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*7.31-WALTZ OF THE NEW MOON (Incredible String Band)

Incredible String Band

LISTEN

I hear that the Emperor of China
used to wear iron shoes with ease!

We are the tablecloth and also the table;
also the fable of the dancing leaves.

     The new moon is rising.
     The axe of the thunder is broken
     As never was, not since the flood
     Nor yet since the world began.

     The new moon is shining.
     The angels are washing their windows
     Above the years whose jumbled sail
     Goes spinning on below.

          Ask the snail beneath the stone,
          Ask the stone beneath the wall
          Are there any stars at all?
          Like an eagle in the sky
          Tell me if air is strong!

In the floating pan pipe victories of the golden harvest
safe in the care of the dear moon.

     The new moon is rising.
     The eyelid of god is approaching
     The human train the skating raining
     Traveling voice of certainty.

     The new moon is shining.
     The harmonious hand is now holding
     Lord Krishna's ring, the eagle’s wing,
     The voice of mother everything.

          [Chorus]

In the floating palaces of the spinning castle
may the fire king's daughter bring water to you.


There are several songs in The Hangman’s Beautiful Daughter that seem to address nature. This is the first of three to be included here, to the new moon, though the “you” addressed appears to be the listener. The A sections are the most complex both in music and in lyric, as the melody is a long drawn out vocal arabesque drone that only Robin Williamson and Jefferson Airplane’s Grace Slick could achieve during this period, accompanied by a harp sounding instrument that I suppose is an oud. The song begins with a striking image of a Chinese Emperor wearing iron shoes “with ease”, as if a figure from Believe It or Not! Then comes a meditation on how we are everything,“the tablecloth and also the table”, as Williamson says. This is the only time in the song that the A section is doubled.

The B section describes the moon as either rising or shining to begin each quatrain accompanied by a heavy handed harpsichord of the sort the Yardbirds played, at the beginning of the psychedelic sound, in For Your Love. I’m not at all sure what’s going on here, with the broken thunder and the “jumbled sail”, but I do find the line “the angels are washing their windows” charming. The C section is a riddle built of similar harpsichord chords played with fists and provides the chorus. Evidently the snail below the stone below the wall can’t see the stars and doesn’t know about the new moon. In order to see the moon, supposedly, one needs the wings of eagles that find the strength to fly by catching the currents of the invisible air.

Returning to the A section, we hear praise for Pan and the harvest governed by the waxing and waning of the moon. The B section finds in the moon the “voice of mother everything”. Krishna is mentioned and the eagle from the chorus returns briefly. After a repeat of the chorus, we return to the last version of Section A. There has been quite a bit of spinning and jumbling going on, providing a swirling effect, and this disorientation continues to the end, which is a one line blessing: that fire will bring water to the listener. This seems to be a hope that opposite elements will produce each other, as the moon brings the sun, or as female bears a male. The new moon is darkness, it is empty, but each month it keeps its promise to be full of light, after some time.

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