Roy Harper – The Game – an epic song

This is one of Roy’s epic songs and one of his best. Backed by a group of superstars he creates a heavy sound with a unique riff to back the power of those poetic lyrics.

This is a song with gravitas and scope spanning the whole of human civilisation. It rails against the claustrophobia of society and hankers after the freedom of the hunter gatherer hoping that there is a space somewhere where a man might be free. That space may be found in the bubble of love.

The game is played by those in power. They set the rules and we have no means of usurping them or changing the rules.

In the meantime we continue the struggle. There is no escape. We are prisoners within this game. All we can do is grab our moments, love and live, and try not to add to the madness. Leaving the world as clean as when we came into it is not a Keep Britain Tidy campaign.

The Game – Roy Harper

There’s an owl in the valley fixing his prey
He’s not counting the tally
It’s down to what comes up before the day
And the trees in the orchard were taken from a narrow view of time
Where the minds of the tortured perpetuated patron saints of crime
Oh civilisation.
I can fit into your puzzle but it’s hardly, hardly ever a hold
And I’ll tell you, yeah yeah, tell you the trouble
The habits I’ve got are more than 10.000 years old
And we cannot sell our souls to learning morals
Big brother is no place for us to slide
We cannot live by numbers or on laurels
And hardly on how far from death we hide.

And it’s not a case of rampant paranoia
But just an age I’d love to see unborn
Not that I’d be missing playing Goya
More like I feel awkward passing on
Civilisation, civilisation down to my children
Without a question.

While the prophets of freedom, battery farming brains for narrow minds
Have decided, yes they decided that meaning is far beyond the lives they left behind
As two thirds of the population dine
On scraps in shadow lengthening with time
While propaganda spreads the same old theme
You is me and we can change the game, bullshit.Oh but how many times have we written these lines
And delivered these signs and not made it happen
Walking the tightrope of taking our head off
Losing the rhythm, idealising and all criticising
And not realising that we’ve changed and left and we’ve gone.

And sad to be leaving the things we believe in but time has a way and we fly
The next age is born and the old hands are gone and done in the wink of an eye
No point in passing bad reason good guessing, no time for massing much more than can flourish with love.

And right now, my darling, I’m lying here dreaming of feeling, no daylight between us
So wherever you are and whenever I’m there is someplace we’ve got to be ours
Can we right-heartedly stand in this light and see what might turn out to be crazy enough, enough to be we ?

When we’ve had a past sad enough to last for sometime into the future
These storms have torn and true love is alone and the past is almost a failure
Consciences burn in the programme turn, computing the social behaviour
But yoke revolts, the foundation bolts and cries for yet another saviour.
And I’d pack my things on a pair of wings and tomorrow I’d be parting
With the summer birds and the winter herds for a place to face a new heart in
But it makes no difference, where I am I’m in the game first hand
There are no certain answers and no time to understand
The rules are set to paradox, coercion and blind faith
The goal’s a changing paradise, a moment out of date
The dream is righteous grandeur fit to flood the universe
The fact is more than meets the eye but less than runs the earth, running the earth.

And the prisoner of the present paces up and down inside his cell
He’s the living replacement, somersaulting from this psychic well
Screaming : ‘I’m the sponsor of a hell’
Voices like the sea inside a shell
Telling me I cannot stake a claim
Possession is a clue but not the game
So please leave this world as clean as when you came.

So please leave this world as clean as when you came
Please leave this world as clean as when you came
Please leave this world as clean as when you came
Please leave this world as clean as when you came.


15 thoughts on “Roy Harper – The Game – an epic song

  1. I could never hear what he was saying half the time as it was all too loud and overblown. Who needs heavy drums on a Roy Harper song, for pete’s sake.

      1. I agree with Sarah. I suppose that’s why that album is never remembered very well as too much weird production which spoils it. When I listen to Roy Harper, I don’t want guitar solos and big rock band backing. It doesn’t work very well. I remember people complaining a lot at gigs where he’d turn up solo to perform songs we’d all just heard with a band. I think he lost the plot for a while back then. I also felt sorry for some of the musicians like Bill Bruford who was so much better equipped for real proper complicated music, not sub-standard fair even by Harper standards like Home and Grown Ups Are Just Silly Children. I have one of these BBC concert cds with these on it and are completely terrible. It took Harper about ten years to recover from that mess.

