Tuesday April 4, 2006

"Song to the Siren" Video

A few months ago I wrote a long post about my attempts to decipher the lyrics of "Song to the Siren" by This Mortal Coil (the Cocteau Twins in disguise), and I mentioned finding a live version of the song that made it clear that Liz Fraser is singing, "Were you here when I was flotsam?"  It recently occurred to me to check the increasingly invaluable site YouTube—lo and behold, YouTube has a video of the TV appearance containing that version of the song.  You can watch it after the jump.

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Although Cocteau Twins did appear on "Song to the Siren", This Mortal Coil were indeed a separate band, formed by the head of the 4AD record company Ivo Watts-Russell.

Posted by: komfo,amonan at Apr 5, 2006 6:48:19 AM

Although Cocteau Twins did appear on "Song to the Siren", This Mortal Coil were indeed a separate band...

Well, sort of. The TMC web page actually says just the opposite: "This Mortal Coil was not a band." It was a series of compilation albums by 4AD artists, including both bands and individuals from bands in various combinations, performing covers and other "unexpected" songs. "Song to the Siren", in particular, was performed only by Robin Guthrie and Liz Fraser of the Cocteau Twins. The Twins seem to have regretted in hindsight the fact that their biggest hit was recorded under a different name.

Posted by: The Tensor at Apr 5, 2006 11:09:33 AM

You can also hear affricatisation of the /t/, what English likes to do these days.

Posted by: firespeaker at Apr 6, 2006 5:11:33 PM

The Cocteau Twins homepage has a link to the official video (Soundtrack though seems to be "This Mortal Coil" studio version):


Posted by: jbj at May 28, 2006 8:41:27 AM

This is awesome...The most emotional song what I`ve ever heard...

Posted by: Peter Lakos at Aug 25, 2006 4:01:06 AM

This was so great to watch, I still love this song, though I have not heard it for such a long time, and to see her singing live like that was really special.

Posted by: Lorraine Berkshire at Aug 30, 2006 7:30:22 AM

You should listen to the Tim Buckley original...

Posted by: STEVEQ at Sep 11, 2006 12:36:40 PM

Thanks so much for pointing out this video. I've been in love with Liz's Song To The Siren for all these years, and to hear and see it live (despite the low bandwidth) was so nice. Regarding the lyrics, it also cleared up one doubt I still had. To me it always sounded like she's singing "...waiting to hole you" instead of "waiting to hold you." I would also much more prefer the latter, but my ears were telling me she sings "hole" and not "hold." To hole in boat language is to perforate the boat. Which makes sense in the context. But in this video, at least at the first occurence she clearly sings "hold".

Thanks again :)

Posted by: Ronny D'Hoore at Oct 2, 2006 1:03:03 PM

Wow! Simply beautiful. She seems to be almost singing in harmonics, along with the guitar. And my impression was that she sings "hole" at the end of the song instead of "hold". Given how precise her enunciation is during this performance it seems to me she meant it to be "hole".

Posted by: Jacki at Nov 29, 2006 12:13:30 AM

A band called the Czars did a nice cover of this Tim Buckley original , it's featured on a very good tribute to Tim Buckley that came out about 5 or 6 years ago. Even Robert Plant has covered this song on one of his recent solo cds, he did an excellent job of it too. This Mortal Coil's version is my favorite though, it's one of those songs that makes time stand still....

Posted by: dreamsareweird at Dec 9, 2006 10:20:35 AM

She sings "flotsam" here. But on the studio recording that's widely circulated from the "It'll End In Tears" album. She clearly does NOT sing "flotsam". It sounds more as if she sings "full sail".

Posted by: droxford at Feb 2, 2007 2:21:48 PM

Did I dream you dreamed about me?
Were you hare when I was fox?

Posted by: at Feb 3, 2007 8:40:08 AM

Here's another video of TMC's version of the song:


What's interesting about this one is that there's subtitles, in both English and Hungarian, even including the quotes. They seem to pretty much tally with what you said in the previous post, with the exception that they went for "eyes" instead of "isle".

Posted by: Ed Duffy at Aug 27, 2007 10:21:17 AM

wow, that sucks. I can't believe it's the same beautiful, subtle song that Tim Buckley sang.

Posted by: at Sep 10, 2007 2:19:08 PM