"Half Jack" as written by and Amanda Palmer....
Half underwater, I'm half my mother's daughter
A fraction's left up to dispute
The whole collection, half of the price they're asking
In the halfway house of ill repute

Half accidental, half painful instrumental
I have a lot to think about
You think they're joking? You have to go provoke him
I guess it's high time you found out

It's half biology and half corrective surgery gone wrong
You'll notice something funny if you hang around here for too
Long ago in some black hole before they had these pills to take it back
I'm half Jill and half Jack

Two halves are equal, a cross between two evils
It's not an enviable lot
But if you listen you'll learn to hear the difference
Between the halves and the half knots

When I let him, when I feel the stitches getting sicker
I try to wash him out but like they say, 'The blood is thicker'
I see my mother in my face but only when I travel
I run as fast as I can run but Jack comes tumbling after

And when I'm brave enough and find a clever way to kick him out
And I'm so high, not even you and all your love could bring me down
On 83rd he never found the magic words to change this fact
I'm half Jill and half Jack

I'm halfway home now, half hoping for a showdown
'Cause I'm not big enough to house this crowd
It might destroy me but I'd sacrifice my body
If it meant I'd get the Jack part out

See Jack, run Jack, run Jack, see Jack
See Jack, run Jack, run Jack, see Jack
See Jack, run Jack, run Jack, see Jack
See Jack, run Jack, run Jack, run Jack, run



Lyrics submitted by okokayok

"Half Jack" as written by Amanda Palmer

Lyrics © Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd.

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Half Jack song meanings
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  • +2
    General CommentYes, great song, very good.
    This is about her father, hense: Jack- Father; Jill-Mother.
    Amatoryon November 17, 2004   Link
  • +2
    General Commenti dont think this has anything to do with hermaphroites..i think it clearly has to do with her father..her father is half of her..and she can't get away from it.."before they had these pills to take it back "...she's tlaking about birth control pills..she was born from her parents..if u look on thier website and read her bio..she syas that her ftaher wasn't at all in her life physically...i agreee with Amatory...also.. "try to wash him out but like she said:the blood is thicker "..is a metaphor that she can't get him out of her becuase he is in her blood..have her dna is from him..she can't just wash it away..and when it refers to 'stiches' those can be the scars left from when he hurt her by leaving her and her mother..and with the whole show down..it's like she just wants to end the misery of his existence with one shot and have it all be over...cuz she can't "house this crowd" she can.t go on by herslf..well thats my 2 cents..or more like 200
    Rhibeckaon January 04, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General Commenthey guys, say.. am I the only person who thinks amanda is a transexual? you know... born male, made woman by hormones and "corrective surgery". her whole body structure, the muscles, the hair, it's all so masculine. and "half jack" is totally about that. she's male from birth but lives as a woman. half biology and half corrective surgery.
    "half accidental (birth), half painful instrumental (surgeon's scalpal)".
    "and when i let him in i feel my stitches getting sicker" - come on!! stitches? it's so talking about a sex change operation.
    and "girl anachronism" also:
    "it's just the way the operation made me","the pills that I ate",
    "behold the world's worst accident".

    I'm not making fun or anything like that. I'm totally serious about that. from the moment I saw amanda and heard the songs, it was absolutly obvious to me. I am from Israel, and this a country which is relatively open with the sexual orientation stuff, and we have a lot of transexual singers. I was really surprised that no one had seen this or thought the same. I'm pretty sure I'm right about that.
    hanan27988on December 12, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General CommentToo much literalism in these commentaries.

    I think 'Half Jack' works at several levels- the archtypal rejection of the father as metaphor for rejection of the elements of your persona that you are ashamed. Personifying and assigning a sexual role to negative aspects of personality- anger, aggression- is a very old and powerful image. It is the image of demon posession- the evil from without becomes within. It is the sins of the father visited on the son.

    Consider, if the mother figure is nurturing and loving than what is the opporite, and if male is the opposite of female....

    The act of rejection and abandonment- behaviors of the 'deadbeat dad' because men can leave, mothers can't, or can they? How would an abondoned child raised by an imperfect mother look on their own misdeeds- their own dark side? From the extreme to the mundane- from betraying a lover to aborting a child, any act that the person finds unseemly, despicable, could be blamed on 'bad blood'. But what a psychosis to create the poisoned, tainted entitiy inside yourself! Who wouldn't want to excise that both literally and figuratively. A full house indeed.

    Excuse the spelling goofs, typing very fast, too lazy to spell check.
    grifferon April 02, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General CommentYou're on to something, Griffer, but I also think it's important to examine the role of the mother as the "bad guy", too. Consider the fact that two of the most common archetypes of female villains are the evil stepmother and the femme fatale. We loathe the evil stepmother for trying to take the place of the mother, but we also despise that we trust her to fill that role and she violates that trust by being cruel and cunning - very unmotherly. The femme fatale, on the other hand, is not a substitute mother (at least not for most of us); she is manipulative and untrustworthy, and her sexuality is an extension of her evil. Her power over people and her willingness to use them causes her to use seduction as a tool in getting what she wants. Thus her ability to love is not an exception to her evilness, but part of it. She is not loving in a motherly, nurturing sense at all. There is definitely a history of sexualizing the faults of men, but it's also a Biblical tradition to consider women deceitful and fear their sexuality. It's worth remembering that there are female roles as well as male roles where sexuality is representative of evil.

