"Christian Brothers" as written by and Steven P. Smith....
No bad dream fucker's gonna boss me around
Christian brothers gonna take him down
But it can't help me get over
Don't be cross, this sick I want
I've seen the boss blink on and off

Fake concerns is what's the matter, man
And you think I ought to shake your motherfucking hand
Well I know how much you care

Don't be cross, this sick I want
I've seen the boss blink on and off
Come here by me I want you here
Nightmares become me it's so fucking clear

Nightmares become me it's so fucking clear

Lyrics submitted by EnjOy IncUbus, edited by elenora, misscleo3861, SixThreeTimes

"Christian Brothers" as written by Steven P. Smith

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

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Christian Brothers song meanings
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  • +5
    General CommentIt's true, Christian Brothers, is an inexpensive brandy, that Elliot was probably familiar with. But I think in this song, it's just a play on words, and that his real meaning has more to do with him dealing with the aftermath of a fucked up adolescence. It is well documented that his time with his mom and stepfather in Dallas was a traumatic one for him. I think this song is about him trying to cope.

    For sure, Elliott wasn't your typical Dallas teenager. I can imagine him being bullied about by jocks and other typical "frat boy" types. Many of them probably stood under the banner of Christianity, in the way that many Republicans do (Ahhemm george bush). He uses the word "cross" to mean angry, which I think is a play on words reference to the theme of christianity.

    Quite possibly, the song is a direct attack on that system, perhaps more specifically, his main antagonist, his stepfather. It appears to me that his stepfather came to represent the things in his life that went wrong and the suffering he faced.

    These lines:

    Fake concerns is what's the matter, man
    And you think I ought to shake your motherfucking hand

    Make me think that he is pissed off by the fake sympathy that is shown to him, and he is outraged that he should have to make a show of peace by shaking this person's hand. A person he despises.
    tigersmokeon May 12, 2007   Link
  • +4
    General CommentIn canada, the Christian Bros are a well known religous orginaization that sets up orphanages and schools for boys. In 1992, 9 christian bros were procecuted with a total of 75 sexual abuse charges and the orinization was sued something like 13 mill. There is a CBC move about it called "the boys of saint vincent".
    plutoniumon January 22, 2006   Link
  • +4
    General CommentThis is what I could make of it:
    "No bad dream fucker's going to boss me around
    Christian Brothers going to take him down"
    He can't reach his dreams and uses alcohol as an escape, to "take him down", forget about what ruins his dreams.
    "But it can't help me get over"
    It only makes him forget, doesn't help really.

    "Don't be cross, it's sick what I want"
    He doesn't want any help, he WANTS to be sick.
    "I've seen the boss blink on and off"
    I think it'd be a reference to God, specially the use of "Christian Brothers" as an alcohol instead of any other.. I think he means he's been close to dying many times..

    "Fake concerns is what's the matter, man
    And you think I ought to shake your motherfucking hand
    Well, I know how much you care"
    When people try to "help" and get you out of such states of alcoholism or drug addiction, they're actually thinking about themselves, how they love the addicted person and how they miss them. So they're actually helping themselves, not the addicted (not my vision on it, I guess it'd be elliott's vision).

    "Come here by me, I want you here
    Nightmares become me, it's so fucking clear"
    In the end, it becomes clear that he really wants company and help, he doesn't want to be alone.
    bernardofbbragaon August 02, 2007   Link
  • +4
    General CommentCan someone explain how to change the lyrics on this site?
    The lyric is CLEARLY "Don't be cross, this sick I want"
    not "Don't be cross, it's sick what I want"

    You may think it makes more sense as "it's sick what I want"
    but it isn't the job of the people on this site to decide what makes more sense,
    it's to record the actual lyrics and make interpretations based off of them.

    If you're using the wrong lyrics, you're going to get wrong interpretations.
    Listen to the song, you'll easily be able to tell it's "This sick I want"
    The lyric "This sick I want" is an implies "This sickness is what I want"
    and has the same basic meaning as Between the Bars.
    Both of these songs are about a surrender to alcohol.
    FadingOuton November 19, 2009   Link
  • +4
    My InterpretationChristian Brothers by Elliott Smith relates to alcoholism and parental abuse. The title of the song is clever in the way that it exemplifies both of these subjects; Christian Brothers is the name of a brandy but also a religious organization with heavy sexual abuse charges that set up orphanages and schools for boys. Elliott was beaten and sexually abused by his stepfather, which later fueled his dependence issues on drugs and alcohol.

