"Teenage Riot" as written by Kim Gordon, Lee M. Ranaldo, Steven Jay Shelley and Thurston Joseph Moore....
You're it
No, you're it
Hey, you're really it
You're it
No I mean it, you're it
Say it
Don't spray it
Spirit desire
(Face me) spirit desire (don't displace me) spirit desire
We will fall
Miss me
Don't dismiss me
Spirit desire
Spirit desire, spirit desire, spirit desire

We will fall
Spirit desire
We will fall
Spirit desire, spirit desire
We will fall
Spirit desire
We will fall

Everybody's talking 'bout the stormy weather
And what's a man do to but work out whether it's true?
Looking for a man with a focus and a temper
Who can open up a map and see between one and two
Time to get it
Before you let it get to you
Here he comes now
Stick to your guns and let him through
And everybody's coming from their winter vacation
Taking in the sun in a exaltation to you
You come running in on platform shoes
With Marshall stacks to at least just give us a clue
Ah, here it comes
I know it's someone I knew
Teenage riot in a public station
Gonna fight and tear it up in a hibernation for you
Now I see it
I think I'll leave it out of the way
Now I come near you
And it's not clear while you make your way
Looking for a ride to your secret location
Where the kids are setting up a free-speed nation for you
Got a foghorn and a drum and a hammer that's rockin'
And a cord and a pedal and a lock, that'll do me for now
It better work out
I hope it works out my way
'Cause it's getting kind of quiet in my city head
Takes a teenage riot to get me out of bed right now
You better look it
We're gonna shake it up to him
He acts the hero
We paint a zero on his hand

We know it's down
We know it's bound too loose
Everybody's sound is 'round it
Everybody wants to be proud to choose
So who's to take the blame for the stormy weather?
You're never gonna stop all the teenage leather and booze
It's time to go round
A one-man showdown, teach us how to fail
We're off the streets now
And back up the road on the riot trail

Lyrics submitted by

"Teenage Riot" as written by Thurston Moore Steve Shelley

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

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Teenage Riot song meanings
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  • +6
    General CommentThe wait is over. All the dumbshits can go crawl back into their stinkholes because it is time to actually DISECT and INTERPRET this song FOR REAL. Wow, who would've thought a place called songmeanings was really an emo debate forum or a collection of asspats saying "SNONIC YUOTH we LUV Yoooo!!!!"

    Here we go:

    [Opening Kim Section]
    This is a very mocking, sarcastic way to open a record and I love it. "You're it" is delivered in a sarcastic tone in order to poke fun at people who rate music or art, who think that certain styles are "it" are the most essential of the moment. SY is arguing that such evaluations are meaningless. The spirit desire repeated is much more serious however. It evokes a sense of lost spiritual values in America, a loss of desire for spiritual (this doesn't have to be organized religion) rehabilitation or enrichment.

    [Thurston's section]
    This is a VERY long section with a ton of depth that I really cannot get into because of space and time constraints. However, to help in decoding individual pieces let me give you my opinion of the big picture. The song is called "Teen Age Riot" for a good reason: it is about the desire for rebellion, for free thinking, for excess in the lives of teenagers in the late 80s. Drugs (free-speed nation) lack of attention span (hypernation, an interesting play on hybernation) and a growing tension between the rebels and the establishment (stormy weather). Obviously the Youth identify with this rebellious subculture, they need a "cord and a peddle" in order to express there own version of rebellion: through music. Their music itself is like a riot, which is both beautiful and terrifying at the same time. So, in summary, Thurston's section is like a mission statement: we are Sonic Youth, we are the new generation of rebellious individuals who are embracing chaos (bound too loose).

    Ok I know that is a bit of reading, but I think this song deserves a bit more thorough evaluation. Hope that helps others to decode this great song.

    P.S.: I don't want to get into this debate but here's some info, Rites of Spring is considered the father of "emo" which is loosely defined as a hardcore punk musician ship melded with more introspective, emotional lyrics as opposed to the anti-establishment free thinking of punk's lyrics. Now this term is applied to nearly every teary-eyed emotional band on the planet. Labels have very little weight, so don't rely on them.
    couldBanyoneon April 27, 2006   Link
  • +2
    General CommentCome on. Don't tell me everyone's going to stop detailing their perceptions of emo now... You know, really, Louis Armstrong and his Hot Five were the first emo band. Really. I mean it. You can't deny it.
    Fypaston March 29, 2005   Link
  • +2
    General Commentthis song is a wake-up call; it's a call-to-arms to every young person who ever wanted to pick up a guitar. i'd been listening to daydream nation for almost 20 yrs before i read "teenage riot" was about j mascis. didn't matter. you only have to hear the song. the way it rocks: that IS the meaning.

