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Big Black – Passing Complexion Lyrics 7 years ago
When I was in high school and 'Atomizer' lived in the cassette deck in my car, I thought that this was a piece of speculative fiction about somebody whose complexion was not stable—whose racial identity was "passing," i.e., shifting back and forth between black and white in such a way that he could be said to be neither. That kind of abject experience of race—not white, not black, fleetingly both, but ultimately neither—felt very Big Black to me. Of course, I later learned what passing really meant, but I still kind of like my youthful misapprehension of the lyrics.

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Low – John Prine Lyrics 7 years ago
This song is pure devastation. My guess is only his hairdresser knows for sure what the lyrics are about.

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Ladytron – High Rise Lyrics 10 years ago
that would be "high rise" by j. g. ballard. worth reading.

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Overmars – Born Again Lyrics 12 years ago
the theme is obvious, from the title forward, the process of zarathustrean rebirth: going down to elevate oneself. it ends with a nice couplet, but on the whole the lyrics are unremarkable. the delivery, however, truly is. another thing that strikes me: the piece is sung by three different voices, as if the process it describes were just too harrowing for a single one to convey, or even withstand.

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Grotus – Daisy Chain Lyrics 12 years ago
also interesting: the throbbing bassline of "daisy chain" is very similar to frankie goes to hollywood's "two tribes," released at the height of the cold war, about military supremacy and war in the nuclear age ("when two tribes go to war / one is all that you can score"). an amazing song and an even more amazing video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SXWVpcypf0w&feature=related

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Grotus – What in the World Lyrics 12 years ago
the lyrics to "what in the world" sound like they were inspired by 'falling down,' joel schumacher's portrait of modern-life in meltdown, which follows michael douglas, fired from his defense-industry job and enraged by freeway gridlock, as he abandons his car on an l.a. expressway and sets out for home on foot. he gets caught up in a series of neighborhood vignettes as he goes, involving various "what the f- is wrong with this world" moments, much as the protagonist of grotus's song does, and each of which douglas's character attempts to right in an increasingly unhinged fashion. 'luddite,' however, came out a year before schumacher's film, which makes the last four lines of "what in the world" kind of eerie.

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Grotus – Shelf Life Lyrics 12 years ago
"shelf life" expands on the theme of dystopic bioengineering first explored in "valhalla's celtic robbie," on 'brown.' ("the patent is applied for" is a line from that song.) at the time "shelf life" appeared, genetically modified foods -- pesticide-resistant soybeans, for instance -- were just starting to appear in a mass scale, and the left was just starting to rally around opposition to them. GM is now fairly common in agriculture, though opposition continues to be voiced, but the paranoia on display here can be easily extended to the era of cloning and genetic modification of animals and humans (gene therapy, pharmaceuticals research, etc.).

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Grotus – Marginal Lyrics 12 years ago
grotus wrote a pop song! well, perhaps it isn't super-recognizable as one, but this is probably the closest to conventional radio friendliness the band got. the themes are familiar from other grotus songs -- the meaninglessness of post-industrial labor, its anesthetizing influence on those engaged in it, and, toward the end of the song, perhaps the birth of a revolutionary consciousness, something that showed up nowhere on 'brown,' their previous release -- but the wrapping is hook-laden and the structure verse-chorus-verse-bridge. perhaps there's a connection there...

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Grotus – Rust Lyrics 12 years ago
this is amazingly similar, lyrically, anyway, to king crimson's "dig me," a first-person account of a car rusting away in a junkyard:

http://www.songmeanings.net/songs/view/118594/

in groping for an overarching theme, i want to go to something like the end of the american manufacturing economy and, by extension, perhaps globalization, but none of that stuff is really here (apart, perhaps, for the sample about "capitalist sin"), though it permeates many other grotus songs. perhaps lars was just having a rough morning and decided to make a song out of it.

