It’s a smooth, durable, twill-woven worsted, rayon or cotton cloth material and also the name of coat made from such material, but is a also beautifully sounding, musical word, perfectly suited to lyrics. But who has worn it in songs, where and how? Let’s start with that classic travel and love song from Simon and Garfunkel’s fourth studio album, Bookends from 1968. in which a stranger on the bus colours the imagination because his gabardine coat is has the style of a spy:
Laughing on the bus, playing games with the faces
She said the man in the gabardine suit was a spy
I said, be careful, his bowtie is really a camera
Toss me a cigarette, I think there's one in my raincoat
We smoked the last one an hour ago
So I looked at the scenery
She read her magazine
And the moon rose over an open field.
And then there’s this 1980 belter by the Glaswegians Orange Juice, fronted of course by Edwyn Collins with their first top 40 hit.
Oh curse and bless him with the gabardine which surrounds him
See him writhe at the sight of your eyes which repel him
Whoa whoa whoa whoa
He won't be listening to your sweet words
He won't be listening to your lying tongue
He'll be listening to the words being sung
By the blue boy.
In the Decemberists’ Down By The Water, a gabardine is the showy garb of the local town’s queen.
Sweet descend this rabble round
The pretty little patter of a seaport town
Rolling in the water and rolling down the old main drag
All dolled up in gabardine
The lash-flashing Leda of Pier nineteen
Queen of the water and queen of the old main drag
Looking for something heavier? System of a Down’s Marmalade from their 1998 eponymous album is a fast-firing round of fascinating metaphorical lyrics and “gabardine dreams”:
Foolsome flesh allowances,
The pansies raided the pantry of,
Gabardine dreams, promiscuous,
Delight, deny not the flavour,
Naked spread am I …
To chill out a little, let’s calm down with a little country from Kinky Friedman, and Nashville Casualty and Life, from 1973’s Sold American, in which the gabardine is an altogether less glamorous garment:
In faded gabardine he used to stand
Down by the Union Station with that ol' hat in his hand.
A banjo-pickin' devil, a singin' rag-time saint.
The young folks called him beautiful, the old folks called him quaint.
And let’s close with Thea Gilmore’s The Dirt Is Your Lover Now, from 2002’s Songs From The Gutter, in which gabardine, as a plain material, is a adjective for faded:
Gabardine roses, tortured vines
The sun has been hiding all this time
Thought that I'd see you again somehow
But the dirt is your lover now.
So then, gabardines are draped no doubt beautifully across the lyrics of many other songs. Know of more? Care to share? Then please post below and extend your lyrical wardrobe.
Share your examples, fictional, factual, nonsense or otherwise, or in comments below would be most welcome, or other unusual words or contexts. Does this song make you think of something else? Then feel free to comment below, on the contact page, or on social media: Song Bar Twitter, Song Bar Facebook. Song Bar YouTube. Please subscribe, follow and share.
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