"Turn That Heartbeat Over Again" as written by Donald Fagen and Walter Becker....
With stocking face I bought a gun
The plan was set the plan was done
Looked at my watch and started for the door
Now the food here ain't so good no more
And they closed the package store

Love your mama, love your brother
Love 'em till they run for cover
Turn the light off, keep your shirt on
Cry a jag on me

Oh Michael Oh Jesus you know I'm not to blame
You know my reputation for playing a good clean game
Oh Michael Oh Jesus I'll keep my promise when
You turn that heartbeat over again

My poison's named you know my brand
So please make mine a double, Sam
Stir it up nice I'll eat it right here
This highway runs from Paraguay
And I've just come all the way

Love your mama, love your brother
Love 'em till they run for cover
Turn the light off, keep your shirt on
Cry a jag on me

We warned the corpse of William Wright
Not to cuss and drink all night
Ticket in hand I saw him laid to rest
But zombie see and zombie do
He's here with me and you

Love your mama, love your brother
Love 'em till they run for cover
Turn the light off, keep your shirt on
Cry a jag on me


Lyrics submitted by ZinbobDan, edited by noelmt

"Turn That Heartbeat over Again" as written by Donald Jay Fagen Walter Carl Becker

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

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Turn That Heartbeat Over Again song meanings
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17 Comments

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  • +5
    General CommentTry this on for size guys,

    This song is a smart alec-y response to religion's demands on the common man.

    There are three scenarios presented:

    1) A petty criminal who turns to crime due to the socio-economic deterioration of his community.

    2) A drinker who may be an ex-nazi or refugee from a dictatorial govt, since he just came from Paraguay.

    3) Can't figure out which William Wright but he must be the poet, being dead, a partier and perhaps a sort of anti-hero role model for modern artists who are speaking.

    Each of them consider themselves "victims of circumstance" so they aren't to blame and they will keep their promises to be good people, only when Saint Michael and Jesus keep their promise to bring them back to eternal life, sort of like a "You go first" deal: thus the irony of "Zombie see and Zombie do"

    and we all know Jesus was the first Zombie :)

    "He's here with me and you." = a double meaning of Jesus being with us all the time but we also have that debauched William Wright's ghost with us all the time cause that's just who we are as humans.

    Whaddaya Think?
    Jzermon February 08, 2012   Link
  • +3
    General CommentI always thought this went down like so: The narrator planned a bank robbery with a close friend (stocking face, gun) and thought of himself as just stealing money (a good clean game), not hurting anyone. But shit goes down, his buddy Michael is shot and he's down on the floor freaking out trying to revive him, which obviously fails. The promise might have been "no one gets hurt" or "we split the money" or "we'll go to South America". He either escapes to South America or the robbery was in South America because he drove straight through. "Turn the light off, keep your shirt on" is to me that he's still on the lam and either talking to himself or whoever else was in on the score who escaped. IE, turn the light off so the cops don't see us, and keep your shit together. I wish I understood the William Wright part. I don't know if "I saw him laid to rest" refers to Wright or Michael, but I sort of hope the latter because it makes more sense to me--he sneaks back to go to the funeral but has his plane ticket to get out of town again before he's caught. Great song.
    mololomoon June 15, 2013   Link
  • +1
    General CommentAlways thought this was about praying for someone not to die, possibly after getting involved in a violent crime. "turn that heartbeat over again" : the person's heart has stopped, and the protagonist doesn't want to lose him. The first verse leads me to believe that in a state of despair, the two people decided to rob a store in a town that has become run down. As a result, one of them was shot and killed.
    rainwalkon March 21, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI think you hit the nail on the head. And judging by the sad tone by the end of the song, I get the impression that the narrator's friend expired.

    Such a great song.
    YourGoldTeethon April 13, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentAMAZING song, I just love it. I agree totally with Rainwalk.
    A_Mickon May 15, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI think the song is about a guy wishing to relive his life (from jail) so he wont make the same mistakes (buying a gun and holding up a bank or whatever he did).
    Love your mama/brother is advice for the listener to not be like him.
    Light off, shirt on makes me think hes advising to keep you cool.
    Jag:
    —noun
    1. a period of unrestrained indulgence in an activity; spree; binge: a crying jag; a talking jag.

    He possibly blames the devil for his sins "you know im not to blame" "good clean game"
    He begs to relive his life.
    Poison = vice: alcohol and "make it a double" Sam possibly the bartender.
    Paraguay maybe where he would escape to, the distance he would go to get what he wants from Michael/Jesus.
    William Wright (actor) - "portrayed department store owner and grasping landlord Ben Weaver in several episodes of CBS's The Andy Griffith Show" - wikipedia. This was the William Wright that sounds most likely to be in a Dan song, but there were plenty to choose from... and yeah, that's just my guess...
    wally1047on July 21, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General CommentIt has been playing in my head all day. Its one of the greatest ones [I know, they all are].

    Ya, but it sounds a bit like incest too. Perhaps it is a song about someone who turned into an abuser himself, and has all that to deal with.

    "love your moma, love your brother" - his dad doing it to the family?

    In any case, the lyric "Turn that Heartbeat Over Again" is a very intriguing line no matter what it means, a classic. Its like it describes a certain part of the human condition that we otherwise cannot grasp. It could trigger some meaning to you that you have trouble putting into words, or that you never thought about before but you knew you were feeling them.

    And when combined with the music, that simple melody on those 5 words, and then the break to sparse instrumentation, then with harmony at the end - you can hear it now, right? Ahhhh, its great.


    Karlinon August 04, 2010   Link
  • +1
    General CommentAgree there's some kind of a spiritual allegory in here that Wally alluded to; Michael is an arch-angel, one of only two mentioned in the bible. He serves Jesus. Sounds like there may have been some kind of spiritual commitment made by the narrator that he's now backing out of because his friend got killed in their crime gone bad. And he claims it wasn't his fault. So he'll yet honor his agreement but only if there's a supernatural giving back of his friend's life as well. Ah well, I tried.
    Birdstrikeon August 05, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThe chorus reminds me of that "Oh, shit." moment that occurs when something bad happens and is your fault. In this case, the speaker gets his friend mixed up in some dangerous stuff and his friend dies.
    Bazooka27on August 23, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentFinally - some informed,thoughtful and interesting analysis of a fantastic song.

    I must think on this one for a while. Interpreting a song by such masters of cryptic poetry as Fagen & Co. is not something to undertake lightly.

    So, Jesus and Michael willing, I shall return to this thread with a semi-coherent song analysis.

    But not today...
    ŊʘmĄď MʘŊąĐ
    NomadMonadon April 01, 2012   Link

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