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Grotus – Daisy Chain Lyrics 12 years ago
grotus uncharacteristically give few specifics here, which may be why "daisy chain" strikes me as one of their more successful songs. the daisy chain might be the military-industrial complex, a common ax ground around the time 'brown' was released: lawrence livermore lab and, forty miles to the west, u.c. berkeley were important research-and-development wings of the nuclear-arms race, and they remain so; "the juice that primes the trigger won't fade" is probably a reference to the billions in federal funding for weapons development pouring into those institutions. if so, that would make the second appearance on 'brown' of a flower as a war metaphor (see "morning glory"). there's also an interesting resonance with global warming in the lines "blind eyed the winter sun is ever brighter / the warm september shine," but that could just as easily refer to the prospect of a nuclear winter, which we ignore, "blind eyed," in favor of the material benefits bestowed by military dominance.

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Grotus – Edward Abbey Lyrics 12 years ago
grotus at their most strident and one-dimensional: a facile defense of eco-terrorism.

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Grotus – Pharmaceutical Lyrics 12 years ago
this song is terrifying, a great marriage of form and content. it's a pretty dismally one-sided view of modern culture, sure, but it's not entirely lacking for accuracy, either, even into the twenty-first century. "leave the root and clip the branches" is a great line: that and the opening sample (as well as the line "school for children, busywork training") put you in mind of "david after the dentist," the viral video of a child reeling in the backseat of his father's car after his first anesthetic experience at the dentist's office.

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Grotus – Malthusela Lyrics 12 years ago
the title is a pun on methusala, a biblical character extremely advanced in age. here he's a metaphor for medically engineered longevity, the human desire to play god (see those televangelist samples) by extending human life indefinitely. (the second line is wrong: it should read "ninety years old.") we hadn't sequenced the genome when this song was written, but replace "farmer-chemists" with "gene therapists" and you're good to go.

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Grotus – Luddite Lyrics 12 years ago
you're tempted to think of this as an actual dream one of the members of the group had, and that the notion of time moving backward as an essentially luddite impulse was sort of added after the fact, as an interesting way of organizing the imagery and of intersecting with the band's politics. the irony -- and grotus trucked in irony -- is that grotus's music was essentially technological. but part of their genius was always in using their tools against themselves: from the start, their music had a sheen of rust and decay to it, an invasive element of the organic, as if the machines weren't up to the task of expressing the terror grotus tasked them with expressing, a terror, this song suggests, ultimately traceable to their ascent. fifteen years on, in the age of the internet, the smartphone, ubiquitous computing, and the like, those fears seem quaint, but one could just as easily trot out the counterexamples: networked jihad, remote-control warfare, biotechnology.

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Grotus – Morning-Glory Lyrics 12 years ago
that's j. robert oppenheimer at the beginning, the head of the manhattan project, responsible for building the first atomic bomb, reflecting on the changes wrought by his discoveries. the quote is powerful, and the video it's sourced from is also moving:

http://www.atomicarchive.com/Movies/Movie8.shtml

"morning glory" was a little late to the game as far as nuclear paranoia in music is concerned; the high point for that was the 1980s, the era of reagan, sdi, missile stockpiles, and 'the day after.' but for anyone who grew up during that time, this song strikes a nerve. the image of mushroom clouds as flowering blooms is a rare poetic touch for grotus, who much of the time used caricature, irony, and overstatement to make their points. this is easily the most affecting track they ever recorded.

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Grotus – Brown Lyrics 12 years ago
you can't tell if this is childbirth, rectal evacuation, or both, and that's probably the point. given the worldview of 'brown,' is bringing a child into the world anything other than a fancy version of clearing one's bowels?

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Grotus – N.Y. Strip Lyrics 12 years ago
the lumbering rhythm, the heavy bass riff, the simple lyrics: this is a particularly hilarious/frightening, ahem, fleshing out of now familiar vegan politics. it's all here, from the colon abuse, tumors, and cardiac arrest from a life spent consuming meat to the breasts-on-a-child story familiar from ruth ozeki's 'my year of meats.' i'm still a meat eater, so i can't say it was effective, at least on me, but it's a hell of a try.

