"Jackie and Wilson" as written by and Andrew Hozier Byrne....
So tired trying to see from behind the red in my eyes
No better version of me I could pretend to be tonight
So deep in the swirl with the most familiar swine
For reasons wretched and divine

She blows out of nowhere, roman candle of the wild
Laughing away through my feeble disguise
No other version of me I would rather to be tonight
Lord she found me just in time

'Cause with my mid-youth crisis all said and done
I need to be youthfully felt, 'cause God I never felt young

She's gonna save me call me baby run her hands through my hair
She'll know me crazy, soothe me daily, but yet she wouldn't care
We'll steal her Lexus, be detectives, ride round pickin' up clues
We'll name our children Jackie and Wilson, 'raise em on rhythm and blues

Lord it'd be great to find a place we could escape sometime
Me and my isis growing black irises in the sunshine
Every version of me dead and buried in the yard outside
Sit back and watch the world go by

Happy to lie back, watch it burn and rust
We tried to work, good God it wasn't for us

She's gonna save me, call me baby, run her hands through my hair
She'll know me crazy soothe me daily but yet she wouldn't care
We'll steal her Lexus, be detectives, ride round pickin' up clues
We'll name our children Jackie and Wilson, raise 'em on rhythm and Blues

Cut clean from the dream that night, let my mind reset
Looking up from the cigarette, she's already left
I start thinking of the art for what's left of me and our little vignette
For whatever pour soul is coming next

She's gonna save me, call me baby, run her hands through my hair
She'll know me crazy soothe me daily but yet she wouldn't care
We'll steal her Lexus, be detectives, ride around pickin' up clues
We'll name our children Jackie and Wilson, raise 'em on rhythm and Blues


Lyrics submitted by Nachtmusik, edited by teaspill, mrjoejangles, MadsCH, levenin, cyntismusic

"Jackie and Wilson" as written by Andrew Hozier Byrne

Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

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Jackie and Wilson song meanings
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  • +7
    My InterpretationI don't think this fling ever got off the ground.

    "red eyes" + "swill" = liquor
    "familiar swine" = people you don't know or like, but understand because you're all there for the same reason

    So they met at a bar, and got along well immediately. Then the chemistry sets our protagonist daydreaming.

    Hallmarks of daydreams that show up here:
    Idealization: Setting her up as an Isis, "she's gonna save me".
    Shifting desires: "Soothe me daily" turns into the "better yet" of "she wouldn't care". You also get phrases like "it'd be great" when he finally pegs what he'd like to do with her most.
    Projecting one's own interests and experience: He imagines raising his kids with her the same way he was raised.
    Fantastical and unrealistic activities: Stealing cars and becoming detectives. Not gonna happen.

    The grammar itself points to the relationship being less-real than the previous and later verses, because it's conveyed purely in future tenses, whereas the song both begins and ends in present tense. That combined with the content being characteristic of a baseless, shifting fantasy clinches it for me.

    When he is "cut clean from the dream" of "that night" he looks around to find her gone in the time it took him to smoke a cigarette. There's a lovely implication that it was his own inattentiveness that led to her going away. She both "[blew] in out of nowhere" and went away when he wasn't looking. He was only really present during those moments in which she was laughing through his disguises.

    Really nice lyric. Very Tom Waits for the narrative.

    ---

    But wait, there's more!

    There are loads of Isis and Osiris references in this. It's not just the name getting thrown in for idealization's sake.

    Relevant parts of the myth:

    Osiris was killed, cut into hundreds of tiny pieces, and buried in that many spots all across Egypt. Subsequently Isis, his wife, grieved for him while scouring all of Egypt for the pieces. She found all of them (and in some tellings, magically created one special bit), reassembled him, and breathed life back into him. Osiris is changed by this to different degrees in every telling. Despite being brought back to life, he cannot return to his former life and activities.

    A failed version of the same story is laced the whole way through this lyric. All you have to do is trace what happens to the "versions of [him]" that are repeatedly referenced.

    In the beginning he's left with only a pathetic version of him: the drunkard "soul-deep" in booze. He doesn't have the energy to "pretend" to be anything else.

    Then the goddess appears and gives him another option, a self he'd "rather" be: a lover.

    Excited daydreaming leads into the fantasy itself resolving in escapism. Rather than anything exciting, he settles on withdrawing from the world and getting high together as the thing that'd be "great".
    ("Growing black irises" I'm taking as a reference to hallucinogens or pot. Regardless, the resolution of a really exciting! energy-filled! love story into wanting to lie back and watch the world burn is undeniable escapism, whether drugs are involved or not.)

    While they're indulging in this shared act of escaping the world, "every version" of him is "dead and buried in the yard outside". The implication is repeating the narrative from the bar: He's killing himself, destroying who he is, and not letting himself engage with the world through his attachment to dreams and escapism.
    But with her, that'd be okay. She can go around digging up his pieces and putting him back together every time. She can pull him into the world and make him live again.

    But then he sees she's gone, the dream stops, and he has to work to try to dig up his own pieces. If he doesn't, he'll never connect with anyone well enough to be saved. Kinda like what we just saw an example of.

    I wanted this song to be as happy as it sounds. A silly little love story. Then I read the lyric, and all I could say was, "Well, that's fucking depressing."
    teaspillon January 31, 2015   Link

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