It must be hard, ringing the bells of doors that don't swing wide
Anymore
It must be hard, hearing the sound of voices just inside
Of the door

And men who couldn't hold your coat
Once hung on every anecdote
So it must be hard watching the fellows gloat
Ballantines

It must be hard, seeing the same old crowd just pass you by
In the street
It must be tough knowing your stuff could only horrify
The elite

You'd cut off everyone you know
Boy, you'd tell 'em all where to go
Now it must be hard getting the same heave-ho
Ballantines

The patrons at the bar
In Lexington, Kentucky
Once sprung for every drink you downed
But things the way they are
It's not that kind of party
If what you've got just might be going around

And fat cats won't be getting thin
Seeing the kinda jam you're in
But will angels dance on the head of another pin
Ballantines?
Ballantines
Ballantines!


Lyrics submitted by patriciadsc

Ballantines song meanings
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  • 0
    General Comment'Ballantines' is the name of a beer brewery in America, famous for their Ballantine Ale.

    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/…

    To me, this song is about someone either working there or just around the time the place was big.. and is clearly an alcoholic of some sort. The song seems like typical Aimee Mann with wry and clever lyrics- her and Sean Hayes are listing out reasons for him being an alcohol or wallowing his pain in drinking. She's playfully saying 'it must be hard', as if humouring him, making it seem like his excuses for drinking are worth it. He's like most Aimee character- downtrodden and lost. He's 'ringing the bells of doors that don't swing wide anymore', 'watching the fellows gloat'. He's depressed 'seeing the same old crowd pass you by in the street'.

    "You cut off everyone you know
    Boy you told `em all where to go
    Now it must be hard getting the same revoke
    Ballantines"

    The bridge there is showing him cutting himself off from everyone, being alone due to his own failures.

    The last two verses are a continuation and directly addresses his drowning his sorrows in beer- 'sprung for every drink you downed'. I think the (?) part is 'if what you got just might be coming around..'

    I also think it's 'Them fat cats" instead of 'fat cows"- here she's sympathizing with him sort of, and showing the characters reserve for the people who he is isolated from.

    To me, this song is amazing and one of the best I've heard from her. It reminds me of 'Way Back When' and is a wonderful song that's upbeat and lovely tone is constrated greatly by the subject matter- typical Aimee Mann characters, sad and alone and full of regret and disillusionment. The tone and duet makes it a type of knowledgable song- the narrator is as aware of the problems of the character as the character himself is, sympathizing but also presenting him with the obvious problems in his life and it works as a sort of anthem for anyone who is not only an alcoholic, but lost, alone. etc.
    HighOnSunday51on June 03, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentIt's "If what you've got just might be going around."
    Eamonon June 04, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI have the special edition with all the lyrics, and I'm pretty sure the line is "You'd cut off everyone you know, boy you'd tell 'em all where to go..."

    To me that line was sort of saying that he cut everyone who wasn't going along with him out of his life. That drinking essentially made him cut off his family and friends, and now they've done the exact same to him.

    I'm not sure what the line "Will angels dance.." means, though. Anyone have ideas?
    XMaliciousMalon July 10, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI think this is a song about a manager getting fired. It's got the form of a drinking song, and in fact a sort of Oktoberfest German beer-hall tuba punctuation fills it. But as usual with Aimee Mann, the upbeat music acts as an ironic comment on the lyrics.

    If you listen to the song with the idea of a boss getting fired, it all makes a lot of sense:

    It must be hard, ringing the bells of doors that don't swing wide
    Anymore
    It must be hard, hearing the sound of voices just inside
    Of the door

    In other words, the guy was once inside, and doors would fall open for him, but now he's outside, stuck listening to the voices of those who used to be his peers.

    And men who couldn't hold your coat
    Once hung on every anecdote
    So it must be hard watching the fellows gloat

    This is why I think it's a boss who's been fired. He used to be surrounded by servile yes-men, the "men who couldn't hold your coat", who "once hung on every anecdote", and these are now gloating at the downfall of their former chief.

    Maybe he's done something specific to get himself fired; gotten drunk at a big company do, stood up and said something awful. "It must be tough knowing your stuff can only horrify the elite." In response, he's told everyone to get lost. Another hint that he's been fired is the line "It must be tough getting the same heave-ho". It sounds like a drunk getting tossed out of a bar, but it might mean that our hero is getting fired, just as he has fired others.

    When we reach the bridge verse, the theme of ostracism gets even clearer:

    The patrons at the bar
    In Lexington, Kentucky
    Once sprung for every drink you downed
    But things the way they are
    It's not that kind of party
    If what you've got just might be going around

    You know how it is when you have bad luck and suddenly no one wants to know you. Obviously now the hero's been fired, the barflies in Lexington aren't paying for any more drinks. "But things the way they are, it's not that kind of party." And bad luck is contagious: "if what you've got just might be going around."

    And fat cats won't be getting thin
    Seeing the kinda jam you're in
    But will angels dance on the head of another pin
    Ballantines?
    Ballantines
    Ballantines!

    The other bosses aren't losing sleep, or weight, over the hero's suffering. The song ends with a question, "will angels dance on the head of another pin", or will another miracle happen? Will he get another job? In the meantime, Aimee's oracle answers with the offer of a beer. Not to get too lit student on it, but it's just like the message that finally arrives in the Renaissance epic "Gargantua and Pantagruel", in which the heroes embark on a long adventure to find the legendary Oracle of the Bottle. When they do find it, it gives a simple message: "Trink", drink.
    antmooseon January 14, 2012   Link

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