The Last Ship Album

Artist(s): Sting

Cover Art

Sting The Last Ship Cover Art

Tracklist

The Last Ship

length: 3:50

It's all there in the gospels, the Magdalene girl
Comes to pay her respects, but her mind is awhirl.
When she finds the tomb empty, the stone had been rolled,
Not a sign of a corpse in the dark and the cold.
When she reaches the door, sees an unholy sight,
There's this solitary figure in a halo of light.
He just carries on floating past Calvary Hill,
In an almighty hurry, aye but she might catch him still.

"Tell me where are ye going Lord, and why in such haste?"
"Now don't hinder me woman, I've no time to waste!
For they're launching a boat on the morrow at noon,
And I have to be there before daybreak.
Oh I canna be missing, the lads'll expect me,
Why else would the good Lord himself resurrect me?
For nothing will stop me, I have to prevail,
Through the teeth of this tempest, in the mouth of a gale,
May the angels protect me if all else should fail,
When the last ship sails."

Oh the roar of the chains and the cracking of timbers,
The noise at the end of the world in your ears,
As a mountain of steel makes its way to the sea,
And the last ship sails.

It's a strange kind of beauty,
It's cold and austere,
And whatever it was that ye've done to be here,
It's the sum of yer hopes yer despairs and yer fears,
When the last ship sails.

Well the first to arrive saw these signs in the east,
Like that strange moving finger at Balthazar's Feast,
Where they asked the advice of some wandering priest,
And the sad ghosts of men whom they'd thought long deceased,
And whatever got said, they'd be counted at least,
When the last ship sails.

Oh the roar of the chains and the cracking of timbers,
The noise at the end of the world in your ears,
As a mountain of steel makes its way to the sea,
And the last ship sails.

And whatever you'd promised, whatever you've done,
And whatever the station in life you've become.
In the name of the Father, in the name of the Son,
And whatever the weave of this life that you've spun,
On the Earth or in Heaven or under the Sun,
When the last ship sails.

Dead Man’s Boots

length: 3:29
You see these work boots in my hands, they'll probably fit ye now my son,
Take them, they're a gift from me, why don't you try them on?
It would do your old man good to see you walking in these boots one day,
And take your place among the men who work upon the slipway.

These dead man's boots, though they're old and curled,
When a feller needs a job and a place in the world,
And it's time for a man to put down roots,
And walk to the river in his old man's boots.

He said, "I'm nearly done and asking this, that ye do one final thing for me!
You're barely but a sapling, and you think that you're a tree.
If ye need a seed to prosper, ye must first put down some roots.
Just one foot then the other in these dead man's boots."

These dead man's boots know their way down the hill,
They could walk there themselves, and they probably will.
There's a place for ye there to sink your roots,
And take a walk down the river in these dead man's boots.

I said, "Why in the Hell would I do that? And why would I agree?"
When his hand was all that I'd received, as far as I remember.
It's not as if he'd spoiled me with his kindness up to then ye see.
I'd a plan of me own and I'd quit this place when I came of age September.

These dead man's boots know their way down the hill,
They can walk there themselves, and they probably will.
I'd plenty of choices, and plenty other routes,
And he'd never see me walking in these dead man's boots.

What was it made him think I'd be happy ending up like him?
When he'd hardly got two halfpennies left, or a broken pot to piss in.
He wanted this same thing for me, was that his final wish?
He said, "What the hell are ye gonna do?"
I said, "Anything but this!"

These dead man's boots know their way down the hill,
They can walk there themselves and they most likely will.
But they won't walk with me 'cos I'm off the other way,
I've had it up to here, I'm gonna have my say.
When all ye've got left is that cross on the wall?
I want nothing from you, I want nothing at all.
Not a pension, nor a pittance, when your whole life is through,
Get this through your head, I'm nothing like you,
I'm done with all the arguments, there'll be no more dispute,
And ye'll die before ye see me in your dead man's boots.

And Yet

length: 3:52
This town, this stain on the sunrise
Disguised in the mist, this morning.
It’s 8 AM, a seagull shouts
A sailor’s warning, this sky.

This bend in the river
Slows down and delivers me
The tide rolls back
And all my memories fade to black.

