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Guided by Voices – Queen of Cans and Jars Lyrics 3 years ago
One of their best lyrically. Literally encapsulates the scope of existence. Strikes me as an homage to the feminine ordering principle and divine mother. You live, strive, succeed, fail and die and behind it all is Mom.

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Foxygen – No Destruction Lyrics 8 years ago
This is a very good song. The music is laid back and smooth and the way the words are sung are perfect and a bit unpredictable at times. The lyrics seem to just be a loose attempt to capture being in your early 20s, ADD-afflicted and trying to keep yourself and your friends on a positive vibe through the night, but aware that it could go bad at anytime.

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The National – England Lyrics 10 years ago
I agree the lyrics evoke "love lost." The line about not making corrections is kind of the key. The narrator keeps getting dumped and doesn't think to change himself to prevent these failed relationships from continuously failing. However, he's self-aware enough in the song to think about making corrections, if not real life.

The girl is an American who moved to England. The narrator is helpless to this fact and there's nothing he can do to save the relationship. So he sits at some music event(Los Angeles cathedral) listening to bad musicians or at least musicians without any real depth to their art (the minor singing airheads) then hangs out with them after to probably get loaded and forget about his depression because he doesn't want to go home and think about the break up. (afraid of the house, stayed the night with the sinners)

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Pavement – Give It a Day Lyrics 11 years ago
This is an anti-male chauvinism song. Malk changes the birth order and sex of Increase to assist his narrative. Basically, the first verse sets out a young Puritan girl uncomfortable with all the fire and brimstone talk for good reason...it could lead to her and a bunch of other young girls on the fire pit. Eventually, the town gets swept up in the hysteria.

Later, the narrator indicates that he (we) are descendants of these Puritans and can't necessarily disown that heritage (see "the Puritans invaded our soul" and the bit about his rotten, i.e. English, teeth) even though it may be ugly.

The last part about calling the girl a slut brings it all home. This girl's father is a jerk for calling her a slut and her boyfriend is an insecure douchenozzle for letting it bothering him and actually calling her on it. Thus men are pigs as they were in the Puritan days.

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Pavement – Hands Off The Bayou Lyrics 11 years ago
Possible Themes: Louisiana, aquatic life, modernization vs. technophobia, rural vs. urban

Meaning? Best guess is that this song is sort of a companion piece to "Unfair" from Crooked Rain. There are two groups against each other and they each speak through the lyrics. The first two stanzas seem to highlight the difference between two groups, the first group works down south, probably New Orleans in factory jobs,and mocks the second group which is made up of Cajun swamp people.

Later in the song, the split seems to be between the college educated and the rubes. The country people defending their worth and saying "hands of the bayou" and the smart-arsed collegiate mocking their superstitions and limited perspectives.

Pretty much stuff we see everyday on the news.

I always thought it was "hit the bong" and not "drop the bomb." Could be wrong.

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Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks – Real Emotional Trash Lyrics 12 years ago
This is the title track and I think it signifies what the album is about and where Malkmus is at as an artist. The big thing, is that the lyrics here match the flavor of the music in a way I don't think I've ever seen before.

Musically, the first part is a stately, clean, mid-tempo, rootsy rock riff with a generous helping of keys. This syncs up with the lyrics which honestly describes grown-up relationships. People make compromises, even if they don't want to, and delve into some "real emotional trash" so that they can grow and experience love.

Then there's that proggy breakdown, wacked-out guitar parts and the beat slows to a standstill.

Then the slow crawl in momentum which just keeps building and building more tension (which is awesome).

And then the blistering drums kick in and you get the pure rock and roll release. The lyrics are just about fun stuff. Roadtripping, boozing, probably dancing (chardonnay spill), and then at the end (puhhleease me), everyone knows what that's about.

So, I think the song is about being a grown up but remembering to have fun.

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Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks – Baltimore Lyrics 12 years ago
When I think of soldier from Baltimore, I'm thinking of Bodie from "The Wire."

