"Fear City" as written by and Steven P. Smith....
Dragged down into lowercase
Trying to get your cops to talk right
But they can't put the paper in your face
You're just trying to walk by

So now I got a new game baby
No one's gonna recognize it
Your broken English over their flat, tired remarks
Still trying to bring some dead beauty back to life

Isn't it pretty? yeah
I'm gonna see my city dead
I can do everything that your man does except for better
Got no interest now in undressing your kids with cheap angst love

Letters
You write your name in all of the places no one goes
Some can't be satisfied until everybody knows
Isn't it pretty? yeah

I'm gonna see my city dead
Isn't it pretty? yeah
I'm gonna see my city dead (come on)
Isn't it pretty? yeah

I'm gonna see my city dead


Lyrics submitted by high times

"Fear City" as written by Steven P. Smith

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

Lyrics powered by LyricFind

Fear City song meanings
Add your thoughts

8 Comments

sort form View by:
  • +1
    General Comment'got no interest now in undressing your kids with cheap angst love
    letters'

    best line in my opinion. that part seems to me that he's shedding this idea of his music being "sadcore" or whatever.
    rollercoastersonjaon January 07, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General Commentwow, I'm surprised that there's hardly a comment on this.... I was actually going to this page to see if I could get a helping hand in understanding this song myself. ^__^
    "flat, tired remarks," though, I love it.
    "uncarbonated and exhausted", or "blown out"? lol.
    Oh wail. I'll have to figure it out later.
    Seems to me, though, that he wanted to break down mental barriers, and build some new ones. like rollercoastersonja said, about shedding some sad skin.
    Paulofuon March 05, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General CommentA city is used as a metaphor in several Elliott Smith songs, including the Basement versions of "A Passing Feeling" and "Strung Out Again". In the former, some say the city is getting clean in terms of drug use, and destroying the city is using again ("everything is gone but the echo of the burst of a shell... In the city I built up and blew to hell"). In "Strung Out Again" Elliott writes of a "city of canals" that possibly refers to his own body.

    But then again in the song "Alphabet Town", which still refers to drugs, it doesn't seem quite as direct a metaphor for one's addictions or oneself.

    I don't have a definite answer for what the song means, but perhaps these other songs have some clues. "Alphabet Town" was written before "Fear City", while the other two songs were written later.
    yesteryear_soonon November 14, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General Commentthis song is really underated only 2 comments!

    I think its about the fear and paranoia and isolation that comes with living in the city nowadays and how everyones really on their own when they are confonting the city hence -"But they can't put the paper in your face, You're just trying to walk by, So now I got a new game, baby, No one's going to recognize it". Also this line - "I can do everything that your man does except for better" shows how everyone is competing against each other in the city to keep their head above the surface.
    alexsaxonon May 24, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General Commentthis song is really underated only 2 comments!

    I think its about the fear and paranoia and isolation that comes with living in the city nowadays and how everyones really on their own when they are confonting the city hence -"But they can't put the paper in your face, You're just trying to walk by, So now I got a new game, baby, No one's going to recognize it". Also this line - "I can do everything that your man does except for better" shows how everyone is competing against each other in the city to keep their head above the surface.
    alexsaxonon May 24, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI'm not sure what this is about, but like someone mentioned above, I too think that there is a similarity to the song "Alphabet Town" but I would add the alternate version of "Everybody cares, Everybody Understands" as similar too. It even mentions "fear city" in this lyric:

    For a moment's rest I leaned against the banister
    After running upstairs again and again
    From a place you people never been
    With all of Fear City's finest following behind
    Who with a greater skill and resourcefulness
    After putting me under a wrongful arrest
    Stuck me out to the desert to dry and die

    The first line of Fear City is "Dragged down into lowercase". Letters of the alphabet are lowercase, so this could mean he's being dragged into an area of alphabet town/fear city. Alternatively, lowercase could refer to the lower part of a staircase. In 'Everybody Cares...' he talks about running upstairs again and again and being chased by "Fear City's Finest". I think the staircase is a metaphor for his constant battle with drugs and "Fear City's Finest" could be interpreted either as the forces which drag him down into drug use, or as the forces which chase him away from the drugs (cops, friends, rehab councilors etc.). Its interesting that in "Fear City" the line about the cops follows the line about being dragged down into lowercase, when in 'Everybody Cares...' he's being chased up the staircase by "Fear City's Finest", who certainly sound like cops.

    Then, the line "Your broken English over their flat, tired remarks / Still trying to bring some dead beauty back to life" reminds me of a large portion of Alphabet Town. In my interpretation, that song is about Elliott befriending a prostitute who's working name is Constantina but who's real name is unpronounceable. They bond over the fact that neither of them will judge the other and they show each other around Alphabet Town, which I get the feeling is a 'haunted' area full of drug addicts, prostitutes and other living dead. So what if the prostitute with the unpronounceable name is the same woman who speaks with broken english, and she is the one trying to bring her 'dead beauty back to life'? And if Alphabet Town/City and Fear City are the same it makes sense that he expects to see the city dead - again he describes it as a haunted city, which can be interpreted a dead city or a city full of the dead. Another similarity between the two songs is the emphasis on names. In Alphabet Town he says the name of his lover by mistake, and is unable to pronounce the name of his prostitute friend. In Fear City he says "You write your name in all of the places no one goes". It's conceivable that the one writing her name is the same one who has a name he can't pronounce - like since her name can't be spoken she needs to write it everywhere.

    It's also possible that he is the one figuratively writing his name in all of the places no one goes - that it's a way of saying he's leaving a piece of himself behind in all those places. The phrase "places no one goes" or something similar is in a couple of songs. In Alphabet town he says he's "running...from a place you people never been". In 'High Times' he says "I don't go where I'm supposed to go / And I don't go really anywhere you know". Definitely similar themes.

    As for what the rest of the lines in this song mean - I don't really know, but I'd love to hear some other people's ideas. To me, this song is way more disjointed than most of Elliott's other songs. It really doesn't seem to have a clear story. It feels more like a collection of disparate thoughts or impressions, with each two line stanza being a distinct topic, unrelated to all the others. At least that's how it feels to me.
    frejaon January 30, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General Comment'some can't be satisfied until everybody knows'
    I love this line most, ooo elliott buuurrrn
    kmkane23on April 08, 2014   Link
  • -1
    General Comment"You write your name in all of the places no one goes"

    Reminds me of graffiti.
    emilykmkzon February 21, 2009   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
explain