"Angeles" as written by and Steven P. Smith....
Someone's always coming around here
Trailing some new kill
Says "I've seen your picture on a
Hundred-dollar bill"
What's a game of chance to you,
To him is one Of real skill

So glad to meet you, Angeles

Picking up the ticket shows there's
Money to be made
Go on, lose the gamble that's the
History of the trade
Did you add up all the cards left to play
To zero

And sign up with evil, Angeles?

Don't start me trying now
Uh-huh, uh-huh, uh-huh

'Cause I'm all over it, Angeles

I can make you satisfied in
Everything you do
All your secret wishes could right
Now be coming true
And be forever with my poison arms

Around you
No one's gonna fool around with us
No one's gonna fool around with us
So glad to meet'cha, Angeles


Lyrics submitted by EnjOy IncUbus

"Angeles" as written by Davide Dileo Massimiliano Casacci

Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc., Universal Music Publishing Group

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Angeles song meanings
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118 Comments

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  • +9
    General Commentthis song is about how elliot smith decided not to sell out and not to make music in los angeles where he would be sold. And he talks about the people scoutting him...


    someone's always coming around here trailing some new kill
    says i seen your picture on a hundred dollar bill
    and what's a game of chance to you, to him is one of real skill

    that line explains how they only saw him as money to be made.
    MusicGuruon May 12, 2003   Link
  • +5
    General CommentI started a songmeanings.net account to write this comment, and I listen to the song as I write it.

    Many reviewers on here write decent interpretations, but I think many are too literal (i.e. - "its about heroin") or too abstract (i.e. "all songs are up to opinions"). This song definitely has a point. The point is that there are forces out there - whether people, drugs, LA, emotions - that work to make you do things. Angeles as a force here is kind of like the devil, telling you "I can make you satisfied in everything you do." This is a muse singing to someone - telling you they will take care of you, "no one's gonna fool around with us" But it is a destructive muse. Elliott knows it is a bad muse. Maybe it is LA. Maybe it is drugs. Maybe it is a person. Doesn't really matter. It is a force that is ALWAYS trailing some new kill. Someone new to hypnotize into their world with promises of fame and money and beauty. And this pursuit is NOT a game...it is skill. Like the devil in "Sympathy for the Devil" by The Rolling Stones, this is a deliberate pursuit.

    What I appreciate about this song the most is that he sings in 2 voices: his own voice at the beginning, describing the situation he is in as he sits watching Angeles woo his prey ("Someone's always coming around here trailing some new kill), and in the first person voice OF Angeles at the end ("I could make you satisfied in everything you do / All your "secret wishes" could right now be coming true).

    He is watching it go down: to himself and to everyone.
    unicornlover69on May 31, 2009   Link
  • +4
    General CommentOh, I forgot-this is my line, the one that kills me every time Elliott sings it-"I could make you satisfied in everything you do. All your 'secret wishes' could right now be coming true, and be forever with my poison arms around you. No one's gonna fool around with us."
    StarClaireon July 23, 2002   Link
  • +3
    General CommentFor me (initially not knowing much about the artists background), this song tells of
    1. the archetypal corruption of the good by the devil (like in Dorian Gray, or Faust)
    2. some coming-of-age situation, the destruction of a childish paradise by reality, which is full of corruption and deceit.

    I think limiting the meaning to Smith's opinion of LA / he showbizz is too small a horizon for this text... that would be quite trite, wouldn't it? I'm not saying he might not have been inspired by this, but this song goes much deeper.