The lyrics are typically good and perhaps refer to being at war with someone who is aggressive but lacks real passion or conviction. The narrator seems to defy these types (kind of like Bodie vs. Marlo in Season 4 of the Wire) and champion the common man.

Oh, and the wicked rawk riffs, big beats, Beethoven breakdown, and whup-ass melody change in the middle of the song are worth commenting on.


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Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks – Cold Son Lyrics 12 years ago
Could be a lot of things. Maybe drugs. It also could be about addiction to exercise. I think it's more of a parable about getting old...and all the fears that come with it, death, love, are we wasting time, am I doing what I set out to do, that sort of thing.

"Cool" could refer to being hip or temperature. "Son" could also be "sun" too.

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Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks – Hopscotch Willie Lyrics 12 years ago
"The dick said to Willie"? Wow.

Pretty straightforward tale about a suspect and his inevitable arrest/conviction. No real indication whether he did the crime, but it sounds like he was at least there. And then Malkmus runs wild with the dick jokes.

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Leonard Cohen – Hallelujah Lyrics 12 years ago
This song is about navigating the temptations and paradoxes of life, while trying to stay faithful to the higher ideas one aspires to (i.e. love, eternal life).

He uses the Old Testament stuff as a short-cut to open up the listener to these themes and then ultimately, their own greater personal interpretation.

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Andrew Bird – Fitz and the Dizzyspells Lyrics 12 years ago
I hope its about love. But knowing it's Andrew Bird, my money is on global warming.

As usual the music is good.

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Pavement – Father To A Sister Of Thought Lyrics 12 years ago
speedlimitdriver's comments and overall interpretation of the theme seem the most spot on. I would add to his interpretation that the last verse is a recount of after the marriage.

I think the "calling the bluffs" line is the woman calling the man's bluff and his tough talk, which fits with the 'goodbye to the ugly steeple fear' (they get married). Then he reminds her that he's not anymore complex then a typical guy- 'bind with my hooks' shows he is emotional and physically co-dependent on her; 'open the books' indicates that in spite of that co-dependence, he needs to push her away, explore his own interests and be an independent man sometimes.

The 'dirty black cars' and 'angel of Corpus Christi' is imagery of a funeral. The cars are probably hearses. Corpus Christi is not just a city, but the Latin translation of the body of Christ. So the end of the song is a prayer that the man will be saved by heaven/religion and/or the love of his wife. "Tell me what I want to hear" has a double meaning: tell me there is life after death and tell me you will be there (here's where the selfishness comes in- does he love her and really want to spend eternity with her, or does he just not want to be alone?).

The repetition of "leaning in to the end" is the narrator's acknowledgment of this existential crisis. The crisis is that he may be getting married not for love but to hedge his bets against an eternal loneliness.

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Animal Collective – My Girls Lyrics 12 years ago
It sounds like "on my father's grave" in the beginning and then by the end he starts saying "an abundant space."

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R.E.M. – Driver 8 Lyrics 12 years ago
What strikes me about the lyrics is how often Michael Stipe hangs on the numerous long "A" vowel sounds, especially in concert. Think about "eight" "break" and "ways away". It always sounded like he was trying to mimic the long sound of a locomotive whistle.

I think this song is perfectly executed lyrically. The themes are clear - Southern landscape, religion, trains, etc- but there is little narrative voice as to what it all means, allowing the listnener to extrapolate their own interpretations...unlike R.E.M.'s more heavy handed approach on later records.

Plus the technique of using vocal sounds to compliment the music and the lyrical theme is genius.

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Pavement – Blue Hawaiian Lyrics 12 years ago
This is the most meta and probably cockiest Pavement song. I think it's about writing a song. The first three lines reference the fans (welcome to friends), the music (foundation...could be bass and drums) and the transcendent power of good music (feelings are warm).

