Hey! Luciani

Lyrics

(1)

I said hey, Luciani
The future's here today
I said hey, Luciani
Pope of three three days

They made out you were are an ultra nut
And had no time for your Christianity
You paid with your life for their treachery
The future's here today
The future's here to stay
Luciani

Said hey, Luciani
Jesus has gone away
I said hey, Luciani
Meet the Church, Bank, S.A. (2)

They said you were of peasant stock (3)
And one day the curia murdered you (4)
Your hermeneutics are through (5)
And on that fruited plain (6)
The corporate bishops graze
Exit church of poverty
Exit the church of pain
The future's here today
The future's here to stay

Luciani,
I said hey!

I said Hey, Luciani
A pop star in your cell
I said hey, Luciani
A Polish son of Hell (7)

You were the first John Paul I (8)
How is it your Christianity's gone?
Can you see from your grave
The TV snow-storm on top,
The brass Holy Grail
Imitation for sale?
The future's here today,
Luciani

Luciani

And all the cowls are black (9)
On an inquisition rack
The future's here today
The future's here to stay
Hey! Luciani 
Luciani
(Hey! Hey!)
Luciani
(Hey! Hey!)
Luciani
The future's here to stay
Hey, Luciani
I said hey, Luciani
I said hey, Luciani!

Notes

1. This deals with the life and death of Alberto Luciani, also known as Pope John Paul I, who only held the office for 33 days before his death in 1978. MES also wrote and starred in a play called Hey! Luciani: The Life and Codex of John Paul I, which ran for two weeks in London to mixed, but mostly negative, reviews; the consensus was that the plot wasn't exactly coherent, which shouldn't come as a surprise to devotees of the band. John Paul I apparently died of a heart attack, but MES read a book called In God's Name by David Yallop that suggests he was murdered as the result of a conspiracy by the Vatican bank (which was embroiled in a corruption scandal at the time), for the usual reasons. According to Smith, "People say he was going to plan a revolution that would have changed everybody...he was planning to get rid of the financial elements of it, of church and religion..." Smith makes clear, however, that he views the story as a loose pretext for the play and the song, and he doesn't insist on the veracity of the conspiracy theory. 

Zack points out that the play seems to have included a song called "Luciani" which shares some lyrics with "Hey, Luciani!"

^

2. The Lyrics Parade  succinctly explains: " [S.A. is the ] Italian version of an American Corporation or a British Limited Liability Company." S.A. stands for Società Anonima, "anonymous society/company."  

^

3. John Paul I, who came from a rural background, was sometimes called "The Peasant Pope."  

^

4. The Roman Curia is the chief governing body of the Roman Catholic Church.  

^

5. "Hermeneutics" means interpretation, and it is a word commonly used for Biblical textual studies.  

^

6. The phrase "fruited plain" comes from the patriotic song "American the Beautiful."  

^

7. John Paul I was from Italy. His successor, John Paul II (Karol Wojtyla), was the first Polish Pope.  

Dan:

" Polish son of Hell" clearly refers to John Paul II, as everyone knows. But so does "A pop star in your cell," because John Paul II was and is sometimes referred to as "the pop star pope". For example, on 25 May 1982, the BBC aired a documentary entitled "John Paul II: The people's pope". In it, presenter Norman St John Stevas (look him up) referred to the Pope as "the first pop star Pope" [source: The Times, 26 May 1982]. Perhaps it has something to do with having the first names of Lennon and McCartney. For a much later reference see the Daily MailThus, the election of John Paul II means that there is a pop star in John Paul I's cell.

^

8. And the only one, of course. Luciani was the first Pope to have a "I" after his name during his time in the papacy, however (ordinarily the numbers start with "II," just as nobody is named "Joe Schmo, Sr." at birth).  

^

9. It is probable that this is a pun. In his Preface to The Phenomenology of Spirit, Hegel famously criticized the (presumably Schelling's) notion of an Absolute in which all distinctions are obliterated as a "night in which all cows are black." To a reader of philosophy, it is impossible to hear this line without thinking of Hegel's quip. As far as its place in the song, j. fills the rest in nicely:

"The Dominican friars, who were responsible for the Inquisition, wore black cowls and were known as black friars in Britain. Blackfriars in London is the site of a former Dominican priory, right next to the river. Blackfriars Bridge is the spot where Roberto Calvi's corpse was found in 1982?, if I remember correctly. The death was held to be a suicide, although there seemed to be evidence to the contrary.
Calvi was an Italian banker known as God's banker due to his close links to the Vatican. When he died, Calvi was involved in a massive scandal following his bank's bankruptcy and he was accused of embezzling enormous amounts of money.
Supporters of the theory that Luciani was murdered believe that so was Calvi, as part of the same operation, in which the Mafia is also thought to be involved in some capacity.
All of this seems to me to be alluded to in these lyrics, albeit in typically oblique manner."

^

Comments (15)

Joseph Mullaney
  • 1. Joseph Mullaney | 30/05/2014
First line should be: `I said Hey Luciani'.

An `I said' is omitted from the second chorus above.

`Exit church of poverty and pain': this should be two separate lines. `Exit church of poverty, exit the church of pain'.

After the second `the future's here to stay' the line `Luciani, I said hey' has been missed out.

