"Engine" as written by and John Davies Cale....
For I am an engine and I'm holding on
Through endless revisions to state what I mean
For sweetness alone who flew out through the window
And landed back home in a garden of green

You're riding alone in the back of a steamer
And steaming yourself in the warm shower spray
And water rolls on off the round captain's belly
Who's talking to tigers from his cafeteria tray

And sweet babies cry for the cool taste of milking
That milky delight that invited us all
And if there's a taste in this life more inviting
Then wake up your windows and watch as those sweet babies crawl away
Oh oh dee dee dee dee dee dee dee dee

Lyrics submitted by buckley, edited by zuckowichs

"Engine" as written by John Davies Cale

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

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Engine song meanings
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  • +2
    General CommentThe version from the Hype City Soundtrack definately goes, "For I am an engine and I'm holding on, through endless revisions to state what I mean..."

    On a live version he talked about how he wrote this song when he was really depressed to make himself feel better; he even recorded it on his answering machine so he wouldn't forget it. I can see what he means, though, because it always makes me feel better.
    communistdaughteron May 11, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General CommentOnly Jeff Mangum can get away with such lyrics in a childrens song...
    vespaon April 27, 2003   Link
  • 0
    General Commenthahaha-agreed
    Abex22on May 09, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General Commentit seems to say that in both versions i have, actually
    no matter how hard i try, i can't hear 'the world is all bending and breaking from me', although it does sound very mangum-esque
    nichieon May 12, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis is the version he did at the in-store show at Aquarius. You can download it at elephant6.com and it's pretty clear what he's saying. I haven't heard the Hype City recording. Do you know where it is possible to get those cassette albums?
    yossarian23on September 27, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General CommentEngine is the most impressive piece of music I've ever heard as a live recording. It pains me to realize that I was living in NC when the Carrboro recording was made and hadn't yet discovered NMH.

    Odd that it was written to _elevate_ mood; largely due to time and circumstances it's always going to have a sobering, levelling, disabling effect on me, but it's not bitter or aching, just... Awe-inspiring, I guess.

    The first version I found I'm not sure I can identify; it's a live recording in which a happy new year is bade to the audience, followed by a couple of shouts for "Scotty". This is in my opinion still the best performance of the track, the poor mic quality, picking up constant but low chatter from the venue is perfect, it couldn't have been engineered, and Mr Mangum is in absolute top form.
    1keon March 03, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentHe was in Carrboro? Awesome!
    ringwormoneon September 23, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General Commentjust for the record, "scotty" refers to The Gerbils member and NMH collaborator Scott Spillane who plays various brass instruments, most notably the trumpet. I've actually seen a video of that performance, and i assume it was one of his later as it was for New Year's 1999 and that was about the end up Jeff's live perfomances. I love this song, it's simple yet brilliant.
    captainscrummyon May 18, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI find it strange because in the Jeff Mangum Live at Jittery Joes you can hear a baby in the audience crying or yelling or something in this song, maybe it means less to us because we arent children anymore.
    LuckIsAMetaphoron June 12, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General Commentthis really sounds like it should have been on ITAOTS.
    pumkinhedon June 27, 2006   Link

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