It's not right but it's now or never
And if I wait could I ever forgive myself?

On a night when the moon glows yellow in the riptide
With the light from the TV's buzzing in the house

Cause I'm gonna cut it where I can
And then I'm gonna duck out behind them
If I ever had a chance it's now then
But I never had the feeling I could offer that to you

To offer it to you would be cruel
When all I want to do is use, use you

He was a diplomat's son
It was '81

Dressed in white with my car keys hidden in the kitchen
I could sleep wherever I lay my head

And the sight of your two shoes sitting in the bathtub
Let me know that I shouldn't give up just yet

Cause I'm gonna take it from Simon
And then I'm gonna duck out behind them
If I ever had a chance it's now then
but I never had the feeling I could offer that to you

To offer it to you would be cruel
When all I want to do is use, use you

He was a diplomat's son
It was '81

I know, you'll say
I'm not doing it right
but this is how I want it

I can't go back
To how I felt before
There's--

That night I smoked a joint
With my best friend
We found ourselves in bed
When I woke up he was gone

He was the diplomat's son
It was '81

Looking out at the ice cold water all around me
I can't feel any traces of that other place

In the dark when the wind comes racing off the river
There's a car all black with diplomatic plates


Lyrics submitted by ContravoltStudios


Diplomat's Son song meanings
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49 Comments

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  • +6
    General CommentI think it has something to do with a diplomat and his family living in a Caribbean or South American country in the early eighties. They have a family of locals who run the house for them, and the daughter of this local family befriends the young son of the diplomat. As they get older their friendship develops into something more, and the diplomat's son wants to sleep with the girl. But in reality this girl has been plotting to steal from the family and hadn't really thought of her friend in that way, but now that he seems to be coming onto her, she is reconsidering. So she is torn between her plan to steal from the family and run or to have this one night stand with the diplomat's son. In the end she gives into her desires and smokes pot with him and then sleeps with him, but then she wakes up to find her best friend gone. And then, and here's where I'm really speculating, the boy's family finds out and his parents are disgusted, the boy probably blames the local girl for seducing him. And that last verse finds her at her house in the town or village or whatever on the river in the winter, watching as the diplomat's car drives by and regretting her missed opportunity and the fact that she let her desires overtake her rationality. And it could even be a larger metaphor for the way the US "seduced" these tiny Caribbean/ South American third world nations into forming economic "partnerships" (i.e. sleeping with them) in order to take their resources, when the country (the girl) would have been better off just managing their own resources (the girl taking her chance to steal from the family.) Or I could be totally off base and reading way too much into it haha. But the album is titled Contra, and VW has made hints that these types of ideas are a part of their thematic approach to this album, so you never know. But that's just my take on it, I'm interested to hear what others have to say.
    sam71191on January 08, 2010   Link
  • +4
    General CommentI have the physical album, which includes the lyrics. This is my favorite song in the album, and these lyrics are a tad off. Here are the lyrics printed in the album:


    Diplomat's Son

    It's not right bit it's now or never
    And if I wait could I ever forgive myself?

    On a night when the moon glows yellow in the riptide
    With the light from the TV's buzzing in the house

    Cuz I'm gonna cut it where I can
    And then I'm gonna duck out behind them
    If I ever had a chance it's now then
    But I never had the feeling I could offer that to you

    To offer it to you would be cruel
    When all I want to do is use, use you

    He was a diplomat's son
    It was '81

    Dressed in white with my car keys hidden in the kitchen
    I could sleep wherever I lay my head

    And the sight of your two shoes sitting in the bathtub
    Let me know that I shouldn't give up just yet

    Cuz I'm gonna take it from Simon
    And then I'm gonna duck out behind them
    If I ever had a chance it's now then
    but I never had the feeling I could offer that to you

    To offer it to you would be cruel
    When all I want to do is use, use you

    He was a diplomat's son
    It was '81

    I know, you'll say
    I'm not doing it right
    but this is how I want it

    I can't go back
    To how I felt before
    There's--

    That night I smoked a joint
    With my best friend
    We found ourselves in bed
    When I woke up he was gone

    He was the diplomat's son
    It was '81

    Looking out at the ice-cold water all around me
    I can't feel any traces of that other place

    In the dark when the wind comes racing off the river
    There's a car all black with diplomatic plates

    jbissell2on January 17, 2010   Link
  • +4
    General CommentEzra is not gay, but Rostam admittedly is (Rolling Stone Feb. 4 2010), and, seeing as he collaborated on these lyrics I was under the impression that this entire song was from a homosexual viewpoint, considering all male vocals + singing about a son, w/ no mention of anything hinting at a female perspective(besides maybe the cha chaing in the beginning).

    Some of the lyrics seem to back this up also...

    "I know, you'll say
    I'm not doing it right
    but this is how I want it" (3:30)

    and the way Ezra pronounces this verse in particular is wonderfully flamboyant...

    I'm not sure if that was the intention of this song, but it makes me like it even more.
    scottferon February 01, 2010   Link
  • +4
    General CommentSorry for the double post, but here are the Rolling Stone excerpts that scottfer mentioned:

    (…) Batmanglij is also gay, a fact he’s never really discussed publicly. His friends have knows since college, but he didn’t come out to his parents until about two years ago. (Asked how they handled the news, he laughs: “My dad went to Brtisish boarding school. You don’t get much gayer than that.”) A self-described homebody, he was in a pretty serious relationship last winter, but they split up a few weeks into the recording of the album. “I tried everything to have him back,” Batmanglij says. “He broke my heart”.
    (…) Take “Diplomat’s Son”, which is inspired by that boarding-school story Koenig wrote. The original is an angry parable of class tension and resentment that culminates in a bloody beat-down on a soccer field. Batmanglij took it and made it a love story. “After you leave college, the world opens up,” Koenig says. “For this record, I wanted there to be songs that everybody could understand.” (…)

    Sweet!!
    koerichon February 02, 2010   Link
  • +3
    Song MeaningI agree with scottfer this song seems to be coming from a homosexual perspective. I also assume to the 'take it from Simon' is a reference to Paul Simon. I was theorizing (perhaps mistakenly) that the reference was to "50 Way to Leave Your Lover". Linking the idea of 'ducking out' out to 'slip out the back, Jack' and perhaps the reference to keys hidden in the kitchen to 'Drop off the key, Lee.'
    Greddon February 22, 2010   Link
  • +1
    General Commentsome corrections:

    the chorus is
    "he was a diplomat's son
    it was '81"

    the first line of the second bridge is
    "cause i'm gonna take it from Simon"

    the last line is
    "there's a car all black with diplomatic plates"


    this is my favorite song on the record. i think it's a story about how a friendship ended. i love how nostalgic it sounds
    ap0theosizeon January 05, 2010   Link
  • +1
    General CommentBeautiful song, probably my favorite on "Contra". I rather enjoy what sounds like vocals in the background at the start and randomly throughout the entire song.
    GibbyJon January 05, 2010   Link
  • +1
    General CommentA load of Clash/Joe Strummer references have been made with and in "Contra" so the Diplomat's Son is none other than Joe Strummer.
    Sandinistaon January 12, 2010   Link
  • +1
    General Commentbbop, you were not the only, I made comment about this too

    I asked Ezra about this via twitter (@arzE), he joked 'you gonna have to wait for the VH1 Storytellers in 2018, hombre!'
    koerichon February 01, 2010   Link
  • +1
    General Commentlol, I could tell Rostam is gay! where did you see the credits for the lyrics?
    koerichon February 02, 2010   Link

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