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Jawbreaker – Driven Lyrics 12 years ago
"driven" (and, also on 'unfun,' "seethruskin") was one of a spate of anti-rape/anti-pornography/anti-objectification-of-women songs that post-punk bands all seemed to be writing around the same time in the late '80s. another example is fugazi's "suggestion," released in 1988 on the 'fugazi' ep, which could be considered the template. a reaction to the testosterone overload of second-wave hardcore (cf. washington d.c.'s revolution summer)? a statement of solidarity with the nascent riot grrrl movement beginning to cohere around bands like bikini kill and bratmobile? an honest attempt by awkward, culturally aware teenage boys to navigate the tricky terrain of sexuality in a conscientious way (see also "want," the aforementioned "seethruskin," the entire early green day discography...)? all of the above, probably.

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Jawbreaker – Incomplete Lyrics 12 years ago
Anybody have any idea who the teacher is who left the voice message at the beginning of the song, what the circumstances of that voice message were, and whether he was ever made aware of his minor celebrity in turn-of-the-'90s post-hardcore? Where is he now? Is he still teaching? And, perhaps most importantly, did Adam opt for the incomplete or the D? I always imagined that the band included that message as a wry explanation of what being in a band can do to your GPA.

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Dag Nasty – Safe Lyrics 12 years ago
this is more of a kiss-this-guy comment, but when i was in high school one of my friends used to always sing "am i satan!" on the refrain.

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Dag Nasty – The Godfather Lyrics 12 years ago
i think this song is about being emotionally damaged, about not being able to give yourself completely to another person, and feeling alienated and alone as a result. half the time he can, and half the time he only thinks he can. then there's the godfather, "the biggest train of all"; those lines seem to evoke suicide.

all of that said, there's also a great case to be made for this being about erectile dysfunction.

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Big Black – Bad Houses Lyrics 12 years ago
despite the title being printed on the J-card (yes, i owned this on cassette), throughout high school i thought he was singing about "bathhouses" and that the song was about, like, a closeted guy guiltily indulging himself. of course, as the above poster points out, that works, too.

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Godflesh – Mantra Lyrics 12 years ago
incredible. broadrick is a master of writing songs just vague enough to sound encouraging and completely effacing at the same time. this is an utterly down-in-the-dumps tune, musically speaking, but you can take the lyrics either way: a mantra intended to help one keep one's head above water (feel free! come out!) or the self-flaggelations of a bitter nihilst (dictate your needs). which is correct? knowing broadrick, both.

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Godflesh – Body Dome Light Lyrics 12 years ago
i remember when 'selfless' came out i maligned "body dome light" as a sort of big dumb rock thing, but listening to it again fifteen(!) years on, i'm struck by how totally bizarre this song is. it has this kind of boneheaded riff pushing it along, but the doubled/shifted vocals and the electronics that kick in on the chorus and the bridge put it in a category by itself, somewhere between self-parody and complete psychosis. no clue what the lyrics are alluding to; the title almost makes it sound like a paean to your car's interior light.

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Godflesh – Xnoybis Lyrics 12 years ago
quality tune, among my favorite godflesh. there's an almost neitzschean vibe to the lyrics, especially when combined with the upward melodic progression, the aggressive rhythm, and the soaring clean vocals. it's knowledge or wisdom or perspective etc. as blessing and curse. "xnoybis" is also one of those broadrick songs that switch back and forth between first and second person (i see so much / Lift your arms up), as if it were a dialog.

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Jesu – Lifeline Lyrics 14 years ago
these lyrics are pretty ambiguous, even by jesu standards. the music is so blissed out i'm apt to assume he's addressing a lover, and that perhaps the fear he's speaking about is the fear of letting go, of revealing yourself to the other, of risking vulnerability. but then the third stanza has more of a political or ethical bent, even an antiwar or anti- race, culture, or religion prejudice stance (given what's happening in the middle east right now), and the ideas seems to be to let go of our herdish tendency to believe what we're told and instead to think for ourselves, follow our hearts, etc. no idea what "what you need is not what you are" is all about, though. anyone?