And yet,
And yet…
I’m back

This town has a strange magnetic pull
Like a homing signal in your skull
And you sail by the stars of the hemisphere
Wondering how in the hell did you end up here?

It’s like an underground river or a hidden stream
That flows through your head and haunts your dream
And you stuffed those dreams in this canvas sack
And there’s nothing round here that the wide world lacks.

And yet,
And yet…
You’re back

Some night I’d lie on the deck and I’d stare
At the turning of the stars
Those constellations hanging up there
From the cables and the rigging

I wonder if she saw the same or managed to recall my name
Why would she ever think of me, some boy she loved who fled to sea?
And why waste time debating
Whether she’d be waiting for the likes of me?

So you drift into port with the scum of the seas
To the dance halls and the brothels where you took your ease!
And the ship’s left the dock, but you’re half past caring
And you haven’t got a clue whose bed you’re sharing.

And your head’s like a hammer on a bulkhead door
And it feels like somebody might have broken your jaw
And there’s bloodstains and glass all over the floor
And you swear to god ye’ll drink no more.

And yet,
And yet…
In truth
It’s too late to find her

Too late to remind her at some garden gate
Where a servant tells me I should wait
And perhaps a door’s slammed in my face
My head must be in outer space.

And yet,
And yet
Before the sun has set
Before the sea there may be something else
That’s waiting for the likes of me.

August Winds

length: 3:17
When August winds are turning,
The fishing boats set out upon the sea,
I watch 'til they sail out of sight,
The winter follows soon,
I watch them drawn into the night,
Beneath the August moon.

No one knows I come here,
Some things I don't share,
I can't explain the reasons why,
It moves me close to tears,
Or something in the season's change,
Will find me wandering here.

And in my public moments,
I hear the things I say but they're not me,
Perhaps I'll know before I die,
Admit that there's a reason why,
I count the boats returning to the sea,
I count the boats returning to the sea.

And in my private moments,
I drop the mask that I've been forced to wear,
But no one knows this secret me,
Where albeit unconsciously,
I count the boats returning from the sea,
I count the boats returning from the sea.

Language of Birds

length: 3:30
They say there's an underground river,
That none of us can see,
And it flows through winding tunnels,
On its way to a tide-less sea.

And across that sea is an island,
A paradise we are told,
Where the toils of life are forgotten,
And they call it the Island of Souls.

For only a soul can go there,
A soul that's been set free,
From the confines of a working life,
To find eternity.

Your old man had a cage for his pigeons,
But that's really where he kept his soul,
And when he watched them fly he would see himself,
Least that's how it was told.

But his soul was still trapped in the cage son,
While the birds they soared to the sky,
But he couldn't find his own way out,
Least not 'til the day he died.

Oh, a man builds a cage with the tools he is given,
His casket is sealed with a riveter's gun,
This solitary madness is where he is driven,
It was him who was trapped in the soul cage son,
It was him that was trapped in the soul cage.

I know that he loved you, but he hadn't the words,
He'd be easier speaking the language of birds,
For to speak of emotion, it just wasn't done,
It was him who was trapped in the soul cage son,
It was him that was trapped in the soul cage.

A man builds a cage with the tools he is given,
His casket is sealed with a riveter's gun,
The solitary madness is where he is driven,
It was him who was trapped in the soul cage son,
It was him that was trapped in the soul cage.

Practical Arrangement

length: 3:19
writer: Sting, Rob Mathes
Am I asking for the moon'
Is it really so implausible'
That you and I could soon
Come to some kind of arrangement'

I'm not asking for the moon
I've always been a realist
When it's really nothing more
Than a simple rearrangement

With one roof above our heads
A warm house to return to
We could start with separate beds
I could sleep alone or learn to
I'm not suggesting that we'd find
Some earthly paradise forever
I mean how often does that happen now
The answer's probably never
But we could come to an arrangement
A practical arrangement
And you could learn to love me
Given time

I'm not promising the moon
I'm not promising a rainbow
Just a practical solution
To a solitary life

I'd be a father to your boy
A shoulder you could lean on
How bad could it be
To be my wife'

With one roof above our heads
A warm house to return to
You wouldn't have to cook for me
You wouldn't have to learn to
I'm not suggesting that this proposition here
Could last forever
I've no intention of deceiving you
You're far too clever
But we could come to an arrangement
A practical arrangement
And perhaps you'd learn to love me
Given time

It may not be the romance
That you had in mind
But you could learn to love me
Given time

The Night the Pugilist Learned How to Dance

length: 4:13
In the streets around here there was nobody tougher than me,
I was quick with me fists and fast with me footwork as you can plainly see,
But while fighting was useful for getting your way,
Among the toughs of the town where you could hold sway,
There had to be something that was better than this,
I was fifteen years old and I'd never been kissed.

