Song Lyric Sunday: Take the National Express

The prompt for Song Lyric Sunday from Jim Adams is
City, Country. County, State, Town.
The song must contain one of these words in either the title or the lyrics.
If the song does not meet these criteria, please explain why you chose it.


Got your tickets ready? We are going on a road trip with National Express by the Divine Comedy. A 1999 top-ten UK hit, based on songwriter Neil Hannon’s observations of life whilst travelling on National Express coaches.

This song doesn’t mention a specific city or town. But it references a company that provides intercity and inter-regional coach trips throughout Great Britain. And contains this fabulous line: “But it’s hard to get by when your arse is the size of a small country.”

The lyrics are humorous and the tune jaunty, but nothing can disguise the dreariness of long-distance coach travel, no matter how comfy the seats or clean the toilets.

The official video of this track is a tad bizarre, to say the least. Its homage to One flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, completely at odds with the tone of the song with its quirky and dark depiction of mental breakdown.

Take the National Express when your life’s in a mess
It’ll make you smile
All human life is here
From the feeble old dear to the screaming child
From the student who knows that to have one of those
Would be suicide
To the family man
Manhandling the pram with paternal pride
And everybody sings, “Ba-ba-ba-da”
We’re going where the air is free

On the National Express, there’s a jolly hostess
Selling crisps and tea
She’ll provide you with drinks and theatrical winks
For a sky-high fee
Mini-skirts were in style when she danced down the aisle
Back in ’63
But it’s hard to get by when your arse is the size
Of a small country
And everybody sings, “Ba-ba-ba-da”
We’re going where the air is free
Tomorrow belongs to me

When you’re sad and feeling blue
With nothing better to do
Don’t just sit there feeling stressed
Take a trip on the National Express
On the National Express, let’s go

Songwriters: Neil Hannon
© Universal Music Publishing Group, Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

How about a throwback to last week’s prompt of compare and contrast? Here is the haunting America by Simon & Garfunkel. A tale of a young couple travelling across America with the killer line: “Kathy, I’m lost, I said, though I knew she was sleeping, I’m empty and aching, and I don’t know why.”

© Paul Simon Music

There we go: one song is a piss-take and the other drips with pathos, but they complement each other in their own sweet way, and I love them both.

5 thoughts on “Song Lyric Sunday: Take the National Express

  1. My life is busy. However, when I stop here it seems as though there is something that gives me a little something to relax a muse about. I don’t know where you find the time. Wait! I get it, you find the time to share.

    Liked by 1 person

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