From the courtyard, I floated in
and watched it go down.
Heard the cup drop;
thought, "Well,
that's why they keep them around."
The blackguard sat hard, down,
with no head on him now,
and I felt so bad,
cause I didn't know how
to feel bad enough
to make him proud.

By the time you read this,
I will be so far away.
Daddy longlegs, how in the world
am I to be expected to stay?
In the night--
in the night, you may hear me call
Pa, stay your hand
and steel your resolve.
Stay where you are,
so long and tall.

Here's Lola--ta da!--to do
her famous Spider Dance for you!
Lighten up your pockets!
Shake her skirts and scatter, there,
a shrieking, six-legged millionaire
with a blight in his sockets.

Miss Montez,
the Countess of Lansfeld,
appealed to the King of Bavaria,
saying, "Pretty papa,
if you are my friend--
mister daddy longlegs, they are at it again!--
Can I see you?"

Poor Lola! A tarantula's mounting
Countess Lansfeld's
handsome brassiere,
while they all cheer.

And the old king fell from grace,
while Lola fled,
To save face and her career

You caught a fly, floating by,
Wait for him to drown in the dust;
drown in the dust of other flies,
whereby the machine is run,
and the deed is done.
Heaven has no word
for the way you and your friends
have treated poor Louis.
May god save your poor soul, Lola.
(But there is nothing I adore,
apart from that whore's black heart.)

Well, doesn't that just beat all!
Miss Gilbert,
called to Castlemaine
by the silver dollar and the gold glitter!
Well, I've seen lots,
but never, in a million years,
would think to see you, here.

Though the long road
begins and ends with you,
I cannot seem to make amends
with you, Louis.
When we go out,
they're bound to see you with me.

At night, I walk in the park,
with a whip,
between the lines
of the whispering Jesuits,
who are poisoning you against me.
There's a big black spider
hanging over my door.
Can't go anywhere, anymore.
Tell me, are you with me?

I called to you, several times,
while the change took place
and then arrived, all night,
and I died.
But all these songs,
when you and I are long gone,
will carry on.
Mud in your eye.

You asked my hand,
hired a band.
"In your heart is all that you need;
ask and you will receive," it is said.
I threw my bouquet,
and I knocked 'em dead.

Bottle of white, bottle of red.
Helpless as a child,
when you held me in your arms,
and I knew that no other
could ever love me as you loved.
But help me! I'm leaving!

I remember everything,
down to the sound of you shaving--
the scrape of your razor,
the dully-abrading black hair
that remained
when you clutched at me,
that night I came upstairs, half-dead,
and, in your kindness,
you put me straightaway
in the cupboard,
with a bottle of champagne,
and then, later, on a train.

It was dark out, I was half-dead.
I saw a star fall into the sky,
like a chunk of thrown coal,
as if god himself spat
like a cornered rat.

I really want you to do this for me,
will you have one on me?

It was dark; I was drunk and half-dead,
and we slept, knocking heads,
sitting up in the star-smoking air,
knocking heads like buoys.

Don't you worry for me!
Will you have one on me?

Meanwhile, I will raise my own glass
to how you made me fast
and expendable,
and I will drink to your excellent health,
and your cruelty.
Will you have one on me?

--helpless as a child,
when you held me in your arms,
and I knew that no other
could ever love me--

From the courtyard, I floated in
and watched it go down.
Heard the cup drop;
thought, "Well, that's why
they keep them around."
The blackguard sat hard, down,
with no head on him now,
and I felt so bad,
cause I didn't know how
to feel bad enough
to make him proud.

Well daddy longlegs, are you?
Daddy longlegs, are you?
Daddy longlegs, are you proud?


Lyrics submitted by animalcollector, edited by gifoverit

Have One On Me song meanings
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  • +4
    My InterpretationWhile it's fairly obvious that the majority of this song is about Lola Montez's affair with King Ludwig I of Bavaria, not all of it can be traced back to concrete history, and I suspect some of it is fictionalized by Joanna Newsom, or maybe even personal details inserted in among the story.

    I've gone through and attempted to connect lyrics back to history. I haven't done a ton of research, just read most of a book about Lola Montez and then various snippets about her, so no doubt I'm missing details, but I've attempted a reading of sorts.