Well of course she'd ignore me, her friends would all sneer,
At me bloody nose dripping and me cauliflower ear,
For it's hard to convince in a romantic pose,
With a lovely black eye and a broken nose,
Where a girl is attracted to skills more refined,
Than the pugilist's art, and so I inclined,
To take meself serious as a modern romancer,
And I secretly learnt all the moves of a dancer.

Ye swing to the left, ye swing to the right,
Keep your eyes on your partner, more or less like a fight,
Ye just follow the rhythm, and ye keep to the beat,
The important thing's never to look at your feet,
Then a miracle happens, your mind's in a trance,
Though the strategy's subtle, retreat and advance,
It's all about attitude, all in your stance,
Attention to detail, leaving nothing to chance,
Which explains how the pugilist finally learned how to dance.

Well, I'd waltz with a broomstick and if I was caught,
I'd pretend I was sweeping or practicing sport,
But I really had eyes for your mother ye see,
Wanting her to acknowledge this new version of me,
But now everyone's watching, expecting I'll fail,
But there's fire in me belly, there's wind in me sails,
I knew it was risky and I was taking a chance,
I couldn't retreat now, I had to advance.

So I swing to the left, I swing to the right,
Keep me eyes on me partner, like I would in a fight,
I just keep to the rhythm and follow the beat,
The important thing's never to look at yr feet,
But a miracle's happened, and your mind's in a trance,
They're all laughing and cheering and looking askance,
On the night that the pugilist finally learned how to dance.

It's a three-minute round and you're back in yr corner,
You're licking yr wounds just like little Jack Horner,
Don't let your guard down try a jab with your right,
Or you're losing on points by the end of the night,
Then a miracle happens, and everyone's screaming,
You're pinching yourself just in case you're still dreaming,
You've taken the initiative, you've taken your chance,
It's the night when this pugilist finally learned how to dance.

In a bout where the strategist's bridges were burned,
Where it seemed that his fortune had suddenly turned,
'Twas the night that this scrapper was suddenly dapper,
And this poor fellow's heart was still going like the clappers,
The night that the pugilist finally learned how to dance.

Ballad of the Great Eastern

length: 5:14
In 18 hundred and 59, the engineer Brunel,
Would build the greatest ship afloat, and rule the ocean's swell.
Nineteen thousand tons of steel they used to shape the mighty keel,
Forged inside the smelter where they made the gates of Hell…
And the name upon the contract, Isambard Brunel.

As day-by-day the monster grew, the engineer Brunel,
Would watch the devil's handiwork, and woe betide a man who shirks,
Or slows the pace to build the keel, nineteen thousand tons of steel,
Anyone with eyes to see is but a bride of Hell,
And the name upon the draftsman's chart, Isambard Brunel.

A riveter was on the hull with his apprentice lad,
He'd served his time with the older man, some say it was his dad.
200 men upon the shift but when the day is done,
The count is hundred 98…before the setting sun,
They searched the yard all through the night until the morning bell,
No more delays are countenanced by Isambard Brunel,
And so they work a double shift, to make the time in full,
No mention of the missing men… they seal the double hull.

The ship was launched upon the tide and all the townsfolk cheered,
A brass band played but not a word of omens they had feared,
But before the afternoon was out, the celebration wrecked,
A dignitary clutched his heart…and collapsed upon the deck.
No doctors could revive him as the telegraphs would tell,
And the name upon the coffin… Isambard Brunel.

And now upon the open sea, the mighty ship did plough,
But many feared the darkness, in the shadow of its prow.
An explosion on the lower deck, would take the souls of five,
With a growing superstition 'mong the sailors still alive.

