We All Wear Cloaks
By: Beck Hansen

Written by: Beck Hansen

  1. We All Wear Cloaks
    Available on Song Reader.
We All Wear Cloaks [Version (a)]:

We all wear cloaks
We all wear cloaks
We all wear cloaks
We all wear cloaks

Salamander rolling zig zag
Marching to a humdrum
Between the truth and a cryptogram
Like skeletons struck dumb
In a closet gilt in camouflage
All the secrets of the world
Your conscience running rough shod
The swine are throwing back your pearls

We all wear cloaks
We all wear cloaks
We all wear cloaks
We all wear cloaks

Don't let anybody find out
What a lamb could never tell
Who conceals it with a smile
Like a crack in a liberty bell
Put a dollar in a martyr
Who rode a dead horse home
Through the eye of a needle
That burst the bubble of a holy ghost

We all wear cloaks
We all wear cloaks
We all wear cloaks
We all wear cloaks

We all wear cloaks
We all wear cloaks
We all wear cloaks
We all wear cloaks
The Song:

"We All Wear Cloaks" can be found in Beck's Song Reader sheet music collection. Beck has not performed the song himself in anyway publicly. You can hear versions of the song here.

Quite a few of the songs in Song Reader borrow titles and artwork from older sources. "We All Wear Cloaks" is one of those: the title and art refer back to an older sheet music song by S.M. Grannis. (The lyrics and artwork for the original song are in the Notes section below.) However, Beck wrote entirely new lyrics and melody for his song, and the only real connection is the title/inspiration.

If you read the lyrics for the old original "Cloaks," the song is about how people of all types are generally quite terrible underneath their cloak. Beck is not typically that cynical, though he does write a lot about hidden truths here. Don't get me wrong, any song that starts with a reference to a salamander smoking cigarettes ("rolling zig zag") is more fun than anything particularly pointed.

But like most of Beck's fun wordy tunes, the images have a consistency: "between the truth and a cryptogram," "in a closet gilt with camouflage," secrets, "conceal it with a smile," martyrs, and cracks all hint at covering up reality. Look beneath the image, deeper into what may appear at first perception.

The older version of "We All Wear Cloaks" can be seen here. There's no less than 9 verses, each about how people are evil under their cloaks:

When I came to town lately I found 'tis no joke
Men women and children were all wearing cloaks
So I says to myself, "Do as other folks do
And to be int he fashion, we'll wear a cloak too"

For we all wear cloaks
We all wear cloaks
To be in the fashion
We all wear cloaks

Why not? For I'll prove in the course of life's pother
We, all of us, wear a cloak some time or other
For there's none but must own, however great is their pride
There are somethings, 'tis sometimes convenient to hide
For we all wear cloaks...

The dandy in military still wears his cloak
And thinks a cigar is the tiffy to smoke
With his fine frill and wristbands
He makes a great show, but take off his cloak
'Tis all dickey, you know, for we all wear cloaks...

Young miss with her beautify, her airs and her graces
In the hood of her cloak often carries two faces
Her lover declares she's an angel uncommon
'Til she throws off her cloak when he finds she's a woman
For we all wear cloaks...

The lover, 'til wed, seems to court beauty's sway
And says he but lives, her commands to obey
But once tightly noosed in the conjugal yoke
"Do as I tell you, madam!" for off goes his cloak
For we all wear cloaks...

The lawyer a cloak wears as well as the lover
So many old suits he has always to cover
His cloak once thrown off shows a great deal of evil
For instead of the lawyer, oh there is the (DEVIL)
For we all wear cloaks...

The doctor will boast of his skill and the way
To lengthen out life and cheat death of his prey
He has a grand panacea for every ill
And when he's no Lancet, he'll bleed with a Bill
For we all wear cloaks...

Some clergymen there are of the hypocrite stock
Who care more for the fleece than they do for the flock
You may always know such before you instal
For the larger the salary, the louder the call
For we all wear cloaks...

The singer will sing you a song for your pelf
With his eye on your purse and his thoughts on himself
The ring of the spelter is his key note, I choke
So I pray you excuse me and I'll keep on my cloak
For we all wear cloaks...

Also as you can see if you click here, the artwork Beck used is somewhat similar to the older one, using the same title font.