To Build a Harmony

Lyrics: Henry Biggs
Music: Henry Biggs and Mylene Farmer

Red orange white black yellow 
we gotta rock 'n' roll under the same umbrella 
think for a second what the world would be like 
if you painted everybody black and white 
I tell you straight up it'd be a disaster 
if we was all black as tar or as white as Alaska 
ain't but shame in that game takes a damn fool 
to bring that noise we gotta get with the schedule 
cuz yo bro you know ain't nothin' duller 
than every other brother steppin in the same color 
variety is the sweet spice of life 
I need every color to kick up a sweet vibe

Gonna take some of you 'n' me (x4)
if we gonna build a harmony

How you make a harmony Mr. Johnny one-note 
your groove don't move jus' sounds like the record's broke 
we need every style yo every shade of soul 
take away your colors 'n' who's Michelangelo 
a one-brush maestro with one-tone grease 
how you gonna paint you a one-colored masterpiece 
look at nature make her make the rain go 
dancing to the jazz of a one-colored rainbow 
the leaves on the trees they change with the seasons 
it's done for a reason, every color is pleasin' 
get righteous try this flow don't lose it 
gotta come strong and make that colorful music


if you racist face this your noise is played out 
don't dig it you a bigot and you can just f-f-fade out 
I know it used to be way back in the days 
some colors was free while others had to be slaves 
but that don't play today and I'm tellin you Jack 
you don't think that way cuz you smarter than that 
this beat's for sweet harmony 'n' you just plain ignorant 
if you think it's all about another brother's pigment 
so come strong get it on 'n' get it together 
spread your wings and fly like birds of a feather 
let's take the sweet in you and the charm in me 
and let's put 'em together make us a little harmony

The Idea . . .

Don't hate the black
Don't hate the white
if you get bit
just hate the bite

Sly and the Family Stone, "Are You Ready?" (1968)

Whence all this passion toward conformity anyway?--diversity is the word.  
Let man keep his many parts and you'll have no tyrant states.  
Why, if they follow this conformity business they'll end up by forcing me, 
an invisible man, to become white, which is not a color but a lack of one.  
Must I strive toward colorlessness?  But seriously, and without snobbery, 
think of what the world would lose if that should happen.  
America is woven of many strands; I would recognize them and let it so remain...
our fate is to become one, and yet many--this is not prophecy, but description.

Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man, p. 577 (Vintage Books, NY (c) 1980 Ralph Ellison)

Building a harmony requires different pitches -- if you use the same pitches by definition
you won't have a harmony. Thus, harmony requires diversity. Within the lyrics Headmess
not only gives examples of how important diversity is in life, but he also uses slant rhyme 
to reinforce this idea. Notice that the two lines in each couplet don't have perfect rhyme, 
but they still sound good together. Headmess uses slant rhyme to demonstrate that diversity
works in many forms, and his lyrics give examples of aspects of everyday life that require
diversity. Headmess's message is to embrace this diversity, for if we were all the same life
would be very boring.

Confused? Click here to send in your questions.


Lyrics: Henry Biggs
Music: Henry Biggs and Mylene Farmer

All alone in a park on a bench in the dark 
gone to the wind to the rain not a spark 
of life flickers from these eyes, these eyes 
memories of innocence caked and pasted with lies 
nothing brings me back to innocence any more 
except you my little whore vacant and worn 
in you she comes back and I'm safe and warm 
tasting you I'm back again 
dipped in sin, sweet Madeleine

Madeleine (Turn me on) (repeat)

Madeleine to lick your skin 
is to take a trip to way back when 
to love-to love 
the stuff that dreams of love are made of 
to her, to a smile, to stare, a caress 
to a future hoped for, hoped for yes 
and in you she's before me in you sultry silky 
in you lips run o'er me in you soft and milky 
tasting you I'm back again dipped in sin, 
sweet Madeleine


Madeleine it never lasts 
the present past is passing fast 
staring desperately at the peeling ceiling 
I try to guard that fleeting feeling 
but it fades and jades and withering blooms 
eroding back to this festering room 
over, done, I pay, I go 
and wander back down through the streets below 
aimlessly back to a bench in a park 
I plant myself alone in the dark 
but tasting you, I'll be back again sweet Madeleine

The Idea. . .