The elliptic soul refers to how the lyrics and music of a Pavement song will always come off skewed, unlike a full circle, which is easier to understand. One need only compare the bredth of lyrical depth and musical complexity on a Pavement album with the alternative crap on the radio when this song came out. An ellipse is often associated with altered perception and reflection. The "slap is a gift" is the cocky idea (but probably true) that Pavement revitalized rock n' roll (after all, rock's cheeks had lost its luster) by the hubbub it created in the indie rock world.

Tape machine line - refers to the recording process.

The Aloha and dog lines- refer to perception and self-awareness and does so in a typically ironic and ridiculous manner. More "meta" stuff that can be packed full with all types of meaning: Is Pavement closer to the beginning or end? What is the nature of a dog?

Some other posters have alluded to the capital "S" and "T" being Stephen Malkmus; and the "tones are grouped in clusters" is a musical concept whereby three consecutive chords are struck consecutively, creating a disonant sound. Then the guitar actually chimes in with the dissonance. It's like the lyrics work as a tour guide to the musical landscape of the song.

The last two lines reflect the attitudes of the fans, some of whom wanted the band to go back to the "Slanted" sound or the "Crooked Rain" sound. But repeating the past is not really an option.

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Pavement – No Tan Lines Lyrics 12 years ago
Agreed, quite awesome. The song rides an off-kilter, Bo Diddley-gone-surfing beat and explodes into these clean guitar solos full of crazy tremolos and bursts of drum fills.

It's start out kind of horny, with the hook-up in the Riviera. Then, somehow it moves into, what I think is a sexual come-on made by an ice dancer. Next it is revealed that the woman might be Pathan, which is another word for Pashtun, the ethnic people from Afghanistan. The last verse, seems to be a cheerful account of how the woman will attend to the singer's convalescent needs when he can't wipe his own @$$ and smells like crap.

Yup, it's a Pavement song.

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Bob Dylan – Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues Lyrics 13 years ago
Debauchery, depravity, hookers, drunks, street festivals, venereal disease and ambivalent cops. The music is loose and fun, the singing is out of key on purpose to reflect the disorientation of the narrator.

Then the narrator hits on the realization that it has to stop. Brilliant song.

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The Silver Jews – Room Games and Diamond Rain Lyrics 13 years ago
Love is loaded with paradox

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The Silver Jews – Strange Victory, Strange Defeat Lyrics 13 years ago
I think Marty Walsh about hits it. Respectfully, I disagree with any "sadness" being felt in sentiments here. There's maybe some minor league lamenting going on, but most of this is done in good fun.

"What have they done with the fat ones, the bald and the goateed?" That's pretty much a tip off that this isn't an exercise in pathos and sadness.

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The Silver Jews – Party Barge Lyrics 13 years ago
Going on tour? The Jews went out on their first tour between Tanglewood and this album. Maybe this song is about what it's like to be on tour. Partying all the time and being rescued by St. Bernards.

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The Silver Jews – Candy Jail Lyrics 13 years ago
I'm thinking this is about rehab. From the perspective of a guy in rehab, who made it to a safe harbor and avoided the fate of other addicts (I came all this way to see your grave...this is what you couldn't face).

"The warden really listens and he understands." Addiction counselors are typically ex-addicts.

The dark side of this song is that everywhere this guy looks, he's thinking about the "candy."

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Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks – It Kills Lyrics 13 years ago
This is a shockingly straight-forward song for a guy who hung the lyric "go back to those gold sounds and keep my advent to yourself" on us. It's also the best Malkmus song (musically) since Terror Twilight IMHO.

I think the song is about coming to terms with your own humility and limitations. It's about an aging smartass learning to get over himself and wake up to the spirtual and emotional world around him.

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The Old 97's – Barrier Reef Lyrics 13 years ago
The Empty Bottle is a rock club in Chicago. With all the double entendres, mixed meanings, and the general story line, I think the song is definitely about being drunk and confused.

