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Script for a Jester's Tear

Introduction: Fish's relationship with the real Kay soured before the release of the first album (they got back together in the Fugazi period, then split for good (see Kayleigh for more details). It could be even said that it was because of The Web: Fish had made the decision that trying to make a go of Marillion was more important than anything else, and his personal life suffered.

It is however true that Fish's decision to quit a secure life in the forestry commission, and the lyrics to The Web had been written some while earlier. I often wonder whether the 'love song with no validity' in Lords of the Backstage refers to Script rather than Kayleigh. Those two songs have an element of similarity in that Fish clearly blames himself for the breakdown of the relationship; 'The fool escaped from paradise' and 'Is it too late to say I'm sorry?'.

Note: A lot of what follows are by Torch, a member of the Freaks mailing list in its early days. His material appears for a number of these early Fish-era songs, and will be indented to distinguish it.
Torch said: "Script For A Jester's Tear is a spontaneous feeling lyric; it seems to be set quite soon after a break-up, whereas The Web gives the feel of months wallowing in depression. It is for me quite the most beautiful expression of the pain of rejection.

"He pities himself by claiming he is again in the
'playground of the broken hearts' that all pretend to sing and be merry. It is one more to put down to experience, another entry in his 'diary self-penned'... (aren't all diaries?)

"Perhaps this is just to tell us that these lyrics are autobiographical, as Fish broke up with Kayleigh, his first serious heartbreak, at around this time.

"Yet another emotional suicide, as she hasn't murdered him with hurt, but he has done it himself by his self-pity, the fatal overdose being 'sentiment' mixed with 'pride'; caring about the happy times he has lost and having pride in himself that has now been shattered.

"It is too late to try again. He is losing at everything; has nowhere to run. Such a poignant little tune played at this bit, like the sad echo of a love song they used to both listen to.

"It was
'too much too soon' and now it's 'too far to go' to get back and 'too late to play' as a child is told to his despair at bedtime. 'This game is over..!' It seems it was all a game to her.

"The second half I think is the really amazing bit, so emotional, as if he is sitting at dawn watching the morning light gloomily wake up
'other side of morning' as all is so hushed. He does as is traditionally expected, plays the martyr, painfully bearing his thoughts, bleeding the lyric. It is an exercise 'to write the rites to right my wrongs'... like a ritual rite to purge himself of is heartache.

'Abandoning the relics in my playground of yesterday... ' Fish kept notebooks where any experience of note he had would be recorded in detail. 'If I want to get into something or someone I push myself to the absolute extremes, never to short-change my emotions. Then I write it all down, warts and all, afterwards' & 'I collect bits of my life that still mean something to me, the bits of others I have found lying around'.

"The two quotes from interviews in 1985 do suggest this song is extremely autobiographical. This poem is an epitaph, the final tribute, to a dream that has been broken... maybe it was only ever a dream, a fantasy, not a real romance. The writing down is to exorcise like an evil spirit the silent scream of sorrow that has been borne in him that is like a silent undertow festering and hissing like a snake pit.

"He remembers now how as he comes out with such beautiful lines that he never used his gifts on her as he always wanted to; he never did write that love song and it is too late now.

'Kayleigh, I'm still trying to write that love song, Kayleigh, it's more important to me now you're gone.' Now sad as he reflects on what he has lost, he recalls gazing through perfection (her and their dream romance) and examine the shadows on the other side of morning/mourning... rather than waking up in her arms each morning, he now wakes to just his shadow next to him... but it doesn't quite fit... the other side of morning is mourning... he examines its shadows, i.e. the shadows or memories that play before him as he is seeing the other side of everything now he is alone.

"The promised wedding is now a 'wake' or funeral party, 'awake' on the other side of morning. The Fool that he feels himself to be will look over HER shoulder and cry... at the sight of the past she has walked away from? Once he looked over her shoulder as he cuddled and comforted her. He has escaped from paradise as only a fool would volunteer to leave... maybe it was his decision he now suffers for... alternatively 'escaped' could just mean once it was over he had to abandon paradise and its relics as they were too painful.

"He will not be able to answer WHY this had to happen, it all seems so unfair. She will grow up and leave him, the reverse of the fairy tale, as she kissed the prince, a handsome hero, who was turned to a frog of ugliness and inertia after her kiss. Alternatively, if they never actually had a relationship and it was just a dream now unattainable, she kissed her husband to be and so reduce the singer to a frog by rejecting him...

"He begs her to remember the Jester side of him that
'showed you tears, the script for tears'. Maybe he made her cry and so they separated, or maybe just his tears shown to her are a new thing to her she has no experience or understanding of.

"So at the wedding he will hold his peace rather than speak of a reason why the couple may not 'lawfully be joined together'... maybe a pun on holding his 'piece', i.e. alone sexually forever???

"His shame will have to be silent,
'the mute that sang the siren's song' this could be two things. She is the mute, i.e. she sings the fatal ensnaring song just by looking, not speaking, as she won't speak to him, or he is the mute as he holds his peace forever but will sing her song to himself forever as he cannot escape her and will go on reliving the memories he has of her.

"The mute has gone 'solo' as one would in a card game and he can no longer be a party to her thoughts. But
'can you still say you love me?' he sobs at the end, so it seems they were once in love, and after such an incredible baring of his soul can she be unmoved by it?
'I'm losing on the swings, I'm losing on the roundabouts'
A perversion of the original saying. Brewer's: "'What you lose on the swings, you gain on the roundabouts.' What you lose in one venture, you recoup on another; a way of stating the law of averages."

Brewer's: "In Ireland, the term denotes the watching of the body of the deceased, and the funeral which follows, a custom formerly also common in Wales and Scotland." The term in Scotland, actually refers more to the party that takes place after the funeral than any pre-funeral activities.

'The fool escaped from paradise'
Brewer's: "'A fool's paradise'; A state of contentment or happiness based on unreal, fanciful or insecure foundations."

'Chew on daffodils'
Fish said: "...The lyric as usual was about my girlfriend at the time and concerned desperate provocation of arguments to create drama or heartbreak which otherwise didn't exist. Ultimately it goes too far and 'the game is over'. Part of the play occurred at Dingwalls rock club one night when I ate a bunch of daffodils for effect and promptly created a new table decoration! The fool in all his glory."

'Where you kissed your prince and found your frog'
The Frog Prince is a fairytale by the Grimm brothers. A frog agrees to retrieve a princesses' golden ball from a deep pond in exchange for being allowed to be her companion. Once the ball is returned to the princess, she runs off without giving the frog another thought. The frog then turns up at her castle and basically enforces the bargain. In more modern versions of the tale, the frog demands a kiss, which is given, whereupon he turns into a handsome prince and reveals he'd been under a curse. Everyone lives happily ever after.

"One of the mythical monsters, half-women, half-bird, said by the Greek poet Homer to entice seamen by the sweetness of their song, to such a degree that the listeners forgot everything else and died of hunger."

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1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the interpretation! If I may add a bit, I always thought the line "the fool escaped from paradise" refered to him (the fool) who ran away, only to discover it was paradise that he ran away from, hence looking over his shoulder and crying.


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