The captain and his boy are lost while rowing to the shore,
The crew will threaten mutiny and say they'll work no more,
They began to say the ship was cursed, they hadn't even seen the worst,
They'd signed on able-bodied men, but they wouldn't sail to Hell…
When the name upon the manifest is Isambard Brunel.

For 14 years that ship will sail, misfortune taken hard,
The owners barely find a crew to reach the breakers' yard.
And as they take the plates apart, unseal the double hull,
The breakers call the foreman o'er, they'd found a human skull.
And then they find the younger man, perforced to understand,
That in the hour of their torment, he'd reached his father's hand.

In 18 hundred and 59, the engineer Brunel,
Would build the greatest ship afloat, and rule the mighty swell.
The final shift was over, and the breakers' hammers fell,
And the name upon the manifest, the contract signed in Hell,
Was the same as on the draftsman's chart… one Isambard Brunel.

What Have We Got?

length: 3:34
Good people give ear to me story,
Pay attention, and none of your lip,
For I've brought you five lads and their daddy,
Intending to build ye's a ship.
Wallsend is wor habitation,
It's the place we was all born and bred.
And there's nay finer lads in the nation,
And none are more gallantly led.

What have we got, but the buzzer in the morning?
Aye, and what have we got, but the laying of a keel?
And what have we got, but the cranes above us soaring?
The commotion and the clamour in the welding of the steel?

What have we got, but the mist upon the river?
Tell me, what have we got, but the noise inside the hold?
Oh, what have we got, but the arse end of the weather?
Where we work in horizontal rain, and shiver in the cold.

What do ye got? (What do we got?)
What do ye got? (What do we got?)
You've got nowt. We've got nowt else.

What do ye got? (What do we got?)
What do ye got? (What do we got?)
You've got nowt. We've got nowt else.

What have ye got, but the singing in the cables?
Oh, what have ye got, but the ringing in your ears?
Aye, what have ye got, but the telling of the fables?
And the memories of the ships, that we've been building donkey's years.

What do ye got? (What do we got?)
What do ye got? (What do we got?)
You've got nowt. We've got nowt else.

What do ye got? (What do we got?)
What do ye got? (What do we got?)
You've got nowt. We've got nowt else.

Aye, you've got to die of something,
It's written in your fate,
Ye may as well die of a Tuesday,
And woe betide you're late.

What have ye got, all you men what's fit and able?
What have ye got, for the straining in your neck?
What have ye got, when you're laid out on the table?
And the snapping of a cable when the rigging hits the deck?

What have ye got, but the loyalty of brothers?
What have ye got, but this union of the dock?
What have ye got, a bacon sandwich from your mother?
Not a promise of another with the punching of the clock.

What do ye got? (What do we got?)
What do ye got? (What do we got?)
You've got nowt. We've got nowt else.

What do ye got? (What do we got?)
Now, what do ye got? (What do we got?)
You've got nowt. We've got nowt else.

What do ye got? (What do we got?)
What do ye got? (What do we got?)
You've got nowt. We've got nowt else.

I Love Her but She Loves Someone Else

length: 3:41
When a man of my age shaves his face in the morning,
Who is it that stares back and greets him?
The ghost of his father long dead all these years?
Or the boy that he was, still wet in the ears?
Or the terrible sum of all of his fears,
In the eyes of this stranger who meets him?

So his glance rarely strays from his chin or his jawline,
To face up to the truth of his soul,
It's the eyes he avoids so afraid to acknowledge,
Something strange, unexpected, out of control.

There are times when a man needs to brave his reflection,
And face what he sees without fear,
It takes a man to accept his mortality,
Or be surprised by the presence of a tear.

It was only an arrangement, a practical arrangement,
I forgot the first commandment of the realist's handbook,
Don't be fooled by illusions you created yourself,
And fall in love with someone, when she loves someone else.

Like a covering of snow on a winter's night,
It glistens and it sparkles in the moonlight,
But it's gone by the morning, how quickly it melts,
You still love her but she loves someone else.

And where does that leave you?
You self-styled man of vision.
You feel stupid, you feel angry, are you losing your mind?
To destroy the one she loves, does that become your mission?
Like a pantomime villain with an axe to grind?
To regain your self-respect, hold your head up like a man,
Use the ice around your heart before it melts,
But you're not fooling anybody, you're only fooling yourself.