    Joanna Newsom stated in an interview that the lyrics of "Have One On Me" are meant to be in the voice or thoughts of someone in a feverish sort of state (I cannot remember the exact quote; I'm sure I'm twisting it). I take this to believe the song takes place in Lola Montez's hazy mind as she recounts her life, mainly dealing with Ludwig (or Louis here). Considering the abundant reference to alcohol later, maybe the song is a sort of drunken sprawl from Lola, or perhaps a dream, or something else. It does jump around a lot, so I hope to tie it together in a way by combing through it.

    The opening scene is quite confusing for me. I've gone through many considerations while trying to decide what is actually happening. There is a scene from a book about Lola I'd like to recount, because I think it might be related. After Lola has been in Bavaria a long time, some of the citizens are getting fed up with her and storm to her house to attempt to chase her out. They actually do this several different nights, eventually succeeding. On most occasions, Lola appears indifferent and cocky to their attacks, even though she probably would have been overtaken had she not had guards and troops to protect her. The riots do turn violent, Ludwig refers to his people as "blackguards" at one point, and people are hurt, though no one specifically. The first time people came after her, rioting on her lawn, it is reported that she stepped out on her balcony and toasted to their good health with a glass of champagne, then throwing bon bons out among the crowd. This is the scene I think of when considering the first stanza, but it doesn't seem to fit entirely. The idea of Lola "float[ing] out" to watch the commotion fits. I've thought that the cup dropping is her champagne cup being dropped over the balcony with the bon bons. The "them" that are kept around could possibly be guards and/or troops sent to protect her. The "blackguard" could be a rioting Bavarian who is hurt in the scuffle. Lola doesn't feel so terrible about his death, but realizes that Louis will, in fact, probably feel guilty and aches for him and him only. Even if this is not accurate, it brings up a point I am curious about: Is Lola a villain? Throughout the song there are varying portrayals from Lola being cruel to Lola truly loving Louis. I can't figure out exactly what the consensus is, but this brings it up right away. If "him" is Louis, then Lola clearly yearns for his approval, but this doesn't seem to be a theme that runs throughout the entire thing (a result of the jumpiness of the narrative? Perhaps the difference between how Lola really feels (love) and how others assumes she feels (just using the king)?)

    I'm also entirely doubtful that "Heard the cup drop: thought, "Well, that's why they keep them around," refers to what I suggested. I can't come up with a suggestion that makes sense, however. The way this sentence is phrased leads me to believe that Lola is suggesting that cups are kept around to drop after seeing one perform its duty. That's nonsensical, so I'm not entirely sure what I'm looking at or what is missing. Also, the death of the "blackguard" leaves me questioning as well. My explanation doesn't strike me as fully satisfactory.

    However, the next stanza is pretty easy. It's in the form of a letter Lola has written to Louis after she has successfully left Bavaria. The issue of the name "daddy longlegs" brings up a few things for me. First, I am unsure of whether it's referring to a spider, or a crane fly (apparently called "daddy longlegs" in the UK). The spider makes sense considering the song is full of spider imagery, but considering a crane fly could be a meal for a spider, I believe that theory makes it so Louis is the victim he is portrayed as throughout the song, also fitting other lyrics. The second thing is why Lola is so insistent on referring to Louis as "daddy","pa" and "pretty papa." I know it's not particularly strange to refer to someone as "daddy" in a romantic or sexual way, but the overabundance made me question if there was more to it. Now the king was obviously older than Lola, which may be a part of it, but I wondered, given later lyrics, if some of the lyrics were intended for father figures in Lola's life. Lola's father died young and her mother remarried. Her stepfather, though she was said to get along with him, sent her away to live elsewhere. Perhaps this is looking too far into it, but it's interesting nonetheless. This stanza also takes on the notion of Lola being rather loving towards the king. She left only because she had to and clearly still yearns for him, yet urges him to stay there and be calm to retain his power.

