Baby let's get dressed up
I got two pairs of shoes
Darling you look so beautiful
when your hair's all hung in jewels
and sometimes I find it really hard to choose
between a pair of black and a pair of brown shoes

When I'm high on batwings
up by the silvery moon
I think of a certain sad eyed king
trapped in his golden room
and I dream of a cold river on the way
to come and sweep that king into this black and brown bay

Well the water looks like jewelry
when it's coming out the spout
and nothing could make me feel better
than a wet kiss on the mouth
Fake I.D.'s and honeybees
the jagged skyline of car keys
I never knew the bird could fly so low

Rub out the catlight,
rub out the village
red and white exit light
that's exodus damage
Why don't people think of who they use?
Why don't you try and come and get me: Black and Brown Blues

It's raining triple sec in Tchula
and the radio plays "Crazy Train"
there's a quadroon ball in the beehive
hanging out in the rain
and when there's trouble I dont like running
but I'm afraid I got more in common
with who I was than who I am becoming

When I go downtown
I always wear a corduroy suit
cause it's made of a hundred gutters
that the rain can run right through
but a lonely man can't make a move
if he can't even bring himself to choose
between a pair of black and a pair of brown shoes


Lyrics submitted by 3ric

Black and Brown Blues song meanings
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  • +3
    General CommentI take this song in the light of my own struggle with the alienation that comes from living with Bipolar Disorder. I have no idea if Berman is bipolar or anything, but this is how it speaks to me:

    Baby let's get dressed up
    I got two pairs of shoes (he's feeling good, a high roller with TWO pairs of shoes, woohoo!)
    Darling you look so beautiful
    when your hair's all hung in jewels (she's gorgeous so there's a lot of stress about making a good impression on her and that triggers anxiety and indecision.)
    and sometimes I find it really hard to choose
    between a pair of black and a pair of brown shoes (you know the old routine of dating someone indecisive: "i dunno, what do you wanna do"...this guy is like that even about which shoes to wear. This makes me feel very wistful and sorry for him yet dismissive at the same time.)

    When I'm high on batwings
    up by the silvery moon (a bipolar manic episode)
    I think of a certain sad eyed king
    trapped in his golden room (when you're manic, it seems like everything you touch turns to gold like King Midas...)
    and I dream of a cold river on the way
    to come and sweep that king into this black and brown bay (...but you know that ultimately, it's no good and you're going to crash back down into normal-to-depressed, like King Midas getting doused in the cold river in order to be able to relate to his loved ones again.)

    Well the water looks like jewelry
    when it's coming out the spout (I love Berman's haiku-like poetry. He takes something so ordinary and turns it into a jewel.)
    and nothing could make me feel better
    than a wet kiss on the mouth (alienation and loneliness follow a lack of masterful living.)
    Fake I.D.'s and honeybees (peer pressure. Bees live for collective, not for themselves.)
    the jagged skyline of car keys
    I never knew the bird could fly so low (driving a T-bird? a grounded god, in a sense, Thunderbird was a great Spirit Guide for Native Americans.)

    Rub out the catlight,
    rub out the village (the mood crashes into bipolar dysphoria and loathing...)
    red and white exit light
    NEXT EXIT IS 'DAMAGED' (this is how I understand this line. I think it's saying, look up ahead there's the signpost but instead of it saying the twilight zone, it says welcome to being damaged goods, buddy!)
    Why don't people think of who they use? (Their mindless cruelty damages sensitive souls.)
    Why don't you try and come and get me: Black and Brown Blues (Anger about this injustice makes him taunt the bipolar blues, bring it on, brain chemistry!)

    It's raining triple sec in CHULA
    and the radio plays "Crazy Train" (a lost weekend of binge drinking in Mexico)
    there's a quadroon ball in the beehive
    hanging out in the rain (he's watching all the drones dance from the outside, where it's raining and dreary. He thinks of them as mindless insects, yet longs for the community they enjoy that he is ostracized from. He'd like to come in out of the rain, but he's too different from them.)
    and when there's trouble I dont like running (he doesn't fancy himself a coward)
    but I'm afraid I got more in common (clever use of the idiom "i'm afraid" in this context of claiming not to be a coward)
    with who I was than who I am becoming (when you're bipolar, you are never sure which "you" you get to be on a given day, and you get stuck in the residue of your previous mental state. You think that however you feel at the moment is how you will feel forever.)

    When I go downtown (heading back into depression)
    I always wear a corduroy suit
    cause it's made of a hundred gutters
    that the rain can run right through (camouflage: trying to become invisible in a nondescript suit so that all the slights he must bear run right through him like rain thru the gutters. The word "gutters" gives a very low self esteem feeling.)
    but a lonely man can't make a move
    if he can't even bring himself to choose
    between a pair of black and a pair of brown shoes (how can he even begin to live with vitality if he can trip up on such a mundane issue? and so he stays paralyzed with loneliness and social anxiety.)
    lovecatspiracyon December 17, 2010   Link
  • +2
    General Comment"I'm afraid I got more in common with who I was than who I am becoming" is, to me, one of the best lines ever written.
    sx edgeon July 08, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThe black and brown shoes is a reference to Jimmy Carter who legend had it showed up to his wedding with one black shoe and one brown. Jimmy Carter's years of presidency were an embarrassment and he is well known for his inability to make firm decisions.
    mothmeetsclothon March 27, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThe sad eyed king is Midas, of the Midas touch fame. Everything he touched turned to gold but he soon found this made it impossible to do things like eat food and hug his daughter. He begged the gods to make him back into an ordinary man and they let him do so by bathing in a river.
    JonasWakefieidon September 17, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General Commentwhat's the "fake IDs" line about?
    silverjewon December 18, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General Comment"I'm afraid I got more in common with who I was than who I am becoming" is, to me, one of the best lines ever written.
    sx edgeon July 08, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI think this song is about a guy who can't really do anything out of the norm and who can't make any real decisions for himself (even choosing between black and brown shoes); the lonely king and room line is about how he feels trapped by this inability to live. He likes to dream about what it would be like if he could do all the things he's always wnated to (which is what the river does to the king). But in the end he's still just a lonely man.

    The fake id's and honeybees then would be examples of the things he's thought about doing (fake id's being drinking and honeybees being going to aprositute, as a honeybee is a hundred dollar bill you pay to a prositute).Then the bird line i think is a play of the phrase 'i never knew angels flew so low,' as he would be talking to a prositute and she's not really an angel, so he compares her to some other flying thing.
    timmy99on August 27, 2007   Link
  • 0
    Lyric CorrectionI'm pretty sure it's just "sad king."
    havebeenfloatedon August 21, 2010   Link
  • -1
    General Comment"I'm afraid I got more in common with who I was than who I am becoming" is, to me, one of the best lines ever written.
    sx edgeon July 08, 2007   Link

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