"Mommy Daddy You and I" as written by David Byrne, Chris Frantz, Tina Weymouth and Jerry Harrison....
All the way home from Baltimore
We couldn't find a seat
Conductor says he's sorry for
The blisters on our feet

Comes a-riding in a bus
The high and the low
Mommy, daddy, you and I
Going on a trip

And we're not going home
Mommy, daddy, you and I
Driving, keep driving
Driving, driving all night

Sleeping on my daddy's shoulder
Drinking from a paper cup
And I'm wearing my grandfather's clothes
And they say that up North it gets cold

Crawling out of bed one night
Walking in my sleep
We're not the only family
To take this little trip

Driving all the way up
It's thirty below
Mommy, daddy, you and I
Even little kids

Getting ready to go
Mommy, daddy,you and I
Chilly, chilly-willy
It's colder the further we go

Some are born to take advantage
But saying it don't make it so
So hold me and don't let me go
'Cause the sidewalks are covered with snow

He's speaking English now
And he's smoothing out his clothes
He's Mr. Button Down
He's leaving home

Making changes day by day
And we still ain't got no plan
How we gonna make our way
In this foreign land?

Well we'll keep driving, keep driving
Driving with all of our might
Changing, still changing
Changing the water of life

Keep that little man a shining
See how the tail can wag the dog
And we're all riding in this old bus
And the driver is singing to us

And we're wearing out grandfather's clothes
'Cause we heard that up North it gets cold


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"Mommy Daddy You and I" as written by David Byrne Chris Frantz

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  • 0
    General CommentAlways figured this was about a disaster of some kind - something that would force a mass exodus. Either that or the narrator's parents joined a cult.
    lunaharpuaon June 07, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis is one of Byrne's finest koans. I've been trying to figure it out (in the context of the album, Naked, which is definitely a concept album about human nature where songs like "Nature Boy" and "Nothing But Flowers" express different points of view) for about 20 years.

    First, the lyrics are from a little boy's point of view, but the music in the verses is sinister. It starts specific "All the way from Baltimore . . ." and gets general: "Crawling out of bed . . . we're not the only family to make this little trip." Cold s a central image. "Chilly Willy". There is obviously immigration, the sense of enforced forward progress through a strange world where we aren't ever going home, such as through a 'normal' lifetime: "Making changes day by day, we still ain't got no plan . . " . And we rely on tradition to help us, because it's a crazty world out there: "some are born to take advantage . . . and we're wearing our grandfather's coat . . . "

    I feel it's almost existentialist, where we all need to go but can never know where we're going. "Changing the water of life.". There isn't a song on Naked that isn't a wider metaphor, whether its presented that way explicitly or not. This one is, but it's obscure and the little details throw you off. Now, to see if anyone has any insight on 'Big Daddy' and 'Bill'. This is an album worth figuring out. It's meant to be, but I don't know if a critic has ever risen to the challenge!
    nathan1149on December 04, 2015   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis song popped in my head the other evening.

    It somewhat was catalyst for me to think in shock - oh my - this song is about adoption- they're giving up their child.

    However reading the lyrics today, twice, I am thinking this is POV of an African American slave family, and they are heading north either pre or post abolition - likely post.

    Baltimore IS a big part of Byrne's home I think - I remember that line about what's that smell- it's ONLY the river and I did smell that river one day but ANYWAY - I have a hunch Baltimore here is a clue - this family is heading North POSSIBLY the underground railroad - first lines 'conductor says' - certainly plants train in my view.

    So that's my take- a song about a former slave family moving north to be free.

    Eh- I also thought Steve Miller's Jungle Love was about 'Jelly Fish Island' this island in the Pacific, that one was a FAR FAR reach but they DO use mango's to treat the stings from this rare lake where millions of Jelly Fish exist, and there IS that line about I brought you a crate of mango's. Again FAR REACH on Jungle Love, LIKELY far reach on this one.

    HOWEVER Jelly Fish Island is a very neat place- and there IS A tide such that all the jelly fish come in and out - I even researched to see if Steve Miller visited Jelly Fish Island !
    TimMiltzon May 23, 2017   Link

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