"Calistan" as written by and Charles Thompson....
I took three days to drive down one street
The radio on, tuned to the big fleet
Invisible planes are cracking the concrete
That's just what some people say

I put down my blanket on cigarette-butt beach
I saw the old man, he was doing okay
He's making his last stand
On old bottles and cans
'Round there, Calistan way

Used to be sixteen lanes
Used to be Nuevo Spain
Used to be Juan Wayne
Used to be Mexico
Used to be Navajo
Used to be yippy-ay-I-don't-know

Went in from the weather when I got wheezy
I play some Pachinko I play Pachisi
And St. Anne is still making it breezy
In the valley of tar that once was L.A.

And my best friend he's the king of Karaoke
He struck up a chord and he took it away
Out of the pan
And into Japan
'Round there, Calistan way

Used to be sixteen lanes
Used to be Juan Wayne
Used to Mexicain
Used to be Espano Nuevo
Used to Navajo
Used to be yippie-ay-I-don't-know.


Lyrics submitted by hardcor_toonz

"Calistan" as written by Charles Thompson

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

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Calistan song meanings
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3 Comments

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  • 0
    General CommentSounds like Los Angeles after the world ends or some kind of post-period. I love how he creatively he mentions pollution, drunkenness, smog, and the santa ana winds.
    ritecoastsurferon April 29, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI think you're right - he's driving perhaps down a broken old highway (invisible planes are cracking the concrete) to LA, and he's cataloguing what used to be there - superhighways and the hybrid American-Spanish culture ("Juan Wayne"). "Calistan" seems to me to be a hybrid of California and places we typically regard as backward, chaotic, despotic and struck by civil war - Afghanistan, Pakistan, etc.

    A great thing about this song is the sounds he uses. For example, Ws and Ps: *W*ent in from the *W*eather *W*hen I got *W*heezy/I *P*lay some *P*achinko, I *P*lay some *P*achisi. I also like how he hardens the "J" in "navaJo", it makes the sound work in the chorus.

    Great song!
    caitsith01on August 06, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI love this song. I've always thought the line "I put down my blanket on cigarette-butt beach / I saw the old man, he was doing okay" was an allusion to or reference of The Pixies' Dig for Fire where he says "There is this old man who has spent so much of his life sleeping That he is able to keep awake for the rest of his years He resides, on a beach, in a town where I am going to live And I often ask him "Are you looking for the mother lode?" No, no my child, this is not my desire and then he said "I'm digging for fire".
    Whether it is or not, I love his songwriting.
    soapytigeron July 22, 2014   Link

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