"Lazy Flies" as written by and Beck Hansen....
Lazy flies all hovering above
The magistrate he puts on his gloves
And he looks to the clouds
All pink and disheveled
There must be some blueprints,
Some creed of the devil
Inscribed in our minds
A hideous game
Vanishes in thin air
The vanity of slaves
Who wants to be there?
To sweep the debris
To harness dead horses
To ride in the sun
A life of confessions
Written in the dust
Out in the mangroves
The mynah birds cry
In the shadows of sulphur
The trawlers drift by
They're chewing dried meat
In a house of disrepute
The dust of opiates
And syphilis patients
On brochure vacations
Fear has a glare that traps you
Like searchlights
The puritans stare
Their souls are fluorescent
The skin of a robot
Vibrates with pleasure
Matrons and gigolos
Carouse in the parlor
Their hand grenade eyes
Invalid and blind

Vanishes in thin air
The vanity of slaves
Who wants to be there?
To sweep the debris
To harness dead horses
To ride in the sun
A life of confessions
Written in the dust


Lyrics submitted by Ice

"Lazy Flies" as written by Beck Hansen

Lyrics © Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd.

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Lazy Flies song meanings
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  • +2
    General CommentThis song has a few themes: decay (flies, disheveled, vanishes, debris, dead horses, syphilis), hedonism (opiates, vibrates with pleasure, gigolos carouse), and pious detachment (gloves, puritans stare), to name some.

    I think that Beck is contrasting the self-denying, reproachful attitude of the pious with the abandon of the hedonistic. On the one hand, there are the Puritans and the magistrate. The magistrate examines his life and the world around him and passes judgment - he knows the world is corrupt, and contemplates it as something he must endure. The Puritans strive to make their souls beacons while staring in disapproval at the pleasure-seekers around them.

    On the other hand, there are the hedonists. They do what they want, recognizing their own corruption and gleefully accepting the consequences (syphilis, blindness, etc).

    I think Beck's trying to get people to ask which life is better. Should we be slaves to morality or sin? Should we beat a dead horse by constantly being judgmental, or by repeating the same stale recreations? Should we stoop to acknowledge our sins, or should our confessions (or consequences, I quess) be written by the decay of our body to dust?

    That's my interpretation.
    pianoguyon December 01, 2004   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThis has REALLY got to be the worst fucking song I've ever heard. I'm nearly 50 years old and I have NEVER heard anything so bad.

    This song lacks lacks rhythm and rhyme. It has no deeper meaning than an feeble attempt at some form of surrealism, but even if that is it's it, If it is an attempt to....

    .....I don't know....

    .... create the disorienting, hallucinatory quality of a dream, It fails.

    It is no more than a stream of conscious. A mindless collection of loosely associated thoughts. No form.

    I really like it.
    Kiosk_GWon October 22, 2008   Link
  • +1
    Song MeaningThis is really a great, underrated Beck song. It has always reminded me of Southeast Asia ("they're chewing dried meat in a house of disrepute"..."trawlers"): and actually I just looked up Myna birds and apparently they are native to Southeast Asia, although they've been introduced to other tropical locations around the world. Mangroves are also a tropical/coastal species of tree. More evidence of the SE Asia connection would be the references to opiates and prostitution (by no means unique to Asia though). Also leading me to this conclusion is Beck's sometimes explicit references to Asian locations (such as in the Midnite Vultures album).

    I second what pianoguy wrote about the themes of decay (the quintessential Beck theme I'd say), pious detachment, and hedonism. I think also there is a fairly obvious theme of prostitution/the sex tourism industry (syphilis patients on brochure vacations, matrons and gigolos, house of disrepute, vanity of slaves), specifically in Southeast Asia. Also, "The skin of a robot vibrates with pleasure" (Hah! One of my all time favorite lines... what a great surreal image) I think is a meta-comment on the dehumanizing effects of prostitution; both for the prostitutes themselves and those utilizing said services. It's not clear which one the robot is and I think that is intentionally left vague.

    I think also there is a connection to the larger theme of colonialism/capitalist exploitation of the developing world which shows up in other Beck songs (Tropicalia for example)-- evidence of this is the almost Victorian/Edwardian quality to the lyrics ("carouse in the parlor"... "the magistrate puts on his gloves"), as that era was essentially the apex of European colonialsm, and is continued today largely by the United States. Coupled with the constant theme of decay and moral/literal corruption, it amounts to a prescient condemnation of capitalism. Because it's now becoming very obvious that we've reached the limits of what the Earth can sustain-- the result is that despite the projected image of glorious expansion and technological advancement (another colonial-era-based worldview) the reality is and will be decay, "broken equipment," ruins and the industrial wasteland which Beck often alludes to.
    Hewoahon December 02, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI can't believe no-one has commented on this song yet. The lyrics are amazing, such vivid imagery. I'm pretty sure it's about Hell...I can't help but think of Hieryonomus Bosch when I hear it.
    Chloe le Fayon July 08, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General Commentthis song fucking r0XX0rs
    brandonisalrighton August 21, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General Commentgreat song. I agree with piano guy, very good interpretation.
    subterranean_summeron May 21, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General Commentone of my favorite lines of all time
    "a life of confessions
    written in the dust"

    everytime i hear that one i think of cowboys.
    weird eh?
    incogneteauon February 22, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentGood call on the Bosch parallel Chloe! This was supposed to be a tropicalia album, so i think alot of the lyrics might have to do with the colonization of Brazil. Later in the song when the lyrics start mentioning hand grenades and searchlights, we might be moving on to the military coup that Brazil had going on from the 60s to the 80s. So maybe the theme of the song is the culture clash between conquerers and indigenous people.
    emialaon September 27, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentA bittersweet symphony truly
    JustDoIton September 07, 2008   Link
  • 0
    TranslationMOSCAS PEREZOSAS


    Moscas perezosas se pasean por ahí,
    el magistrado se pone los guantes
    y mira las nubes
    tan rosas y despeinadas,
    tiene que haber unas huellas,
    algún credo del demonio
    inscripto en nuestras mentes...

    Un juego detestable
    se desvanece en el aire.
    La vanidad de los esclavos,
    ¿quién quiere estar ahí
    para levantar la mierda,
    para enjaezar caballos muertos,
    para montar en el sol
    una vida de confesiones
    escritas en el polvo...?

    Allá en los manglares
    las gráculas religiosas lloran.
    En las sombras de azufre
    los barcos pesqueros flotan a la deriva
    mascando carne resecada
    en una casa de mala reputación,
    el polvo de los opiáceos
    y los pacientes sifilosos
    en vacaciones de paquete turístico.

    El miedo tiene un resplandor
    que te atrapa como un farol.
    Los puritanos se quedan mirando
    (sus almas son fluorescentes).
    La piel de un robot
    vibra de placer.
    Las matronas y los gigolos
    hablan como borrachos en el porche,
    sus ojos, como granadas,
    inválidos y ciegos...

    Un juego detestable
    se desvanece en el aire.
    La vanidad de los esclavos,
    ¿quién quiere estar ahí
    para levantar la mierda,
    para enjaezar caballos muertos,
    para montar en el sol
    una vida de confesiones
    escritas en el polvo...?
    wadajoon August 24, 2012   Link

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