You used to slide down the carpeted stairs
Or down the banister
You stuttered like a kaleidoscope
'Cause you knew too many words
You used to make gingerbread houses
We used to have taffy pulls

Take ecstasy with me, baby
Take ecstasy with me

You had a black snowmobile
We drove out under the northern lights
A vodka bottle gave you those raccoon eyes
We got beat up just for holding hands

Take ecstasy with me, baby
Take ecstasy with me

Lyrics submitted by dd59714

Take Ecstasy With Me song meanings
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  • +3
    General CommentHe doesn't drink the vodka, he gets hit in the face by it!

    "A vodka bottle gave you those raccoon eyes.
    We got beat up just for holding hands."

    At first I just thought that this song was a happy little ditty about taking E. Then I actually read the lyrics and was horrified to find out that it's at least partially about homophobic violence. But this new-found sadness just made me love the song more.

    The only bit that I have trouble understanding is why he's asking this past love (as pointed out above, it's all in the past tense) to take ecstacy with him? But I think maybe JoelHughes2006 has helped me answer this question, when he states "A pill is a temporary fix, and he knows it, but its not an answer, because he doesn't have one. It's a suggestion, a desperate hope for feeling again."

    So thanks!
    Shotgunnon September 17, 2006   Link
  • +3
    General CommentFirst off, great song from one of the greatest albums ever recorded. While Merritt's vocals on this track will be the memory that persists for the rest of my life, I also must say that the version featuring Susan Anway as lead singer (Oh, Merge! and Obscurities compilations) is equally haunting.

    Now, as for the topics that have been discussed here so far... It's far more than just an account of homophobic violence (and, while it almost certainly does tell the story of a homosexual relationship, there are ways to look at it from the perspective of a heterosexual relationship that is deemed by others as being wrong or unfounded; in this way I feel it's somewhat non-specific and lends itself to any lovers that are persecuted). The lines pertaining to the violence -- "A vodka bottle gave you those raccoon eyes. / We got beat up just for holding hands." -- make up only a part of the whole story told, not the focal point. Rather, the focus of the song is much broader, on their relationship in its entirety. As many of you have pointed out, that is one instance that made them stronger, both through enduring something so traumatic together, and through being singled out and set apart from the rest of the world in a place all their own.

    As to the image of "raccoon eyes" specifically, in its most literal form this phrase refers to periorbital ecchymosis. I don't want to bore you with the details, which you can gleam from a very simple google search, but basically it's a sign of head injury which in this situation implies that the subject was beaten violently with a vodka bottle. There are other interpretations, however, of "raccoon eyes" that could fit easily into this line and so I'm guessing the genius that is Stephin Merritt used this term intentionally. For instance, it could be the droopy, dark circles symptomatic of a hangover. It could be the outcome of a drunken fight that led to two black eyes of the usual kind (the medical "raccoon eyes" is a very different kind of black eye). It could be the visual effect of mascara smearing and running after a drunken argument between lovers. In all likelihood, this phrase was chosen by Merritt for its multiple inferrable meanings as well as its specific literal meaning.

    As a few others have mentioned, the use of tenses is very important in the song as a whole. The first verse is all spoken in terms of "used to", which is very different from the single-instance past tense of the second verse. This is a little bit of a grammar nut's trick that gives the two verses very different meanings. The first is comprised of things that the narrator remembers the subject for, images that form the most elementary memories of him. This is not the voice you would use to tell a story, but to give context to a character, and *implies* that things are not this way any more, but does not directly say they have changed. As someone who has studied Merritt's writing style for a long time, I personally take this as a detail vital to the understanding of the song. Likely, the literal sliding down the stairs and building of gingerbread houses does not take place any more but is still figuratively accurate. Instead of actually having taffy pulls, they now have the sticky, saccharine sweetness of love. They haven't lost their innocence, but found new innocence in adult romance rather than pre-adolescent companionship.

    The second verse is all written as a story. Where the first verse is a photo album, the second is a short film, a glimpse into a particular instance that brought the two closer together. The rest of the song is very abstract and tangled, and the second verse gives all the rest of it a core to wrap itself around. This is the part that gives the listener that moving, undeniable, gut-wrenching connection to the song.

    And the chorus... The chorus is absolutely perfectly written. It is the tissue that binds the muscle of the first verse to the bone of the second. Written in the imperative present sense, it reinforces that the love is current, not a thing of the past, and gives a little context to the dynamics of the relationship. Notice he doesn't ask, or say it nicely, or suggest it. He clearly, cleanly, and demandingly states "Take ecstasy with me, baby. Take ecstasy with me." This implies that the narrator is the more assertive and commanding of the two, and that he recognizes the subject still loves him but wants him to give verifiable life to that romance by dropping e.

    I wouldn't read too much into the use of "ecstasy" in its specific use here, saying it's a gay drug, although that does give some subtle lining to it. Rather, I think it's merely a symbol of the counterculture that the song is drenched in. It should also be noted that you could not really use any other drug in its place as a songwriter. "Smoke pot with me", "Shoot h with me", "Snort blow with me", and even the non-specific "Do drugs with me": none of these work at all here. Ecstasy is by far the most romantic drug for shared use among partners, no matter the sexes, and its very name gives light to that fact. It can be enjoyed between two people in bed, at a party, on a quiet night in, dancing at a club, and in a number of other situations. Therefore, I see it more as a command for the subject of the song to come share in all the euphoric joys of a counterculture life with the narrator.

