"Junk Bond Trader" as written by and Steven P. Smith....
The imitation picks you up like a habit
Writing in the glow of the tv static
Taking out the trash to the man
Give the people something they understand

Stick man flashing a fine-line smile
Junk bond trader trying to sell a sucker a style
Rich man in a poor man's clothes
The permanent installment of the daily dose

And you tell off when you tell it like it is
Your world's no wider than your hatred of his
Checking into a small reality
Boring as a drug you take too regularly

The apple needs to laugh; the broken crutch
The first true love that folded at the slightest touch
Brought down like an old hotel
People digging through the rubble for things they can resell

"Happy holidays," said sick savior
The leading love I still favor
I won't take your medicine
I don't need a remedy
To be everything I'm supposed to be
I don't want nobody else
I can do it by myself
We're meant to be together

Now I'm a policeman directing traffic
Keeping everything moving, everything static
I'm the hitchhiker you recognize passing
On your way to some everlasting

Better sell it while you can
Better sell it while you can
Better sell it while you can
Better sell it while you can


Lyrics submitted by EnjOy IncUbus, edited by Gunsite, RomackSuites2, Aragorn224

"Junk Bond Trader" as written by Steven Paul Smith Steven P. Smith

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

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Junk Bond Trader song meanings
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  • +5
    General Comment\"The imitation picks you up like a habit
    Writing in the glow of the TV\'s static
    Taking out the trash to the man
    Give the people something they understand\"

    :as an artist, it\'s easy to fall into writing things that fit a pattern... you waste your own time spending it writing the same old stuff over and and over \"in the glow of the TV\'s static\". what kind of environment is that to write inspired, genius work? so he takes this unoriginal crap back to \"the man\" (the record label) because they want him to write something the dumb populace can understand; \"give the people something they can understand\".

    \"A stickman flashing a fine-line smile
    Junk bond trader trying to sell a sucker a style
    Rich man in a poor man\'s clothes
    The permanent installment of the daily dose\"

    :the AR guy from the label gives him a smile, pretending to be \"hip\" and \"with it\", \"trying to sell a sucker [elliot smith] a style [emo hair, tight shirt, blue jeans, and tattoos; in touch with being depressed]\". the AR guy knows how much the label is paying elliott, how much the kids will pay for elliot\'s stuff, and gets paid a ton of money for getting elliot on the label, but he (the AR guy) dumbs his image down to fit in with elliot; he\'s faking it. and this is what elliot traded his drug habit for: \"the permanent installment of the daily dose\".

    \"And you tell off when you tell it like it is
    Your world\'s no wider than your hatred of his
    Checking into a small reality
    Boring as a drug you take too regularly\"

    :when he tell\'s the truth, he get\'s so pissed that all he can focus on i how much he hate\'s this guy: \"your world\'s no wider than your hatred of his\". this is all he experiences of the world and it\'s wearing on him, distracting him from things that matter.

    \"The athelete\'s laugh, the broken crutch
    The first true love that folded at the slightest touch
    Brought down like an old hotel
    People digging through the rubble for things they can resell\"

    :real life experiences that would otherwise be precious are \"brought down like an old hotel\" to make room for something new, sorting through the debris of memories that meant something for an overused metaphor that he can write about that everyone can relate to, \"people digging through the rubble for things they can resell\".

    \"\"Happy holidays,\" said Seek the Saviour
    The leaving lover that I still favor
    I won\'t take your medicine
    I don\'t need a remedy
    To be everything I\'m supposed to be
    I don\'t want nobody else
    I can do it by myself
    We\'re meant to be together\"

    :Dreamworks made him go clean when he signed on with them; they told him to find God (Dreamworks = Seek the Savior) and stop doing drugs, \"the leaving lover that I[elliot smith] still favor\". elliot doesn\'t want to be told what to do, he doesn\'t need a remedy to be everything he\'s supposed to be; he already is what he is and who are they to tell him he\'ll be better doing what they ask of him? drugs and elliot were \"meant to be together\".

    \"Now I\'m a policeman directing traffic
    Keeping everything moving, everything static
    I\'m the hitchhiker you\'ll recognize passing
    On your way to some everlasting\"

    :he reverts back to just keeping everything working, with no real reason to keep going. he\'s been tamed; he\'s over the fact that they fucked up his creative process. he knows he\'ll lose his fans for it: \"i\'m the hitchhiker you\'ll recognize passing on your way to some everlasting\". his fans will see that he\'s changed here on this album, see that he\'s lost touch and move on to some other holy grail that actually speaks to them, not someone straightened out and fucked over that can\'t relate to emotion any more.

