a short site about The Divine Comedy

French version

Bad Ambassador

Lyrics & Music: Neil Hannon

Published by: BMG Music Publishing Ltd.

Originally interpreted by: The Divine Comedy

Covered by: The Duckworth-Lewis Method / Bastien Lucas / Claire Keim


To see the lyrics, click on the name of the version you are interested in (on the left).




It is often played live since 2000, when it was first played during the test concerts for the Regeneration songs. For those who are not convinced that The Divine Comedy can rock, give a listen to live performances of the song.
Regeneration is a more complex album than it seems and this song is probably one of the best examples of it.

It takes its title from a remark their manager once made about one of the crew members, saying that he was “a bad ambassador for Ireland”. [1]

The song is about being in a band that works, like the Beatles. It seems to be about Neil Hannon’s ambitions with his new Divine Comedy. He makes a list of all the things he would like to do, all relating to being famous. He also complains about people who expect him to do things he can’t achieve. Hence the reference to the Pope, which comes from an article [2] where Neil Hannon was called the Pope of Pop. Neil is not a genius; he just wants to be rich and famous.
But knowing Neil Hannon, things would be too easy if the song was that simple. We can indeed wonder what the “elusive place” is. In the chorus, Neil actually says that he’s not the romantic, learned person we thought he was with Promenade. We mistook him and now he wants to show us who he really is. But at the same time, it seems that with Regeneration he won’t be able to show us all he wants to show us. The album will only reveal one side of his personality. Indeed, Neil is going to show us all this “some other time”.

There is a video of the song, directed by Mike Mills. Shot during the band’s extensive tour at the time, it does not feature the band in it but professional actors (NME revealed [3] it cost about £150,000). The actress is actually scandinavian model Elisabeth Sjoli, but we do not know who is the other actor. Neil Hannon said [4] Robert De Niro was playing it, but he was probably just kidding. The video deals with the idea to show some desires to someone else, but being stuck by the reality (“But maybe some other time”). There are two versions of the video as it originally featured a scene where the two portagonists victoriously shoot with riffles, which have been censored in a second edit. Hence all the distributed versions at the time were qualified as ‘no guns’ or ‘without guns’. The original version finally surfaced on the band’s youtube channel in May 2016.

[1] New Comer, 2001
[2] Reference needed
[3] NME, 31/10/2001
[4] Les Inrockuptibles / Canalchat, 20/04/2001