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The Man Who Sold The World

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Release date: 
November 04, 1970
Total Tracks: 
9
Label: 
Mercury US
Mercury UK
Mercury Germany
RCA
Design: 
Mike Weller - Illustration (US)
Keef (Keith MacMillan) - Photography (UK)
Witt (Hamburg) - Design (Germany)
Producer: 
Tony Visconti

    The Man Who Sold The World

    • Design Mike Weller - Illustration (US)
    • Design Keef (Keith MacMillan) - Photography (UK)
    • Design Witt (Hamburg) - Design (Germany)
    Released November 1970
    Label Mercury US, Mercury UK, Mercury Germany, RCA
    Producers Tony Visconti

    The Man Who Sold The World was first released in November 1970 on the Mercury label in the US with the cartoon sleeve pictured here created by Mike Weller.
    In April 1971 it was released in the UK on the Mercury label with a striking photograph by Keef (Keith MacMillan) of David wearing a dress.
    Mercury released The Man Who Sold The World with yet another cover in Germany. Commonly known as the round cover this version is the rarest of the three Mercury releases.
    RCA reissued the album worldwide (along with Space Oddity) in 1972 with a black and white Ziggy-era cover shot taken by Brian Ward.
    Scroll the images to view all four versions of the album.

  • 1
    The Width Of A Circle

    In a corner of the morning in the past
    I would sit and blame the master first and last
    All the roads were straight and narrow
    And the prayers were small and yellow
    And the rumour spread that I was aging fast
    Then I ran across a monster who was sleeping
    By a tree.
    And I looked and frowned and the monster was me.

    Well, I said hello and I said hello
    And I asked "Why not?" and I replied "I don't know."
    So we asked a simple black bird, who was happy as can be
    Well he laughed insane and quipped "KAHLIL GIBRAN"
    So I cried for all the others till the day was nearly through
    For I realized that God's a young man too.

    So I said "So Long" and I waved "Bye-bye"
    And I smashed my soul and traded my mind
    Got laid by a young bordello.
    I was vaguely half asleep,
    For which my reputation swept back home in drag
    And the morals of this magic spell negotiate my hide
    When God did take my logic for a ride

    He swallowed his pride and puckered his lips
    And showed me the leather belt round his hips
    My knees were shaking my cheeks aflame
    He said "You'll never go down to the Gods again"
    (Turn around, go back!)

    He struck the ground a cavern appeared
    And I smelt the burning pit of fear
    We crashed a thousand yards below
    I said "Do It again, do it again"
    (Turn around, go back!)

    His nebulous body swayed above
    His tongue swollen with devils love
    The snake and I, a venom high
    I said "Do it again, do it again"
    (Turn around, go back!)

    Breathe, breathe, breathe deeply
    And I was seething, breathing deeply
    Spitting sentry, horned and tailed
    Waiting for you.

  • 2
    All The Madmen

    Day after day.
    They send my friends away
    To mansions cold and gray
    To the far side of town
    Where the thin men stalk the streets
    While the sane stay underground.

    Day after day.
    They tell me I can go
    They tell me I can blow
    To the far side of town
    Where it's pointless to be high
    'Cause it's such a long way down
    So I tell them that.

    I can fly, I will scream, I will break my arm
    I will do me harm.
    Here I stand, foot in hand, talking to my wall
    I'm not quite right at all, am I?

    Don't set me free. I'm as heavy as can be
    Just my Librium and me
    And my EST makes three

    'Cause I'd rather stay here
    With all the madmen
    Than perish with the sad men roaming free
    And I'd rather play here
    With all the madmen
    For I'm quite content they're all as sane
    As me

    (Where can be the horizon lie
    When a nation hides
    Its organic minds
    In a cellar, dark and grim
    They must be very dim)

    Day after day
    They take some brain away
    They turn my face around
    To the far side of town
    And tell me that it's real
    Then ask me how I feel

    Here I stand, foot in hand, talking to my wall
    I'm not quite right at all.

    Don't set me free. I'm as helpless as can be
    My libido's split on me
    Gimme some good 'ole lobotomy

    'Cause I'd rather stay here
    With all the madmen
    Than perish with the sad man
    Roaming free
    And I'd rather play here
    With all the madmen
    For I'm quite content
    They're all as sane as me.

    Zane, Zane, Zane
    Ouvre le Chien

  • 3
    Black Country Rock

    Pack a pack horse and rest up here on,
    Black Country Rock
    You never know, you might find it here on,
    Black Country Rock

    Some say the view is crazy
    But you may adopt another point of view
    So if it's much too hazy
    You can leave my friend and me with fond adieu

  • 4
    After All

    Please trip them gently, they don't like to fall, Oh
    by jingo
    There's no room for anger, we're all very small, Oh
    by jingo
    We're painting our faces and dressing in thoughts
    from the skies
    From paradise.
    They think that we're holding a secretive ball.
    Won't someone invite them
    They're just taller children, that's all, after all.