...She sent out for one of those short, plump little cakes called 'petites madeleines,' 
which look as though they had been moulded in the fluted scallop of a pilgrim's shell. 
And soon, mechanically, weary after a dull day with the prospect of a depressing morrow, 
I raised to my lips a spoonful of the tea in which I had soaked a morsel of the cake. 
No sooner had the warm liquid, and the crumbs with it, 
touched my palate than a shudder ran through my whole body, and I stopped, 
intent upon the extraordinary changes that were taking place. 
An exquisite pleasure had invaded my senses, 
but individual, detached, with no suggestion of its origin. 
And at once the vicissitudes of life had become indiferent to me, 
its disasters innocuous, its brevity illusory-this new sensation 
having had on me the effect which love has of filling me with a precious essence; 
or rather this essence was not in me, it was myself. I had ceased now to feel medioucre, 
accidental, mortal. Whence could it have come to me, this all-powerful joy?

Proust, Swann's Way 
trans. C.K. Scott Moncrieff, The Modern Library, New York.P. 62

In this excerpt Proust describes the ability of the taste of a cookie, a madeleine, to invoke
involuntary memory. Headmess draws on Proust's "episode of the madeleine" and describes
the subject's return to a girl he once loved through his experience with a prostitute named
Madeleine. Madeleine charges his memories of a happier time--of a good relationship
he had in the past. Just as Proust's madeleine is dipped in tea, Headmess's Madeleine is "dipped in sin."

Confused? Click here to send in your questions.

Ain't No Rhyme

Lyrics: Henry Biggs
Music: Henry Biggs and Mylene Farmer

take a long look at this face I wear 
worl's goin down from what I see and hear 
boy takes a gun to the mama he loves 
kills her for money one of his last moves 
tries to play low but whaddaya know 
boy's in the pen he be there to the end now 
drugs take another chump and mess with his mind 
and he blows away ten like dust in the wind 
he shakes like a leaf with the gun in his mouth 
and boom goes another boy in his youth 
next days paper I sit down and read 
innocent people stabbed and shot dead 
I shed my tears for the way the world goes 
pray to god but I don't know what that does 
try and cry from the womb to the tomb 
cuz this world ain't but a floatin time bomb

there ain't no rhyme ain't no reason ain't no rhyme ain't no reason 
ain't no rhyme ain't no reason ain't no rhyme ain't no reason

I bust my butt but what does it come to 
still I got nothin but a hole to go home to 
poor in the street and everybody wants 
but look at me bro I got holes in my pants 
I can't step to a woman cuz every time I lose 
women see my rags they play me ice close 
I wanna keep clean but I think why bother 
why not live large like every other brother 
I'm just scrapin by tryin to make a living 
but if I worked the street yo I'd be thriving 
I play the game straight but yo it's too tough 
look at me and what I been through 
I oughtta high-step yep and roll on downtown 
deal a little smell but with a car of my own 
cuz straight don't pay it only pays to push 
I'm a kick back and sniff for my rush cuz


Ain't nowhere to run to ain't nowhere to go 
no way to stop ain't nothin' to do 
I try to fight it but I ain't got the power 
just feel myself sinkin lower and lower 
so I'm gonna live a little before I'm gone 
since they ain't no justice I'm a go it alone 
buy myself a fine car and jack some heat 
work the streets and get paid for my sweat 
shoulda started this when I was a punk teen 
now I'm a roll before I'm a has-been 
front like a mother and start to live 
ain't messing with no more Johnny B Goode jive 
cold is the rule fool don't matter the cost 
playin clean's like gettin tied to a whippin post 
you know these days you run for cover 
cuz the days of right and wrong are over

The Puzzle . . .

Look closely at each pair of lines, especially the last word in each line. 
What do they have in common? 
(hint: imagine reading this without knowing how to pronounce the words)

(another hint: pay close attention to the title)

How does this add to the overall meaning of the song?

Click here to send in your answer.

Click here to understand.

Hell & Hunger

Lyrics: Henry Biggs
Music: Henry Biggs and Mylene Farmer

Stop, sink slow down sell your soul son 
something strong in silence but still you don't stand a chance 
so stupid, bust, break down slump those shoulders, crumple

Keep to myself and I'm a lay low 
cold as a steel blade on a scalpel 
silent violence, I don't talk 
my quiet cuts the night like a tomahawk 
Holdin it in, sittin' with it, gettin' it to burn hard 
not gonna be lettin it go, control, I'm frontin ice cold

