I'm standing on this corner. Can't get their attention. Facing rush hour faces turned around. I clutch my stack of paper, press one to a chest, then watch it swoop and stutter to the ground. I'm weary with right-angles, abbreviated daylight, and waiting for a winter to be done. Why do I still see you in every mirrored window, in all that I could never overcome? How I don't know what I should do with my hands when I talk to you. How you don't know where you should look, so you look at my hands. How movements rise and then dissolve, melted by our shallow breath. How causes dance away from me. I am your pamphleteer. I walk this room in time to the beat of the Gestetner, contemplate my next communique. The rhetoric and treason of saying that I'll miss you. Of saying "Hey, well maybe you should stay." Sing "Oh what force on earth could be weaker than the feeble strength of one*" like me remembering the way it could have been. Help me with this barricade. No surrender. No defeat. A spectre's haunting Albert Street. I am your pamphleteer.

* Ralph Chaplin, Solidarity Forever, 1916.


Lyrics submitted by sockmonkey

Pamphleteer song meanings
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  • +3
    General CommentGestetner is a printing press - I was driving home one day and saw a billboard for Gestetner printing machine, and I almost jumped out of my seat, spurting something about "WT#%^WEARKTANPAMPLET - THATS WHAT IT MEANS!"
    reidmanon February 10, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThere have been a lot of good posts. I'm going to offer my interpretation, which is kind of a mix of different opinions.

    The basic gimmick of the song involves John is taking some very famous leftist cliches and then subverting them to express the narrator's state of mind as regards his personal life. Someone already noted the "Solidarity Forever" lyric - a famous union anthem that John has sung live at some concerts - but there is an allusion to the Communist Manifesto, namely, "A spector's haunting Albert's Street." In the Communist Manifesto, Marx declares that a spector (the spector of Communism) is haunting Europe and all have conspired against it. Also, the expression "to the barricades" can be used to conjure up images of revolution. Indeed, that is the name of a biography of Emma Goldman, an American anarchist that John looks up to, judging by the liner notes of his last Propagandhi album, Less Talk, More Rock.

    Okay so that's the background. Having this in mind, John K's explanation makes total sense. Basically, there's this political activist who, for whatever reason, grows tired of standing out in the rain, handing out pamphlets to people who don't care. This, in turn, reminds him of an unfortunate relationship wherein he sees his partner in "all that I could never overcome". So he snaps, and can no longer (or has no desire to) distinguish between the cause he is trumpeting and the details of his personal life - a very important theme in getting the Weakerthans, who are actually a very political group.

    Well, that's my interpretation. If it helps someone, I'm glad. If not, go listen to Propagandhi. It has the same message, but a lot louder and not less subtle.
    blackemmaon February 18, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI agree mostly with what was said by those like blackemma, however I would like to say that I've always thought that the line "I am your pamphleteer" meant that he was a supporter of this girl in his life, like she were his cause. It's a metaphor, another way of saying, that she is a kind of belief for him; that his love is so strong, so devoted, that he would support her like any other campaign. I do agree that he is an actual pamphleteer who is disillusioned by the last of care.
    feaadon January 22, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General Comment"Sing 'Oh what force on earth could be WEAKER THAN the feeble strength of one"

    Hmmm....
    TWPon December 12, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI love this song so much.

    A pamphleteer often hands out (duh) pamphlets for something he cares very much about to people who often just don't care; likewise, he may be offering himself to someone who just doesn't care.

    This song is about more than that...ah, it's awesome.
    catherinekson April 27, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General Commenthey thanks catherineks, you helped me get a different perspective on the song... anyway, who cant identify with trying to accomplish a message when it keeps being denied? i sure can...
    alk3girlon May 03, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThink deeper... this song has a stonger and more meaningful political message.
    Destructedstaron May 21, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General Commenthis pamphlateer is of some movement or cause, but he can't fight it one his own "Oh what force on earth could be weaker than the feeble strength of one*" he's crying for help, but in the only way he can, by handing out pamplets on Albert Street.

    who knows if that's right, but that's my take on it.
    ohsoquieton May 22, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General Commenthis pamphlateer is of some movement or cause, but he can't fight it one his own "Oh what force on earth could be weaker than the feeble strength of one*" he's crying for help, but in the only way he can, by handing out pamplets on Albert Street.

    who knows if that's right, but that's my take on it.
    ohsoquieton May 22, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General Comment JK Sampson, the lead singer,said that the song was based on a movie script his friend was writing. I read it in an interview in Punk Planet.. he said "it started off as purely fiction. A friend of mine wrote a film scriipt and asked me to write a song for it. It was a script about various things, and it had a newspaper story to it. But I suddenly had this image of an activist, someone involved in politics, who passed out pamphlets on street corners and suddenly one day cracked and started churning out these pamphlets about his personal life."
    XmisfitXgirlXon June 17, 2002   Link

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