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The Smithereens – Behind the Wall of Sleep Lyrics 9 years ago
I definitely hear that "Left of the Dial" similarity in the lyrics. Musically it reminds me of "Burning House of Love" by X.

Donald Fagen – The Nightfly Lyrics 11 years ago
Sweetandy, I gotta disagree. I think New Frontier is about hosting a party in a bomb shelter, but not after a nuclear holocaust. Hence "let's pretend that its the real thing".

So I think this song is just about a regular underground dj. And the "race of men in the trees" is just a conspiracy theory espoused by some paranoid caller (who is also for tougher legislation).

Elvis Costello – Tramp the Dirt Down Lyrics 11 years ago
This is definitely one of my favorites on Spike - in my opinion it blows "Veronica" out of the water. I understand why it wasn't released as a single though...

Lyrically, I'm impressed with Elvis' use of unexpected rhymes like "imagine/compassion" and "detail/betrayal". But I'm most impressed by the ironic twist that provides a little of his signature dark humor at the end of the song - after lambasting Margaret Thatcher for her lack of regard for human life and then laughing at her death, he remarks "I never thought for a moment that human life could be so cheap!"

Its like he's reminding her that her life is just as cheap as anyone's who was sent to war for her policies.

Now, as an American, I have a few questions for the Brits out there (or anyone else who might know):

1) Was there actually such a picture published of Margaret Thatcher kissing a grimacing child?
2) Was this song not considered libel because he only says "Margaret" and never reveals her last name, despite the heavy insinuations?
3) What is the "The black tarmacadam"?
4) Does "this pitiful discontent" refer to this song? Or something broader?

In today's context I can't get Sarah Palin (and her "special needs" baby) out of my mind when I listen to this song.

Pavement – Cut Your Hair Lyrics 11 years ago
I was gonna say that too! Too bad you beat me by like 5 years.

I think he means both words at once like "Career" and "Korea".

"Tension" and "Attention" both fit and make sense. As does "Pretention" as someone says below, though it doesn't really sound like he's saying that.

Steely Dan – The Boston Rag Lyrics 11 years ago
There's some really good insights above - especially the details of Lonnie swallowing a bunch of pills and being out cold for 2 days. That makes a lot of sense.

I just wanted to add that both Donald and Walter are big Jazz fans and a lot of early Jazz music is called Ragtime. A lot of these ragtime songs have similar titles like, "The Pineapple Rag", "Tiger Rag", "Maple Leaf Rag", etc. So I think they wrote this song at least in part to have a title like those. Maybe they meant it to have a double meaning to also include the slang for newspapers, but I'm not so sure.

The Replacements – I'll Be You Lyrics 11 years ago
This song is almost good enough to redeem much of the rest of "Don't Tell a Soul"...but not quite. Some of the lyrics in this song are really good, and some seem like filler. I wonder if it was half written when they brought it to the studio. Anyway, its still a great listen because the melody is so good. Too bad so much of "Don't Tell a Soul" feels so forced - its like a once-great tv show that has finally jumped the shark. (Sopranos Season 6, anyone?)

Good: A dream too tired to come true
Left a rebel without a clue


You be me for a while
and I'll be you

Filler: Well, I laughed half the way to Tokyo
I dreamt I was Surfer Joe
An' what that means, I don't know


Lonely, I guess that's where I'm from
If I was from Canada
then I'd best be called lonesome

Steely Dan – What A Shame About Me Lyrics 11 years ago
I really like:

"Three weeks out of the rehab
Living one day at a time"

Recovering addicts are told to "live on day at a time" as a strategy for staying sober. Apparently this might not be going so well for the narrator. I'm not saying they're definitely using again, but they're definitely not living one day at a time if they're counting the weeks like this.

Robert Johnson – Preachin' Blues (Up Jumped The Devil) Lyrics 11 years ago
I find the image "blues walkin' like a man" to be really haunting. It strikes me everytime I listen to this song. Apparently it was lifted from a Son House song, but I still have to give props to Mr. Johnson for using it so well.

Big Star – I'm in Love with a Girl Lyrics 11 years ago
I think this song is referenced in the Replacements' song "Alex Chilton"

"'I'm in love', what's that song? I'm in love with that song"

X – I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts Lyrics 11 years ago
Anyone have any insight into the "woody guthrie sang about b-e-e-t-s, not b-e-a-t-s" line?

My read is that in the past music was about social issues (people going hungry), but now the music has narcissistically become about music itself.

One more thing and then I promise I'm done with this song (for today anyway):

Any other Americans like me feel like this about our current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan?

"I'm guilty of murder of
innocent men, innocent women, innocent children
thousands of them
my planes, my guns, my money, my soul
my blood on my hands
it's all my fault
I must not think bad thoughts"

X – I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts Lyrics 11 years ago
I hear it as "both sides are right but both sides murder".

When I first heard this, I thought it was a reference to the civil wars in Central America in the 1980's (read Salvador by Joan Didion if you'd like a well observed and detailed account of one of these conflicts).

However, this can really refer to any two sides of a violent conflict who claim to have moral authority. The example that jumps to my mind is the abortion debate. Both sides make good points, but both sides' arguments also have devolved into violence against the other side at one time or another (ironically, the pro-lifers seem to do more of the killing, but that is my own commentary and that has nothing to do with this excellent song).

Donald Fagen – The Nightfly Lyrics 11 years ago
Not to be Captain Obvious, but the "Won't you turn your radio down / Respect the seven second delay we use" is a reference to a phenomenon that occurs when a caller's radio is loud enough to carry into their telephone - it creates a feedback loop which sounds really weird. When this happens, DJs will remind the caller to turn down their radios. I'm sure most people who listen to the radio have heard this at one time or another but I don't know if many people listen to the radio anymore. I thought I'd provide that small and perhaps obvious insight.

Great song, great album.

Steely Dan – Haitian Divorce Lyrics 11 years ago
I think some of the other interpretations are most likely spot on. That said, I wanted to suggest a slight variation that could be wrong.

I suggest that the line "So in love the preacher's face turned red" should be taken to mean that the woman was so pregnant that everyone, even the priest, could tell they were having a shotgun wedding (as in they were forced into it because she was pregnant).

I take the "Soon everybody knew the thing was dead", to refer to the baby which could have died in childbirth or a miscarriage (or SIDS but that's not really the point). Once the baby is gone, the couple has no reason to stay together so she goes to Haiti for a quickie divorce.

Burt Bacharach wrote a song called "Mexican Divorce" played by The Drifters (as well as Ry Cooder) which I imagine Fagen and Becker were familiar with, so I think they decided to put their own spin on it. I had initially thought the 2nd verse was about getting an abortion, but that doesn't seem consistent.

Red House Painters – New Jersey Lyrics 11 years ago
I always figured this song was directed at some self important scenester chick that drew Mr. Kozelek's ire. The chorus gives the impression she's a big fish in a small pond (specifically New Jersey). Basically she thinks she's really important, like a queen of the rock 'n roll scene or something, and Mr. Kozelek is putting her in her place saying "you may be big shit in the Garden State, but 'New Jersey ain't the whole world'". Maybe I'm way off.

Oh, one other thing. New Jersey people are stereotypically looked down on by New Yorkers (watch the Sopranos or Joe Piscipo-era SNL if you don't believe me), who see them as trashy, uncultured, or clueless to the ways of New York sophistication. I don't personally feel this way, I just wanted to mention it since it may inform the attitude of the song.

I wonder if British fans of the Red House Painters catch this interesting tidbit of US geography/culture.

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