RESCUE ME

"Cos I thought I knew the signs pointin my way home..."


Part of the Annotated Horslips Lyrics Pages
Compiled by Lee Templeton, San Francisco

I cried out no-one listened to me,
Busy climbing the family tree,
Oh the lines I've wasted.

I came late, should've come when they called,
You can't run with your back to the wall,
Oh the times I've tasted.

I'm lost at sea, I'm free at last,
And in the night my dreams roll past,
I wish those golden fantasies could last and last,

Cos I thought I knew the signs pointin' my way home,
I didn't think the time would ever come when,
I'd drift the sea alone, searching for a line,
I'm sinkin I'm drowin'
Rescue me.

Nine days on a ship in the sea,
I heard them calling, calling for me,
But I lay low and waited,

I can't swim and I don't understand,
This passion for arable land,
I lay low and waited.

Now lost at sea I'm free at last,
And in the night my dreams roll past,
I wish those golden fantasies could last and last,

Cos I thought I knew the signs pointin' my way home,
I didn't think the time would ever come when,
I'd drift the sea alone searching for a line,
I'm sinkin', I'm drowin',
Rescue me.

I'm lost at sea I'm free at last,
And in the night my dreams roll past
I wish those golden fantasies could last and last.

Cos I thought I knew the signs pointin' my way home,
I didn't think the time would ever come when,
I'd drift the sea alone searching for a line,
I'm sinkin', I'm drownin'
Rescue me.

Nine days on a ship in the sea.
I heard them callin' callin' for me,
But I lay low and waited.

Recorded On:

  1. Short Stories Tall Tales
  2. Horslips, The Best of

Source Tune:

Downfall of Paris: AKA Scrios b‑Paris, Fall of Paris, Ça Ira, Carillon National, Ceimsios Parais, Downfall Of Paris, The Downfall Of Paris March, The Downfall Of Paris Set Dance, England The Home Of The World, The Fall Of Paris, La Ira. Also see "Hae You Ony More Ado" (Shetland), "Mississippi Sawyer [1]" (USA)

Recordings (Before Horslips):

  1. Mississippi Sawyer, Don Richardson, recorded April 16, 1916
  2. Downfall of Paris, George Pegram and Red (Walter) Parham, Pickin' and Blowin', 1959
  3. Now, The Dubliners, 1975

Recordings (After Horslips):

  1. Micheal O'Suilleabhain, Micheal O'Suilleabhain
  2. Celtic Airs & Dance Tunes, Robin Williamson, 1997

There are many recordings of this traditional tune. I have tried to highlight ones of special significance. The early recording by Don Richardson, for instance, is believed to be the first recording of American country music. It is also interesting to me that I found more recordings in America, and it is a popular tune in the Civil War reenactor music circles. Several wav files exist of the tune played in that style.

Covered By:

  1. Stephen Berg, Minnesota cable television program Expressions, 1981
  2. Chris Somers

General Notes from Albums:

Who knows what this one's about? Arable land certainly. But only on one level. The traditional tune played by Charles on the concertina under the chorus is The Downfall of Paris.

Notes on Horslips, The Best of..., Edsel Records

General Notes from the Official Guestbook:

Rescue Me was written in G and was recorded by Johnny using a capo on the third fret*, as mentioned, and using a standard D shape. If you follow this you'll need to use D, C and G followed by A, G and D and then for the chorus use D,G,Em,A and D. There's a sneaky little chord used for the "..busily climbing my family tree" bit, but it can easily be achieved by holding the D shape while removing your first finger, thereby leaving the third string open. No capo? Don't worry. Just play it in D.

Dave McG, Wednesday 1 September 2004

Rescue Me on You Tube

Horslips perform 'Rescue Me' live in Dingle for the RTE program 'Other Voices' recorded in December 2005, posted by BrendanMc, July 7, 2006.

Annotated Lyrics:

"I'm lost at sea, I'm free at last"

The song was written about a bunch of people - the Vietnamese Boat People - who were at that time (1979) undergoing a much crueller version of the enforced emigration the Irish had undergone a century and more earlier. Harrassed by pirates, robbed raped and murdered, theirs was one of the cruellest exoduses ever.. and after a quarter century of devastating war. So, then, another cheery Horslips ditty about once well to do men and women fleeing for their lives. Read in this light it may make more sense.

Barry Devlin, Official Horslips Guestbook, Tuesday 31 August 2004


A key player in handling the arrivals to the United States was Roger Winter, who wore two hats through the busy years of the late 1970s and early 1980s. Initially he led the resettlement efforts of the Carter administration, then for the U.S. Committee for Refugees, a private group of which he is now executive director.

"These were not people who were simply seeking to move to the U.S. or some other resettlement country. These were people that needed to be rescued and in that sense of the word it was different than many other migratory movements," Winter told CNN Interactive.

The United States took in the large number of people it did largely for two reasons, Winter said -- a sense of guilt and a sense of loyalty toward the people it had walked away from in 1975, and thus a need to rescue them.

Scott McKenzie, Vietnam's boat people: 25 years of fears, hopes and dreams, CNN.com

"This passion for arable land"

"I was in the control room in the studio in Dublin when Barry was recording his vocal on "Rescue Me". Affecting and vulnerable, it's the best thing he ever did, gathering up a lifetime of formative elements - the Beatles, the folk clubs, Paul Simon and Irish tunes - in one place. And the unexpected and anachronistic "arable land" is inspired, as befits a sometimes man of letters."

Philip Chevron, Official Horslips Guestbook, Monday 30 August 2004

Miscellaneous:

Mandolin Tabs for Downfall of Paris, Mandolin Cafe.com

The Annotated Horslips Lyric Project thanks Chris Somers of Cork Ireland for his transcription of the lyrics and the wav file above.



First Posted: March 7, 2005
Last Revised: March 4, 2007