Disney's Dream Debased



The day the dream went right back to base   (2)
Was blood on the ground
Blood on the sand
Blood all around (3)
Tracks of the ride of the bright murder hawk (4)
The day the dream debased and went home (5)
And the people did mill to those adrenaline rails (6)
And everything stopped


The nurses climbed up
Our faces pale
And there was no doubt at all
No two ways about it
Was the day Disney's dream debased


Saw a mouse, who flapped at my wife (7)
And she told him what,
And she told him what had gone down
Who then did not know the extent of the show
The evil had gave in the mouth of the ride


And though Minnie and Mickey, and Brer and Pluto (8)
Secretly prayed 
There was no doubt at all
No two ways about it
Was the day Disney's dream debased


Dark glasses on Western Union
Man the gates
The dream, an innocent meets her fate
Far away from Appalachia and the city hate (9)
The day 
The day 
The day 
The day...

When there was no doubt at all
No maybe about it
Was the day Disney's dream debased


I remember it from
The back of my mind
The tune that I wrote
In fond dreams
Anthem to
Creator of all that had stopped (10)


So there was no doubt at all
No two ways about it
It was the day Disney's dream debased



1. Reformation has reproduced the follwing remarks from Brix about the genesis of the song:

"Mark got off this ride with tears in his eyes he was so frightened. This ride is a mountain, 100 ft in the air, a replica of The Matterhorn; you ride at sixty miles an hour. Ten minutes after we get off, a woman fails out of her sleigh, gets trapped and decapitated by the oncoming one. They couldn't get her out, there was fire-engines everywhere coming out of the bushes, and all these Micky Mouse characters rushing out to distract people. It took them seven hours to get the body off. Everyone was pretending nothing had happened, they were all going 'Disneyland is wonderful land'. Mark was saying, 'Whaaat??? There's a woman up there with no head on', but Micky Mouse was just laughing away. Mark thought it was like a bad trip." (Brix Smith quoted in Jamming, November 1984)

"I convinced Mark to go to Disneyland with me and my grandfather. Mark thinks he's psychic...We went on this ride called the Matterhorn...It's huge, you can see it from the freeway...it's a scary bobsled ride that goes through tunnels of the Matterhorn. We got off the ride and I swear to fucking God Mark was crying, I asked what was wrong and all he could say was that the ride was evil. I said it was ridiculous as I'd been going on it since I was eight. To calm him down I took him on the 'It's A Small World' boat ride which is the cheesiest, old-school baby ride with dolls. We're walking back from it and a rectangular shaped bush parts, and a mini-fire engine comes out, and on the back is a nurse. It drives to the Matterhorn. The whole ride gets cordoned off and people with walkie-talkies and clipboards are running everywhere, it was panic. Mark was right - something just happened on the Matterhorn. They closed the whole place down. We went home and saw the news: it was all 'death at Disneyland.' Someone had either jumped out of the Matterhorn or fell out, and was trapped and decapitated by the oncoming bobsled and it took mountain climbers, like, six hours to get the body off there. And that was Disney's Dream Debased."..."The person who died was Dolly Regene Young. Which was even more bizarre because my nickname from my grandparents was Dolly. " (Brix Smith quoted in the booklet accompanying the re-release of The Wonderful and Frightening World of The Fall (Beggars Banquet, 2010)

The incident has been corroborated in several places on the internet:

Dolly Regene Young, 48, was killed on the Matterhorn when she was thrown from her seat and pinned under an oncoming car. Her seatbelt was found to be unfastened, but no one knew if she had unlocked it or a ride operator just forgot to check to make sure she was buckled in.

MES had this to say:

I ask him about the sound of the record. It was very well produced, unlike _Dragnet_ for instance. Did he ever listen to that record again? "Yes, a couple of months ago. I think it sounds that way because that sound was current at the time. But the technicians that were involved with it didn't want their names on the sleeve, even the studio... It wasn't even such a great studio, but no one wanted to be linked with that record. (laughing)" About _Disney's.._: "I think Disneyland is becoming like McDonalds, I don't think Disney meant it like that."