    my opinion--for what little it's worth--is that "emo" was once a term (rarely used except by a handful of rock critics, trying to achieve some kind of historical perspective) used to describe a very small subset of the punk-rock scene, of which Rites of Spring were the archetypal example. Ian MacKaye and Guy Picciotto being the singers & songwriters of Fugazi--and earlier having been members of Minor Threat and Rites of Spring (in that order)--well, this probably explains the confused attempts to tie them to something called "emo".

    in 2008 most people use "emo" with an entirely different meaning. with the exception of the very earliest days of goth, I have difficulty thinking of a music scene or sub-genre which appears to have no adherents: either because it doesn't exist, or maybe because the tag is being applied as an insult, by those who aren't part of the scene.

    by "no adherents" I mean how "emo" is such a commonly-used term, but you rarely hear someone say "I'm into emo." (except maybe among themselves?) or if a band is tagged as "emo" they never embrace the term; they explain why they're not "emo" or why they don't think it's a meaningful category.

    usually these terms for sub-genres flourish because members of a scene adopt them as a badge of pride. which is how "goth" changed from being a kind of insult into an actual scene. not that the scene didn't exist before, but it has been affected in some ways by having a name (though in the UK "the anorak crowd" is fairly similar, and a term which predates "goth" by a long time)

    this is perhaps not a great analogy, as "goth"--prior to being reclaimed as a self-chosen identity--was little more than a dismissive categorization. whereas calling someone or their band "emo", that's fighting words. so there is a difference, although it might be only a queston of degree.

    history suggests the longer "emo" is used as an insult, the more likely it is to become embraced by those at whom it's being hurled, and thus turn into an actual scene. so if you hate emo, it's in your best interest to stop using the word.

    this is even more divisive than the old "who is more punk" debates. "emo" has become an insult more stinging than "faggot". but if I were a musician--and someone implied my band (or worse, my singing) sounded like Bright Eyes--hey, I'd be insulted.

    this too shall pass. but until it does, it's going to (continue to) be fucking annoying.
    foreverdroneon June 21, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General Commenti just came from sonic youth's show in central park. there were more people hanging out listening outside the main stage (which was filled to capacity and fenced off) than were inside. it was a great time. sonic youth rocks the house.
    LoganNYCon August 11, 2002   Link
  • +1
    General Commentpeace and love
    Carlos21on June 17, 2003   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI wish I knew what this song is about

    First of all, how can anyone call Sonic Youth under rated? Maybe by sales figures underrated but Sonic Youth have been indie rock heroes for like, 20 years. They have put out music thats gotten consistenly good reviews. Their style has changed quite a bit over the years but they are still loved and respected by many. Some people even consider their most recent album, Nurse, to be their best which is something. Bands usually run out of ideas after their 3 or 4th album but sonic youth has made.... I don't even know how many, and they are still coming out with new shit and amazing people

    To repeat what other people said, Minor Threat isn't emo and if you think they are you have obviously never listened to Minor Threat. Ian Mackaye later band fugazi is considered emocore. Both fugazi and minor threat sound nothing like the watered down shit you idiots call emo however (but they are DEFINATELY worth checking out).
    SmackMasterPhillipson October 07, 2004   Link
  • +1
    General Comment90's rock kicks ass this song is better then any song ive heard since like the new millenium
    nirvana318don January 01, 2005   Link
  • +1
    MemoryI am a student affected by the Chicago teacher strike, and this song summarizes the last week for me. Sunday night nobody knew what was going to happen. Everyone was talking but all we could do was wonder. We woke up at 5:30 A.M. to go to our school and support our teachers. Nobody was sure what would happen or if it was worth going down. When we finally got there, there were around 200 teachers and 400 students all on the lawn wearing red. The kids all got together and waved at cars and stood by our teachers. The teachers left at 10:30, but a lot of kids hung around. Teenage riot in a public station... We also all saw Rahm Emanuel as the hero of our city. Lots of people liked him, but we just painted a zero on his hand over this. We're looking for a man with the focus and a temper. We hope it works out our way, But until then the teenage riot will keep getting us out of bed to go back on the road on the riot trail.
    thekid1811on September 17, 2012   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis is a fantastic song from one of the best anf most underrated bands of the time, this song has such a great groove and kim's intro is haunting. Awesome. 'Candle' is also a great song
    Lets_kill_musicon July 07, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI agree that sonic youth is so underrated. All of their songs impress me so much. This being one of them. My other fav. sonic youth song would have to be mote and/or sunday.
    papercupon July 23, 2002   Link

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