Shakespeares Final Hour

Shakespeares Final Hour

billwhite51's picture
Artist Favorite



Liner Notes: 

I got hooked on Shakespeare when I was fourteen years old, after seeing Richard Burton play Hamlet. That play has been a lifelong obsession, Ive seen countless productions, and directed my own adaptation in 1991 at Suffolk University in Boston. Some were good, some were not, but the play survived most of its mishandlings, at least until the 21st Century, when both the Royal Shakespeare Company and Englands National Theatre started incorporating the worst tendencies of North American stagecraft. For the last several years I have watched Shakespeare go down the toilet until now, after enduring the ultimate insult of the Benedict Cumberbatch Hamlet, I must admit we are in danger of yielding Shakespeares stage to the plebians of modern theatre. I was going to write an essay on Shakespeares final hour, but what would be the use? The only people who would read it would want to start a fight about it. So I wrote a song instead, believing that people who listen to popular music are smarter than those who believe there is still life in the remnants of genius that are being cut to ribbons and sold in the market like the robe of Jesus Christ.

The greatest literary scholar of our time, Professor Harold Bloom of Yale University, has fought for the last 50 years to maintain the sanctity of Shakespeare, Dante, and the rest of the classical canon of Western Literature in the ever downspiraling curriculum of North American Universities. I had the plleasure once of seeing him walk off the stage of Cambridges ART during a debate with Carol Gilligan over Hedda Gabler. He could not abide an audience that preferred her warped point of view over his classically trained mind. So for all the work he, and his protege Camile Paglia, have done to defend the geniuses of antiquity against the mediocre minds of 20st Century and 21st Centry Academia, I have prefaced and epilogued this song which will conclude this group of songs written for my new album Lovestreams, with a few words from Professor Bloom.


ve seen 10,000 actors play him
but a million could not contain him
The Universal graces him
Even his author chases him

Ophelia, hurry
Bring the flowers
This is Shakespeares final hour

Into the birth of consioucness we delve
Through him we came to know ourselves
Prince Hamlet now lies on the floor
Horatio comes in through the door

They speak of ghosts
And soldiers bold
While listening to Nat King Cole

Friends and Romans lend me your ears
What has become of old King Lear?
This father, stricken deep with woe,
Has now become a CEO

Alas. our children
Shall never see
A pure, untrammeled tragedy

The light, the light, turn on the light
Tis not the king who walks tonight
Tonights the night the theatre dies
Tonight the ghost of Shakespeare cries

500 years
He reigns supreme
Twas but a dream within a dream

Pretenders desecrate the space
Wash off their sily make up, put masks over their face
Thes are not the children of the gods
They shit on genius and piss on the bard

Bubble bubble
Toil and trouble
The witches watch the theatres crumble

Ophelia hurry
Bring the flowers
This is Shakespeares final hour

Please keep your comments respectful, honest, and constructive. Please focus on the song and not the demo.


cindyrella's picture

Good idea to write a song about it. With people's attention span, it's probably necessary. Those that don't get to know the real Shakespere have no idea what they're missing. Anyhow, good one!

headfirstonly's picture

I can imagine Mark Knopfler singing these lines. As songwriters, maybe as we get older it's our job - duty, even - to lament the passing of what we hold dear. However, I have a sneaking suspicion that Will will outlast the current generation of critics. "Ophelia, hurry / Bring the flowers / This is Shakespeares final hour" is glorious.

But whoever recorded the good Professor in the introduction needs to up their game. No pop filter and *hideous* mouth noise. Epilogue is much better.

brandondale_72's picture

Tremendously written and delivered. Has left me sad and longing, and feeling as though I need to read.

Stupidity wins every time, the “worlds” fate in plan execution “they shit on genius... “ - even here fawm5090 the weak minded shall prevail Wink

How it has to be. We just form the container of contrast like a black stage for white face.

jcollins's picture

Looking at the liner, I simply don't have the education to understand even who Shakespeare was. However, I have people around like you who do know and it's my pleasure getting to know you and about you this year Bill.

Looking at the lyrics...the first part tells a lot 10 thousand actors but a million could not contain him. That's pretty strong. The next part Shakesperes final hour looks like a key point in this song. wow, the speak of ghost and the Nat King Cole line is something I don't know about but certainly another key point in this song. The next part from roman to CEO is quite visual and keep in mind that I don't know A pure, untrammeled tragedy is another key point made in this song. The next section, Tonight the ghost of Shakespeare cries...I get that part because I read the liner notes. The next part, 500 years...yes, I believe it. The next section exposes their ignorance. (side note...I just got a call on the phone and wouldn't let me get off for over an old friend) let me look where I was. Ok, I think it is the bubble bubble section which kind of suggest that Shakespeare had been watered down to practically a joke. The last part names Ophelia which I looked up a character in Hamlet also used to name one of the moons of Uranus...which is interesting to me anyways. This is quite a write, Bill. Clearly, I'm ignorant about Shakespeare but I think I may have just learned something studying your lyrics. I'm ready for the audio now...hold. Spoken word...if you don't read....I have wasted a good part of the last 50 was for no purpose but we lost the war...guitar and vocals now...sounds good...can clearly understand the lyrics...this is Shakespeares finest hours...nice guitar playing...Hamlet...lied on the floor...ghost and...nat king cole...I can't type fast enough...lend me your ears...tell me what's become of old king lear...this is really easy to listen to and I imagine some sort of folk music...not sure as I'm awful at identifying genre...tonights the night that theater died...tonight the ghost of Shakespeare cries...500 years....was it just a dream within a dream...wash off the silly makeup....put the mask on their faces....shit on genius and kiss on...buble buble....the witches watch the theater crumble....quite unique music Bill...can clearly understand the lyrics....this is Shakespeare's final hour....spoken word...there are no illusions....on the way to that end you have absolute....nothing else matters....until now I cannot conceive without....couldn't get it in...I can't type fast enough. Bill, this is absolutely classic you continue to surprise me every time with gems like this. I wish I had a little more education but I missed that part while I was doing drugs. Great song.

katpiercemusic's picture

I had to listen to the Shakespeare song! I've written songs on Hamlet (on my new album...I have no pride), Romeo and Juliet, and Much Ado (also on the new album). I've been working on Lear for the last few years and struggling a great deal. Much Ado and Hamlet are two of my absolute favorites. I think maybe I'm not as much of a purist as you... I've watched community theater Titus Andronicus. I'm not sure I share your sentiment in this song, but I do love the way you weave lines and paraphrase throughout the song. I love the feeling in it. There's a little more Leonard Cohen again. You really are a bit of a poet yourself, aren't you?

coolparadiso's picture

There is something special about this! I think its heartfelt. Interesting opening, to hear the noble defeated not thinking it was worth the fight. Im afraid dumbing down, short attention span and lack of tradition are the modern way! Thats just how it is!

Wolf Kier's picture

Troubadour regales bard while swiping drive-by culture. Very impressive! "Witches watch" was worth the price of admission on its own. Well done. Thanks for visiting my first.

sph's picture

This is an interesting read - looking forward to listen to it later. It already has a fine rhythm