    We then jump to when Lola seems to have first met the king. She's introduced as a dancer, especially desiring money. I'm thinking the "shrieking six-legged millionaire" is the king (six-legs makes me think of the crane fly reference). The fact that his riches are pointed out seems that that is something Lola was after -- a gold-digger! She goes after him, flirting, asking to see him. There's a little big of language here identifying Lola as a sort of victim. When she says, "they are at it again" I think of her somehow being abused, and then shortly after, she's "poor Lola." However, I don't believe Lola was really treated poorly while she danced, after all doing it all of her own accord, so perhaps those small victimizations Lola urged in order for the king to feel badly for her, or perhaps that is simply how the king did view it. The story jumps to the end, where Lola leaves Bavaria after the king has lost much of his honor. Again, here, Lola is somewhat the bad girl -- she left him to save herself. But it seems in reality she kept returning and the king was the one that took a stand and denounced her power in order to please his country.

    The "fly" is probably the king, while of course, Lola is a spider. I'm not at all sure of what "whereby the machine is run," means, or what exactly the "deed" is other than Lola and her affair. I'm thinking it was the people of Bavaria who have a voice during these accusations, leaving Louis as poor and abused. Adding on, at the end, is probably Louis, referring sadly to Lola as a whore. It seems everyone assumes her to be a woman just after money and power, which perhaps she was, but it seems sad to me that even Louis, who loved her, acknowledged her "black heart."

    Castlemaine appears to be a place in Australia that had a gold rush event and opened up a theater where Lola was the first to perform. Lola also went to California before this (hanging around Nevada City) and so is no stranger to chasing gold. This jumps quite a bit, and I believe she had married another at this point, long having left the kings affair.

    I'm not entirely sure who is seeing who after, "Well, I've seen lots." I'm thinking perhaps, given the idea of stumbling ramblings or someone not in their right mind, it's possible this is meant to communicate Lola hallucinating about seeing Louis. The next part confuses me a bit too. "Though the long road begins and ends with you," seems to communicate long lasting love to me, which so far, Lola hasn't really been accused of. She's been seen of cruel and seeking out money, but this line seems to mean she sees her life as circling around him. I can't tell if at this point this song has jumped back to the past, or if she's remembering and longing for him.

    "At night," though, does take us back to Bavaria. Lola was known for carrying around a whip and also known for not getting along with the Jesuits which explains this stanza. The immediately following line about the big black spider could possibly jump back to the present, to a sort of insanity Lola feels so much that she can't even leave her house, and wonders if Louis still with her. Or it could be referring to the days when she was being attacked by Bavarians and was probably hidden away to protect her.

    From here on out, I'm wholly unsure of what the italics mean. Earlier, it seemed to be in the voice of the king, but I do not believe that is entirely true for the rest of the song. As a result, I'm not sure if the next stanza is Lola still, or possibly the king? I'm also not entirely sure of where to go with the meaning of the lyrics either. At first I thought it was referring to Lola's transfer out of Bavaria ("the change") where the "death" is an emotional or metaphorical one. But I suppose it could also refer to the king's feelings when he decided to renounce Lola's power and ordered to have her arrested if found. "These songs" could be the poetry Louis spent his life writing. If this is referring to the night the two left each other, it's obvious whoever this stanza is in the voice of didn't quite want it to happen.

    "Mud in your eye" leads us into the "Will you have one on me?" part, obviously referring to drinking. The rest of the song, I believe, is fictionalized, considering Lola and the king never got married (perhaps she wanted to?) and I'm unsure of why another man she married would be relevant here.

    A wedding is taking place, but instead of it being a happy event, it appears to be a violent and drunken mess. Throwing the bouquet, normally a fun and happy ceremony, becomes a violent rowdy sort of act and then everything gets confusing and there are a ton of references to alcohol. The little love ditty I thought might be from the words of the king, but the "I'm leaving!" part leads me to believe it's Lola, pleading, that the king keep her in Bavaria or ask her to stay.

    Then we just get muddied memories. Repeatedly someone is "half-dead" and "drunk." She is hidden in a cupboard, given champagne, and then hoarded on a train. This could be seen as referring to the night Lola left Bavaria again, but later lines lead me to the believe she was on the train with the person she loved, which doesn't fit. The memories of the stubble and missed hairs scraping against her while she is put away is such wonderful imagery and starts to build a picture of something meant to be beautiful, but absolutely not. Instead of a gorgeous falling star, it looks like coal, and god has become a rat (cornered, like Lola may have felt). There is a constant urging to drink, have one on Lola perhaps, or Lola remembering someone telling her to have one on him. The "knocking heads" lines brings me back to the train, sitting up, but asleep, as it chugs along.

