Can you make it real
Make it more than will
More than just fill
We are on a ride
We're on it all the time
It's at the front of your mind

My stepfather looks just like David Bowie
But he hates David Bowie
I think Bowie's cool
I think Lodger rules
I think my step dad's a fool

Without me there's nothing

I'm the only thing that dies
If it came down to your life or mine
I would do the stupid thing
And let you keep on living
And let you keep on living
And let you keep on living
And let you keep on living

"I'm alright," said the man to his wife
Waking up to a head full of bed
Full of what she said
She hadn't thought of it for a while
And when she did she thought of it differently
Than she thought she should be thinking
Just the thought of it's enough
To penetrate my comfort zone

Without me there's nothing

I'm the only thing that dies
If it came down to your life or mine
I would do the stupid thing
And let you keep on living
And let you keep on living
And let you keep on living
And let you keep on living


Lyrics submitted by prod, edited by GLaDOSexe

Distopian Dream Girl song meanings
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51 Comments

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  • +5
    General CommentI'm in the camp that maintains this song was mis-titled, and should have been "Solipsist's Dream Girl." Here's an interpretation that might seem like a small stretch, but which I would maintain is consistent, and will ring true for many people:

    Theme: I read this as being about the process of realizing that you care about someone else more than you care about yourself. That, I don't think, is not so controversial. But try this on for size:

    We start out with a vignette of a selfish kid; someone who dismisses people because of superficial disagreements ("my stepdad's a fool because he doesn't like David Bowie"). A more empathetic person might understand why someone with an uncanny resemblance to Bowie might get a little irked at having this pointed out repeatedly, and cut the guy some slack on matters of taste.

    In the next verse we get another vignette of a couple in bed, feeling unsettled, unable to control their reactions to the situation they find themselves in. My guess? Resist the temptation to interpet this song romantically and take another approach: she's pregnant. At least that's a major reason a married couple might be waking up and feeling a bit out of their comfort zone.

    Having children is the inflection point in the solipsist's life. It's the juncture where he realizes that his interests no longer come first, and he can no longer act in accordance with the philosophy he had adopted as a convient way to justify his selfish disposition.
    greensubmarineon March 07, 2012   Link
  • +4
    General CommentWell, I'd hate to break tradition and actually talk about the song meaning, but... i am captivated by the chorus: "Without me there's nothing / I'm the only thing that dies / If it came down to your life or mine / I would do the stupid thing / And let you keep on living". How many ideas does this point to? I see it as something like this: Being trapped in our own subjective world, we become the most important thing in the world (this is solipsism) - because everything else is real only to the extent that you are. As far as *you* are concerned, reality ends when you die. So given the choice between saving your own life, or sacrificing yourself for someone else, it would seem obvious that you should save yourself. Yet, loving someone intensely can make you care about them even more than yourself - breaking the solipsistic spell and making you willing to do the stupid thing and let them keep on living - even if it means ending your world.

    eh?
    soforthon August 02, 2007   Link
  • +2
    General CommentI think someone who formerly help a solipsistic viewpoint and has since changed because of some connection with another would, looking back, see their decision to choose anything at all over their own life as either a) apocolyptic (or dystopian - i.e. the opposite of paradise) or b) a form or maturation from a self-centered philosophy. Thus since the speaker here choose the stupid choice from his philisophical perspective he can only reconcile that by changing his perspective (or perhaps the action was at the same time a paradigmatic shift). The narrative moves to a married couple in bed sleeping after the decision is made, perhaps another invocation of maturation and love. But at the same time their is a sense of something lost...perhaps he did chose her life, and she is considering the consequences for himself and herself from his philisophical perspective.
    jesuskongon September 12, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General Commentdamn people are fucking lame arguing about whats the best indie, this song is great and noone seems to notice that, also please never compare death cab for cutie to built to spill, bts is too good to be lobbed into a group like death cab for cutie
    topicalrushon April 16, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General CommentAt first I took the phrase "Distopian Dream Girl" to mean the dream girl of a dystopia, the anti-dream girl. Let's say the singer's daydreams are analogous to people's dreams of a perfect society. She's twisted his daydreams to their antithesis the way dystopias imagine an eroded future society. "Just the thought of it's enough/To penetrate my comfort zone," he sings. Maybe they're not happy but they're die-for-each-other in love. He likes the pain she causes him because it's real and it pulls him out of his solipsism.

    A more romantic interpretation: envision a society that's gone to shit, and she's the only deliverance from the suffering and pain that characterizes everyone's daily lives. She's Julia in 1984.