After the instrumental break, first line is `Hey Luciani'.

`Can you see it from your grave'- I don't hear the it, think he just holds the -ee.
bzfgt
  • 2. bzfgt | 03/11/2014
Thanks, Joseph, I fixed it up.
Max Williams
  • 3. Max Williams | 07/04/2015
Minor point, but that's not stopping anyone else, so: in "And on that fruited plain The corporate bishop's graze", I think it's plural "bishops" rather then possessive "bishop's". As in, there are some bishops grazing on the fruited plain.
Zack
  • 4. Zack (link) | 19/04/2015
According to Pete Conkerton's transcript (see link above), the play included an exclusive song presumably titled "Luciani" which shared some lyrics with the more familiar "Hey! Luciani".
bzfgt
  • 5. bzfgt | 05/06/2015
Absolutely, Max, good eye. A typo, and I'll bet ten dollars I pasted it in like that from the Lyrics Parade...
bzfgt
  • 6. bzfgt | 05/06/2015
Also, a "minor point" would be something like "this song was their third single for Polydor" or whatever. When there are typos on the site I need to know about them. Thanks for catching it.
dannyno
  • 7. dannyno | 05/06/2015
"I said Hey, Luciani
A pop star in your cell
I said hey, Luciani
A Polish son of Hell"

" Polish son of Hell" clearly refers to John Paul II, as everyone knows.

But so does "A pop star in your cell", because John Paul II was and is sometimes referred to as "the pop star pope".

For example, on 25 May 1982, the BBC aired a documentary entitled "John Paul II: The people's pope". In it, presenter Norman St John Stevas (look him up) referred to the Pope as "the first pop star Pope" [source: The Times, 26 May 1982].

Perhaps it has something to do with having the first names of Lennon and McCartney.

For a much later reference see: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2732914/Revealed-How-pop-star-Pope-snubbed-Mrs-Thatcher-Queen-historic-visit-Britain.html

Thus, the election of John Paul II means that there is a pop star in John Paul I's cell.
bzfgt
  • 8. bzfgt | 17/07/2015
Excellent stuff on "pop star" etc.! Do I really have to look Stevas up? I didn't.
j.
  • 9. j. | 30/07/2015
Not to detract from the possible Hegel joke, but I think there is something else behind the "all the cowls are black" line. The Dominican friars, who were responsible for the Inquisition, wore black cowls and were known as black friars in Britain. Blackfriars in London is the site of a former Dominican priory, right next to the river. Blackfriars Bridge is the spot where Roberto Calvi's corpse was found in 1982?, if I remember correctly. The death was held to be a suicide, although there seemed to be evidence to the contrary.
Calvi was an Italian banker known as God's banker due to his close links to the Vatican. When he died, Calvi was involved in a massive scandal following his bank's bankruptcy and he was accused of embezzling enormous amounts of money.
Supporters of the theory that Luciani was murdered believe that so was Calvi, as part of the same operation, in which the Mafia is also thought to be involved in some capacity.
All of this seems to me to be alluded to in these lyrics, albeit in typically oblique manner.
bzfgt
  • 10. bzfgt | 08/08/2015
Right, that's great and it doesn't detract from the Hegel joke a bit, it adds to it...in fact, I don't now why I was hesitant about identifying the pun when I wrote that note, it now seems to me extremely unlikely that anyone would use that formulation without riffing on "cows." Between the two of us I think we have put a beating on it...
bzfgt
  • 11. bzfgt | 08/08/2015
So I've upgraded the pun from "possible" to "likely," and even upgraded the listener/myself from a "student" to a "reader" of philosophy (since I'm a philosophy professor by trade I trust this isn't too hubristic).
bzfgt
  • 12. bzfgt | 08/08/2015
See, in my newfound confidence I even say things like "hubristic".
dannyno
  • 13. dannyno | 08/08/2015
Just to follow up on j's comment above.

"All the cowls are black
On an inquisition rack"

Obviously j is right to put the song into Vatican conspiratorial context, and to point to lyrics which we can connect to the story of the fall of the Vatican Bank and the death of Calvi. Perhaps including these.

But the line is puzzling. The line says that the "cowls are black", all right. But where are the cowls? The cowls are "on" the inquisition rack. Not standing beside it smiling sinisterly. But "on" it. So does that mean the wearers of those cowls are being tortured? And so they cannot be those responsible for the inquisition, but the victims of it.

In which case, the link to Calvi becomes unstable.
j.
  • 14. j. | 11/08/2015
Fair point, dannyno! The way I've always interpreted the couplet could be paraphrased as "when you are on an Inquisition rack, all cowls (surrounding you, that is) are black". I don't know how convincing that is, though.
Oh, and bzfgt, the Hegel joke is certainly there I think!
bzfgt
  • 15. bzfgt | 25/08/2015
Right but I think j. makes a good case, "[when you're] on the inquisition rack," although I'm not 100% satisfied with it, but I don't know enough about this to sort it out. Luciani was not a Dominican, but were there others who were who fell on the wrong side of things or were taken down in some way or another in this whole conspiracy? Maybe Dominican-on-Dominican conspiring? I have no clue, really, this is a little disturbing, clearly it was hubristic to suggest we had "put a beating on it"...this seems like a job for your fevered brain though, I'm not willing to do any research on this right now.

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