"It Could Have Been a Brilliant Career" as written by and Martin/murdoch/colburn/cooke/geddes/jackson/campbe....
He had a stroke at the age of 24
It could have been a brilliant career
Painting lines in a school that was too well known
Painting lines with a friend that had gone before

She challenged everyone to a fight
But the prefects all backed down
And they ran her out of town
Cause she drank and swore and spoke

Out of turn, she was the village joke
She had a stroke at the age of 24
It could have been a brilliant career
Getting clients to finance her strategies

Filling time in on Safeways on Saturday
She wears the clothes of an emperor
But her paintings are a sham
And they're going for a grand

When the dealers come to view
Do they ever see the real you?
He had a stroke at the age of 24
It could have been a brilliant career

Selling lies to the boys with the old Dansettes
Pulling the wool, playing the fool, it's no wonder that
He is dribbling spit tonight
And the one he sent away

Was the only one who stayed
With a spoon and a decent book
And you can tell by the way she looks he is sorry and resigned
As he wets himself for the final time


Lyrics submitted by ReActor

"It Could Have Been a Brilliant Career" as written by Isobel Campbell Christopher Geddes

Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

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It Could Have Been a Brilliant Career song meanings
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14 Comments

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  • 0
    General CommentThis song is my namesake! Love it. For me, Stevie's backup vocals on the chorus just take the song to higher level of pop perfection. An excellent, although kind of quiet, start to an album.

    P.S. -- I've wondered this for some time: What are 'Dansettes'?
    brilliantcareeron October 23, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General CommentDansettes are record players.
    TXMOILon March 29, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI wonder if there is a connection to the character in "Lazy Line Painter Jane?" Maybe the second verse of this song is some kind of sequel...
    skiguskion February 12, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General Comment"her paintings are a sham / and they're goin for a grand / when the dealers come to view / do they ever see the real you?"

    that's one of the many thoughts in this song that beg people to not fall into conformist traps... or else you'd be close to your strokes.
    backwashmyhairon March 23, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General Comment"Painting lines in a school that was too well known" possibly a reference to conforming to a popular artistic style (or school).
    Mattre4on August 03, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI love the singer´s voice.
    gibbleron August 15, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentAt first, I thought they meant "stroke" as in: he had a stroke at 24 and died.

    What are Safeways?

    Seems to me this song is about artists having edge and talent when they're young, and selling out. Why is it that pretty much every artist (musician at least) is willing to embrace commercial success and thereby lose their edge? I mean, it's a virtual certainty that when you get rich and famous you're music is going to suffer... why don't more artists reject it, give all their money away, live in slummy apartments and continue to challenge themselves?

    Ironically, Belle and Sebastian may have done a bit of selling out themselves. Their albums have been on a slow decline since Storytelling.
    upthera44on January 02, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentSafeway is an English supermarket. And I thought it meant stroke (the brain type) to begin with as well.
    fanglefishon January 13, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI'd never thought about the stroke/stroke thing. I always assumed it was the medical variety as well. Now I see that for most of the song he's actually talking about a stroke of genius. The artist has a stroke of genius at 24, and it's all downhill after that. By the last verse he's old and weak, apparently having had an actual stroke.

    How clever.

    Apparently a dansette is a kind of old multi-disk record player: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/…

    Safeway is actually an American supermarket chain, with stores in the U.K. and Ireland.
    Kyomaraon March 05, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Commenti think this song is about artists who fall into a cycle of using drugs.
    the stroke could be a real stroke, not a stroke of genius or whatever else you guys were saying.
    and the part that makes me think it's about drugs, heroin especially, are the lyrics:

    He is dribbling spit tonight
    And the one he sent away
    Was the only one who stayed
    With a spoon and a decent book
    And you can tell by the way she looks
    He is sorry and resigned
    As he wets himself for the final time

    The spoon for the heroin, the book for something to occupy his time while being high. And he's dribbling and wetting himself. Also the fact that he says "could have been a brilliant career" also makes me think it's about a literal stroke.
    great song.
    savethebabieson May 21, 2007   Link

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