THE EMPEROR (2007)


When grains of rice slip through your fingers
Might as well be diamonds that you lose
And when forty foolish years stare in the mirror
There’s noone to accuse

You can feel the balm of sweet exile
But no man lives forever in No Man’s Land
You must return to your dominion
Come take matters firmly into hand

Cause it’s a matter of perspective
You can stand on the corner
Lost in impotent invective
And harangue
But by the grace of God
You can be the Emperor of the whole shebang

I educate the populace
And issue my Imperial Decrees
You’d think I’d crack under this burden
But I have learned to roam the earth with ease

When the oceans rise to reach the moon
When the world goes mad and fortune takes her flight
A man needs to fulfill his promise
Stretch out his mighty hand and set things right

Cause it’s a matter of perspective
You can stand on the corner
Lost in impotent invective
And harangue
But by the grace of God
You can be the Emperor of the whole shebang

Search out the kings
Of other lands
Their hands with blood and treasure soiled
I have shed no blood
And robbed no man
And no sovereign country have I despoiled

The sun comes up in my empire
And some shopkeepers know enough to bow
Others disrepect my office
But I can’t take the time with them just now
There are iniquities and imperfections
As plentiful as fish who swim my bay
You can let your life be vague and soft
Or build your bridge across and seize the day

Cause it’s a matter of perspective
You can stand on the corner
Lost in impotent invective
And harangue
But by the grace of God
You can be the Emperor of the whole shebang



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This song is based on Joshua Norton -- I had wanted to write a lyric about him for some time, and I’m quite pleased with this one. Ron understood exactly what the lyric needed and provided a Brazilian rhythm and a "world music" feel.

You should look Joshua Norton up on Wikipedia and elsewhere, but listen to the song first :-)

Norton is known as being the first (and only) Emperor of the United States. He declared himself so, and the citizens of San Francisco were so tickled by having the Emperor live in their city, they went along with him. It’s a fascinating story -- when Norton died, there was a huge funeral procession through the city. His grave, provided for by the city, notes his title of Emperor.

The song is based stylistically on "You Can Call Me Al" -- a loosely spoken/sung verse and a rousing chorus, with a lot of images flying by.

crumpled paper