"What Do You Want Me To Say" as written by and Mike Geiger Bobby Taylor....
I lost my membership card to the human race
So don't forget the face
Because I know that I do belong here
Go down the checklist let's see:
Feelings are good
Dishonesty is bad
And keeping it inside is worse still
You want a problem well I guess we got one now
I really don't know how
There's injuns over every goddamn hill

What do you want me to say?
What do you want me to do?
To let you know that I do mean it
What do you want me to say?
What do you want me to do?
To let you know that I do mean it
What do you want me to say, yeah?

I see it coming from a million miles away
What else can I say?
The only way you know that I love you
And there's no eye-to-eye just Moses on the mount
Or I'm in for the count
You need your man above or below you
I cannot cry at will but I do wish I could
Cause it'd do you some good
When every joke I make is treason
There was a time when you could make me laugh at will
And you can do it still
But never is it for the right reasons, yeah

What do you want me to say?
What do you want me to do?
To let you know that I do mean it
What do you want me to say?
What do you want me to do?
To let you know that I do mean it
What do you want me to say, yeah?


Lyrics submitted by 66exeter

"What Do You Want Me to Say?" as written by Bobby Taylor Billy Yates

Lyrics © BMG RIGHTS MANAGEMENT US, LLC , HORI PRO ENTERTAINMENT GROUP

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What Do You Want Me to Say? song meanings
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11 Comments

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  • +2
    General CommentHmmmm... not so sure, Whiteclef. While it is relatively public knowledge that Travis leans towards the right politically and is a practicing Christian (he's blogged about Church choir practice,) I was told that he was in a disintegrating relationship during the recording of the album. This lead to his then girlfriend breaking up with him, over the phone, just as he was set to lay down the vocal track to this particular song. They actually reference that exact event in the liner notes to the recent vinyl reissue of the album. That is the beauty of his lyrics, though...different people can glean different meanings from them. But I do, honestly believe it's a breakup song.
    absenteron May 09, 2011   Link
  • +1
    General CommentOkay, there’s obviously some kind of relationship situation going on in this song but I think the first verse addresses something more general. Here’s my crack at it:

    He’s lost his membership card to the human race, or, he’s an outsider, disconnected from everyone. However(!) he wants to get back into the loop and is, so to speak, in the process of getting his card reprinted. As he prepares to reassimilate himself with people he recalls his priorities: having feelings good, dishonesty bad, holding back worst, i.e. he must make an effort to connect to people and share his feelings, not be defensive or restrained. And as soon as he rises to the occasion, people (Morrison cleverly calls them ‘injuns over the hill’) start to pose problems for him.

    The next verse is more concrete and specific. He’s not just having trouble connecting with people in general but with one person in particular, presumably his girlfriend. He can’t be straight (eye-to-eye) with her, honest about his feelings, though he’d like to be. Instead, they’re in a power struggle. He can win the argument and be above her or lose the argument and be below her but he can’t just be on the same level with her, sharing feelings honestly. Moses brought God’s Ten Commandments down from Mount Sinai to the Jews in Exodus, I suppose this comparison is supposed to indicate the state of his relationship since both the narrator and his partner just deliver judgments or moral justifications to each other and don’t share anything they really feel.

    His girlfriend distrusts him. They can’t be friendly anymore. They’re miserable. They can’t make each other laugh, except in defiance of one another. And his question to her is the chorus: what do you want me to say so you’ll trust me? So you’ll believe that I’m being straight with you?!

    The song is about the challenges of connecting with people; of being honest and sincere with them instead of having to fight or use them; of getting people to trust you, trust that you won’t judge them or use them.

    By the way, this song is one of my favorites from E&I. The obscure verses take some unraveling but the music is so immediate that the song is very probably the most cathartic on the whole album.
    Operarationalon January 12, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General CommentIt's obviously a song about a guy having problems with his girlfriend...everyone can relate to that sort of thing. It also sounds like he could have lied to her at some point.
    *SweetxWhitexLies*on July 04, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General Commenti think the lyrics come second to dp songs behind the music, funky and original, its quality man!
    Lets_kill_musicon July 08, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General CommentFeelings are good
    Dishonesty is bad
    And keeping it inside is worse still
    If you want problems well I guess we got one now
    It's probably about some contradicting and difficult girlfriend.
    "I lost my membership card to the human race".. makes me think that she totally degrades him, and he's just poking fun at the fact that she goes off on him so much he feels almost inhuman.
    I cannot cry at will but I do wish I could
    ?Cause it?d do you some good
    When every joke I make is treason
    There was a time when you could make me laugh at will
    And you can do it still
    But never is it for the right reasons, yea?
    Right on. This song kicks my ass. It's great.
    xdressthepartxon April 26, 2003   Link
  • 0
    General CommentIt seems like he's trying to show this person (probably his girfriend) that he has a emotions, and isn't just trying to hide everything he feels. At the same time, the line

    You need your man above or below you

    makes me think it's just about a girlfriend who either needs a boyfriend who's perfect and sort of looks up to, or she needs one that she considers pathetic and that she can sort of make fun of.

    I'm not sure where this version of the lyrics is from, but I always thought listening to the song that the line during the chorus was "To let you know that I do mean it" not "To let you know that I do feel and." Though I'm just going by my ear.
    cmanon October 02, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General Commentcman is right, the line is "to let you that I do mean it" and not "that I do feel and"
    alishajaneon June 21, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General Comment66exeter fucked up all these lyrics. He probably downloaded the shit instead of actually buying the CD, which has all the lyrics printed in plain english....idiot.
    couldBanyoneon December 07, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General Commenthaha couldBanyone is so righteous
    mikematyuson October 07, 2007   Link
  • 0
    My InterpretationI don't think it's limited to just his relationship with one person.

    It reminds me of when I was lonely for a long period of time. Eventually you realise that your misanthropy drove you to this low point where you can't find any love or attention, you want to give it another chance. But it is really difficult to make new connections when you don't have any at all, and you question what made them leave you behind.

    Operarational has a good analysis though.
    occasualon April 26, 2014   Link

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