The madman climbed the steeple spire
“Go higher, go higher” said the crowd from down below
“But…the world’s on fire” said the madman from the steeple spire
“You’re a liar, you’re a liar” said the crowd from down below…
The Hero and The Madman is one of my absolute favorite Thin Lizzy songs, and I’m a huge fan of the band so this is high praise from your friendly neighborhood Hokeydude. I’m also pretty much entirely enamored with their 1973 album Vagabonds of the Western World (click the link to check out my full album review), but this track could be the best track on the record.
And I say that with a lot of love, because I have zero idea what this song is about. Maybe that’s probably the coolest part about it, because The Hero and The Madman is the band at the abstract storytelling and mythmaking best.
Soak up the imagery of it all: a horseman traveling the desert to rescue his woman, an image of strong, the silent heroic legend straight out of a cowboy movie’s central casting. A helpless damsel locked up in a tower, in need of rescue.
But is this really happening or what? Guest star Kid Jensen provides the prose storytelling, bassist/vocalist/legend Phil Lynott sings the commentary and chorus, and maybe the reality of it is all is a sad tale of a twisted, lonely guy acting upon his rage and his dangerous obsessions for a woman who clearly wants nothing to do with him. A hero in his own mind, a madman to everyone else.
And that wicked Eric Bell outro… great stuff.
If I recall you’re the actor who followed the stars
Searching for the lost city of Mars
Hoping time could heal the scars
Knowing fate held no bars
Those that knew ya always said you’d go far
Are you the one who I think you are?
Are you the hero or are you the madman?