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The Miser's Will III: Watermen's Square

from by Tom Slatter

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Watermen’s square was inspired by the building of the same name near where I used to live in Penge, south London.

What’s it about?

Some watermen on the Thames, dredging up a misshaped iron skeleton, dragging it back to the titular square to examine it, only to have the black-clad executor of the will turn up and claim it. Which scares them a bit, cos they hadn’t told anyone they’d found it.

What’s going on musically?

It’s all arpeggios and getting confused between major and minor. I often find it useful to state something in the minor, then directly contradict that with the major version.

I also like the percussion in this. It’s all weird clanking samples and boxes being hit rather than real drums. And the synth stuff is pretty too.

One of my best songs this, even if I do say so myself.


Stories can change, rumours can spread, facts can grow with the telling
But what we pulled up from the depths of the thames, was as dark and strange as they say.
Ribs made of rust and tendons of steel, mishapen and twisted with age.
The toll of years beneath the waves had all but obscured the human shape

In watermen’s square, we sleep with the lights on
In watermen’s square, we all hide away

Beneath greying skies we smuggled it back, back to the watermen’s square.
Gas lamps alight, we studied and starred, but made head nor tail of our find
Five past midnight, a black form appeared, stood at the gates of the square
He said I believe that what you’ve found doesn’t belong to you, I’ll be taking it now

In watermen’s square, we sleep with the lights on
In watermen’s square, we all hide away

We had told no-one, of the structure we pulled up
We had told no-one, yet the stranger still appeared
He produced papers, but we didn’t read them, we just let him take it.

In watermen’s square, we sleep with the lights on
In watermen’s square, we all hide away


from Ironbark (2016 expanded edition), released May 23, 2016


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Tom Slatter London

A latter-day Victorian street-theatre barker with a guitar promising tales of mystery, imagination, ‘orrible murders and bloody great waving tentacles’ is how Tom Slatter has been described. Since 2010 he has been scaring audiences with five albums and numerous EPs of storytelling songs. ... more

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