    Last thought, the !!! cover of this song is terrible, abhorable, and does an incredible injustice to the Magnetic Fields and Stephin Merritt as a writer. How are you going to take some of the most iconic lines ever written by one of the two or three most prolific songwriters in decades, and completely change them? When I heard that cover, I immediately began my boycott of !!!.
    HopeSoForYouon August 24, 2011   Link
  • +1
    General CommentYeah, I can't explain the impact these lyrics had on me when I first read them. I was completely ignorant of the implicit violence in this song until I sat down and actually read the lyrics. When I realised tha this was not a happy song at all, but a devastating account of a hate crime I almost broke down and cried. That one line "We got beat up just for holding hands" is like an ice-pick to the heart, and speaks volumes about intolerance.

    I found a definition of "raccoon eyes": discoloration of tissue around the eyes suggestive of a basilar skull fracture.
    Shotgunnon July 05, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis is such a sad song. It's about growing up being discriminated against because of his homosexuality.
    dd59714on March 19, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI think dd hit this one head on, "we got beat up just for holding hands" sort of pulls the theme together. The version of this released on the Oh, Merge compilation is definitely my favorite Magnetic Fields song.
    radiatoron August 30, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentYeah, it sounds like it's about two boys who grew up together and were pretty much best friends, and as they got older, their relationship became more of a romantic one, where they got away from it all and drank together, but were criticized for it. That's one theory. While I was listening to it, I thought it was a boy and a girl who grew up together in a childish way, but as they grew up, so did their activities, and they drank and took ex together, but I guess that doesn't really fit in with "we got beat up just for holding hands", so the first one is probably more likely
    Ratboyon June 04, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentIt's all in the tense.

    You "used," to is repeated throughout the first verse. It directly implies that you do not anymore. These small things, sliding down the bannister, making gingerbread houses, they're these quaint, lovely things you notice when you're in love, particularly in childhood. But, again, these are things that are no longer so.

    The entire first verse is a depiction of childhood romance, the wonder, innocence and beauty of it. It's a shame that as you get older romance is not so innocent as it is in childhood, and Stevin Merritt knows so. The first chorus is kind of shocking; from this world of childhood love, Merritt now demands taking ectacy, only its not so much a demand as it is the admission of a last resort.

    Obviously, Merritt being gay is important to note. I think in this song the subject is a childhood friendship that has emerged into love. Unfortunatly this kind of love is unacceptable, but neither was willing to give it up. To get beat up just for holding hands is horrible, but I don't think either of them was destroyed by this. I can imagine it only making the relationship stronger, because the answer to this violent reaction is obviously compassion for eachother.

    I think the black snowmobile is a venture probably taken quite often in childhood. I imagine this song emerging after a reaquintance with eachother after a very long parting. I think these two find that whatever passion was strong enough to risk injury, and endure struggle throughout growing up, whatever magic was there as they shared taffy pulls is gone. And as I said, they go to great lengths to reignite it. The black snowmobile is desperation, and of course, snowmobiles are always destined to be headed somewhere cold and icy, and so are Merritt and lover.

    They drink vodka, but drinking only makes them realize just how distant they've become. As Merritt enters into the final chorus it's apparent that this has failed him, that he believes its going to take some kind of miracle to reanimate what was worth any risk to feel when he was younger. And that miracle is, he hopes, this tiny little pill. Not an answer, as he's certainly acknowledged by now, vodka bottle drained and departed, that what he has will never be what he had. A pill is a temporary fix, and he knows it, but its not an answer, because he doesn't have one. It's a suggestion, a desperate hope for feeling again.
    Joelhughes2006on August 17, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General Comment'Raccoon eyes' is a term used to describe the appearance of people who have their skull fractured. I think the vodka bottle line is clearly a reference to violence, just like the line immediately following it.

    A stunningly beautiful and sad song, my favorite from the Fields.
    Putingradon February 28, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Commentyeah, the vodka bottle obviously belonged to the fag-bashers, not them!

    it is especially heartbreaking how this horrible event is mentioned only in passing, which gives it a tone of "what did you expect, this is what the world is like"

    i agree that the past tense is very important in this song (hardly stephin's only song expressing bitter regret that things once wonderful are now no longer the same).

    however i'm not convinced the first stanza is about childhood recollections. this man was the kind of person who (as an adult) liked to do these supposedly childish things...and this boyish personality is one of the things he loves about him.

    (or maybe i'm wrong)

    also, past and present seem mixed together in the song. (which is appropriate, given what drugs like X and LSD do to your sense of time). the lines "you stuttered...knew too many words" are a perfect description of someone who is tripping too hard to be able to talk normally.

    people choose to take ecstasy with someone they love and trust.

    i don't think the song is anti-drug, not at all
    foreverdroneon August 21, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentWow, it's been almost 2 years since I posted on this song.

    I like what all of these have said; the topic of the vodka bottle is an amazing interpretation.

    That being said, I interpret the talk of ecstasy differently--he's asking the subject to rekindle the romance, not take drugs. He recalls the ecstasy they used to have in their relationship, and says it in a way suggesting that he's talking about drug use which is sort of tongue-in-cheek.
    dd59714on September 17, 2007   Link

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