Brix, in The Rise, The Fall, and The RIse, says of naming the album (The Wonderful and Frightening World of the Fall): "I came up with the title as a reference to one of my favourite childhood shows, The Wonderful World of Disney."


2. MES plays on the word "debase" here, which he never quite uses correctly in the song (it is always a transitive verb in ordinary usage, see note 5), and this may be to call attention to the components of the word.


3. From Michael Martin:

"The lyric 'blood on the ground, Blood on the sand, Blood all around' most likely references a scene in the now-closed Disneyland attraction Country Bear Jamboree where a character performs the Tex Ritter song 'Blood on the Saddle.'"

Blood on the Saddle:

There was blood on the saddle

And blood all around

And a great big puddle

Of blood on the ground


4. The song is based on an incident on the Matterhorn ride (see note 1), which sounds a bit like "murder hawk."  


5. "Debased" is used as an intransitive verb here and elsewhere, although this is not common usage (see note 2). "Debased and went home" suggests it may be a play on words, as though he's saying "de-based." So the dream was based at Disneyland, and it went home...wherever that is.

There are two vocals double tracked here, and they seem to diverge at this point, so "went home" is not clear.


6. There might be a pun here--you can't really snort adrenaline, but amphetamines work similarly to adrenaline, so it wouldn't be too much of a stretch to call a line of speed an "adrenaline rail"... the most likely interpretation is straightforward, though--people get a rush of adrenaline on rides like the Matterhorn.


7. Mickey, of course; see note 1.  


8. "Brer" refers to Brer (or Bre'r, for "brother") Rabbit, the character from Joel Chandler Harris' Song of the South who was adopted into the Disney pantheon when the company made the latter into a movie.  


9. Dolly Regene Young was in fact from Fremont, California, which is nowhere near the Appalachians. Smith's knowledge of US geography has always been sketchy at best.  


10. Either Walt or God, I suppose (assuming there's a difference...). Although it's at the beginning of a line in my transcription and the convention I adhere to is to capitalize every line, in the blue lyrics book "creator" begins with a lower case 'c', so it seems safest to go with Walt.



Comments (29)

Joseph Mullaney
  • 1. Joseph Mullaney | 09/08/2014
`Our face paled' should be `our faces pale'.

`The people had died in the mouth of their ride'- it doesn't sound like `died', the vowel sound is -ay.

`Minnie and Mickey' should be `Dopey and Mickey', Dopey being one of the Seven Dwarfs.
  • 2. Jill | 25/04/2015
Jeez. I thought it was about the general demise of modern civilization. reminded me much of D. Bowie's "Five Years" in premise, not detail.
Michael Martin
  • 3. Michael Martin | 28/01/2016
The lyric "blood on the ground, Blood on the sand, Blood all around" most likely references a scene in the now-closed Disneyland attraction Country Bear Jamboree where a character performs the Tex Ritter song "Blood on the Saddle."
  • 4. bzfgt | 12/03/2016
Excellent, Martin, that has to be right!
  • 5. bzfgt | 12/03/2016
Sorry, Michael, I mean; there's a Martin who contributes a lot here, and I got it twisted...
  • 6. dannyno | 07/05/2016
Brix tells the story of this song in some detail in The Rise, The Fall, and The Rise.

By the way, she says, of the album The Wonderful and Frightening World of...

