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19. Song And Name Origins (Iron Maiden)


This article is from the Iron Maiden FAQ, by Vartan Narinian vsn@pobox.com and Steve Payne Sirpapa@aol.com with numerous contributions by others.

19. Song And Name Origins (Iron Maiden)

* The name IRON MAIDEN was gotten from the movie "The Man In The Iron Mask."
* The nickname "Bruce Bruce" (used during Bruce's days in Samson)
is originally from Monty Python's "no pooftas" sketch.
* The nickname "Air Raid Siren" was actually well-earned in Samson when he
managed to shatter a huge glass globe at Chelsea College with one
particularly well-placed scream).
* "Where Eagles Dare", underlying theme: Whatever is going on wrong in the
world, Clint Eastwood will fix it (quote by Bruce Dickinson, Hannover,
Germany, 4/15/93). Also taken from the movie of the same name, with Clint
Eastwood and Richard Burton. The book is by Alistair MacLean. There's
also a part in here that supposed to sound like a machine gun (an instru-
mental section), but it's not very loud in the mix. This song was done in
only 2 takes. For the Piece Of Mind tour, this used to be the opening
song, putting a good bit of pressure on Nicko, since he was still new to
the band.
* The Charlotte series: "Charlotte The Harlot" (from IRON MAIDEN), "22,
Acacia Avenue" (from NUMBER OF THE BEAST). It is argued by some that "Hooks
In You" (from NO PRAYER FOR THE DYING), and "From Here To Eternity" (FEAR
OF THE DARK) are continuations of the storyline but others disagree.
* "Run To The Hills" tells the tale of the massacre of the native Americans
by the pillaging pale-faces from both points of view. The first part of
the song tells the side of the Indians. The second part tells the side of
the soldiers. This was the band's first BIG hit single, especially in the
* "The Number Of The Beast" was inspired by the movie "Omen II." It's about
a dream/nightmare that Steve Harris supposedly had (not devil worship!).
The scream at the end was originally a sort of attempt to get a great
blood-curdling scream at the end like on THE WHO's "You Won't Get Fooled
* "Children Of The Damned" is a song inpsired by the movie of the same name.
* "Murders In The Rue Morgue" is based on Edgar Allen Poe's detective short
story by the same name. This story is mainly the reason why Edgar Allen Poe
is considered the inventor of the detective genre.
* "Bring Your Daughter...To The Slaughter" is loosely based on the poem "To
Coy His Mistress."
* "The Sheriff Of Huddersfield" (b-side "Wasted Years" single) is a song
about Maiden's manager Rod (Smallwallet) Smallwood. He is notoriously a
cheapskate, skimping tips wherever possible, and pinching pennies
wherever. Just listen to the song!
* "Still Life" is about a guy who's drawn like a magnet to a pool of water,
sees his face in the lake, has nightmares about it, and in the end jumps in
and takes his unfortunate girlfriend with him. I think it is inspired by
Ramsey Campbell's "The Inhabitant of The Lake." (This one's from an old
posting in alt.rock-n-roll.metal).
* "Quest For Fire", inspired by the movie of the same name, is a little less
convincing than some of the other epics, although the vision it conjures up
of dinosaurs and Racquel Welch wobbling about is pretty agreeable.
* "Sun And Steel" is a song about Miyamoto Musashi, a legendary Japanese
Swordsman. The lyrics make many references to Musashi's book "A Book Of
Five Rings." Musashi's first fight was at the age of 13, where he
(untrained) supposedly beat his opponent, a samurai warrior, to death
with a stick. At the age of 16 he had his second fight, and he killed
that guy, too. The line "Through Earth and Water, Fire and Wind, you
came at last, Nothing was the end" is a reference to "A Book Of Five
Rings." Musashi also wrote his book in five sections (books): Earth,
Water, Fire, Wind, and Void. "You make your cut by Fire and Stones, take
you and your blade, break you both in two". The Fire and Stones cut is a
movement that Musashi decribes in the aforementioned book. Also, according
to the book "Kenjutsu: The Japanese Art of Swordsmanship" by Charles
Daniel, Musashi died of natural causes at the age of 61.
* "To Tame A Land" is based on the novel "Dune" by Frank Herbert. The song
was actually originally titled "Dune," and Steve wanted to use a spoken
quotation from the book as the intro. Out of courtesy they applied to
Herbert's agent for permission, and back the word came from Herbert: "No.
Because Frank Herbert doesn't like rock bands, particularly heavy rock
bands, and especially rock bands like IRON MAIDEN." Pretty narrow-minded
attitude if you ask me. Even though the band thought it would be a good
advertisement for the book "Dune" and everything, Frank Herbert still said
no, and that *if* IRON MAIDEN went through with it, then he'd sue them into
next week, etc. Bastard! :)
* "Purgatory" is an old song, and in a slightly different form used to be
called "Floating". Then Maiden changed the lyrics and a couple of bits in
the middle section.
* "Gangland", written by Clive Burr and Adrian Smith, is a bit jazz
influenced, with the drum intro written by Clive (of course).
* "Hallowed Be Thy Name" is about someone with only a few hours left to live.
He is about to be hanged, and this deals with how he faces his future.
