"Tom Courtenay" as written by and Ira David Kaplan Georgia Mia Hubley....
Julie Christie, the rumors are true
As the pages turn, my eyes are glued
To the movie star and his sordid life
Mr. X and his old-suffering wife
I spent so much time dreaming about Eleanor Bron
In my room with the curtains drawn
See her in the arms of Paul
Say it, I can say no more
As the music swells somehow stronger from adversity
Our hero finds his inner peace
So now I'm looking for a lucky charm
With a needle hanging out of its arm

As time goes by I know it's gonna happen
I know it's going away
Gonna take its toll, gonna take its toll
Gonna take my time
And I'm thinking about the way things are
And I'm thinking about the way things were
Thinking about Eleanor Bron
And I'm thinking about a lucky charm
And I'm thinking about the needle
Oh, I'm thinking about the needle
And I'm thinking about...

Lyrics submitted by caffienatidjazz

Tom Courtenay song meanings
Add your thoughts


sort form View by:
  • +6
    General CommentBack on 2001 I was at a Yo La Tengo's concert which was followed by a questions-and-answers session where the band sat at the stage and talked to those of us who stayed. I was quick to ask Ira Kaplan what was the meaning behind this song. He wasn't very specific saying that it wasn't about a particular event or person, but rather about all the things which allure you in cinema, literature and the media in general when you're young.

    I think Ira put a lot of moments of her childhood and adolescence into words and made a song with them.
    Alienoon September 19, 2011   Link
  • +4
    General Commentthe actor tom courtenay and the actress julie christie are both in the movie "dr. zhivago".
    luckymustardon February 27, 2010   Link
  • +3
    General Commentsort of the same sentiment as comfortably numb, staying home and shooting up all the time
    RobotHouseon October 17, 2006   Link
  • +3
    General CommentI'm gonna take a wild stab, here...I think the song is mostly about "Billy Liar," which stars Tom Courtenay and Julie Christie. It's about being the kind of guy Tom Courtenay plays in the film: a dreamer and a fan, alone in your room, watching movies and reading magazines, imagining a glamorous, exciting world where you're a hero, but not really doing anything. When Billy finally gets a chance to break away from his boring job and his boring life in his boring town and head off to adventures in London with a gorgeous, exciting woman (Julie Christie), he's too timid to go for it. Gonna take it slow...it's all about regret, missed opportunities, and the accompanying self-loathing that you'll do anything to numb.

    I'm not sure why the object of fandom here is "Help!," but it certainly fits with the whole U.K. early-'60s thing.
    kagion May 04, 2010   Link
  • +2
    General CommentThe line following "See her in the arms of Paul" should actually read "Saying, "I can say no more"". It's a reference to the movie "Help!".
    marwood9651on November 01, 2006   Link
  • +2
    General CommentThanks for taking a wild stab, kaqi. That makes a fair amount of sense. I'm not sure wht to make of the drug references, but somehow they fit. When I first heard the song I was reminded of the movie "McCabe and Mrs. Miller", wherein Julie Christie plays an opium addict. but nothing else really fit. Note- Eleanor Bron was in the movie "Help." Yes, as oxymoronic as it sounds, the acoustic version does rock. I would almost sayit is better, but Yo La Tengo does those popy background vocals like no one else can.
    MamboManon November 03, 2010   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThis song is particular poignant for me, and sort of makes the hair on the back of my head stand up. My mother was a sort of local beauty and minor luminary in the 60's, before dying of a shot of heroin in 1969. I never knew her. "Looking for a lucky charm, with a needle hangin' out of its arm...." is a sort of devastating line to listen to.
    rself1on February 03, 2015   Link
  • 0
    General CommentHaunting, stark, beautiful.
    winkeron December 11, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentProfessional ponderings on the meaning of this song and who the narrator is:
    elwyn5150on August 04, 2017   Link
  • -1
    General CommentAnd the acoustic version rocks too!
    HeiaVincenton February 08, 2006   Link

Add your thoughts

Log in now to tell us what you think this song means.

Don’t have an account? Create an account with SongMeanings to post comments, submit lyrics, and more. It’s super easy, we promise!

Back to top