The killer cycles (humdrum), the killer hurts --
The kilocycles (humdrum), the kilohertz
I count my fingers (digit counter) as night falls == I count my
fingers (digit counters), there's nine thumbs
And draw bananas on the bathroom walls == I draw my manners on the
The passage of my life is measured out in shirts --
The passage of my life is measured in insurance == The passage of
my life is made without insurance == The passage opens, light is
measured and it shuts."
He's just a figment on the telephone! == He's just a victim of the telephone
King's lead hat put the innocence inside her / It will come, it will
come, it will surely come. == king's lead hat put the innocence
inside or / it will come, it will come, it will surely come. (I
always liked that idea: hide the innocence, or "it" will find us!)
My friends and I have always heard the following line as I have
indicated... "I count my fingers (did you count them?) as night
falls..." This makes sense to me in the context of the other "call
and response" segments contained in the lyrics.
Ah, but "digit" is another word for finger/thumb and might be a
typical example of Eno word-play.
I too have always thought the lyric in 'King's Lead Hat' was "four
darkies and a big black car", an image of fear not necessarily
having to do with race but intentions.
I swear he says "flunkies", not "turkies". "A ship is turning
broadside to the shore." = A ship is turning, comes back to the
shore." Also; "He's just a figment of the telephone." = "He's just a
victim of the telephone." Also; "The biology of purpose keeps my head
above the surface,oh." = "The biology of flatfoots(slang for beat
cops) keeps my head above the surface,oh."
Knowing going in about "King's Lead Hat"'s title being obviously
inspired by Talking Heads I heard the lyrics which Enoweb renders as
: The killer cycles (humdrum), the killer hurts
: The passage of my life is measured out in shirts
: The killer psychos (humdrum), the killer hunts
: The passage of my life is measured out in shunts
...thinking that "killer psychos" is a nice reference to Talking
Heads' "Psycho Killer." Not clear on precisely when B&AS was
recorded, but pretty likely that if he'd heard of Talking Heads by
then, he was familiar with that tune. As for trying to interpret
line #2, "shunt" is often used to describe the circulation &
diversion of blood (e.g."The deoxygenated blood is then shunted into
the vena cava.") Looking up the word in an online dictionary,
however, I came across this juxtasposition of two definitions for
the noun "shunt": 3. Electricity. A low-resistance connection
between two points in an electric circuit that forms an alternative
path for a portion of the current. Also called bypass. 4. Medicine.
A passage between two natural body channels, such as blood vessels,
especially one created surgically to divert or permit flow from one
pathway or region to another; a bypass. Seems that "shunt" has a
rich variety of associations if coupled with a reading of line #1,
"The kilocycles (humdrum), the kilohertz," but the problem is it
doesn't rhyme as perfectly.
I agree with the writer who says it's 'darkies' not 'turkeys', a
racist term. As for the rest I must have been making it up because I
always had: "Delhi Belly" i.e. diarrhoea, not "smelly belly" or
"smelly Delhi" and "They kill the psychos, they kill the hertz"
(just a pun) (but wouldn't swear to it) and "what does he dial?" not
"cold turpentine" (but wouldn't swear to it). and the guns 'turn'
He dials reception - He dial in cycles (I like cycles better)
The lyrics clearly refer to "Four monkeys in a big black car" which
relates to the later mention of "Draw bananas on the bathroom walls."
The words in brackets in the fifth line of the third verse ( tram
lines ) may be incorrect. Eno didn't write anything down for this
part of the line, preferring to improvise at the microphone.
King's lead hat is an anagram of Talking Heads.
I count my fingers -- possibly a reference to the phrase "I'm not
saying he can't be trusted, but after shaking hands with him, you
need to count your fingers."
He tries to dial out 999999999 -- 999 is the Emergency Services
phone number in Britain (equivalent to 911 in the U.S.)
The passage of my life is measured out in shirts -- compare the
line: I have measured out my life with coffee spoons, from T.S.
Eliot's poem The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.
In King's Lead Hat, "the passage of life is measured out in shirts"
could also have been influenced by The Beatles' 'Hey Bulldog' where
they sing "Some think that happiness is measure out in miles" later
alternating with 'years' and 'you' in the place of 'miles' in
subsequent verses. This reference would tie in with other Rock
references in the song (i.e. "splish, splash" and "time is on my
In "King's Lead Hat", it is highly unlikely that "Ready Freddie" is a
reference to Queen's "Crazy Little Thing Called Love", since "Crazy
Little Thing" wasn't released until 1979, two years after B&AS.http://deepyoung.org/radio/