The chorus just basically turns all of our assumptions around and dumps them on the ground. Nothing is really great, fine or good times when you're too drunk to understand what's happening.

Great song.

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Minutemen – Corona Lyrics 13 years ago
This is a great song even if the politics are retarded. These guys were young, uninformed and misguided but the heart they put in their music was real.

Why is it that whenever someone wants to express their politics in song, or elsewhere, it's either cheesy, white-guilt, American self-loathing (like this song) or the "git-out, these colors don't run, I say we nuke 'em all and build a golf course on their desert!" strain of American braggadocio bullshit.

Seriously open up an economics textbook and shut the f**k up.

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Pavement – Stereo Lyrics 13 years ago
I like carlwinslow's interpretation. I like Carl Winslow too. Family does matter. The great thing about a lot of Pavement songs is that they are so perverse, hammy and never hit you straight on.

I think "Stereo" is a political statement about modern America and capitalism. In a nutshell, some people get paid, some people get played and some people get both.

The chorus means something by meaning nothing. Basically, the trend is for the music industry to market any idiot they think they can market regardless if he or she is really saying anything. I think, in a perverse way, Malkmus longs for the days when people actually wrote songs with some depth and meaning. Irony, that crucial ingredient to all things Pavement, turns up because here's Malkmus lamenting the fact that nobody writes songs with meanings anymore and he makes his point by writing a song which artificially appears as if it has no meaning.

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The Silver Jews – Time Will Break the World Lyrics 13 years ago
This song is sort of like the "Bright Flight" Rosetta Stone. It's completely fat with Southern Gothic images, bitter humor and cryptic metaphors. I don't know if this song is about anything greater than the success of its own poetry, but if I had to suggest some point to it....how bout drug addiction? Or not?

Also, "Bright Flight" is Berman's most interesting achievement in terms of lyric and theme. All the songs seem to reference one another throughout. Here, there's Abraham Lincoln trees which connect with the George Washington reference in "Slow Education." Plus we have the shotgun horse legs and something else in "Horseleg Swastikas."

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Andrew Bird – Scythian Empire Lyrics 13 years ago
hypnotoad...fair enough...I'm not really questioning his intentions which I will never have any understanding off. Just the execution. All I can say is that Bird is very talented and should be held to a high standard. He could be one of a handful of remembered musicians from this decade...at least among a fairly large sub-genre of music lovers (be it "indie rock" or whatever you wish to call it). It's obvious he holds himself to that high standard in the creation of the music and tone. But in crafting lyrics, he sacrifices passion and the development of a unique perspective. Instead, we get garden variety pseudo-political crap that smells worse for its reliance on $10 words and obscure historical references.

It's prevalent in a lot of songs but really bad in this one. I wouldn't be ranting like this on "Fiery Crash" or "Nervous Tic..."

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Andrew Bird – Scythian Empire Lyrics 14 years ago
First, this guy is extremely talented MUSICIAN. Competent on a variety of instruments, inventive composer, sweet whistling, charming voice, etc, etc. Undoubtedly after a quick perusal of the lyric sheet he's well educated too.

What I take issue with is the fact that most of his songs seem to share an arrogant, elitist, urbane sensibility carefully designed to cater to his audience, without ever having the balls to come out and make his political statement. He not-so-artfully regurgitates a laundry list of historical references, exalting the current generation of the people of the Middle East by hamfistedly trying to connect them to a class of nomads last heard from over 1000 years ago. Thereby, Messr. Bird can sit back and say "ah, how clever am I" while his "This American Life" fanbase can scurry to the internet to decipher his ridiculous attempt at artistic statement....

Let's see, war waged by pathetic Neo-Cons against a noble people. Neo-cons are complete assholes...that about sums it up.