Come on booooy you aint nothing, and you ain't never gonna be nothin relax

Emotion grows higher inside of me 
but I hold on hard, and don't let it free 
I'm keepin this, I'm asleep with this anger is my energy 
makes a blistering fire that inspires me 
stomach growls and howls like a comanchee 
caged rage is what I'm about 
this hatred I'm a hold, lord knows when I'll let it out

hell and hunger makes me stronger 
heartbeat pounds like thunder 
hell and hunger 
sometimes I wonder 
if I can hold back much longer

cuz I'm like a time bomb, bustin to blow 
ready to rumble, pumpin to explode 
restraining, containing, downing my rage 
taut like a tightwire close to the edge 
cool to the touch but quicker to the trigger 
drown myself down with rounds of malt liquor 
but sometime in my mind noise gets so loud 
 jacks my cool I can't keep it down 
thinkin bout the stinkin lotta nothin I was given 
this messed up dead stop crater that I live in 
and my head boils, teeth fists clenched 
no escape from the rape and back-street stench 
my skin's peeled, muscles drawn tightly 
the sting of anything might ignite me


filled with hunger, eating my poverty 
burning from the cold world that surrounds me 
swallowing hatred, embracing my rage 
hating any love from above or any place 
housed by the clouds that thicken my hide 
time stops still, laughs and rolls by

Give it up, come on, give it up, yeahh

fatigue pushes me weakness drives me on 
clothed by the stripped moan of a ghetto song 
calm rage flows through my veins 
cold fever forever rides on my brain 
the pulse of my nine lives thrives on all this 
ready at any time to pop a death kiss 
word from my world a day down my way 
yo I say


you just aint never gonna learn, man, you ain't here to do nothing slide yourself back home on your belly, boy snake, you never did have a chance unless you wanna dance with the devil

REFRAINThe Idea . . .

Pregnant people get strange tastes. I was pregnant with poverty.
Pregnant with dirt and pregnant with smells that made people turn away,
pregnant with cold and pregnant with shoes that were never bought for me,
pregnant with five other people in my bed and no Daddy in the next room,
and pregnant with hunger. Paste doesn't taste too bad when you're hungry.
Dick Gregory; An Autobiography, p. 42

Imagine being "pregnant with hunger" -- is this easy to see? It's this type of paradoxical line that Headmess plays with in "Hell & Hunger." Notice 
especially the last verse: 

fatigue pushes me, weakness drives me on 
clothed by the stripped moan of a ghetto song 
calm rage flows through my veins 
cold fever forever rides on my brain 
the pulse of my nine lives thrives on all this 
ready at any time to pop a death kiss 
word from my world a day down my way 
yo I say

These are all paradoxical lines, adding to the sense of difficulty of a life of poverty and hunger in which you are forced to eat your poverty.

Confused? Click here to send in your questions.

Third World

Lyrics: Henry Biggs
Music: Henry Biggs and Mylene Farmer

o check this story I'm about to lay down 
I'm talking about your hometown 
they tell you America's got it so good 
but they ain't talking about your neighborhood 
but I know the word and it goes something like thisss...
broken down buildings and back streets for bathrooms 
choking to death on another sweaty afternoon 
scheming and dreaming praying for a way out 
but your town clown is just a hole they forgot about 
day after gray day with no help and no hope 
sick of your poverty but there ain't no antidote 
doping to cope but knowing you won't make it far 
and quittin' ain't with it cuz the boys they got radar 
on the alert to avert your early burial 
the street makes your heartbeat pump out in stereo 
you ask me yo what's the home of this freak show 
it's a day in America welcome to the front row

haven't you heard, haven't you heard, haven't you heard we're living in the third world (x2)

Stick smack shoot yourself to sleep 
try to take yourself out cuz you're in too deep 
feels fine for a while but the fun fades away 
and you come back crashed to a cancerous new day 
dreams down the drain thoughts out of focus 
the rich man's witchcraft does its hocus pocus 
can't concentrate clearly can't hear me 
just need food to feed your poor family 
stomach's screaming no time for dreaming 
family to feed that ain't got no place to live in 
sounds like a story from the heart of hungry Africa 
but no homeboy it's from the broken heart of America


you know you do what you can to put food on the table 
you work on the corner though you know it might be fatal 
senses and defenses sharper than a razor's edge 
eyes like a hawk you walk in the darkness 
poised at every noise always on the ready 
work is now full time no escape no remedy 
night and day you got your blade and gage 
ready to smoke anybody on a rampage 
and hope is just a glimmer growing ever dimmer 
of busting this ghetto noise and coming up a winner 
cuz crime ain't sometimes it's always and forever 
a lifetime choke hold you can never sever 
and yo what's the birthplace of this sad scenario 
it's the land of the free homey you're living in the capital


something comes up that you was just waiting on 
back seat bullets in the belly and a pipe bomb 
sirens screaming but no one's seen a thing 
patrol car looks and keeps on going 
and in pain you wait at your corner 
wait for your boys to come they ain't gonna 
alone you groan your way to the hospital 
but you got no ID and the place is too full 
and so you die with dreams as your memories 
of movie scenes with your own happy family 
living it up drinking from a gold cup 
but that door boy's just about to close shut 
slam boy this story's over 
read your book from cover to cover 
dead and gone just one of many 
that never got a chance in the land of plenty

REFRAIN x 5The Idea. . .