    The "meanwhile" line is a line sympathetic towards Lola, which most of the song isn't. It recalls the scene where she drinks to the rioters health, but this time, I believe she's drinking to the kings, sarcastically, and talking about how he got rid of her and how it hurt. This is what makes me think back to her step-father, who certainly made her expendable, but that doesn't seem to mean much throughout the rest of the song. I believe this stanza shows just how broken she feels after being thrown from Bavaria, even though most of the song has shown Lola as the cruel one.

    It's pretty amazing when the music halts and the love songs come back on. I believe the broken and confused Lola goes back to a memory when she was in Bavaria and had power and the king's love ... but really it just goes back to the beginning of the end, where because of her, someone dies, and she knows the king won't like it. So she croons, wondering if she made it okay, if she felt bad enough, if she did right by him.

    I find myself ultimately confused about the message of the song. I think it's really Lola mourning the loss of a man she truly did love, but nobody believed she did, and was viewed as violent, crude and cruel (she did carry a whip around...). Now in her fog, she can't stop thinking about it, how she was a dancer on the stage, but a child in his arms. And how she trusted him and his bad poetry, but eventually he got rid of her, because she was making him look bad and made bad things happen.

    I'm not sure if that's whats actually happening here and I long to learn more. It's such a fun song though. I took it to be far more lighthearted at first than I now believe it is. Also, Joanna Newsom uses some of the best instruments in her music and this is a wonderful showcase of it.
    littlelifegiveron February 25, 2010   Link
  • +4
    Song Meaningthe first verse refers to a coup on the king.

    From the courtyard, I floated in
    and watched it go down.
    Heard the cup drop;
    thought, "Well,
    that's why they keep them around."

    (What they keep around is a food taster. Someone tried to poision the king)

    The blackguard sat hard, down,
    with no head on him now,

    (The king's guard gets his head cut off)

    and I felt so bad,
    cause I didn't know how
    to feel bad enough
    to make him proud.

    (She feels bad for not feeling bad about the coup and ensuing revolution)
    lostatlimboon March 12, 2010   Link
  • +2
    General CommentThe spider reference is from Montez's famous Spider Dance. She's known as Lola the spider dancer.

    history-is-made-at-night.blogspot.com/2009/05/…
    kbphonosemanticson February 24, 2010   Link
  • +1
    Song MeaningAt night, I walk in the park,
    with a whip,
    between the lines
    of the whispering Jesuits,
    who are poisoning you against me.

    "after reading a bad review in The Ballarat Times, she attacked the editor, Henry Seekamp with a whip."
    (from wikipedia)

    great verse (amazing song)

    lostatlimboon March 11, 2010   Link
  • +1
    General Commenti'm enjoying this discussion. to agree with the main points, i think it especially makes sense with the cup dropping and the loss of a head that an assassination attempt on the king was attempted, the perpetrator was beheaded, and she fled fearing getting caught in the revolution.

    i agree that lola is the spider metaphorically throughout the entire song. so then the following verse is a reflection of her preying on rich man after rich man (flies) for their money. the machine refers to just the normal system by which a common spider catches flies in its web, and also the lola's gypsy lifestyle of selling herself. the character of lola sees some habitual behavior she is doing as morally reprehensible, yet she indifferently continues killing flies.

    "You caught a fly, floating by, Wait for him to drown in the dust;
    drown in the dust of other flies, whereby the machine is run,
    and the deed is done. Heaven has no word for the way you and your friends
    have treated poor Louis. May god save your poor soul, Lola.
    (But there is nothing I adore, apart from that whore's black heart.)"

    the last part of the song before the final bookend interests me - it seems to me very frantic and stream-of-consciousness, which indicates some sort of climactic emotional scene or series of fever-induced memories. wikipedia says lola had a temper and stubbornness that were fierce. the negative verbiage "cornered rat," "god spat," "half-dead" seems to put lola in the frame of mind of intense self-loathing or some kind of extreme emotional outburst throughout this sequence. she is racing through these memories so fast it's difficult to dissect.