Not to come off like Bill O'Reilly. There's no denying that current events offer any artist a ripe area for creative statement. The message of this song doesn't offend me personally or politically, but it does offend me as a fan of songwriting. I don't even like most punk, but at least the political songs are direct and convey the requisite urgency necessary to make music relevant in a political sense. Bird's songs are just blase, jerk-sessions, designed to cater to the urban college students/grads who lap up all the "Bush lied people died" sub-intelligence and then go out and buy iphones and order $10 drinks at whatever bar/club/lounge is trendy in their neighborhood.

Seriously, I understand if you like Andrew Bird but re-read these lyrics and I dare you to make an argument that the message doesn't come off slightly arrogant and assholish.

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Wilco – Theologians Lyrics 14 years ago
I think there is theme and message going on here. Religion is the theme in which the message is packaged. The message here is that know one knows what Tweedy's songs are about including him, but regardless, he is immortalized because so many people make such a big deal about lyrics and rock songs...kind of like all of us here.

How so? The Theologians are the rock critics. They worship music. They obsess in deconstructing music and lyrics. They have the audacity to believe they can have the final word in unlocking the mystery (or magic, I guess) of a song. In this way rock critics act just like theologians. Music, and finding transcendence through music and lyrics is almost a religious undertaking. Real Theologians study religion and attempt to unlock the mystery of how a religion works by authoritatively stating what the faithful people believe in or what they originally believed in, so they basically tell people, for example, "if you're Catholic, you believe this" or "if you're Jewish, you believe this." Which is kind of ridiculous. The light (magic of God, like the magic of a song) is impossible to read.

On to the end of the song. The words come across as kind of deep and serious but I think are more playful. Tweedy (or the narrator) has assumed the role of the messiah. Other people have alluded to the "where I'm going you cannot come" in the New Testament. Obviously, only the supremely deluded and arrogant would do so without any hint of irony. Fortunately there's irony here. He defiantly punks out of the whole crucifixion thing by stating that no one's gonna take his life away from him (like the critics trying to have the authoritative word on what the songs mean) and that he lays his life down (the songs) to be judged by the true God (in the religious sense and in the musical sense, the fans, people who like his songs), being wise enough to realize that he's as illiterate as the next guy when it comes to reading the nature of God or what people are going to interpret his songs to mean.

The cherry ghost thing is the indicator that he's joking about his messianic allegory. It also represents the songs (Wilco's body of work) and his little ticket to immortality...tiny and insignicant as it may be to the world...although obviously significant to those who care about the songs.

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Built to Spill – Carry the Zero Lyrics 14 years ago
Many of the comments touch on my understanding of the song but my interpretation distills a few of these impressions into a bigger picture. Insecurity is definitely the big thing here, and I think, a particular brand of feminine insecurity, i.e. the type that would lead a woman to say unwarranted, catty, jealous things about another women...to dwell on what can't be changed or doesn't really matter and she becomes so immersed in it to the point that she can't display gratitude for her blessings, or remember the positives in her life. Maybe she is a perfectionist by nature and becomes easily threatened.

And the guy who doesn't think "THIS IS ABOUT A FUCKING RELATIONSHIP" may be shortchanging the first person perspective. The lyrics here are the words of the man in the relationship wanting to help his lover. However, he is torn because he's not sure to help through expressing compassion and empathy or perhaps, dropping the hammer so to speak, and calling her out for what is an immature and counterproductive attitude.

And to the relationship point, a lot of Built to Spill songs are about relationships. These guys are close to middle age, Martsch is married with kids..y'know, come on. A lot of what he's going to draw from will be the experience of his or other's relationships. Give the guy credit. He's not some angry teenager with nothing to say about the ups and downs of a real committed "love" relationship.

Sorry if the point about feminie insecurity sounds sexist. I'm sure a female lyricist could express a similar sentiment about her man's insecurities, but I would lay good odds that Doug was thinking of a woman when he was writing this song.

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Spoon – Don't You Evah Lyrics 14 years ago
This song is so tight and catchy, it's almost impossible to focus on the lyrics. The words are just another detail, like the hand claps, the tam, the cascading drum beat, the subtle reverb, the tweaky guitars...and that fat ass bass. If forced to sum it all up in two words?....sex and mystery.

