The axes who pacify with gold
And they walk right into town
And a man stood he was brought back by lady luck

And he was so strong, and he was so strong, and he was so strong
He was so strong, he was so strong, he was strong

He said lady where's your dark undercoat?
Then he rode away and he rode away and he died
Said I am not strong, and I am not wide, and I am not long
I am not strong and I am not wide, I'm not long

Oh but if I was a deep bathtub would you sink down
To the bottom of my love?
And if I was a deep bathtub would you sink down
To the bottom of my love?

But I am not strong and I am not wide and I am not long
I am not strong, and I am not wide, and we are not tall

Oh cowboy ride the time
Ride it high with rhythm and rhyme
To the sound of a bleeding ghost train
And a needing, to let go, of tidal pain

He said lady where's your dark undercoat?


Lyrics submitted by echoparkrecords

Dark Undercoat song meanings
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  • 0
    General Commentbeautiful song,
    and I may be ignorant for saying this,
    but does anyone see the meaning?
    I'm sure there's something profound in here that I just can't find...
    yellowbelliedlizardon October 24, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI've always thought it was about myths, the myths we tell ourselves and how reality destroys them, through exploring the cultural myths about how our country was settled, and who settled it.

    The axes who pacify with gold who walk right into town --

    This makes me think of the final season of Deadwood, when predatory capitalism, in the form of George Hearst, arrives in the formerly anarchistic, illegal mining camp, and takes over. He brings his own unique and dreadful brand of industry, backed up by extreme violence. You will sell him your claim, or you will die.

    And a man stood, he was brought back by lady luck --

    He could be a gambler, brought to the mining town for the chance of some quick gold. A cowboy arriving on the scene in the nick of time to try to intervene.

    And he was so strong, and he was so strong, and he was strong --

    Here's the myth, the image we have of the lone gambler, the cowboy on the plains, the mountain man, independent, alone, the rugged individualist. This is the image we have of our ancestors, particularly in Western America.

    He said, lady where's your dark undercoat? --

    Underneath the civilized veneer, something hidden and frightening.

    Then he rode away, and he rode away, and he died
    Said I am not strong, and I am not wide, and I am not long
    I am not strong, and I am not wide, I'm not long --

    The myth dies when you learn the reality. We are not strong enough to keep the myths, and reality is not large enough to hold them.

    Oh, but if I was a deep bathtub would you sink down to the bottom of my love? --

    This is a little harder, but I see it as representing the appeal of the myth, the longing to submit to a romanticized ideal of our past and of ourselves.

    But I am not strong and I am not wide and I am not tall. --

    Reality is just not what you wish it were, and history is mostly lies.

    Oh cowboy, ride the time
    Ride it high with rhythm and rhyme
    To the sound of a bleeding ghost train
    And I am needing to let go of tidal pain --

    The stories we tell ourselves, individually and collectively, persist because they do have a painful beauty, the feeling of something being lost. If we lost it, rather than it never having existed at all, maybe we could reclaim it again. When we realize the truth, it's hard. And since she's using Western imagery to explore this idea, I also see the last line as expressing some guilt and pain over what really happened in our history with Manifest Destiny, etc.

    I don't think this song is meant only to apply to a general Western mythology or specifically to cowboys and Indians, as it were, but that she's using that symbolism deliberately to express something that happens inside ourselves as we grow up and realize how much of what we are taught about our past, both collectively and individually, are lies meant to make us feel better about that past.

    I could be way off base, but this is what occurs to me when I listen to this song. Whatever the case it is stunningly beautiful. This artist is kind of local to me and just released a new album. I really hope to see her perform soon.
    msinmendoon November 29, 2013   Link
  • 0
    My InterpretationI got the sense that it was talking about rape. "He was so strong" implies that he's using force against her.

    "Hey lady where's your dark undercoat" sounds like she's dressed provocatively. A see-through shirt or something of the sort.

    "I am not strong, and I am not wide, and I am not long" sounds like he's trying calm her down, or maybe even alleviate some of his guilt, "I'm not strong" to say "I won't hurt you." "I am not wide and I am not long" is saying that his penis isn't very big so it shouldn't be painful.

    "Oh cowboy ride the time
    Ride it high with rhythm and rhyme" In other words, keep the tempo, don't bother slowing down. I see this verse as completely facetious. An underhanded jab at the rapist. Like saying "Is that all you've got?" To someone who just hit you. You don't want to get hit again, you say it to show they haven't won.

    "To the sound of a bleeding ghost train
    And a needing, to let go, of tidal pain" I see the bleeding ghost train as a symbol of her inner turmoil. A never ending "train" of pain. Filled with ghosts as she slowly dies inside. Bleeding in agony. "A needing to let go" I see as HER need. She needs him to let go, to stop the ceaseless pain.

    mathilde.rheaon August 18, 2015   Link

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