It's going to take a little time
While you're waiting like a factory line
I'll ride across the park
Backseat on the 79
Wasted days you've come to pass

So go, I know you would not stay
It wasn't true, but anyway
Pollination yellow cab

You walk up the stairs
See the French kids by the door
Up one more flight
See the Buddha on the second floor
Coronation rickshaw grab

So go, I know you would not stay
It wasn't true, but anyway
Racist dreams you should not have

No excuse to be so callous
Dress yourself in bleeding madras
Charm your way across the Khyber pass

Stay awake to break the habit
Sing in praise of Jackson Crowther
Watch yourself along the arch of

No excuse to be so callous
Dress yourself in bleeding madras
Charm your way across the Khyber pass

Stay awake to break the habit
Sing in praise of Jackson Crowther
Watch yourself along the arch of glass


Lyrics submitted by prayingmantis84, edited by dodgerblue

M79 song meanings
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52 Comments

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  • +7
    General CommentIt's a song about a failed relationship with a Middle-Eastern girl, and I think it goes along with their other song "Campus". In "Campus" the narrator mentions "kaffiyah" which is an Arab headdress, which is what makes me think the girl is Middle-Eastern, and then talks about having to pretend not to be with someone he is sleeping (or in love) with -- "How am I supposed to pretend/ that I never want to see you again?"("I have to leave here before I go" I believe refers to secretly sleeping over at a girl's place, and having to get out without being noticed), which makes me think that the narrator is having a secret relationship with a girl who can't have a real relationship with him. M79 (which stands for a NY bus by that number that the narrator probably takes to either visit her or go home) gives a hint as to why the relationship failed: her "racist" dreams make me think she didn't want a real relationship with the narrator who wasn't Middle Eastern (thus the secret relationship or simply hooking up that he writes about in "Campus"), and when he tells her to "Dress yourself in bleeding madras" ("madras" being a kerchief often worn as a turban) and to "Charm your way across the Khyber pass", he's essentially telling her that if she is so Middle Eastern that she can't date him, she should go be with her people, being sarcastic of course because Khyber Pass, as a physical location, is very violent, so it's like saying "if you don't want to be with me, go charm the terrorists, if you think any Middle Eastern guy is better for you than I am." In the next stanza "Jackson Crowther" refers to a Minor League baseball player, underlining the irony -- this girl is so Americanized, she sings praises to an unknown baseball player, yet won't consider a serious relationship with the narrator because he's not Middle Eastern. And when he finally tells her to "Watch yourself along the arch of glass" he's bitterly referring to how thin the line is that she draws between what's acceptable to her, as a Middle Eastern girl, and what's not.
    pontoufleon September 03, 2008   Link
  • +7
    General CommentAnalysis from a New Yorker's perspective:

    Where would you find a place that references the things cited in the "M79" in Manhattan?

    The Culture Center, of the Upper West Side of Manhattan, is right on the M79 bus route, on Columbus Avenue, between 79th and 80th. There is a Buddha statue on second floor. There is a glass arch way at the building entrance, after which you have to walk up several flights of stairs to get the Culture Center.

    culturecenterny.org/…
    culturecenterny.org/…
    culturecenterny.org/…

    There are 3 ways to get across Central Park from the Upper East Side of Manhattan to the Upper West Side:

    1. The M79 bus.
    2. A taxi cab (all yellow, unless they're gypsy cabs).
    3. A cycle rickshaw.

    tourism-review.com/temp/…

    imageshack.us/photo/my-images/63/img3856j.jpg/…


    So who does the song refer to when saying they "would not stay"?

    The Culture Center in Manhattan, produced a documentary called, "Explorer: The Life of Bruce Klepinger" who was a mountain guide, who traveled across Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, the Himalaya's, and who would most definitely have crossed the Khyber Pass. Klepinger also wrote a book called, "The Arc of Life" which is about his travels in this region of the world. Klepinger would likely have worn madra cotton clothes (which are not colorfast, so their colors bleed to a different color on every wash), which are worn in that part of the world. Klepinger, is the ultimate vagabond, he's never stayed in one place too long, "So go, I know you would not stay..."

    culturecenterny.org/…

    The mission of the Culture Center is to "produces events designed to promote community and cultural exchange." A definite, anti-hate (based on race, religion, gender identification) type of agenda.

    You could imagine that an American (like Klepinger) would have to use their charm to traverse the Khyber Pass, between Pakistan and Afghanistan. The M79 is one of the few buses that crosses Central Park and connects the Upper West Side to the Upper East Side of Manhattan; like the Khyber Pass does for Pakistan and Afghanistan.

    If you ever ride a bus in NYC, you'll see that people line up in a row to get on... cutting is frowned upon.

    Mostly coincidence? Probably, but interesting trivia nonetheless.

    OTHER NOTES:

    Ezra Koenig was born on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, but his parents moved him to Manhattan, and he has no memory of the UWS when he was young. But he did attend Columbia, which is on the UWS, and about 2 miles from the Culture Center, which is on Columbus Avenue.

    Rostam Batmanglij's parents are from Iran, which borders Pakistan and Afghanistan (which is where the Khyber Pass connects. He's also openly gay. Only he knows why he mentions Jackson Crowther.

    There is a restaurant called Khyber Pass, but it's in the East Village part of Manhattan, and isn't even close to the M79. They supposedly serve Afghan food, but that's highly debated. I've never been there.

    And yes, I've ridden on the back of the M79 many times.

    tamrapaselk.files.wordpress.com/2011/11/…
    qed55on December 18, 2011   Link
  • +3
    General Commenthaha, i thought it was some kind of gun. i am an idiot.
    JACKIE THE HOBOon January 31, 2008   Link
  • +3
    General CommentI love this song.
    It sounds like it'd be in a Wes Anderson film.
    millyme!on January 31, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThe lead singer acknowledges that the title is the M79 bus in a live recording of the song...it can be viewed here: youtube.com/…
    himoc918on March 11, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThe M79 bus travels east/west on W. 79th Street across Central Park in Manhattan.
    AllStarMeon January 30, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General Commenti'm pretty sure that he's not referencing new york to evoke 9/11 because the m79 is a real bus that they probably took because everyone in vampire weekend went to columbia university only forty or so blocks north of where that bus is. the khyber pass part is weird, but there's not really any other connection
    dfitzdon February 13, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThe ride across the part, and backseat on the 79 establishes for a fact that the M79 is the bus not the gun. As for the Khyber Pass reference, is just a metaphor. The fact that the members of the band know where the Khyber Pass is not weird as they are well educated and Rostam is from the middle east
    Exulton March 10, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentJACKIE THE HOBO
    ummmyeahon March 14, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General Commenthas it completely right. I thought the same thing the first time I heard it.
    ummmyeahon March 14, 2008   Link

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