    Or something.
    thegunsofbrixtonon July 20, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThe first verse throws me off since it's really abstract. I feel like that verse was added as an afterthought, since it doesn't really jive with the other verses (which seem more lighthearted on the surface, with playful talk of step dads and wives). Maybe he got sick of trying to come up with anything meaningful and just threw some words together that rhymed :)

    The Bowie verse is my favorite. Lodger is a freakin' great & overlooked album. There's a strong sense of teenage rebellion going on here in the lyrics, and he sings it perfectly.

    The third verse about the man and the wife hints at some unspoken tension between the two ('hadn't thought of it for awhile', with 'it' being undefined, and 'penetrate my comfort zone'... may be sexual, who knows)

    The chorus is probably the most part of the song lyrically for me. There's a really great set of contrasting thoughts arranged side-by-side: selfish ('Without me there's nothing, I'm the only thing that dies') and unselfish ('If it came down to your life or mine, I would do the stupid thing and let you keep on living'). I'd wager that he's saying, despite all the BS that goes into dealing with so many people, he's willing to overlook it and focus on the good things rather than the bad.
    iwannabeahipsteron June 14, 2011   Link
  • +1
    My InterpretationI agree with Greensubmarine - excellent analysis. The narrator of the song is a solipsist.

    But here’s a different angle, and I certainly could be mistaken here, but what if the narrator of the song is in a lucid dream?

    A lucid dream is a dream where the dreamer realizes that it is a dream, and that they can do anything they want - most people decide to fly around; but you could choose to kill people, have sex with people, whatever. There are no consequences because it is a dream and you know it. Some people have the ability to dream lucidly much more easily than others.

    Anyway - the song is called Dystopian DREAM Girl - so there’s a clue. Also - everybody, I mean everybody, is a solipsist when they are in a lucid dream. You know your consciousness is the only thing real in the dream.

    The first part of the song is in the lucid dream, and in her dream her stepdad is David Bowie - in real life he probably looks nothing like him. Typical dream material, right?

    In the second verse they awake. The man is alright, he states. The woman, who I suppose was the dreamer (the dystopian dream girl), reconsiders what she had done in her lucid dream, which probably involved killing her husband, and decides to “let you keep on living.”

    Well - that’s a fun interpretation but the more I think about it the less it makes sense - but I’m going to post it here anyway.

    Any ideas why the title is spelled distopian rather than dystopian?
    moikon June 26, 2014   Link
  • +1
    My InterpretationJust throwing my own thoughts about this song into the void. I tend to think of this song a lot all the time and here's what I've come up with...

    The song's title suggests to me that Doug see's his world as Distopian and it's about a girl that saves him from it. He opens up with a question and a description of his world. I'm guessing here that he thinks about reality a lot. As if "We are on a ride" just going through the motions. He then declares that we are always on this ride, clarifying that it happens at the front of your mind. This establishes the reality that we are all stuck with.

    Then the song takes to the Bowie vignette (Full disclosure, I found that word, vignette, in the comments here and stole it <3) where we get a look at his 'critical thinking' in action. I mostly agree with others interpreting a rebellious intent with his thought process here.

    "A more empathetic person might understand why someone with an uncanny resemblance to Bowie might get a little irked at having this pointed out repeatedly, and cut the guy some slack on matters of taste." This comment said here earlier made me think it's meant to expose the writer's own mundane little flaws in thought. In other words he's admitting he's flawed and nothing special just like the rest of us through this vignette.

    "Without me there's nothing" There is no ride without the rider. "I'm the only thing that dies" He sees himself as the beginning and end to it all.

    This song is about your dream girl, the one you won't let go of no matter what. He is discussing the paradox of choosing to live with an emotional creature over the selfish logic of a better life elsewhere.

    I take the lyrics "I would do the stupid thing" to mean a different thing than most. I think that he knows that leaving this girl would completely ruin her, possibly even cause her to end her life. I interpret this dream girl to be a cliche super obsessive romantic type who lives a more emotional rather than logical life. Someone "Full of what she said" who upon later reinterpretation "thought of it differently."

    The "dream girl" changes her thoughts to her moods and this tends to drive more logical minded thinkers crazy. I think Doug feels the same way, "Just the thought of it's enough To penetrate my comfort zone."

    Yet he still chooses to "do the stupid thing" and continue to be with this woman. To leave her would be to ruin her life and it's crazy to keep living with her but wouldn't you do that for your dream girl? I think the song is about the revelation that you will one day dismiss logic for your own dream girl (or guy) in life. In choosing to be with her through the tough times instead of walking out on her, he decides to let the dream girl keep on living.

    To let her go is to let her die so to be with her is to let her keep on living, yet life with her is a Distopia.
    RatKingon July 05, 2015   Link
  • 0
    General Commentbuilt to spill is awesome, one of the first indie rock bands that i know of at least. just talent.
    SonnetSurferHBon June 14, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General CommentIf you like built to spill you will love modest mouse
    Hindenbergon August 06, 2002   Link

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