      2. I love the album and production and see nothing wrong with the sophistication of the music. Having said that I think Home and Grown Ups are Just Silly Children are both poor.
        I don’t agree that he lost it here. I rate HQ as one of his top albums and that was followed by the great Bullinamingvase. It was following that when there was a fallow period.

      3. When we go back that far what’s a few months difference going to make. Harper blew his career by trying to be some kind of rock star. He could never be looking as he did.
        He could never be a Mick Jagger, John Lennon, Robert Plant, Marc Bolan, David Bowie, Ian Gillan, Ozzy Osbourne. He was this ridiculous looking tiny little man who wore the worst clothes – all the photos are hilarious, with crazy mad huge eyebrows and a flipping side parting on his barnet. A side parting? Dear oh dear, he was going nowhere in the rock star department with any side parting. It could not be more uncool in 1976 to have a side parting! Had he stuck to the folky wooly jumper brigade he’d of done just fine but drugs and greed killed his career. Basically he’d watched Marc Bolan do it to himself he’d wrecked his career so then Roy decided to copy him. Silly fool he was.

      4. Peter – I would agree that doing the Rock Star thing was not a good move. Though anyone who commands the backing of a remarkable number of Rock Stars has something going for them.
        As for his appearance – no I don’t see any problem. Are you suggesting that you have to be tall to be a Rock Star? I don’t recognise this thing about a side parting. What that got to do with anything?

      5. Looks are everything. Just have a look at the names I listed – the biggest names in rock. Oh, I forgot Roger Daltrey. Then compare all of them to Roy Harper with his mad eybrows and side-parting. Do you get it?
        Roy looked like a geography teacher.
        To be a rock star – yes you have to be a bit more than just 5’2 or whatever. On stage presence is of vital importance.
        Marc Bolan was small, but his teenage girls fanclub left his quite early on around 1974.

  2. Roy is around 5′ 6″ not that I think that is particularly important. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him with a side-parting. He always had a centre-parting and looked pretty cool. Quite a handsome guy.
    As a Rock Star he didn’t really cut it though. He is much more of a singer-songwriter. I’ve known a few geography teachers but never one that looked remotely like Roy.
    I can’t think what you are looking at. Is it the strange publicity photo of Per Yaroh?

    1. He’s a lot shorter than that. I’ve stood beside him and he was smaller than my mother who is 5’6″. I’m 6ft and he was tiny.
      Roy with side-parting?
      Check out his book “The Passions of Great Fortune”
      Pages 14,21,22,28,3032,35,37,47,49, and by 1972 he had too little hair left to ever look “pretty cool”. Page 105, 141, 157,177,183,188,194,203,208,209,211,214,223,236,246,247,252,254,255,260,272,273,274,276,291301,312,318.

      Page 223 does it for me when he was in his Clifford T. Ward lookalike phase.
      Clifford had been an English teacher and actually wore his hair at that length as a teacher. It’s too funny to imagine.

      1. Well I’ve stood beside him many times and I can assure you he’s around 5’6″ – not that I see that as really very important. Looks aren’t the most important thing for me.
        I’ll check out the book. Glad to see that you are one of the few to actually buy it.

      2. Just checked it out. He does have a sort of side-parting in a number of photos. As you can see he varied his style a lot over time. Not a big deal for me.

      3. Yes he does. Not a sort of, but a full blown.
        Not particularly varied at all. It started to fall out so early on so he’s not had much to play with.
        What’s to argue? I just gave you thirty examples.
        I suggest that you yourself maybe lacking in stature because I know Harper to be a very short man. There’s no debating that. All the photos’s tell that.
        Just look at his photo with Robert Plant!

  3. I am of a very similar stature to Roy so I know exactly how tall he is.
    A cursory look at his hair during the 60s, 70s and 80s shows a great variation in styles. You’ve merely selected one to highlight. What’s the big deal? You didn’t like it. I thought it was OK.

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