I came up with the title as a reference to one of my favourite childhood shows, The Wonderful World of Disney.
  • 7. Gizmoman | 06/03/2018
Joseph M. is right and wrong! It's "the people had paid" not "died" , but it's also clearly Minnie and Mickey, Dopey doesn't get a mention!
  • 8. bzfgt (link) | 17/03/2018
Crap, I guess I have to listen to this now...
  • 9. bzfgt (link) | 17/03/2018
I can see why after "know/show" a transcriber wanted to keep rolling with the rhyme scheme, but I think MES is wise to break it up. Also, Dan, I don't remember if you count words like this, but "the ride," not "their ride"...
  • 10. bzfgt (link) | 17/03/2018
And though Minnie and Mickey, and Brer and Pluto (8)
Secretly prayed 
There was no doubt at all
No two ways about it
  • 11. bzfgt (link) | 17/03/2018
@Dan "remember" not "remembered"
  • 12. bzfgt (link) | 17/03/2018
Definitely no Dopey, I don't know how I fell for that...I bet I didn't listen and just took his word for it. Anyway, I think the above is closer to the truth in many respects.
  • 13. bzfgt (link) | 17/03/2018
Someone sent me MES's typed lyrics to Words of Expectation, I have to remember to look into it and see if there's actionable stuff there.
  • 14. Dirker | 17/03/2018
"Adrenaline rails"is probably just a way of describing a rollercoaster like the matterhorn - a rail(way) that causes the body to pump out adrenaline. I doubt it's a drug reference, just a description of the crowd milling about the ride.
  • 15. bzfgt (link) | 21/03/2018
Yes, I think that is more likely too.
  • 16. bzfgt (link) | 21/03/2018
I'll mention it; I see I only mention the drug theory, didn't mean to imply I thought that was likely.
  • 17. dannyno | 06/05/2018
Goodness knows how Dopey got in there, definitely Minnie.

But instead of "the people had paid", I'm having "that evil have gave". I'm hearing "evil" clearly in some live versions, and see below.

Worth noting that the Blue lyrics book (typed transcript) has the following variations:

"white Matterhorn" (I agree with this now - had "bright" before)
"I swore as a mouse gave a frown to my wife" (no)
"that evil had gave in the mouth of that ride" (yes.. this fits: ".. the extent of the show that evil had gave...")
"me and Mickey" (no)
"in fond dreams" (yep, agree with this now, and it fits the pro-Disney sentiment of that part of the lyric)
  • 18. bzfgt (link) | 09/07/2018
I'm taking your word for all of this--it's 4 AM and I am so far behind on these it's not funny. It'll eventually come out in the wash if your ears have sinned.
  • 19. bzfgt (link) | 09/07/2018
I will say this though--"evil had gave" is ugly and nonsensical, I hope it's something different yet
  • 20. dannyno | 22/06/2019
Article from the Los Angeles Times, 4 January 1984 Part I, p 3:

  • 21. dannyno | 14/11/2019
  • 22. Binyi | 02/04/2020
I suspect when he says "debased", he's really thinking "destabilized", like "de-foundationed", "thrown into chaos", "unraveled", and he knew but chose to ignore the standard usage to imply a more extreme and alien fall-from-grace than your standard debasement.
Bambino Tostare
  • 23. Bambino Tostare | 05/04/2020
Binyi, I agree, that fits with the first line, "The day the dream went right back to base", which I took to be like "went back to square 1", ie that all the work done on building up the dream has now been lost and they have to start again.
  • 24. dannyno | 06/08/2020
In conversation with Adam Buxton in Norwich in 2016, Brix says that she used to records ambient sounds and music at Disneyland, which she used to put into the background of Fall songs.


This suggests a whole new area of research!
  • 25. Chris | 10/08/2020
"So there was no doubt at all, no two ways about it, it was the day that the dream debased" - I assumed the last 3 words of this verse are the song's title i.e. Disney's dream debased rather than "that the".
  • 26. bzfgt (link) | 16/08/2020
Good call, there is no "that the"
  • 27. dannyno | 04/01/2021
Another newspaper clipping about the incident, this time from the Forth Worth Star (source: newspapers.com):


And the San Francisco Examiner:

  • 28. dannyno | 18/01/2023
Note the track Cruel Circus from The Colourfield's debut album Virgins and Philistines, which came out a year later (1985).

It contains the lyric:

I've seen the world about us
And the Disneyland dream's a lie
  • 29. dannyno | 09/03/2023
From an interview with Brix in the Daily Telegraph, 9 March 2023.

“I took him on the Matterhorn rollercoaster. But just as we were getting into the car Mark said the ride was ‘evil’. He was in such a state when we got off I had to take him on the Small World ride for toddlers to calm him down”, at which point a woman fell off the Matterhorn and was decapitated. “Mark was very psychic … We went home that night, to my grandpa’s apartment, and wrote the song Disney’s Dream Debased.”


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