost souls to "the other side," also a lyric in the song.

The ferryman demanding his payment is also similar to the Greek ferryman of the dead, Charon (Χάρος in Greek).

He demanded an obolus (οβολός) (coin) to ferry dead souls across the River Styx.

Those who did not pay were doomed to remain as ghosts, remaining on the plane of the mare, the restless dead. Therefore in former cultures coins were laid below the tongues of dead persons. 





It was late at night on the open road
Speeding like a man on the run
A lifetime spent preparing for the journey
He is close now and the search is on
Reading from a map in the mind
Yes there's the ragged hill
And there's the boat on the river
And when the rain came down
He heard a wild dog howl
There were voices in the night, "Don't do it"
Voices out of sight, "Don't do it"
Too many men have failed before
"Whatever you do
Don't pay the ferryman
Don't even fix a price
Don't pay the ferryman
Until he gets you to the other side"
In the rolling mist then he gets on board
Now there'll be no turning back
Beware that hooded old man at the rudder
And then the lightning flashed, and the thunder roared
And people calling out his name
And dancing bones that jabbered and a-moaned
On the water
And then the ferryman said
"There is trouble ahead
So you must pay me now," "Don't do it"
"You must pay me now," "Don't do it"
And still that voice came from beyond
"Whatever you do
Don't pay the ferryman
Don't even fix a price
Don't pay the ferryman
Until he gets you to the other side"
[Incomprehensible]
Don't pay the ferryman
Don't even fix a price
Don't pay the ferryman
Until he gets you to the other side
Don't pay the ferryman
Don't even fix a price
Don't pay the ferryman
Until he gets you to the other side
Don't pay the ferryman
Don't even fix a price
Don't pay the ferryman
Until he gets you to the other side
Don't pay the ferryman
Songwriters
CHRIS DE BURGH

No comments: