"Plainclothes Man" as written by and Steven Paul Smith....
You're everybody's second home
Always trying to get me alone
An easy way to lose it all
Always there when all else fails
Over by the west side rails

But I don't really need that now
I never really did anyhow
I only really needed alcohol
Something that'd treat me okay
And wouldn't say the things you'd say

Please turn out the light
I get a sick confusion headache
Trying to figure out who's right

Dreaming on the silver strand
Waking up to plainclothes man
You little bastard, little boy in blue
Someone's gonna get to you
And fuck up everything you do

He's so unhappy inside
He's serious with everyone
And he thinks he'll win you with his angry kiss
Acting like he has no needs
Wanting you to watch him bleed

Made for each other bet you pay me any mind
Just goes to show my continual decline
They say that I'll recover my love of her once in a while
But I don't know
I don't think so

There's something that I'll tell you now
Now that no one else is around
The sort of lesson that I learned from you
Not quite the way you planned
But I know you'll understand

Someone takes a photograph
A picture while their sweetheart laughs
A perfect moment in a flash of light
Counting back from three till one
That's exactly what you've done

And I'm so
Unsurprised
I remember, I remember why I dream in black and white
Goes to show my continual decline
They say that I'll recover
My love of her
Once in a while
But I don't know
I don't think so
I don't think so


Lyrics submitted by slike, edited by Jate

"Plainclothes Man" as written by Steven Paul Smith

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

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Plainclothes Man song meanings
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20 Comments

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  • +3
    General CommentI think this is about someone who was abusive to him. When he says "They say that I'll recover my love of her once in a while but I don't know, I don't think so" for some reason I think this is about his mom. Like he is angry at her for not protecting him or something.

    I definitely do not get "breakup" vibe from this song
    DeadPowerLineon July 15, 2010   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThat song is awesome... I like playing it on the guitar a lot.. the video fits perfectly to the lyrics
    BlankInfinityon February 08, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General CommentTo me it sounds nothing like "he's so unhappy inside"- I know those are the lyrics on sweetadeline (followed with a question mark) but if you listen it definitely includes the words 'european son' y'know like the velvet underground song? It also rhymes with the next line that way.
    I also hear 'furious' rather than 'serious' which fits with the 'angry kiss' part.
    different versions of the song perhaps?
    I love the three I have.
    handheldon January 09, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General Commentthis is my fave heatmiser song
    giv_emhellkidon June 02, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General CommentFavorite line: "I remember, I remember why I dream in black and white."
    asSTARSfallxon February 23, 2010   Link
  • +1
    General CommentIt's about a breakup with heroin, guys. Isn't that obvious?

    You're everybody's second home
    Always trying to get me alone
    An easy way to lose it all
    Always there when all else fails
    Over by the west side rails
    ---
    Pretty clear.

    But I don't really need that now
    I never really did anyhow
    I only really needed alcohol
    Something that'd treat me okay
    And wouldn't say the things you'd say
    ---
    There are a bunch of songs by Elliott that talk about this theme. One of them is even called "Talking to Mary." Mary isn't a real person. Mary is heroin.

    Please turn out the light
    I get a sick confusion headache
    Trying to figure out who's right
    ---
    Hangover.

    Dreaming on the silver strand
    Waking up to plainclothes man
    You little bastard, little boy in blue
    Someone's gonna get to you
    And fuck up everything you do
    ---
    Little boy in blue is another term for heroin. He mentions it in 'Pretty Mary K' (Mary K is heroin)

    He's so unhappy inside
    He's serious with everyone
    And he thinks he'll win you with his angry kiss
    Acting like he has no needs
    Wanting you to watch him bleed
    ---
    Wanting you to watch him bleed: shooting up.

    Made for each other bet you pay me any mind
    Just goes to show my continual decline
    They say that I'll recover my love of her once in a while
    But I don't know
    I don't think so
    ---
    Everyone says he's going to relapse, but he's angry now and says no (all the more tragic because we know Elliott's will doesn't win)

    There's something that I'll tell you now
    Now that no one else is around
    The sort of lesson that I learned from you
    Not quite the way you planned
    But I know you'll understand
    Someone takes a photograph
    A picture while their sweetheart laughs
    A perfect moment in a flash of light
    Counting back from three till one
    That's exactly what you've done
    ---
    When he takes a hit, there's a very brief moment of perfection. Once it's over it's back to business as usual, and everything else seems subdued:

    And I'm so
    Unsurprised
    I remember, I remember why I dream in black and white
    Goes to show my continual decline
    They say that I'll recover
    My love of her
    Once in a while
    But I don't know
    I don't think so
    I don't think so
    holesinthinairon February 06, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI would venture to guess that its about not heeding advice from a friend, but realizing in the end that that friend may be right.
    Roxxmaon March 08, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI would venture to guess that its about not heeding advice from a friend, but realizing in the end that that friend may be right.
    Roxxmaon March 08, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General Commentto me this sounds like the love for an ex-girlfriend that Elliott now despises. And since or has always had other difficulties to go aliong with her.
    She's always there 'over by the westside rails' but he doesnt really need her and relies more on the alcohol.

    He wishes to be an ordinary persion i.e. the 'plainclothes man' and is envious of such a position. Thats why he calls him 'you little bastard, little boy in blue'.
    and the perfect moment in a flash of light shows how it was great for those brief moments of time, like when you look at a picture and only see how happy everyone is without the true background to what is really happening.

    Plus he has lost the love, hence he says that people think that he'll ' recover my love of her once in a while'. showing again that the picture doesnt portray everything that is really happening and he basically saying that he doesnt think so and that its over.

    my 2 pennies anyway.
    diameyeon April 26, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General Commentwell i named my username after this song, so obviously it's one of my favorites. i can really relate to this song in a lot of ways, at times i feel as if it was written for me specifically.
    plaincl0thesmanon July 25, 2005   Link

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