Al Stewart - Shah Of Shahs Lyrics

After these processions comes the sweeping up
The rag and bone possessions, an old tin cup
The army trucks have hauled away the newly slain
The angry crowd retreats, but They'll be back again

And the prisoner in the palace does not understand
The ingratitude around him after all he's done and planned
But if this the way that it must be then he'll be damned
If he will let them take away his perfect dream

Ministers stuff bank notes into leather bags
Their wives have packed the jewelry and the luggage tanks
The word is on the street now, growing day by day
And even the informers know the stay away

And the prisoner in the palace is appalled by this charade
Feeling strangely unprotected by his miles of golden braid
And if this is the way that it must be then I'm afraid
He will not let them take away his perfect dream

And these mountains of equipment brought from foreign lands
Are now stacked up in the desert being buried by the sand
These rows of helicopters rusting where they stand
Are butterflies to take away the perfect dream

He cried inside the limousine and at the airport too
Where the soldier knelt before him and kissed his shoe
He flew across the desert and the open sea
While they tore down all his statues and his legacy

And the victor greets the newsmen with a strange and stoic style
They take a hundred thousand pictures and in none of them a smile
But this is just the way that it must be now for a while
he's only come to bring another perfect dream

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Al Stewart Shah Of Shahs Comments
  1. devoncop

    Another superb song and orchestration by Al. The Arabian feel to the music mixing in with the military style kettle drums as the song (and coup) processes is very clever.

    Melancholic but beautiful.

  2. Jack



    I always kinda liked Doonesbury's take: "The Shanana."
    His wife, the Shahbanu Soraya, was a serious babe in her younger days, and looked pretty good well beyond her prime, too.

  3. rac717

    One of Al's greatest songs, as close to perfect as could be written. You feel as if you are there for all the heartbreak.


    This is about the Shah of Iran, yes? Nixon's old pal? A brutal dictator so we were told. Reminds me of "Laughing into 1939" and the film The Last Emperor.


    Lord knows I am not an admirer of Nixon. But on this issue he was proved right. Ayatollah Khomeini anf his psychotic mullahs have led Iran into 35 years of darkness and depression.


    One "perfect dream" after another.


    He was right about so much more. Who could ever have imagined we'd one day look back on that Dick, Nixon, and sigh with nostalgic appreciation for a President who, however deeply flawed, at least was intelligent and farsighted, cared about his country, and could be rational when he so chose. Rest in Peace, Trickster. Truly, you never know what you've got til it's gone.