    Possibly my perception of this song was influenced by the context in which I heard it first - the movie "Paranoid Park" by Gus Van Sant.
    LoonaLovegoodon May 07, 2010   Link
  • +2
    General Commenthm... it's amusing to see all you people commenting on this stuff when you've heard nearly nothing of elliott's. but anyway... while people say this is about drugs, it's not at all. musicguru was close. it's about los angeles and the hypocrisy of the music business. at the time he wrote this he had just moved to LA and was going to release his next album on the Dreamworks label (XO), but this one was on the portland-based indie one, Kill Rock Stars anyway. "go on, lose the gamble, that's the history of the trade." the whole scene was such a rise. you either make it or you don't. he evidently found all that hypocritical.
    mon no jigokuon June 07, 2003   Link
  • +2
    General Commentoh, and adding all your cards up to zero is a method of counting cards in black jack. Cards are given values of negative and positive numbers, at the end of the deck you should be back to zero
    cellordoreon March 01, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General CommentYes, Elliott Smith's lyrics are damned good, but that's not even the best part of this song-the guitar...ooh, wow, it gives me chills just thinking about it. He is one talented man-Who cares whether or not he's attractive-he melts me with sounds.
    StarClaireon July 23, 2002   Link
  • +1
    General Commentdoesnt "poison arms" refer to his years of heroine addiction and the result that it had on him? his poison arms? or does he mean the arms of the music "industry"? It can definitely be poisonous. I am up in the air on this one, if its about drugs alone, it doesnt make sense, and having worked in the industry, yeah I can vouch for his thoughts. All I know is that its a great song, he was so brilliant.
    replicant212on October 06, 2004   Link
  • +1
    General CommentTo me he's talking about how moving to Los Angeles and getting signed to dreamworks major label, changed him, It made him lose himself because we all know he felt the music business would crush him. It all changed him and they wouldn't let him stay true to himself. He was sick of the fight and just dealt with it.

    Someone's always coming around here trailing some new kill ( the music business looking to find someone to sign and destroy)

    Says, "I seen your picture on a hundred dollar bill" ((the label's offering him money and fame to get signed (temptation))

    And what's a game of chance to you, to him is one of real skill
    (the person being naive and willing to take the chance of signing while the music business knowing exactly what to do to trap you they know there skill. they know that they're going to do to you before you can even think, but he takes the chance, not knowing what's in store)

    So glad to meet you Angeles
    (sarcastically referring to Los Angeles)

    Picking up the ticket shows there's money to be made
    Go on and lose the gamble, that's the history of the trade (( Getting signed to a label equals money however there's a catch---you do what they say, you'll always lose the gamble because they have control over who you are, what you do, ect. ))

    You add up all the cards left to play to zero
    And sign up with evil (weighing your options and deciding whether to sign to the label or not. eventually deciding yes and you've signed with something evil)

    Don't start me trying now
    Because I'm all over it
    Angeles ( he's stick of fighting for himself, he's over it)

    I could make you satisfied in everything you do
    All your "secret wishes" could right now be coming true ( this could be referring to 2 things: the temptation of drugs and what they can do for you/give you a false sense of satisfaction and "secret wishes" whatever Elliott's secret wishes in life were...maybe how drugs let him forget his past or just that by signing to the label they tempt you by telling you how successful you'll be and all the money you'll make)

    And be forever with my poison arms around you (addiction to the poison of drugs or the contract, either have a hold on you and you can't break free)

    No one's going to fool around with us
    No one's going to fool around with us (he finds there's no way out)

    We all know how unhappy he was when he got signed to dreamworks, He knew they'd crush him. I'm sure he wanted out...
    happys5359on November 27, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentConsider the title of the album (Either/Or) for a second -- angeles is about the struggle between the ethical and the aesthetic. I mean, come on, Either/Or is a reference to Kierkegaard's text of the same title which discusses this very struggle. The last part of the song is a seduction into the aesthetic, while the first part he's the speaker and it's basically him saying how he's susceptible to this. Everyone is. But as Kierkegaard points out, the person who follows this path will find themselves in a pit of despair. The "poison arms" are a great image of this. It can work on the drugs level as well, though, with the drugs being that aesthetic route while staying clean is the ethical path. And it's interesting to think of it that way considering what happened to him; he was so aware of the choices he made and yet he still let drugs take over his life for a while.And it can also work in regards to the music industry, which I think actually works a little better because he talks about how he needs money -- "Picking up the ticket shows there's money to be made." He picks up the ticket, and it shows him how little money he has. But I don't think Elliott Smith wrote it simply for its literal meaning. He wanted to explore this philosophy in context of his life, and drugs and the music industry were a major part in his. He also did major in philosophy.
    iamjackslifeon April 19, 2009   Link

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