Interpretation of Geoff Mann’s “Casino” lyrics

On the (now defunct) iQ mailing list “it all posts here” somebody asked a question about the meaning of the Casino concept album. I chewed over it for two days and after a bit of polishing ended up with the following.

“Casino” is a progressive rock concept album, made by the (in those circles) well-known Clive Nolan and the former twelfth-night frontman Geoff Mann. Clive did the musical part, Geoff the lyrics. The fun thing is, Geoff was a vicar. And a portion of his lyrics had a christian undertone (or even overtone). But, progressive rock being what it is, lyrics tend to be vague. Likewise Geoff’s. So no wonder someone asked for the meaning of the “casino” lyrics:

> Subject: Meaning of Casino
>
> Hi guys,
>
> Is there anybody on this mailing list who can explain the story
> behind Casino's concept album to me. I understand certain parts
> about it but cannot seem to graps the whole story line.
>
> Any help would be very appreciated.
>
> Bye,
> The Big Kahuna

Me being a christian, I could make a great deal of sense out of it. The two-day fretting period was because (a) I wanted to explain the lyrics well and (b) I didn’t want to resort to a sermon everybody would skip after sentence nuber three :-)

Here’s my reply:

Hello Big Kahuna,

I’ll try to explain the meaning of Casino in a “few” sentences. As most people will doubtlessly know, Geoff Mann (lyrics) was a vicar, so a christian meaning won’t surprise you. I have tried to minimize the “sermon-part” of the explanation as much as possible, so it should be bearable for everyone :-)

Prey

Description of the casino in which Lucky James gambles, a model of the ordinary man walking the rat race of life, which isn’t allways a pleasant way.

Overheard in passing #1

Lucky James tries to tell somebody of his troubles, but he gets allmost no reaction.

Crap game

In despair he just runs the ratrace and tries to win. And he tries hard not to cry says it all. This is not a real solution.

Drunk

Drunk, sick of it all, Lucky James walks trough the casino and can’t find any remedy. Suddenly he sees a light, a glimmer of REAL life. outside the artificiality of the closed casino there is life, meeting of needs, freedom, openness... But he is dragged back into the casino by “friends”.

Overheard in passing #2

Some people do fare quite well in the casino, preying on other people. Just think of drugs dealers, TV campaigns for smoking [ sure making myself popular on this mailinglist! :-) ]

Play on!

You intend to be nice to people? You intend to be less selfish? Heh, you can’t! You must run the rat race, you must WIN!

Crying onto baize

Well, Lucky James played on and completely collapsed and finally realised his (and the others’) true misery. He saw all the others like him, in their lack. Then He cried to a hope beyond earning: please help us and comfort this yearning, please help us all to escape. Looks like “God, if you’re there, HELP!!” Lucky James tries to escape, but is unable to do it on his own power.

Stranger

Stranger is the personification of Jesus. He comes to the casino to help Lucky James and the others. He gives a good example of how live can be lived in a GOOD way. He comes without gambling trash, so he is beyond the power of the casino. He talks about daylight, about life beyond winning. Just like Jesus he doesn’t disregard the cheats and the whores but talks to them and offers EVERYONE real, joyfull life. The management of the casino doesn’t like it and beats him to death, again similar to Jesus who was killed (on a cross). (Check the Roman administration if you like, it is undoubtedly true).

A matter of policy

The management (read: the devil, God’s advesary and his (human) companions) thinks it has gained the final victory and want everything to return to normal status.

Beyond that door

Lucky James is devastated by the loss. He moves outside to the scene of the crime. Stranger has been killed by smashing his head through a window. Geoff means to say that, like Jesus’ death smashed open the door to real life for us, the Stranger’s head has been smashed through the window and thereby opening it (see “DRUNK”) as a gateway out of the casino.

Again just as in the gospel, the Stranger’s back alive! In the last part, centering around I have opened the doorway, but not just for you, Geoff reminds the christian listeners of the album of their obligation to help others out of the casino.

Overheard in passing #3

People inside the casino (in this case even one of the bouncers) begin to walk away, out of the casino and nothing can stop them. The overall idea is that the casino will eventually crumble to complete and utter dust, so this bouncer made the right choice.

This should make the album much clearer. If anybody wants a fuller explanation, just email me!

(End of quote from mailinglist)

Nice to visit: the Geoff Mann webpages

 
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My name is Reinout van Rees and I work a lot with Python (programming language) and Django (website framework). I live in The Netherlands and I'm happily married to Annie van Rees-Kooiman.

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