Then the great-hearted king unclasped from his throat
A collar of gold, and gave to his thane;
Gave the young hero his gold-decked helmet,
His ring and his byrny, and wished him well.
'You are the last of the Waegmunding line.
All my kinsmen, earls in their glory,
Fate has sent to their final doom,
And I must follow.'
These words were the last
The old king spoke ere the pyre received him,
The leaping flames of the funeral blaze,
And his breath went forth from his bosom, his soul
Went forth from the flesh, to the joys of the just.

 -Beowulf, lines 2809-2820 trans. by Charles Kennedy

Beowulf was a champion of alliterative verse, using alliteration
to link his lines together. In "Third World" Headmess uses this
same style, using both internal rhyme and alliteration. Look
especially in the second verse for this style.

Confused? Click here to send in your questions.


Lyrics: Henry Biggs
Music: Henry Biggs and Mylene Farmer

Lyrics: Henry Biggs
Music: Henry Biggs and Mylene Farmer

I don't rhyme on time cuz that's just nickel and dime 
elementary simplicity wasn't meant to be for me see 
I'm about rhythmry I dance the street off-beat 
bang out a Coltrain cross-grain chain in off-beat syncopation 
tempo redone on the run son that's my style of rock and soul 
cold bold scratched creole's the goal so just roll reel and feel the beat 
heat you up no stopping my free form yo I scorn the norm just a storm 
born of techno hop hop hip doped lipmanship a stripped down jam damn! 
slam and jump pump those bass and drums Cuz here I come chump This line is mine 
throwing down off-off-time off- rhyme a groove 
now move prove you're smooth keep my step yep get busy 
slingin rhymes so fast you get dizzy hit and rip faster than a whip tip 
now funk my rhythmry

rhythmry can you keep with me rhythmry (x4)

Down tall buildings with a single off sinc can't think 
blink your eyes and surprise I fly right by cuz my game's insane 
inhumane a flame burnin down the house can't douse this out, 
boooyscout uh uh cuz I got too hot, I gallop non-stop this thump and pop 
is a shot of stomp, a boom that fills the room 
an intense cadence counter-accents experience 
an off-stressness, yes let body flex and sex my complex 
break-neck text'll work your twinkies 
so no weak knees please come on and just run go, 
flow to this show yo know I rap rococo 
bring my thing on counterswing, suh its-a-evil arrythmia 
comin on a hip hop hop to ya, uhhuh brothuh it's


One more time-I'm-on my off-rhyme beat crimes 
feeling rhythmly sexy crazy, girls beg me to funk in rhythmry 
meter wacked ecstasy agree it's rapture, damn sure, 
captured girls just purr pleasure that has no measure 
grrrrrrrrr the tiger of-love, off-swing rhythuming I bring 
makes 'em sing fly on wings bells ring ding-a-ling my meter's drunk, 
punk off-drum funky, strictly slick rhythmicity slapped silly beat 
so sweet bass thumps you bump those tight rumps to this noise 
from hell a bombshell dropped pell mell a voodoo spell, no status quo 
but an inferno you don't know can't guess my finesse you jes lost tossed 
like shake and bake at break-neck speed a blast of fast a streak of rhythmry

The Idea. . .

EARNEST, earthless, equal, attuneable, ' vaulty, voluminous, … stupendous
Evening strains to be tíme’s vást, ' womb-of-all, home-of-all, hearse-of-all night.
Her fond yellow hornlight wound to the west, ' her wild hollow 
hoarlight hung to the height
Waste; her earliest stars, earl-stars, ' stárs principal, overbend us,
Fíre-féaturing heaven. For earth ' her being has unbound, 
her dapple is at an end, astray or aswarm, 
all throughther, in throngs; ' self ín self steedèd and páshed—qúite
Disremembering, dísmémbering ' áll now. Heart, you round me right.

-Gerard Manley "Hip" Hopkins, from Spelt from Sibyl's Leaves

Gerard Manley Hopkins is known as the discoverer of sprung rhythm, which 
rejects the classical poetry style of a rhyming couplet and sturctured
stresses. Instead, it imitates the rhythm of natural speech based on stresses
and internal rhyme. Headmess uses internal rhyme and tries to rhyme within
each line for as long as possible, thus the title Rhythmry. Try to find his longest
stretch of rhyme!

Confused? Click here to send in questions.