Like a covering of snow on a winter's night,
It glistens and it sparkles in the moonlight,
But it's gone by the morning, how quickly it melts

So to Speak

length: 4:06
[Father O'Brian]
They're seriously saying it's prolonging me life,
If I'll only submit to the surgical knife?
But what are the odds on a month or a week?
When the betting shop's closing its doors, so to speak.
When you're tied to a pump and a breathing machine,
With their X-rays and probes and their monitor screens,
And they'll wake ye up hungry, saying "How do ye feel?"
And then you're stuffed full of pills and a barium meal.

Prolonging me life? Now that's some kind of joke!
I'd be laughing me head off and I'd probably choke.
The spirit's still willing but the rest of me's weak,
Now the bets are all off and the prospects look bleak,
When you're laid like a piece of old meat on the slab,
And they'll cut and they'll slice, and they'll poke and they'll jab,
And they'll grill ye and burn ye, and they'll wish ye good health,
With their radium, chemo and God knows what else?

Well ye can't fault the science, though the logic is weak,
Is it really an eternal life we should seek?
That ship has sailed,
That ship has sailed,
That ship has already sailed… so to speak.

Our mission is more than a struggle for breath,
For a few extra rounds in a fight to the death.
When our mission is love, and compassion and grace,
It's not a test of endurance, or a marathon race.
For love is the sabre, and love is the shield,
Love is the only true power we wield,
An eternal love is all ye should seek,
That ship will be ready to sail… so to speak.

[Meg]
I hear what you're saying 'cos I've heard it before,
But I'm afraid if I let what is past through my door,
How long would he stay, a month or a week,
When that ship has already sailed, so to speak?
Should I settle for something that's safe on this Earth?
What would it profit me, what is it worth?
If I lose something precious, completely unique?

[Meg & Father O'Brian]
When it's only eternity's love we should seek

[Meg & Father O'Brian]
For when that ship sails, and the course has been set,
And the wind's in the offing and the sails have been let,
And the hatches are full, and the hull doesn't leak,
And the ship is all ready to sail… so to speak.

[Father O'Brian]
I'm tired and fading and losing the light,
And I've no way to tell if it's day or it's night

[Meg]
Follow your heart, it's the harbour ye seek

[Father O'Brian]
And this ship is ready to sail,
This ship is ready to sail

[Meg & Father O'Brian]
This ship is ready to sail… so to speak.

The Last Ship (reprise)

length: 3:19
It's all there in the gospels, the Magdalene girl
Comes to pay her respects, but her mind is awhirl.
When she finds the tomb empty, the stone had been rolled,
Not a sign of a corpse in the dark and the cold.
When she reaches the door, sees an unholy sight,
There's this solitary figure in a halo of light.
He just carries on floating past Calvary Hill,
In an almighty hurry, aye but she might catch him still.

"Tell me where are ye going Lord, and why in such haste?"
"Now don't hinder me woman, I've no time to waste!
For they're launching a boat on the morrow at noon,
And I have to be there before daybreak.
Oh I canna be missing, the lads'll expect me,
Why else would the good Lord himself resurrect me?
For nothing will stop me, I have to prevail,
Through the teeth of this tempest, in the mouth of a gale,
May the angels protect me if all else should fail,
When the last ship sails."

Oh the roar of the chains and the cracking of timbers,
The noise at the end of the world in your ears,
As a mountain of steel makes its way to the sea,
And the last ship sails.

It's a strange kind of beauty,
It's cold and austere,
And whatever it was that ye've done to be here,
It's the sum of yer hopes yer despairs and yer fears,
When the last ship sails.

Well the first to arrive saw these signs in the east,
Like that strange moving finger at Balthazar's Feast,
Where they asked the advice of some wandering priest,
And the sad ghosts of men whom they'd thought long deceased,
And whatever got said, they'd be counted at least,
When the last ship sails.

Oh the roar of the chains and the cracking of timbers,
The noise at the end of the world in your ears,
As a mountain of steel makes its way to the sea,
And the last ship sails.

And whatever you'd promised, whatever you've done,
And whatever the station in life you've become.
In the name of the Father, in the name of the Son,
And whatever the weave of this life that you've spun,
On the Earth or in Heaven or under the Sun,
When the last ship sails.