    "No bad dream fucker's gonna boss me around" Pretty straight forward. "Bad dream fucker" (referencing his stepfather) is important wording that ties up to a line at the very end of the song.
    "Christian Brothers gonna take him down" Referencing the brandy. The alcohol induced state is going to "take down" his memories of his stepfather's abuse.
    "But it can't help me get over" He knows his dependence on alcohol isn't going to help him actually fix anything in the long run.
    "Don't be cross" Play on words. "Cross" tying in with religious symbolism. "Don't be cross" signifies two things. The literal meaning, don't be abusive/angry. The other meaning, including the religious symbolism, having to do with the organization named Christian Bros. He's saying stop and don't follow suit after what Christian Bros. is infamous for (sexual abuse.)
    "This sick I want" He craves alcohol, and therefore, the sickness that comes along with it. I think the wording is important. He sounds like he's choosing between multiple sicknesses. I want this sickness, as opposed to another. Maybe the other sickness is the one that comes along with being sober, fully able to process what he's been through?
    "I've seen the boss blink on and off" "Boss" referencing his stepfather. "Blink on and off" meaning his stepfather's behavior switching between a nice state and an abusive state. This line indicates a panic. He never knows which side of his stepfather is going to rear its head.
    "Fake concerns is what's the matter, man" The stepfather is acting concerned, falsely so, because if he was truly concerned he'd change his behavior. It seems to be an answer to the popular question people get asked when they're outwardly upset, "What's the matter?" "Your fake concern about what's the matter is what's the matter."
    "And you think I ought to shake your motherfucking hand" Elliott doesn't want to put up a front with his stepfather. He doesn't want to act respectful to someone abusing him. Children are supposed to respect their parents, but it is twisted in this case because the parent-son dynamic has been perverted, which leaves room for Elliott to act defiantly.
    "Well I know how much you care" Extremely sarcastic. He's thinking on the past wrongdoings done to him by the very person who is acting concerned (possibly towards his alcohol dependency) and basically saying, "You did this to me so how can you turn around and act so caring and concerned?"
    "Come here by me, I want you here" Double meaning. It could be interpreted as bossy and self entitled or romantic and desperate. I see the bossy and self entitled side as the stepfather speaking to Elliott in a gross fit of rage, wanting Elliott to bend to his whims. I sense a parental air of "Do what I say." I see the romantic and desperate side as Elliott talking to the brandy.
    "Nightmares become me, it's so fucking clear" My favorite line. Remember the first line, "No bad dream fucker's gonna boss me around." The "bad dream fucker" was a label for his father. Now the "bad dream" or nightmare is him. He's let the things he's been through turn him into something frightening - a drunkard. "It's so fucking clear" is against what dreams and drunken states are supposed to be; foggy, blurry, and barely remembered. But this bad dream is painfully apparent.
    gutbugon September 21, 2015   Link
  • +2
    General Commentelliott smith also talks about how alcohol makes one more steadfast in their beliefs. "christian brothers gonna take him down" is equivalent to 'alcohol helps me win any conflict.' anyone who has engaged in a drunken argument knows what this is about. when inebriated, people become much more fierce and vehement in defending their beliefs, as deluded as they may be.
    shoezon December 30, 2004   Link
  • +2
    General Commentjust an idea, but it could be about a parental figure? i won't assume it's his stepfather, because who knows.. don't mean to overuse that idea, but it seems like a lot of his songs do have something to do with this apparently heinous charlie guy...

    my interpretation: he doesn't want to be "bossed around" by someone who he does not respect or accept as an authority figure.. he's an inconsistent parent that "blink[s] on and off"? this also fits with the handshake part.. he despises the smarmy parental attitude that his stepfather is doing things all "for his own good".. he sees it as fake and even malicious.

    i do agree that the alcohol reference is probably quite correct.. could be symbolic for any way of numbing out the painful relationship, but due to the whisky reference.. probably booze.

    just my take though! nobody kill me, please..
    pollyethyleneon April 02, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI see this could be seen in two ways, both what people hit on earlier

    its about his step dad, he's might be the one with the drinking problem and explains
    'No bad dream fucker's going to boss me around
    Christian Brothers going to take him down'

    also explains the line

    'Come here by me, I want you here'
    almost a demanding thing to say in a parental way

    The step dad idea can relate to alot of lines in the song

    or it is about going through his own problems and no one showing genuine concern =/
    Jaybeardon November 06, 2009   Link
  • +1
    Lyric Correction"don't be cross, this sick I want"
    guerillacelliston May 01, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General Commentnice and angry
    AndForgetMeNotson April 15, 2002   Link

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