The Gravy Train


The way a little baby wraps the hand around your finger
Sunshine on your face in the first dawn light
The way she waits to let the moment linger
The way the future's always gonna bring surprise

It ain't cocaine running through your veins
Beluga caviar on the gravy train
It ain't cocaine as you sip champagne
As you toast high times on the gravy train
So many vampires in the night
All of the riches in this time
I know you're mine

Waiting for the lightning, so exciting after the thunder
The twinkle in your eyes, the starlight shines
The diamond in your mind is cut from wonder
I know how you're feeling and you're feeling fine

It ain't cocaine running through your veins
Beluga caviar on the gravy train
It ain't cocaine as you sip champagne
As you toast high times on the gravy train
So many vampires in the night
All of the riches in this time
I know you're mine

I know you're mine

And we got all the time in the world
Yeah we got all the time in the world


Lyrics by:
Brown / McCracken / Bierton / Hatwell

Available on:
Music Of The Spheres (4.23)

Details:

A tale of champagne wishes and caviar dreams, The Gravy Train is critical of those who exist solely for the pleasures of the high life - Beluga caviar (a favourite of Pablo Picasso), champagne and cocaine. Ian had taken cocaine circa the first week of the Gulf War* in 1991, consuming four grams a day. On one particular morning of that week, he went on a five-mile run, almost precipitating a heart-attack. The singer gave up Class A drugs at this point, and subsequently alcohol in 1997, but still maintained an interest in weed. His criticism of Squire's cocaine use** was relevant in the immediate aftermath of the band's breakup, but the overstated attribution of its significance in their demise is starting to drag on this, his third solo album. Ian's protestations that his poor singing on the Second Coming tour was due to the size of John Squire's amps are equally questionable.*** Speaking to the NME in October 2009, during promotion of his sixth studio album, 'My Way', Ian described walking in on John Squire taking cocaine at 11am as his personal worst moment in the band. By the time of this interview, Squire had given up music and had effectively withdrawn from the public sphere. In the interest of balance, I would suggest that Ian's lowest moment in the band was taking to the Reading stage as part of the Robbie Maddix Five in August 1996, and delivering a cabaret performance with a gyrating Pan's People impersonator in tow. The post-Beatles feud between Lennon and McCartney in their solo careers held appeal due to its tit-for-tat nature; the War of the Roses, in comparison, was a predominantly one-sided affair which, at times, reached vitriolic levels in Ian's solo career, unrelenting in pursuit of his pound of flesh.

On his Music Of The Spheres tour, Ian would break into a rendition of Dillinger's 'Cocaine In My Brain' at the end of The Gravy Train, acknowledging the influence of this song.

 

"Smokin', not cokin'..."
Left: Dillinger's 1976 album, 'Cocaine', is bookended by 'Cocaine In My Brain' and 'Marijuana In My Brain', tracks which could be seen to represent the state of mind of the Roses' songwriting pair circa Second Coming. Indeed, John Squire is swift in establishing such a counterpoint, on the opening verse of I Miss You. 'Cocaine In My Brain' contains dialogue between John and Jim; The Gravy Train is directed at a John that Ian once knew...
Right: Some might say that lightning follows thunder... The lyric, 'Waiting for the lightning, so exciting after the thunder', is either a blatant disregard of the laws of physics or an oversight; light travels faster than the speed of sound and thus lightning comes before thunder. Thunder is the sound of the air expanding around a lightning bolt.

* Taken in this context, the lyric, "I don't need no powder", from Straight To The Man, seems to be an expression of Ian's own unsettling experimentation with the drug, as opposed to a disguised gibe at his songwriting partner per se. He doesn't need a dealer as a healer.
** Ian showed a lack of consistency on this topic when speaking about Pete Doherty to Louise Compton of The Sun newspaper, on 16th September 2005: "Pete's alright, he can shoot crack into his eye and I wouldn't knock him." What's good for the goose is good for the gander ? Apparently not.
*** Despite John Squire not having shared a stage with Ian since December 1995, such 'sound problems' have mysteriously continued to plague the singer's solo career to the present day.


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