"No Joy in Mudville" as written by Nicholas Harmer, Christopher Walla and Benjamin Gibbard....
Last night I dreamt that I was you
I was dressed all in black with dark glasses and attitude
Such a pose I could simply not hold
Through days in a northern town that I had once called a home
And your studies of fringe New York Streets
I was reading the pavement in every word you would speak
To a brownstone up three flights of stairs and it's on

Buying drinks for the poets upstate
The southern corruption tows you down the interstate
And they all said that you were the king
Of a gloomy disruption that surfaced when you would sing
And this town simply cannot begin to compete
So I'm packing my Bullets and Silvertones and heading east
To a brownstone up three flights of stairs and it's on, on, on, on, it's

I could have had my way, this year would bridge '66 again

Trust fund hipsters were casing the room
Chock-full of amphetamines
The overturned kick drum boom
Set the pace with incomparable cool
And if the tempo was lousy it was lost on all but you
And your studies of fringe New York Streets
I was reading the pavement in every word you would speak
To a brownstone up three flights of stairs and it's on, on, on, on, it's

If I could have had my way, this year would bridge '66 again

If I could have had my way, this year would bridge '66 again


Lyrics submitted by kozmik, edited by Tomlune44

"No Joy in Mudville" as written by Christopher Walla Benjamin Gibbard

Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

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No Joy in Mudville song meanings
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  • +4
    My InterpretationI never understand why people make prefatory statements like “clearly this means,” when they refer to a song’s meaning. Forums like this contribute to the ongoing discussion of what a song means to the individual listener, and what it may have meant to the author.

    The song has ties to Lou Reed’s musical career, and most certainly deals with Ben’s contemplating that career (not to mention Lou’s life) if we base our analysis on explicit allusion. But the track also falls on an album that deals with love and loss in some form, as cliché as it may sound. No Joy in Mudville seems to be a final ode, at least to the person with whom Ben is struggling to reconcile, that things are not (and will not be) the same without her/him. With or without the influence of The Velvet Underground, this song is a perfect homage to the emptiness that follows a friend’s, or a lover’s, moving away.

    Personally, this song speaks to me as the voice of my best friend, whom I’ll call “T”. When I moved to New York, I left behind the small town where I spent my late teens and early twenties–and developed some of the best friends I’ll ever have. T told me once that my anthem was Mudville because, coming from a military family, I must have left a lot of people feeling the sting of loss (like him). And one night when I was visiting home he explained over a few drinks. He said it was like a piece of him is missing, and it went with me to New York. He said he could see himself singing in that song. Then, living in a hipster neighborhood in Brooklyn, I started identifying with parts of that song as well–and was comforted by the notion that someday T would find his way up at least two flights of stairs, in my brownstone apartment.

    This is not a “clearly” point of view, clearly. I just want to suggest that song meanings are mutable things, and that although original intent is interesting contemplate–the critic who uses original intent doesn’t have a monopoly on interpretation.
    baultmanon January 21, 2010   Link
  • +2
    General Commenti think this song might be about lou reed; about being inspired by him to move to new york and relive the era in which lou reed and his contemporaries lived. the lyrics hint towards lou reed more than anyone else, calling him the "king of a gloomy disposition." the line, "brownstone up three flights of stairs" is from the velvet underground song, "i'm waiting for the man." there is a measurable sadness in the song, both in the music and vocals. perhaps ben was disappointed in how it had turned out? i, often, long for the days of the beat-era and can relate to this song.
    oh no, disaster!on May 15, 2004   Link
  • +1
    General Commentthis is an incredible song. I don't know what to classify it as, either a love song or a sad song for sure. Or maybe admiration? what are they trying to say??
    it's so beautiful...anybody got a clue on what it means?
    kozmikon April 11, 2004   Link
  • +1
    General Comment"Casey at the Bat" is a poem about an unbelievable baseball player in the last out of the ninth inning who strikes out. "There is no joy in mudville today, cause Mighty Casey has struck out." It's about failure even when you have everything going for you.
    farfronormon June 10, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General Commenti know who you are.

    and i have never heard this song.
    msanabearon April 12, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General Commentyou should listen to it. And I know who you are too.
    kozmikon April 13, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General Commentalso, i forgot to mention that the title is from the story, "casey at the bat" by ernest l. thayer. its about baseball or something, i forget.
    oh no, disaster!on May 15, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General Comment"through days in a northern town" is in reference to his hometown of Bellingham, WA
    located...where else? Northern Washinton
    I think this song is paying tribute to Bellingham and how New York and trendy city can't compare as far as he's concerned
    dancehallhipson June 24, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General Commentthis is one of my favorite death cab songs. since finding out that "to a brownstone, up three flights of stairs" is a velvet underground lyric, i'm pretty certain that this is just a love song to lou reed.

    but, that kind of ruined it for me. i was never really sure what this song was about. i thought that in the first stanza ben was singing about a girl that he is sort of amazed by. he doesn't know much about her but he's interested in her. and she lives in new york or recently moved to new york or something like that. still a great song though.
    myopinionisafacton December 10, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General Commentheh...i know that poem. they made it into a cartoon. that's pretty cool...

    anyway, i love this song. i'm not sure why. i love how it starts "last night i dreamt..that i was you" i also love the lyric "to a brownstone up three flights of stairs, and it's on"

    but i don't know what this is about... it seems to be kind of country boy/city girl love story sort of thing...only no happy ending... maybe she's real famous and he can look beyond that... i don't know... oh well
    Desaparecidaon December 11, 2004   Link

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