A wallflower punch talks to judy
In a crowded corner where anybody can listen in
But they don't read page to page or speak easy
Now they're gonna go say the words
In the wrong order again
They walk in a circle
Through all the sidewalks scenes they used to be apart of one time
Now everybody just stares and whispers
Driving around up and down division street
I used to like it here
It just burns me out to remember
Can't you ever treat anyone nice
I think I'm gonna make the same mistake twice
They draw the curtain
Wait for a call
Pretty lucky if they get any kind of response at all
Can't you ever treat anyone nice
I think I'm gonna make the same mistake twice
I'm gonna make the same mistake twice



Lyrics submitted by EnjOy IncUbus

"Punch and Judy" as written by Steven P. Smith

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

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Punch and Judy song meanings
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23 Comments

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  • +5
    My Interpretation:This song is about Elliott Smith coming back to Portland, Oregon and visiting with an old friend, and seeing the old neighborhood. As they drive down Division street(Near 6th and Powell[Needle in the Hay] and across town from Alameda [Alameda]) They talk about old times that he "used to be a part of," and how "I used to like it here," but now it "bums me out to remember."

    "Punch and Judy" is a puppet comedy improvisation routine ("They don't read page to page or speak easy") that dates back to medieval times when puppeteers would entertain at "sidewalk scenes" and other social gatherings like Elliott entertained with his bands.

    Portland was once Elliott's town, and he knew everyone around, but now they "just stare and whisper." Once, when adoring fans and friends would rain praise after a curtain call, but now he is "Pretty lucky if they get any kind of response at all."

    But the fact is, Portland will always be Elliott's town.

    bluesbegger123on April 29, 2009   Link
  • +3
    General Comment:Punch and Judy was a television show in the early days of TV. They were two puppets that beat each other up constantly. This song draws a parallel between the TV characters and two people in a relationship that is obviously hurtful and sad to watch. These two were friends, and friend with the songwriter, and it used to be like a happy family. When the relationship started, and quickly deteriorated, it put an uncomfotable vibe on the crowd of friends. These two only see themselves, however, and feel a sort of familiarity and comfort in the pain that they inflict on each other. Once more, they repeat the same behaviours over and over unconsciously. Really poinent, and sad, commentary.
    ZipperHeadon July 02, 2003   Link
  • 0
    General Comment:It seems that at first the song is talking about two people in a relationship who dont fit the standard normality. (ie. a gay or lesbian couple, a black and white couple etc). It makes sense in the first part of the song, but the second part doesn't really fit it.
    WhiteIronon May 05, 2003   Link
  • 0
    General Comment:Uhh, guys, Punch and Judy goes back way past the days of TV. They're the traditional names for comic puppets used to entertain children at festivals and stuff. They talk, make jokes and beat each other up. Anyway, this is a song about the oversensitive romantic guy getting up the nerve to try again, even when he knows that he'll just end up with his heart broken again, hence the imagery of the execution - drawing the curtain and waiting for the call, but there's not going to be a pardon, he knows it. He makes the same mistake twice - knows how all of this ends and condemns himself to the experience anyway.
    kaffeine_krazyon April 07, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General Comment:A Punch and Judy show is a traditional British puppet show (although I hear that the story was origianlly italian?). Punch often argues with his wife and, very satirically, hits his wife with a bat when the argument gets heated. a policeman gets involved and he and punch tend to fight too. i also remember a crocodile appearing with stolen sausages in his mouth, but i don't remember why. i haven't seena punch and judy show in a long time.
    allthesestarson September 29, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General Comment:One of the songs in Elliott's canon that deserves the adjective "perfect." His melodies can't be surpassed. The songs are simple and heartbreaking and just could not be better than they are. Proof to all songwriters that, with talent, all you need is a four-track, a guitar and a snare drum.
    octaveon October 05, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General Comment:One of the songs in Elliott's canon that deserves the adjective "perfect." His melodies can't be surpassed. The songs are simple and heartbreaking and just could not be better than they are. Proof to all songwriters that, with talent, all you need is a four-track, a guitar and a snare drum.
    octaveon October 05, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General Comment:Don't miss the point, folks - WHEREVER the puppets came from, the fact that they attack each other is unassailable. Now, back to the song (remember the song?) ... the couple is so self-absorbed that they think everyone else is just as interested in their drama as they are. Kind of like us :-)
    ZipperHeadon December 27, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General Comment:is there a version of him singing this song with these lyrics, cause in the version i have he says
    'a wallPAPER punch talks to judy' and instead of
    'can't you ever treat anyone nice?
    i think i'm gonna make the same mistake twice' he sings
    'cant be careful when you're giving advice
    dreaming, you dont even know what you like'
    both lyrics fit equally well, i just wonder which of these versions was his final version.
    and i agree, this song shows of the perfection that is elliotts canon of music.. no one did it better.
    lisalynnon January 09, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General Comment:ok im a fool.. just realised ive been listening to the demo he did for the song, not the version he released, thats why i had the different lyrics... i think i prefer the demo lyrics more though.
    lisalynnon February 06, 2005   Link

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