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Hüsker Dü – Green Eyes Lyrics 14 years ago
for me it's all about the last couplet, where he flips it from being about his adoration of the person he's addressing to being about his amazement that this feeling he's feeling might be shared, that the other might love him just as much -- i think anybody's who's ever been deeply in love has felt those moments of utter disbelief that it can possibly be real. perhaps it's that love seems to be the thing that can most completely bridge the distance between us but at the same time relies on a kind of faith, a faith that also embodies an essential and unanswerable mystery, like god or truth: "what makes you love me as much as i love you?"

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Hüsker Dü – New Day Rising Lyrics 14 years ago
the thing that's amazing to me about this song is the extreme contrast between the apparent sentiment of its single sung phrase and the increasingly bile-fueled belligerence of its delivery. new days are new beginnings and, conventionally speaking, they tend to be about possibility, hope; the slate is clean, anything can happen. but by the end of the track the vocals are being howled and sputtered and screamed with such ferocity, the guitar is a caustic wall of noise, you have to wonder how much hope is really being expressed. it's like waking up and realizing nothing has changed, everything is just as fucked as it was when you went to sleep. (the cover art is completely of a piece with this i think -- it's a sunrise, but the sky is an ugly brown, and a single searing ray of sun cuts through a black horizon.) to my mind, it's all an amazing achievement from only three words, a double-time drum beat, and a single, simple chord progression.

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Pitchfork – Burn Pigs Burn Lyrics 14 years ago
i saw pitchfork open for fugazi at gilman street in ... it had to be 1988 or thereabouts? fugazi's first west coast show; crash worship was also on the bill, and pitchfork, who i'd never even heard of. they absolutely killed. a monster sound, and soon after i bought 'eucalyptus.' 'burn pigs burn' is the first song on that album, and just now, listening to it again for the first time in years, i was impressed with how goddam great it is. the song: apart from the usual cop-hating that the '80s were good for, i'm struck by the line "fuck yeah i got piano wire." i seem to remember a movie in which piano wire strung across a roadway was used to knock a cop off his bike...vivid image.

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Snfu – Scarecrow Lyrics 15 years ago
i remember this as being one of the first truly nuanced depictions of punk identity politics. most often, punk's antiestablishment style ethos ("the ragged clothes, the matted down hair") was presumed to be rooted in anger -- specifically the working class anger of punk's british roots. in the us and canada, where snfu is from, the rejection of mainstream values seemed just as often rooted in fear and alienation, a fear of nuclear devastation, say (this was the '80s after all), or an alienation and self-abnegation born of middle-class malaise (the rejection of materialist values of preceding generations) or racial otherness (mr. chi pig, snfu's vocalist, who wrote these lyrics, is of chinese descent). when i was growing up, it came as a welcome contrast to the one-dimensional rage of a lot of punk, post-punk, and hardcore bands, and one that still seems rare today.

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G.B.H. – Pins And Needles Lyrics 15 years ago
accupuncture or heroin-rape? you be the judge.

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G.B.H. – Diplomatic Immunity Lyrics 15 years ago
the guitar line has a james bond on dexadrine vibe, but i think the song's about the hypocrisy of a "just" society ruled by bureacrats -- men who, because they enforce the rules, are able to place themselves outside them. a typical '80s punk critique, maybe, but worth making all the same.

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G.B.H. – The Forbidden Zone Lyrics 15 years ago
drugs, obviously, but the imagery is above-averge for this kind of homage to getting fucked up. i love the couplet "when you're in your own tree/but don't know if anybody's home" -- two cliches of brainlessness that, combined, are actually pretty humorous and might offer the song's only hint of moralizing.

