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Lay for the Day
10th July

1939: the birthday of Mavis Staples, gifted with one of the most moving voices of modern times. Up to the late Sixties, when she began to record secular Soul, she sang only gospel, with the Staple Singers, the family group formed by her father, Roebuck ‘Pops‘ Staples.
The night-club chanteuse in the lyric below is always on the circuit where the world, the flesh and the devil make their rendezvous. But the healing power of music can get in there too.


Angel for Hire

Who’s that singing in a clinging sequinned sheath
That fits the pad on her jellybone
Like her lipstick fits the lips that fit her teeth?
Could it be the girl I know so well,
My very own,
My lovely Singing Belle?

Backstage in bluejeans smoking French cigarettes
And humming to a scuffed-up guitar
That she’s strumming to the rhythm of accumulating debts,
I could never love another girl so well,
My guiding star,
My golden Singing Belle.

She can sing to set your soul on fire.
Heaven let one angel out for hire.
Yes, heaven let one angel out for hire.

Now she’s up there shining like a jewel in a watch
In the diamond glare of the spot
And in the dark there are faces looking up from their scotch
And wishing that they knew her well.
They want a lot
Of my own Singing Belle.

She swings that flashing torch song to an end
And throws out her arms for the applause
Of everyone who’s instantly her friend.
Am I just another soul under her spell?
She said, I’m yours;
My ring’s on Singing Belle

She can sing to set your soul on fire.
Heaven let one angel out for hire.
Yes, heaven let one angel out for hire.

Now she’s taken off her lashes and let down her hair,
Her sequinned dress is hanging on a hook,
And I hug the hips at which I watched them stare.
She’s got a voice to make the sick feel well
But she needs me to look
After Singing Belle.

She can sing to set your soul on fire.
Heaven let one angel out for hire.
Yes, heaven let one angel out for hire.

Words and music by The Children
 

The Lay Reader: an archive of the poetic calendar