    when she says, "have on on me," i agree that she may be repeatedly pushing poisoned wine upon her lover, louis/ludwig, since perhaps their relationship has grown over the course of the song into a toxic, bitter one. it could be a toxic relationship with a man, or flashbacks to a series of men she has in some way, more or less, preyed upon, pushed poison upon. it could also be her talking to herself- pushing poison on herself for all of these regretful traumatic memories haunting her in this "hallucinatory narration," since there are hints of self-loathing or disdain for a certain aspect of her famed lifestyle.
    janeaparis1on May 25, 2010   Link
  • +1
    General CommentScattered thoughts:

    So, there's a mountain called Mount Lola, not far from Nevada City, named after Lola Montez, who lived in California for a while. [thanks Wikipedia]

    My guess: hence Joanna's interest in Lola. Because of the mountain, she found out a bit about Lola, and thought her an interesting character, likely to have a rich and complex emotional life, which got her imagination going.

    Tarantula 'mounting' Lola's brassiere - pun on Mount Lola??

    In fact, 'mount Lola' kind of sounds like an activity... one that quite a lot of different men did over the years, it seems. Maybe my mind's in the gutter, but I hear a sexual meaning to the phrase 'have one on me' too - i.e. as a secondary meaning.

    [which then makes it a curious choice for an album title - though my impression from listening to the album is certainly of a long series of good loves gone bad ("I loved them all, one by one" sounds not so different from Lola), and of sometimes feeling like some kind of harlot, being passed from man to man, though really it's just that she's insatiably generous and takes pleasure in giving herself ("have one on me"). An extended lament by someone who is made of love but can't find where to put it. Whether or not this is Joanna's actual experience I have no idea; it's just the prevailing mood I feel in these songs.]

    To me, the song doesn't have a particular 'message', and it doesn't matter who's good and who's bad in the story (seems like everyone's a little of both - or maybe a lot of both); it's simply a mindscape, of someone who lived a passionate whirlwind of a life, and hurt just like everyone else.

    I *love* the line "but there is nothing I adore apart from that whore's black heart". Gives me shivers.
    meudwenon October 06, 2010   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI am surprised to see that none of you have interpreted it how I have. We all agree that it is about a Lola that grew up being mistreated by her dad, until she ran away. And lets be honest, what would a girl with no money, who was mistreated by her dad, and just on the run alone? Stripper/Prostitue.

    Here's Lola--ta da!--to do
    her famous Spider Dance for you!
    Lighten up your pockets!
    Shake her skirts and scatter, there,
    a shrieking, six-legged millionaire
    with a blight in his sockets.

    Miss Montez,
    the Countess of Lansfeld,
    appealed to the King of Bavaria,
    saying, "Pretty papa,
    if you are my friend--
    mister daddy longlegs, they are at it again!--
    Can I see you?"

    Is that not blatantly obvious? Her different stage names. Her specialty dances. All the guys spending money on her giving her attention.

    Then I believe one of her customers falls in love with her. Louis.

    You caught a fly, floating by,
    Wait for him to drown in the dust;
    drown in the dust of other flies,
    whereby the machine is run,
    and the deed is done.
    Heaven has no word
    for the way you and your friends
    have treated poor Louis.
    May god save your poor soul, Lola.
    (But there is nothing I adore,
    apart from that whore's black heart.)

    The end bit is Louis talking in regards to Lola. Louis realizing that, because she will continue to be a whore, and only views him as another customer, he will surely end up heart broken.

    Then she gets another job at another place, runs into him there as well, that old thing.

    Next bit is Lola telling Louis, you know, basically, I am not exclusive to you.

    Here is where things start to get a bit intense. Louis asks Lola to marry him. And Lola agrees. He hires a band, they have a wedding, and now here is where things get even crazier.

    Even though she realizes that no one would ever love her like Louis loved her, she still left. She is explaining the last night the had together, she remembers everything about it. Basically saying, we were both a bit crushed, we got drunk, high, And i asked you to have one on me. Meaning, as if she was still a prostitute, or stripper. Have on one me, have sex with me, this time just because I want to, you don't have to pay.

    And then it ends, where it begins. With her father.
    NickBowerson October 29, 2012   Link
  • +1
    General CommentOr it could just be Lola Montez. That's what she gets for hanging out with George Sand. Poor Chopin
    NickBowerson October 30, 2012   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThe storied life of Lola Montez, whatever Lola wants Lola gets.
    twocenton February 21, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General Commentwhy is miss montez a spider?
    Brushingworthon February 23, 2010   Link

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