* "The Trooper" is based on the Crimean War with the British against the
Russians. The opening is meant to try and recreate the galloping horses in
the charge of the light brigade. Based on Lord Alfred Tennyson's "Charge
Of The Light Brigade."
* "Rime Of The Ancient Mariner", as many people know, is an epic (Maiden's
longest song by far, clocking in at 13:45), based on the poem of the same
name written by Samuel Taylor Coleridge (required reading in many high
school literature classes that I know of!) The song is much easier to
understand than the actual poem, if you ask me! :)
* "Invaders" (from THE NUMBER OF THE BEAST) is actually an extension of the
old standard song "Invasion" (heard on The Soundhouse Tapes, and as a
b-side to the Women In Uniform single). It is about the Viking invasion(s)
of England.
* "King of Twilight" - a cover song (the b-side on the Aces High single)
originally done by NEKTAR, from the album "A Tab In The Ocean." Other
NEKTAR albums are: "Remember The Future", "Down To Earth", "Recycled", and
"Magic Is A Child."
* "Genghis Khan" is an instrumental about what Genghis Khan's advancing army
was like.
* "The Loneliness Of The Long Distance Runner" has taken its title from
the book by the same title by Robert Heinlein. It is based on the Alan
Sillitoe short story. It was also a British movie, 1962. (is this correct?)
* "The Assassin" is based on a killer's motives and how he goes about his
* "Moonchild" is the name of a book by Aleister Crowley, the most prominent
ceremonial magician of this century, with the worst reputation. The lyrics
from Maiden's Moonchild are based to some extent on Liber Samekh, by Crowley.
It is sometimes referred to the "Preliminary Invocation of the Goetia" or
"The Barbarous Names of Evocation." Contrast this excerpt with the Maiden
Thee I invoke, the Bornless One.
Thee, that didst create the Earth and the Heavens.
Thee, that did create the Night and the Day.
Thee, that did create the Darkness and the Light.
Thou art Asar-Un-Nefer (myself made perfect) whom no man has seen at
any time.
Thou art Ia-Besz (the Truth in Matter)
Thou art Ia-Apophrasz (the Truth in Motion)
The Scarlet Whore is a deity in Crowley's pantheon. The Scarlet Whore
is, of course, the Scarlet Woman of Liber AL vel Legis, and the Whore of
Babylon in Revelations. The Beast was of course, supposed to be Crowley.
* "The Evil That Men Do" has taken its title from a Shakespeare quote.
The quote is "The evil that men do lives on after them, But the good is
oft interred with their bones." This is from Mark Antony's soliloquy in
"Julius Caesar."
* "Run Silent Run Deep" is based on the movie.
* "Bring Your Daughter...To The Slaughter" was written during Bruce
Dickinson's solo project for the Nightmare On Elm Street Part V movie.
* "Prowler" is supposedly about a guy streaking and flashing women, while
masturbating at the same time.
* "Alexander The Great" tells the life and times of the famous conqueror
Alexander The Great (duh!).
* "Weekend Warrior" is (possibly) about weekend soccer matches with your
friends, and especially about the 'hooliganism' that goes on.
* "Holy Smoke" is about the bullshit televangelists, and some of their weird
* "The Duellists" is loosely based on the British movie of the same name,
directed by Ridley Scott (his debut film). Also, see the book "The Duel"
by Joseph Conrad.
* "Remember Tomorrow" is, according to a Paul Di'Anno interview with Metal
Hammer, about his grandfather. This track was very special and personal
to him.
* "The Prisoner" is based on the 1960's British TV series of the same name,
starring Patrick McGoohan. This series has become kind of a cult and you
can buy the whole set on video. In the series, a British secret agent
quits the secret service and is gassed as soon as he gets home. He wakes
up in a place called "The Village" where people have their names replaced by
numbers. He is number Six and the numbers get smaller as you go up the
hierarchy. Number One runs the place. See also the FAQ on alt.tv.prisoner.
* "Back In The Village" also has something to do with The Prisoner series.
* "Stranger In A Strange Land" is about an expedition that got lost in the
North Pole. Their bodies were found almost perfectly preserved in the snow.
Adrian met one of the survivors and this inspired Maiden to write the song.
Apparently the man has become a Maiden fan since :-). The title is borrowed
from the famous Robert Heinlein book but the song is not related to the
book in any other way.
* "Childhood's End" is an Arthur C. Clarke Sci-Fi book. The song does not have
anything to do with the book, apart from the fact that they have the same
title, just like "Stranger In A Strange Land."
* "Man On The Edge" appears to be based on the film "Falling Down" starring
Michael Douglas.
* "The Edge Of Darkness" is based on Joseph Conrad's "Heart Of Darkness,"
on which the film "Apocalypse Now" is based.
* "Sign Of The Cross" may be loosely based on the book "The Name Of The Rose"
by Umberto Eco. There is also a film by the same name, starring Sean Connery.
The "Eleven saintly shrouded men" who "came to wash my sins away" is the holy
* "Lord Of The Flies" is based on William Golding's novel by the same name.


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