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Built to Spill – The Wait Lyrics 14 years ago
Like most BTS songs there's a simple theme and ambiguity embedded in the lyrics so it could mean just about anything. Having said that, it seems like it's a song to a child, especially with the August and May references...the two months kids get out and have to go back to school. It's a lesson kids are taught early but have to keep relearning throughout life.

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Ryan Adams – Easy Plateau Lyrics 14 years ago
This is all about escapism. Check the California imagery, the romanticizing about chilling out and compare it to where the singer is now...living in the city (evidenced by the alley), bad nights and not being able to love anyone else because he can't love himself.

It would seem easy to just say this song is about getting high but I think it can also cover any form of escapism.

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Belle & Sebastian – The State I Am In Lyrics 14 years ago
The song title is supposed to be a title of a book and the lyrics are novelistic in their approach. Lots of characters and themes for a pop song. If pressed to encapsulate what it all means I would say that the song is about the tension people feel when they wrestle with dissappointing themselves, making mistakes, etc.. and the rather thankless moments when one knows they have done something good, honest or empathetic but will likely make further mistakes and/or continue to disappoint others/themselves.

Also, Stuart Murdoch suffered from chronic fatigue I believe. It's possible the characters here all reflect himself. He was in a sense "crippled" and ultimately saved himself, became a rock star and went on to write a bunch of stuff about hyperliterate kids wrestling with good and evil.

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Wilco – Side With The Seeds Lyrics 14 years ago
The lyrics seem more observational than as a big fat statement. Anyway, first verse seems to tackle how people approach religion. The second and third verses are more relationship oriented and a reflection on a problem two people may be facing...perhaps an argument over religion, where the singer can't accept whatever his lover accepts.

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Wilco – Dreamer In My Dreams Lyrics 14 years ago
I agree with a lot of what mooch says. The narrator p**sin' and moanin' about fatherhood. I think the second half of the song gets into something more profound talking about how we can't escape our lineage and we'll have to battle the same demons our fathers, grandfathers and sons all have.

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The Silver Jews – Friday Night Fever Lyrics 14 years ago
The lyrics of this song do a wonderful job at making the listener not feel bad about getting drunk. I imagine the narrator is simply talking to his conscience or some nosy m'f'er in his business about hitting the sauce. It's like, "she's cool with me, I'm not cheating on her, I'm getting drunk and then I'm going home." Awesome.

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The Silver Jews – Sometimes A Pony Gets Depressed Lyrics 14 years ago
Get a load of this fuckin' tune, it's the best on the album.

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The Silver Jews – Tennessee Lyrics 14 years ago
Pretty straightforward and autobiographical. Berman lived in Louisville, met his wife there and then moved to Nashville. Great song and leave the man's wife alone. She does fine and shouldn't be shortchanged because of her proximity to the songwriter. This isn't a public service job, it's a rock band and nepotism is OK as long as it doesn't spoil the product...and it doesn't.

Lyric correction: it's definitely "Goodbye users and suckers" fitting in with Berman's past with smoking crack, PCP, fentanyl patches, Keith Richards' dad's remains, moose scat and whatever else. OK, I made up a few of those.

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The Silver Jews – Slow Education Lyrics 14 years ago
First verse and chorus- People can understand the most basic of the universe's wonders (i.e the earthbound ones like weather) but we have a staggering lack of understanding as to the rest of the universe, scienticially or spiritually. Basically people have individual ideas about what happens to us but there's no consensus on it and it's...uh...frightening.

The second verse is interesting. Not real sure about it but to me it seems to focus on minutiae and Berman's conviction that if we treat each other right we don't have to really worry about whatever comes next. The "going down on themselves" is classic. People are so busy chasing what they believe will pleasure themselves and they lose sight of the fabric of society, i.e. manners, respect and deceny...the things that really make people feel good about themselves and connected with other people.

