Evangeline - 1993

Evangeline Evangeline
Mud And Dark

The CD single Evangeline was released just a few weeks before the album Four-Calendar Café. It features the title track (appearing on the album as well) and two other very good songs, which appear on this CD only. This release was the first to indicate the radical transformations in their style: the music sounds totally different from virtually anything else they had done before. It was also the first time Cocteau Twins' fans were presented with lyrics that could be readily understood.

The contents of Evangeline were later also included in their EP's and singles compilation Lullabies To Violaine.


On Evangeline we find Liz' at her melancholic best. Along with some beautiful instrumentation this makes for a very creative effort. The band apparently felt likewise since this track was released as a CD-single as well, although surely most of this song's subtleties are lost on the general public.

The song starts out with one of Liz' many wordplays - the second phrase quite clearly goes Know who you are at every age, the title of the first album track. We hear Liz sing to a very slow rhythm, though we hear many different instruments. The psychological nature of the song becomes apparent almost immediately, especially in the chorus :

There is no going back
I can't stop feeling now
I am not the same
I'm growing up again
With a beautifully tuned guitar at the heart of the melody the song appears to flow towards its conclusion without any further interruption. But just when the song is all but over it suddenly moves into a different gear. We hear a different key, the music becomes more intense, and Liz presents us with some of her most creative lines yet. How about
I had to fantasize
Just to survive
I was a famous artist
Everybody took me seriously
The text is painfully ironic, and once again tells us about the tribulations going on in Liz's mind in those days. The incredible aspect of it all is that she managed to put such troublesome lyrics onto such beautiful music.

Mud and Dark

Mud And Dark is lyrically probably the most interesting song the Cocteau Twins ever recorded. For it was only once the band created a song which really tells a comprehensive story. And it's not a trivial one either. It's the mythological tale of Echo and Narcissus. Mythological themes are frequently used in arts such as painting and classical music, but are almost nonexistent in rock music. Genesis famously putting the history of The Fountain of Salmacis to music is another rare example.

In Greek mythology Echo was a nymph who wasted the goddess Hera's time with idle talk while Zeus spent time with the other nymphs. Hera then punished her by allowing her voice only to repeat words by another. Echo later fell in love with Narcissus, but he refused her love. Echo then pined away in a cave, and only her voice remained. Narcissus was subsequently punished as well for refusing Echo's love. Nemesis made him fall hopelessly in love with his own reflection.

With some effort the main elements of the story can clearly be heard: The first lines of the song are

Echo fell in love with the handsome Narcissus
Narcissus strongly to her liking
But was oblivious to her affection

Later we hear

Narcissus leaned over a clear pool
For a drink, and fell hopelessly
In love with his reflected image

We also hear how Liz illustrates Echo's affliction when she mimics how Echo tries to answer Narcissus but can only repeat his words:

- "Is anyone here?"
- "Here, here..."
- "Come"
- "Come..."
And the most memorable part is definitely the catchy chorus:
All that remains of Echo is a voice in caves
All that remains of Echo is a voice in caves
Still repeating only what others have said
Still repeating only what others have said

With all the emphasis on the lyrics one could easily forget that Mud And Dark is actually a song, in which the lyrics are beautifully put to music. And although this CD-single appeared just months before their Four-Calendar Café album this track's style is definitely different from most songs on that album. The marvellous ways the guitars are played for instance are not unlike those used in Road, River And Rail, but it's also the compactness of the song and the vocals that remind us very much of their Heaven Or Las Vegas period.

Mud And Dark can thus be positioned more or less halfway between the two albums, and was probably recorded before most other songs from Four-Calendar Café. Whatever its exact origin the track is a fabulous effort, with arguably the most intriguing lyrics the band ever wrote. And the most amazing thing of it all is that they decided to release one of their most remarkable creations only on a CD-single. And since the Evangeline CD-single is extremely difficult to obtain these days this unfortunately deprives many fans of this wonderful composition.


This is the first track ever released by the Cocteaus where the lyrics are really there for everybody to be understood. No nonsense words, no barely recognizable syllables, no unintelligible phrases, just plain language.

The song is obviously about Liz' personal experiences. Phrases like

I don't have to be perfect
I'm accepting myself as I really am
Thank you for showing me respect
The foundation of my self-respect
Thank you for your encouragement
For my efforts and my improvement
clearly tell us about her experiences in gaining self-confidence. In a way it is quite amazing that someone lacking confidence would tell this to all the world. Is it all for real? Does this mean she now has truly found her self-confidence? Or is singing about it simply an essential part of the process?

Who Liz might be singing to is not entirely clear either, but a fair guess would be it is her (then) recently born daughter Lucy Belle. In fact many songs on the concurrent Four-Calendar Café album are obvious dialogues with her as well.

Apart from the lyrics department there is plenty to marvel about in the music. Liz' vocals are as magnificent as ever - in particular the interlude halfway is breathtakingly beautiful. There is also a wonderful guitar line, which one might easily overlook on listening to the lyrics too intently.

In Summer-Blink we find a great melody, strong lyrics, and on top of that the band show us once more how well they could integrate instruments and vocals. It makes one truly wonder why this track was released as an additional song on the CD-single only, rather then being included on the album proper.