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Lyrics submitted by Mellow_Harsher

Ides of Swing song meanings
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    My InterpretationAt first, I thought this was just a sweet, interestingly-worded song about swing music. I decided to look into a few of the words and references in the lyrics to shed some light on the meaning, and have found that it may definitely be on the more sinister end of sweet.

    I don't quite understand the first couple of lines; presumably it's something to do with TS Eliot but that's where the connection ends. Nice wording, though.

    Mephisto (or Mephistopheles) is probably a reference to Faust. "Swooning to the charm of Mephisto's waltz", willingly putting yourself in a dangerous situation? Schmaltz can mean soppy romatic notions or sentimentality. When the subject is willingly flirting with danger, they're (maybe by extension) being schmaltzy and oversentimental.

    Furthermore, the entire "That you're pimping, baby, and you're feeling fine" and the "terrifying symptoms" lend themselves to anxiety, paranoia, depression (this especially with the "bullet to the head" line). "Pimping" in an older context means insignificant and unimportant, so the subject, despite showing all the symptoms that something is indeed very wrong, is told that they're overreacting and that they're feeling fine (adding another layer of emotional manipulation; this is going to very dark places).

    The very last part, "When you make love to whomever you please / And a bullet to the head feels like a soft warm breeze" plus the last lines of "That's when you know you're dreaming", as in, when you have sexual freedom and when bullets to the head cease to hurt, it must be a dream as nothing like that would be possible for the subject. Finally, "I hope you're dreaming" adds a last positive wish for happiness, even if it isn't real, either from the singer to the subject or from the subject to someone else.

    All in all, this song seems to have a lot to do with certain emotional disorders and a connection with swing music to the sort of desperate, hedonistic behavior that may be the subject attempting to cope with their problems, but ultimately unable to avoid real life when the music stops. One of the most rewarding of Andrew Bird's songs to analyze yet, just for the sheer amount of pain and distress that the song successfully hides until closer inspection.
    Allihzmion June 15, 2013   Link

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