[Track Info] [The Lyrics] [Explanation]

Incubus - Track Info

01. Studio version (08:32)

02. Demo Version (08:10)

03. Live (Montreal, Canada - "The Spectrum", June 19/20th '84) (08:41)

04. Live (St. Goar, Germany - "Freilichtbuhne Loreley", July 18th '87) (08:58)

Notes: The demo 2) is from the Fugazi recording sessions. The most important differences between this demo and the album version:
- guitar riffs in the opening
- extra keyboard part before the verse "You've played this scene before..."
- extra instrumental passage with guitar solo before the part "The darkness unleashes imagination..." (with lyrics variation: "darkness" instead of "darkroom")
- the part "The darkness unleashes imagination (...) and the cat walks", is not quiet as in the released version: full drums beat the time
- lyrics variation: "You've played this scene before..." again instead of "I've played this scene before..."
- the music of the second half of the song is quite different from the released version: instead of the quiet piano-leaded theme, the music of the final section "Your perimeter of courtiers...." is used for the whole remaining part of the song, starting from "You can't brush me under the carpet..." until the end (the guitar solo is missing)
Live versions follow studio version.
4) has an extra drum intro, a longer instrumental passage (16 more bars) before the verse "But now I’m the snake in the grass" and additional backing vocals by Cori Josias.

Lyrics by Derek William Dick (Fish)
Performed Live for the first Time: October 27th 1983

Published by Marillion Music, Charisma Music Publishing Co. Ltd., Chappell Music Ltd.

Incubus - The Lyrics

When footlights dim in reverence to prescient passion forwarned
My audience leaves the stage, floating ahead perfumed shift,
Within the stammering silence, the face that launched a thousand frames,
Betrayed by a porcelain tear, a stained career, career.

You played this scene before, you played this scene before
I the mote in your eye, eye, eye, eye, I the mote in your eye,
A misplaced reaction, reaction

The darkroom unleashes imagination in pornographic images
In which you will always be the star, always be the star, untouchable,
Unapproachable, constant in the darkness, in the darkness, in the darkness,
Nursing an erection, a misplaced reaction,
With no flower to place before this gravestone,
And the walls become enticingly newspaper thin,
But that would be developing the negative view,
And you have to be exposed in voyeuristic colour,
The public act, let you model your shame
On the mannequin catwalk, catwalk,
Let the cats walk, and the cat walks

I've played this scene before, I've played this scene before,
I the mote in your eye, eye, eye, eye, I the mote in your eye,
A misplaced reaction, satisfaction

A irritating speck of dust that came from absolutely nowhere...

You can't brush me under the carpet, you can't hide me under the stairs,
The custodian of your private fears, your leading actor of yesteryear,
Who as you crawled out of the alleys of obscurity,
Sentenced to rejection in the morass of anonymity,
You who I directed with lovers will, you who I let hypnotise the lens,
You who I let bathe in the spotlights glare,
You who wiped me from your memory like a greasepaint mask,
Just like a greasepaint mask.

But now I'm the snake in the grass, the ghost of filmreels past,
I'm the producer of your nightmare and the performance has just begun,
It's just begun, it's just begun

Your perimeter of courtiers jerk like celluloid puppets
As you stutter paralysed with rabbits eyes, searing the shadows,
Flooding the wings, to pluck elusive salvation from the understudy's lips,
Retrieve the soliloque, maintain the obituary,
My cue line in the last act and you wait in silent solitude
Waiting for the prompt, [waiting for the prompt]

You've played this scene before

Copyright ę 1997 Fraser Marshall, Matthew Anderson & Bert ter Steege.


Pear’s Cyclopedia: A nightmare, anything that weighs heavily on the mind. In mediŠval times it denoted an evil demon who was supossed to have sexual intercourse with women during their sleep.

Incubi are supposed to impregnate women using the sperm that succubi had stolen whilst sleeping with men. They were first identified in ‘Malleus Malficarum’, literally ‘Hammer of Evil-doers’ which was the Catholic Inquisition’s main text on witch hunting.

‘The face that launched a thousand frames’
A pun on ‘the face that launched a thousand ships’. This line is from Christopher Marlowe’s ‘Dr Faustus’ (1354), a rendering of the folk tale of a man who sells his soul for his heart’s desires. (another famous version is by GoŰthe. Faustus utters this line having ordered the demon Mephistopheles to counjure up Helen. Helen was the wife of King Menaleus. She was abducted by King Paris of Troy, thus precipitating the ten year Trojan War, which kept Odesseus from his shroud spinning web for so long.

‘I, the mote in your eye’
This is based on Matthew chapter seven, verse three. It goes something like, ‘Let you remove the beam’ (plank - Ed) ‘from your own eye before you point out the mote in mine.’ Which means, before you accuse me of some minor sin, ensure that you do not have larger ones yourself.

‘No flower to place before this gravestone’
Flowers, particularly petals are a common image for the female genitals, for obvious reasons. A graphic example is the disturbing quasi-rape animation of two flowers in the film of Pink Floyd’s ‘The Wall’.

Gravestone becomes a simpler image once the flower image is understood. The grave also hearkens back to the idea that the porno director is getting turned on, but the object of his desire is not there - the erection is useless...

‘A irritating speck of dust that came from absolutely nowhere’
The spoken bit you can’t hear properly! ‘Speck of dust’ means the same as mote.

‘Maintain the obiturary’
She’s on a stage, she sees the man who has the incriminating films and she forgets the line. In theatrical parlance, she ‘corpses’, as her luvvie theatre chums panic off stage, and as the prompter in his corner is trying to feed her that line, and as her former lover debates whether to destroy her career, the theatre critics are penning their reviews.


Last Modified: 27 Jul 2000