    \"Better sell it while you can
    Better sell it while you can
    Better sell it while you can
    Better sell it while you can\"

    :better sell it while you can...you used him up for the money and don\'t give a fuck that you destroyed him in the process. take it to the bank.

    nobody got the interpretation right and i had to do it myself.
    skealoha86on June 28, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI see what you mean. The first lyrics printed were shit. I have the lyrics from the booklet, but still, I think that it was pretty obviously not 'mistake a nervous flash' for example.
    Madsyon May 08, 2004   Link
  • +1
    General Commentit's all about selling out to dreamworks and the music biz in hollywood. the intervention they imposed on him to get clean and his resentment for them trying to tell him what to do. Figure 8 was his first 'major label' album and he tried to break free from his contract after this...
    MARY Kon December 23, 2004   Link
  • +1
    General CommentElliott Smith is an artist, right? Why does he have to fit how he feels into one idea or another?

    He is painting a picture of society. He is painting a picture of being old and used up. He is painting a picture of the way people are. He is painting a picture of a broken relationship.
    In a lot of ways, he is discribing what people do when they are broken down... "people digging through the rubble for things they can resell" (how peole act; what they do to get by in life)
    And than he ends with almost a conclusion..."better sell it while you can" (as if to say it's the only thing you can do)

    Really, just listen to the song and you will see that he is discribing a salesman. Just kidding!

    He is discribing an observant feeling through many different situations.
    metermaid914on September 09, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General Commentwhile it may have some reference to drugs, i think that it is about his frustration with the record industry. the record company wanted to mold him into what they wanted to sell. it is almost the same kind of frustration like in pink floyd's have a cigar and welcome to the machine.
    ElliottSmithon June 06, 2008   Link
  • +1
    Song Meaningwell a junk bond is a bond with a alot of risk involved, and you sell it and usually the company goes bust so your pretty much stealing someones money when you issue them

    maybe he is using this as a metaphor but i think it might just be a stab at capitalist america

    'better sell it while you can' cus they are a complete con and you'll lose everything if you dont get rid of it quickly

    just a thought
    jonnyash89on April 03, 2009   Link
  • +1
    Song MeaningThis song makes the most sense to me as being an indictment of the commercialization of punk culture, rebellion, and self destruction that was taking place in the music industry throughout the 1990s.

    The imitation picks you up like a habit
    Writing in the glow of the TV's static
    Taking out the trash to the man
    Give the people something they understand

    seems to be about a lack of artistic integrity, producing a cheapened, fake art

    A stickman flashing a fine-line smile - a stick man is one dimensional, has no depth
    Junk bond trader trying to sell a sucker a style - a junk bond trader sells a worthless commodity as the next big thing
    Rich man in a poor man's clothes - adoption of street culture as a style, erasure of its original meaning
    The permanent installment of the daily dose

    The second verse seems to deal with the tired, but real cliches of experience that people who live outside of mainstream culture seem to share. The last two lines:

    Brought down like an old hotel
    People digging through the rubble for things they can resell

    are about record companies and style-makers, or maybe artists, rummaging through the wreckage of people's/their own lives for marketable trash

    The bridge seems like a paraphrase of various 'anti-' attitudes being packaged for mass consumption 'won't take your medecine' 'don't want nobody else' 'I can do it by myself'

    The final verse shows the punk artist fully appropriated, working as a police man to keep everything running smoothly in the status quo, living cheaply to make a few dollars while their fake rebellion remains in style



























    prontoldon November 12, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General Commentthis is about elliotts heroin addiction whilst in heatmiser
    Jabbatronon May 23, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General Commentmy fucking god... the lyrics are totally off. have you ever even HEARD the song before?! according to the lyrics in the album booklet (and common sense), it's:

    the imitation picks you up like a habit
    writing in the glow of the tv static
    taking out the trash to the man
    give the people something they understand

    stick man flashing a fine-line smile
    junk bond trader trying to sell a sucker a style
    rich man in a poor man's clothes
    the permanent installment of the daily dose

    and you tell off when you tell it like it is
    your world's no wider than your hatred of his
    checking into a small reality
    boring as a drug you take too regularly

    the apple needs to laugh; the broken crutch
    the first true love that folded at the slightest touch
    brought down like an old hotel
    people digging through the rubble for things they can resell

    "happy holidays," said sick saviour
    the leading love i still favor
    i won't take your medicine
    i don't need a remedy
    to be everything i'm supposed to be
    i don't want nobody else
    i can do it by myself
    we're meant to be together

    now i'm a policeman directing traffic
    keeping everything moving, everything static
    i'm the hitchhiker you recognize passing
    on your way to some everlasting...

    better sell it while you can
    better sell it while you can
    better sell it while you can
    better sell it while you can
    mon no jigokuon June 07, 2003   Link
  • 0
    General Commentah. sorry. forgot to correct this line:

    the athelete's laugh, the broken crutch
    the first true love that folded at the slightest touch
    brought down like an old hotel
    people digging through the rubble for things they can resell
    mon no jigokuon June 08, 2003   Link

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