"Baby Britain" as written by and Steven P. Smith....
Baby Britain feels the best
Floating over a sea of vodka
Separated from the rest
Fights problems with bigger problems

Sees the ocean fall and rise
Counts the waves that somehow didn't hit her
Water pouring from her eyes
Alcoholic and very bitter

For someone half as smart
You'd be a work of art
You put yourself apart
And I can't help until you start

We knocked another couple back
The dead soldiers lined up on the table
Still prepared for an attack
They didn't know they'd been disabled

Felt a wave a rush of blood
You won't be happy 'til the bottle's broken
And you're out swimming in the flood
You kept back you kept unspoken

For someone half as smart
You'd be a work of art
You put yourself apart
And I can't help until you start

You got a look in your eye
When you're saying goodbye
Like you want to say hi

The light was on but it was dim
Revolver's been turned over
And now it's ready once again
The radio was playing "crimson and clover"

London bridge is safe and sound
No matter what you keep repeating
Nothing's gonna drag me down
To a death that's not worth cheating

For someone half as smart
You'd be a work of art
You put yourself apart
And I can't help until you start

For someone half as smart
You'd be a work of art
You put yourself apart
And I can't help until you start

Lyrics submitted by EnjOy IncUbus

"Baby Britain" as written by Steven P. Smith

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

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Baby Britain song meanings
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  • +4
    General Commentnotice the similarities in the music to the beatles' "getting better"--elliot smith uses the same background music (slightly modified).
    yarbleson May 10, 2002   Link
  • +4
    General Comment------------------------------------------------------------
    by mlueth19 on 03-04-2006 @ 01:17:34 AM
    I've always wondered about the line "For someone half as smart, you'd be a work of art." Do you think he meant "Someone less intelligent would see you as a work of art, but I'm too smart for that"?
    I'm of the opinion that he's talking to himself in a lot of his songs (or the character in the song is talking to himself), even though he may refer to himself in the third person. So, to be more precise, I would say it means "Someone less intelligent might see me as a work of art, but I know better." But I think your interpretation of it is entirely correct. I always loved that line.
    EnidCaulfieldon April 16, 2006   Link
  • +3
    General Commentrevolver's been turned over
    and now it's ready once again

    a-ha! a beatles reference...
    MARY Kon December 30, 2004   Link
  • +2
    General CommentI don't think "Baby Britain" is a reference to Britain, America, or any other country. It's just a person - a girl, specifically. I think the name is used for the visual metaphor (perhaps, for isolation) in the first few lines: "floating over a sea of vodka / separated from the rest", "sees the ocean fall and rise / counts the waves that somehow didn't hit her".

    Building on what a few others have suggested. I think the song is about someone who is introverted and depressed, and who has low self-esteem and drowns their sorrows in alcohol. Elliott Smith seems to be the part of a close friend (perhaps their only friend).

    The line "for someone half as smart / you'd be a work of art" sounds like it's saying something like "you're a wonderful person; someone who is half as smart as I am would be able to see that." As though it's trying to encourage this person and build their self-esteem.

    The lines "you got a look in your eye / when you're saying goodbye / like you wanna say hi" make me think that this person really wants to reach out and open up to someone, but they're too afraid, so they hide it. "you put yourself apart / and i can't help until you start" also seems to make a statement like this, also saying that this person can't be helped unless they stop isolating themselves.

    The final verse seems to have some allusions to suicide (Russian Roulette). The lines "nothing's gonna drag me down / to a death that's not worth cheating" seems to condemn this.

    It's an interesting song - bittersweet, like many of Elliott Smith's. He seems somewhat critical of "Baby Britain", particularly their drinking habits; but simultaneously, he shows sympathy and expresses his admiration for her. Maybe even love - or maybe she feels that way about him, and is too afraid to express it.

    I don't know. Maybe I'm being too literal or simplistic in my interpretation. But this song is definitely one of my favorite Elliott Smith songs, and one of my favorite songs in general.
    TheInvisManon January 31, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentDoes no one realize that they're playing russian roulette over vodka shots?
    Hyperboleon November 10, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General Comment'The dead soldiers lined up on the table'- bottles of alcohol.
    MaKaV3L!on May 28, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General Commentmakav3l is right the dead soldiers are talking about empty cans... wounded soldiers however have some beer left in them. elliot smith's lyrics are so deep with meaning, and awesome.
    barr27on March 22, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI love irony: "London Bridge is safe and sound."
    victorialucason May 12, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General CommentEveryone talking about Britain vs America is stupid. It's a metaphor, learn some basic interpretation skills.

    Nobody seems to mention the stanza talking about a revolver being "ready once again" and "nothings gunna drag me down to a death that's not worth cheating for." How does that fit into the interpretation about it being about an alcoholic friend?

    Also, the line "For someone half as smart you'd be a work of art" to me sounds like an insult, saying that you aren't a work of art to me, but maybe someone that is half as smart as me could think you are great. However, I can't find any basis for that interpretation except the emotion I feel from this song, so I could be wrong.

    I agree with the one person who said that it's describes playing Russian Roulette over shots of vodka. This is a song about self-destruction, but (obviously since he wrote the song) with an understanding of this. The speaker ends up questioning whether he will allow himself to be dragged down to committing suicide instead of fighting.

    I think the speaker compares himself with an alcoholic he sees/knows, and decides that just giving up is pitiful and that you have to try to help yourself and not cheat life and take the easy way out. This doesn't make it an optimistic song, however. It is written from the verge of self-destruction.
    Drewski4747on March 31, 2010   Link
  • +1
    General CommentWell here's my personal analysis...

    Baby Britain appears to be a woman who is a bitter, attention-seeking and had a dependency on alcohol to feel good ("feels best floating over a sea of vodka")

    Smith talks about this woman in a very negative tone, so it could be said that he resents her, but when he says "we knocked another couple back" we then know that he still spends time with this woman. (Perhaps what he resents in her is also what he doesn't like in himself?)

    Baby Britain seems unable to deal with her own problems, so makes them up to be problems beyond her that she cannot solve ("fights problems with bigger problems") and, in frequent references to the sea Elliott puts across how little of a grip she has on dealing with her own life ("counts the waves that somehow didn't hit her" "you're out swimming in the flood")

    He also describes alcohol as something aggressive and violent by making them out to be like soldiers ("the dead soldiers lined up on the table/still prepared for an attack/they didn't know they'd been disabled") It's like alcohol is something they need to fight against by drinking it, a twisted logic for sure.

    The most interesting line for me is definitely "For someone half as smart you'd be a work of art." This makes me think that perhaps Baby Britain feels compelled to put herself above others, perhaps people who aren't as 'messed up' as she is, like she's putting herself up on a pedestal for her problems.
    purplerawron May 31, 2010   Link

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