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Cocteau Twins – I Wear Your Ring Lyrics 15 years ago
when i was in college i thought this song was about the movie 'gremlins.' i thought the first line was "don't feed them between the sunrise and sunset..." oops!

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Jesu – Stanlow Lyrics 15 years ago
the stanlow oil refinery sits on the mersey river in north cheshire, one of the u.k.'s most polluted areas. "what grief won't sell" is my best guess at the chorus, but the stanzas are clear enough: we know what we're doing to the natural world, but we are too absorbed in the comfort and ease of our lives to alter our behavior.

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Jesu – Conqueror Lyrics 15 years ago
with all this stuff about colors and trails it sounds like an acid flashback song, but i think it's about something else. if "colors" is read in the sense of how a person represents himself as a member of a group (as in "show me your colors") and "trails" in the sense of pathways, then the song can be read as a nostalgic homage to the associations of youth. our colors allow is to be like one another, to identify with a group, and our identities are shaped by them such that they remain a part of who we are throughout our lives. they deceive us (into a false sense of idealism), they desert us (we grow older and discover their limitations), but they will always be with us.

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Jesu – Old Year Lyrics 15 years ago
this song is about someone whose refusal to let go of the past has left him bitter and nihilistic. i tend to think this is another internal-dialog song, with the author berating himself for not having done with the past, for giving in to the lingering stain of anger.

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Jesu – Weightless and Horizontal Lyrics 15 years ago
i set lines 2-4 in the first, third, and fourth verses and lines 2 and 3 in the second verse in italics because i think there is a dialog happening in this song, as if the first voice were urging the second not to lose himself and to wipe away his tears. possibly the two voices belong to the same person, and the song chronicles the inner struggle to persevere when all you want to do is give up. that duality is present in the music as well; in the first half of the song, the riff is a descending chord pattern, while in the second half the riff is an ascending one, which gives the effect of newfound optimism after a period of hopelessness. quite moving.

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Jesu – Star Lyrics 15 years ago
bootzy, i think you're right, but i think without considering the opening lines as ironic and un-ironic at the same time, you're leaving out the central tension of the song, and of much of the music broadrick has released as jesu, which is a certain yearning for what is out of reach. i think there is a part of anybody who is creative that wants to find a large audience, just as there is a part of everybody, no matter how nihilistic or self-abnegating, that yearns for connection. and that is the part that says "if i could just...." of course he can't, and we are free to fill in our own reasons why -- maybe he's too principled, maybe he's afraid of success, maybe he just doesn't have what it takes. but i think any reading of the song is incomplete without the acknowledgment that part of him wants it. the music makes this point brilliantly by being both aggressive and fritteringly poppy, amplifying that feeling of ambivalence, of at once desiring and rejecting, and it's this harmonious melding of the music and the sentiments of the lyrics, and broadricks' exploration of the psychology and emotional content of social marginality, that i find so powerful about his songs, particulary his jesu songs.

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Kyuss – Whitewater Lyrics 15 years ago
This song captures the awed acquiescence I have felt when faced with a massive and uncaring nature. There is an implacable joy in that acceptance that borders on the spiritual, a realization that despite the scale of our consciousness and the resistance of our egos, we are just another component in a cycle of birth, death, and rebirth that has gone on for millennia and will go on for millennia, and I think that's what is being communicated in this song, and not just lyrically: The massive riff repeated by the guitars and the glacial pace of the drums seem to embody the valley beneath the huge sky, the "mountains that move themselves," the trees growing inexorably higher. Few songs by any band have lyrical and musical themes that seem so perfectly in sync as this ones' do.

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Hüsker Dü – Don't Want To Know If You Are Lonely Lyrics 15 years ago
what does it for me is the first line of the chorus paired with the second: anybody who's been through a breakup knows the push and pull those two lines describe. if love is a kind of interdependence, the end of love is a wresting apart that exposes the raw ends of compassion and vulnerability, the desire to move toward and the need to move away. for me, husker du described this place of abject ambivalence better than anyone.

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