the song
title : Darkhouse
written by : Eddi Reader and Calum MacColl
song copyright : © 1996 Warner Music UK Ltd / copyright control ?
Eddi said
“Tales of living in a doorway and popping Prozac.”
Candyfloss and medicine press release

the performance
musicians
Eddi Reader lead vocal, acoustic guitar
Teddy Borowiecki piano
David Piltch bass
Roy Dodds drums and percussion
with :
The Electra Strings :
Jules Singleton, Sonia Slaney,
Sally Herbert, Anna Hemery,
Jocelyn Pook, Claire Orsler,
Dinah Beamish and Sian Bell
strings
music
key : F major
time-signature : 12/8
tempo : MM 49 (dotted-crochet), 147 (quaver)
form : V V C V C N
lyrics

provided for research and private study only (see above for copyright details):

Darkhouse

yeah, yeah, yeah
ah-ee-ah, yeah-yeah-yeah

the moon flies past the darkhouse
shines a light in
she is in a corner, cornered
and the dust fills everything
she thought she needed saving
by the prince of hopelessness
she dreams of Barbie dolls and lemonade
and she’s nowhere near it

the moon flies past the darkhouse
shines a light in
he left on the ten-fifteen
while the kids were sleeping
oh his talk so sweet
and she’s a sugar junkie
St Francis and the jewel thief
living in the dark in the darkhouse
St Francis and the jewel thief
living in the dark in the darkhouse

is that the price
crawling to paradise
all the way, all the way
on your knees, on your knees
yeah, yeah, yeah, on your knees
{yeah, yeah, yeah} yeah, yeah

yeah-yeah-yeah

a car flies past the darkhouse
throws a light in
from here she sees the corner
where he left her crying
she thought she needed saving
by the prince of hopelessness
he dreams of Barbie dolls and lemonade
she was nowhere near it

yeah, yeah, yeah
crawling to paradise
yeah, yeah, yeah-yeah-yeah-yeah, on your knees
yeah, yeah, yeah, on your knees
{yeah, yeah, yeah, on your knees}
don’t talk about l-l-l-l-life

{yeah, yeah, yeah, on your knees continues under:}
don’t talk about li-ee-ife
yeah, yeah, yeah-yeah, on your knees
yeah, yeah, yeah

yeah, yeah, yeah
yeah, yeah, yeah
his talk so sweet
yeah, yeah, yeah
his talk so sweet
yeah, yeah, yeah

explanations
Sadly, I can’t find any references to a story about St Francis and a jewel thief (could that be a magpie, and, if so, with what reference to the rest of the lyric?).

This is probably irrelevant, but the Oxford English Dictionary (2nd ed., 1989) tells us that in the seventeenth-century a darkhouse was a place of confinement for mad people. This is apparently the ultimate origin of the phrase “to keep in the dark”.

the recording
personnel
produced by : Eddi Reader and Teddy Borowiecki
recorded by : Gerry O’Riordan assisted by Dan Gilliland, Mark Chambers and Ron Warshow at The Snake Ranch, Lots Road, Chelsea, London and David Bottrill assisted by Adrian Scarff and Simon Wall at Eden Studios, Acton, London (vocals)
mixed by : David Bottrill at Eden Studios, Acton, London
mastered by : Tim Young at Metropolis
technical
track timing : 5:30
song timing : m:ss
released on
album : Candyfloss and medicine (UK, Japan) track 10
album : Candyfloss and medicine (US) track 12

commentary
Whereas I described ‘Butterfly jar’ as narrative, I think we can say that this song is cinematic in character. There is a particularly filme-noir quality about the change from “moon” to “car” in verse three, but the whole lyric is full of striking images. Of course cinema implies narrative too and that is certainly present as well, driven by the very strong descending bass line in the verses.

There is perhaps a faint echo here of the first verse of the track ‘Wonderful lie’ on the Eddi Reader album, which begins “I remember all this in slow motion / every tawdry detail / the dust caught in the sun in your kitchen”.
Adrian Dover