"The Short Answer" as written by and Billy Bragg....
Between Marx and marzipan in the dictionary there was Mary
Between the Deep Blue Sea and the Devil that was me
If ever anyone could help me with my obsession with
The young Suzannah York
It was Mary

In my pink pajamas she asked me for something
I gave her the short answer
She read our stars out loud
And I knew then that we should have gone sailing
But we stayed home instead
Fighting on the water bed
Like the honeymoon couple on drugs
Me and Mary

What happened in the past
Remained a mystery of natural history
She should have been the last
But she was just the latest
If she wanted to be a farmer's wife
I would endure that muddy life
I would dig for victory

And the sound of happy couples
Coupling happily in the dark
While you and I sat down to tea
I remember you said to me
That no amount of poetry
Would mend this broken heart
But you can put the Hoover round
If you want to make a start

All my friends from school
Introduce me to their spouses
While I'm left standing here
With my hands down the front of my trousers
I just don't know what's to be done
I wonder sometimes how did Dad meet Mum
And how did they conceive of me
Tell my Mary

The boys who came to the shop
Always made her laugh much more than I did
When I told her this must stop
She didn't bat an eyelid
She said you know honey it's such a shame
You'll never be any good at this game
You bruise too easily
So said Mary

Her two brothers took me out
Of circulation for the duration
So we went our separate ways but does she still love me
She still has my door key
Like a bully boy in a Benetton shop
You're never happy with what you've got
Till what you've got is gone
Sorry Mary


Lyrics submitted by lvr

"The Short Answer" as written by Billy Bragg

Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

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The Short Answer song meanings
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3 Comments

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  • +1
    General CommentI can't believe nobody's commented on this!

    Beautifully written lookback at a perfect (at the time) relationship that crumbled away, and Billy's looking back wondering if he'll ever meet that special someone. I relate to this song far too much for my liking.

    Two parts that really get me - "I wonder sometimes how did Dad meet Mum, and how did they conceive of me" - which really just sums up how you feel when you find yourself on your own after you think you've met 'the one'.

    And the line that kills me every time - "She should have been the last but she was just the latest". Sob.

    Bragg's more known for this political songwriting, but he's unbelievably good at writing about relationships. The album that this comes from, Workers Playtime, is highly recommended.
    Murph_500on June 27, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentAs much as I like Bragg's political stuff, I always find myself coming back to The Short Answer. It really is well-written: sad, funny, romantic, and reminiscent.

    I enjoy the lines you mentioned plus: "If she wanted to be a farmer's wife, I would endure that muddy life, I would dig for victory." Showing here how he would do anything to have her.
    And: "no amount of poetry Would mend this broken heart But you can put the Hoover round If you want to make a start". Funny but also showing that she doesn't share his romance of the relationship.
    And: "Her two brothers took me out Of circulation for the duration". Hints that family didn't like him either?
    lvron July 21, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Comment"She said you know honey it's such a shame
    You'll never be any good at this game
    You bruise too easily"
    Is my favorite part of the song. It's an amazingly well written song about heartache. Bragg can do anything.
    RABicleon August 30, 2007   Link

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