    On a completely unrelated note, my opinion is that the concept of this song being about a crisis of identity was rejected too quickly. Obviously I'm not claiming to interpret this as a song about schizophrenia or multiple personality disorder (and no, they're not the same thing), but I do think that this song is, in part, about coming to terms with the fact that you are made up of lots of different parts, many of which are opposite or contradictory. Who your parents were, who they chose to be, how they treated one another and you, what sex you are, what sex you choose to be, how you are expected to act, how you want to act, what you choose to learn from your parents' mistakes: these are only a few of the millions of things that define you. You can choose how you react to things, but you can't totally remove certain elements from the equation. No matter how much you hate or resent your father, you are tied to him by blood. You can never purge him out of yourself completely. It is like being raped, I guess. In a different sense. You have to deal with your human-ness, your biological impulses and your psychological chemistry, the fact that you are literally composed of one half mother and one half father. It sucks to feel like you're not in control of it.

    My dad is bipolar, and I've been diagnosed with clinical depression and general anxiety disorder. My dad is one of my favorite people in the world, and we are actually very good friends. But it's tough to have any kind of relationship with a person who has the sort of issues he's dealing with, much less a parent-child relationship. I don't blame him or resent him for what's wrong with me, but I do get angry that my biology and chemical makeup dictate how I feel and how I behave. I feel like I'm being weak sometimes, letting something control me. Even though medicine helps regulate my brain chemistry, it still feels like sort of a cop-out. I can't even begin to describe how guilty I feel.

    People are ultimately in charge of their own actions. My mom has just one brother. Their dad suffered from severe depression and alcoholism, and physically and verbally abused his wife and children daily. My mom grew up, worked a ton of different jobs, and paid her way through college. She conciously chose not to be like her father and she has made good decisions for herself (excluding, of course, marrying my father, who is bipolar and only stopped drinking when she forced him to). My uncle, on the other hand, blames everything that goes wring in his life on his father. He gets drunk every day. He doesn't try to live well. He has had three marriages and divorces, and his daughter never went to college. I guess seeing that helped me to figure out that even though you can't erase your past, you can choose how you let it affect you. That makes it a little easier to cope with being made up of a million puzzle pieces, good and bad.

    So, yeah. In a way, we are all multiples. We act differently around different friends or in different situations. You can be many people at the same time; you just have to favor one over the others in that moment. With all of these different people struggling to be chosen, it can feel like having a tiny war inside of your body. It's awfully frustrating to not know which version of you is the real you, even more frustrating to know but not be able to fulfill or complete that identity (for whatever reason - location, finances, biology). If you look at it that way, the hermaphrodite interpretation is not completely without merit. The first few posters were definitely too literal with this one, but the song is about trying to figure out your identity and be who you want to be even if your circumstances get in the way. And not physically being the gender you are inside is definitely a situation where your circumstance keeps you from realizing your identity.
    unsungsorrowon April 04, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General CommentAnd, to add to my previous comment, now that I've read most of what my predecessors said, I though Amanda was a transsexual at first, too, because of this and of the multiple meanings of "Sex Changes" (making babies OR literally: sex changes) Seeing pictures of her as a little girl on the site, however, quelched that idea. Which is kind of sad, actually. XD

    Reading the comment from Perfect Scars above that had the actual words of Amanda was really nice because it shows that the song is meant to have that lovely multiple meaning. "...my confusing biology (Half Jack and Half Kathy), my confused sexuality (the curse of being a dominant kinda woman with serious penis envy) and the questions i had around my conception and birth." Now, c'mon, doesn't that just pretty much cover everything we've all said? :D
    Miyamashion January 22, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General Commentisna.org/
    OK, I read through all of your posts and no one even mentioned intersexuality.
    Whether you think it's metaphorical or literal is up to you. I'm not a huge fan like many of you seem to be but the intersex explanation of the song makes the most sense no matter which way you look at it.
    Check out this video:
    youtube.com/…
    ddalavion February 05, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentYeah, I never even thought of hermaphrodites until I read it here. But then again, I thought she was singing "Half JEW, half jack", so it made more sense if it was about her parents. The only thing I found confusing was what 'jack', was a metaphor for. I thought maybe someone who was dead, like drowned as in the "half underwater". Then I checked out the different meanings of 'jack', and it seems like a pretty sneaky name.

    My theory that Amanda was a little jewish-ish was supported by her guest-appearance on the golem! record.
    marureeon February 29, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI always thought this was about her father, but I link it to my father, and therefore to mental illness (my dad's pretty nuts and his mother was schizophrenic).

    To me, she wants to "get the Jack part out" because that's the mentally ill part- she carries his crazy genes. Hence for me the "before they had these pills to take" part refers to mood stabilisers, SSRIs (Zoloft, Celexa, Effexor, Prozac etc), or maybe even anti-psychotics. Before these pills she couldn't control the crazy part of her which came from her father.

    I admit there's not much in there that obviously points to mental illness, it's mostly my personal take on it, but some lines that I think hint at it are
    "half underwater";
    "half painful instrumental"; (both suggest something not right, unclear or unhappy)
    "you'll notice something funny" (about her...i.e. she's mad);
    "I guess it's high time you found out" (about the mental illness that runs in the family).
    wkapon June 12, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General Commenti think many interpretations fits...
    first i'd say this song is somehow about a multiple personality disorder (i'm not big enough to house this crowd). and it also has something to do with some gender issue, like being a hermaphrodite, (it's half biology and half corrective surgery gone wrong) or a transgender...
    But it is also about troubles with her father (i'm half my mother's daughter).

    I think it's great the way she can get different topics stay together in one song, and make it an incredibly good song, Amanda is just genius!!!
    ululaon September 24, 2009   Link

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