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A Man in a Purple Dress (Pete Townshend) Eel Pie Publishing Ltd. / BMG Music Publishing, Ltd.

Pete: "After watching Mel Gibson's harrowing 2004 film  'The Passion of the Christ,' I immediately wrote three songs. This was one of  them. It is not so much a rail against the principles of justice through the  ages, but a challenge to the vanity of the men who need to put on some kind of  ridiculous outfit in order to pass sentence on one of their peers. It is the  idea that men need dress up in order to represent God that appalls me. If I  wanted to be as insane as to attempt to represent God, I'd just go ahead and do  it. I wouldn't dress up like a drag-queen."

Pete premiered this song on the Mar. 22, 2006 webcast In The Attic. It has strong ties in style and vitriol to the songs on The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan (1963), an album that greatly influenced Pete as a young songwriter (as it did most every other English-language songwriter for that matter). In concert this song was illustrated on the monitors by Francis Bacon's painting Head VI (1946).

How dare you wear a robe to preside
How dare you cover your head to hide
Your face from God
How dare you smile from behind your beard
To hide the fact your heart's afeared,
And wave your rod
How dare you be the one to assess
Me, in this God-forsaken mess
You, a man, in a purple dress
A man in a purple dress

You are all the same
Gilded and absurd
Regal, fast to blame
Rulers by lost word
Men above men, or prats
With your high hats
You priest, you mullah so high
You pope, you wise rabbi
You're invisible to me
Like vapour from the sea

How dare you? Do you think I'll quietly go?
You are much braver than you know
For I can't die
Your staff, your stick, your special cap
They'll protect in Hell? What crap!
Believe the lie
How dare you be the one to assess
Me, in this God-forsaken mess
You, a man, in a purple dress
A man in a purple dress

When you place your frown 
Between my God and prayer
However grand your crown
Or dignified your hair
Men above men, or prats
In your high hats
You priest, you mullah so high
You pope, you wise rabbi
You are invisible to me
Like vapour from the sea

I lovingly mock you noble lords
We all dress up to grant awards
I do that as well
I dare condemn your fashion sense
At least you're not astride a fence
That would not sell
But I will deliver this address
Your soul's condition don't impress
You, a man, in a purple dress

 

This song appears on:

Source Length notes
Endless Wire 4:15
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