    Man is an obstacle, sad as the clown, Oh by jingo
    So hold on to nothing, and he won't let you down,
    Oh by jingo
    Some people are marching together and some on
    their own
    Quite alone.
    Others are running, the smaller ones crawl
    But some sit in silence, they're just older children
    That's all , after all.

    I sing with impertinence, shading impermanent
    chords,
    With my words
    I've borrowed your time and I'm sorry I called
    But the thought just occurred that we're nobody's
    children at all, after all.

    Live till your rebirth and do what you will, Oh by jingo
    Forget all I've said, please bear me no ill, Oh by
    jingo
    After all, after all.

  • 5
    Running Gun Blues

    I count the corpses on my left, I find I'm not so tidy
    So I better get away, better make it today,
    I've cut twenty-three down since Friday
    But I can't control it, my face is drawn,
    My instinct still emotes it.

    I slash them cold, I kill them dead
    I broke the gooks, I cracked their heads
    I'll bomb them out from under their beds
    But now I've got the running gun blues.

    It seems the peacefuls stopped the war
    Left generals squashed and stifled
    But I'll slip out again tonight
    Cause they haven't taken back my rifle
    For I promote oblivion
    And I'll plug a few civilians.

    I'll slash them cold. I'll kill them dead
    I'll break them gooks I'll crack their heads
    I'll slice them till they're running red
    But now I've got the running gun blues.

  • 6
    Saviour Machine

    President Joe once had a dream
    The world held his hand, gave their pledge
    So he told them his scheme for a Saviour Machine

    They called it the Prayer, its answer was law
    Its logic stopped war, gave them food,
    How they adored till it cried in its boredom,

    'Please don't believe in me, please disagree with
    me
    Life is too easy, a plague seems quite feasible now,
    or maybe a war, or I may kill you all.

    Don't let me stay, don't let me stay.
    My logic says burn so send me away
    Your minds are too green, I despise all I've seen
    You can't stake your lives on a Saviour Machine

    I need you flying, and I'll show that dying
    Is living beyond reason, sacred dimension of time
    I perceive every sign, I can steal every mind

    Don't let me stay, don't let me stay
    My logic says burn so send me away
    Your minds are too green, I despise all I've seen
    You can't stake your lives on a Saviour Machine

  • 7
    She Shook Me Cold

    We met upon a hill, the night was cool & still
    She sucked my dormant will
    Mother, she blew my brain. I will go back again
    My God, she shook me cold.

    I had no time to spare, I grabbed her golden hair
    And threw her to the ground.
    Father, she caved my head. Oh Lord, things she said
    My God, she should be told.

    I was very smart, broke the gentle hearts
    Of many young virgins
    I was quick on the ball, left them so lonely
    They'd just give up trying.
    Then she took my head, smashed it up,
    Kept my young blood rising,
    Crushed me mercilessly, kept me going around
    So she don't know how I crave her so

    I'll give me love in vain, to reach that peak again
    We met upon a hill
    Mother, she blew my brain, I will go back again
    My God, she shook me cold.

  • 8
    The Man Who Sold The World

    We passed upon the stair, we spoke of was and
    when
    Although I wasn't there, he said I was his friend
    Which came as some surprise I spoke into his
    eyes
    I thought you died alone, a long long time ago

    Oh no, not me
    I never lost control
    You're face to face
    With the Man Who Sold The World

    I laughed and shook his hand, and made my way
    back home
    I searched for form and land, for years & years I
    roamed
    I gazed a gazely stare at all the millions here
    We must have died alone, a long long time ago

    Who knows? not me
    We never lost control
    You're face to face
    With the Man Who Sold The World.

  • 9
    The Supermen

    When all the world was very young
    And mountain magic heavy hung
    The supermen would walk in file
    Guardians of a loveless isle
    And gloomy browed with superfear their tragic
    endless lives
    Could heave nor sigh
    In solemn, perverse serenity, wondrous beings chained to life

    Strange games they would play then
    No death for the perfect men
    Life rolls into one for them
    So softly a supergod cries

    Where all were minds in uni-thought
    Powers weird by mystics taught
    No pain, no joy, no power too great
    Colossal strength to grasp a fate
    Where sad-eyed mermen tossed in slumbers
    Nightmare dreams no mortal mind could hold
    Man would tear his brother's flesh, a chance to die,
    To turn to mold.

    Far out in the red-sky
    Far out from the sad eyes
    Strange, mad celebration
    So softly a supergod dies