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Pavement – Gold Soundz Lyrics 14 years ago
This is a love song to himself, sung through the language of the subconscious...I think. My favorite is how he uses the lyrics to signal the chorus, coda and by affirmatively dropping "NOW" at the end of the chorus. Half the band was new on this album and Westie wasn't known as the best drummer. I'm thinking he needed to throw out signals to keep everyone on the same page.

The solo at 1:29 is at least a top 3 moment in my experience listening to music.

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Pavement – Gold Soundz Lyrics 14 years ago
This is a love song to himself, sung through the language of the subconscious...I think. My favorite is how he uses the lyrics to signal the chorus, coda and by affirmatively dropping "NOW" at the end of the chorus. Half the band was new on this album and Westie wasn't known as the best drummer. I'm thinking he needed to throw out signals to keep everyone on the same page.

The solo at 1:29 is at least a top 3 moment in my experience listening to music.

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Pavement – Spit On A Stranger Lyrics 14 years ago
How bout Malkmus is messing with both falling in love and cheating on someone? It all seems split about 50/50. I like Quonset's interp.

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Pavement – Spit On A Stranger Lyrics 14 years ago
How bout Malkmus is messing with both falling in love and cheating on someone? It all seems split about 50/50. I like Quonset's interp.

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Pavement – Silence Kid Lyrics 14 years ago
I think the grandmother's advice is about a job and the song is theme-oriented (touched on by all who posted) without any revelatory hidden meaning like most Pavement songs.

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Sufjan Stevens – Casimir Pulaski Day Lyrics 14 years ago
"For someone who has faith in god, it's like god has caused this bird to fly into your life only to die immediately in front of you, and for no reason."

Why would you say that? No disrespect intended and I am not disagreeing with your interpretation nor even that this meaning is what Sufjan intended but it just seems so self-centered. I guess the proposition that faith in God requires one to believe that God would be behind the chance encounter of a careless bird and a dude in a window seems a bit much. Maybe God (if he/she/it exists) created the universe and lets people have at it. Maybe he/she/it has not preordained the destiny of every single sentient being on this planet. Maybe the bird just hit the window and Sufjan is using it as a tool to remind us all that life is fragile everywhere.

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Wilco – Handshake Drugs Lyrics 14 years ago
Here's my theory. I believe this song like many of Wilco's songs sticks with the themes of co-dependence in both relationships and addiction. Tweedy, unlike many rock songwriters, comes from a nuclear family and has been able to sustain a nuclear family (married to the same woman, had kids) of his own. He has done this while negotiating the lure of addiction in a variety of forms (cigarettes, booze, drugs, probably art and now apparently he's a workout freak). This song pits his two compulsions, his family and his addictions against each other. That's why he is "inside out of love." He is conscious of the effect that his need to satisfy his physical loves (the addictions and artistic passions) have on the emotional love he has for his wife and family. He is conscious of how, in this case, drugs, make him feel and act like a clown. However, he doesn't know how to harmonize his twin passions and let's face it, they are both necessary to Jeff's ability to create great art. So he asks his wife what she wants from him. He knows she just wants him to stop with his compulsions but those compulsions are him and he won't stop being who he is. I think the feedback that sounds like radio static at the end of the track is the real interesting part of the song. The simple melody (D-G-F) collapses but continues under the feedback and distortion. I think the melody is love, or soul or whatever you want to call it and the noise is the chaos that is created when one tries to be true to oneself while trying to love your wife and family. That's I think what makes Jeff different from a lot of other guys. He's not Lou Reed or Kurt Cobain. He's not battling homosexual urges or reeling from a childhood in a broken home or a total misfit. He's more of a regular joe facing killer addictive urges and it becomes even more difficult and scary when you fight those urges and you can't say "well I was born gay or I come from a broken home." You have to just blame yourself.

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