Letter from Belgium 1

Cover of Letter from Belgium Back of Letter from Belgium

Released: 2004
Label: 4AD

Liner notes

Cheap but delicious red wine provided by a store on the corner a few blocks away. Thank you store on the corner! I ain't gonna lie, when the heat wave high &c 2

Letter from Belgium is a single from We Shall All Be Healed.

Table of contents

  1. Letter from Belgium
  2. Nova Scotia
  3. Attention All Pickpockets

Letter from Belgium

Letter from Belgium is annotated with We Shall All Be Healed.

Nova Scotia 3 4

Coming in off Nova Scotia
Yellow sun in the blue sky
All those cattails 5 in the wind
I got something in my eye

Everything I love I will devour
And bury the bones down in the snow
Put me in a beat-up El Camino 6
Just let me go, just let me go

Attention All Pickpockets 7 8 9

"And, the new song, which has no title as of yet."

In comes you
Not the same person I knew
Looking roughly the same
But something hungry getting restless in your brain

So there I go
Not the same person that you used to know
Peeking through
The fisheye lens at you

And the cornet blows 10
Where the oleander grows 11
And us too
Not the same people that our old friends knew

And so down the street
You head in the high summer heat
White long-sleeve Oxford 12
Pushed up to just before your elbows

Black pumps and a medium-length black skirt
Eating a path through the dark, damp earth
I hope they've got
Plenty of money where you're going

And the cornet blows
Where the oleander grows
And us too
Not the same people that our old friends knew


Thanks as always to the tremendous and kind Caliclimber, whose Flickr page provided the album art.


  1. Belgium is a multilingual country in northwestern Europe.

    "The album is sort of a series of snapshots of tweakers, right, speed freaks, which was a very popular thing when I lived in Portland, and — not the speed freaks themselves, but the speed. And speed freaks, like everybody else, but with a particular vengeance, talk about how they're gonna get the hell out of wherever they're at, right, and go to someplace where, you know, it's sort of like the chemical land of milk and honey. Where they're usually gonna go to Amsterdam, right. And I knew one who went to Amsterdam, and then tried to bring stuff back in his pockets, right, and wound up in a European jail. Ah, how can you blow it that bad? You know, he showed up at the airport high as a kite, and they just took him in. But yeah, so, Belgium is sort of my speed freak cast's, their Kubla Khan, you know, that they have in their mind, that they're all going to go to Belgium, but actually, their own personal Belgium is a sort of hellish place. — KEXP session, May 21, 2004 

  2. A quote from the Ja Rule song Things Gon' Change, which has these lines in its chorus:

    Things gon' change
    I ain't gonna lie, when the heat wave high everybody gonna die

    The song was released on the 2003 album Blood in My Eye. 

  3. Nova Scotia is part of the informal series of outtakes

  4. Nova Scotia is a Canadian province located on the eastern seaboard. Primarily a peninsula, it is almost entirely surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean. 

  5. Cattails are a common name for grasses in the genus Typha, which possess a long stem culminating in a dense, tubular flower spike. They live broadly across North American wetlands. 

  6. The Chevrolet El Camino was a popular and stylish coupé utility from the late 1950s through 1980s. 

  7. Attention All Pickpockets is part of the informal series of outtakes

  8. "This was recorded during an incredibly hot week. I went to Paris for this thing called the Mofo Festival... I sat down; I looked at the sign on the wall that had been stolen from some French alley, you know, that said, 'Attention aux Pickpockets', you know, 'Danger of Pickpockets' is what it meant. But I read it wrong on purpose and made it say, 'Attention All Pickpockets'. And sat down, wrote a quick lyric — the lyric turns out actually to have been a study for the song Dilaudid, the same people."

    As mentioned above, Attention All Pickpockets is about the same person as Dilaudid. Zoop, Farm Sanctuary, New York, June 17, 2007; Are 'Dilaudid' and 'Attention all Pickpockets' related?, William Caxton Fan Club, retrieved June 15, 2014. 

  9. Attention All Pickpockets was only included on the CD; it was omitted from the 7". 

  10. John fairly clearly pronounces this "coronet". However, a coronet is a type of crown; what he presumably meant was cornet, a brass instrument similar to a trumpet but with a different timbre. 

  11. Oleander is a common name for Nerium oleander, a toxic but colorful flowering plant which grows throughout southern Europe and the Mediterranean, as well as east to parts of China. 

  12. An Oxford shirt is a dress shirt made from Oxford fabric, a variety of basketweave cloth.