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A. A. Bondy – American Hearts Lyrics 7 years ago
Have to disagree - I think he's talking about (allegedly) Christian American leaders sending their boys off to die in the Middle East. Why would jihadists care what Christ thinks?

Shudder to Think – The Ballad Of Maxwell Demon Lyrics 8 years ago
This song is obviously a Bowie tribute.

First, the song is about "Maxwell Demon", the alter ego of the singer. This mirrors "Ziggy Stardust" and later "Alladin Sane"/The Thing White Duke and various other Bowie alter egos. (Maxwell's Demon is a thought experiment proposed by a physicist, Maxwell, about entropy, fyi). In particular, the title and idea of the song really reflects the song "Ziggy Stardust" from The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars.

Likewise, the spaceship/space/deity ideas are all a pastiche of Bowie-esque stuff. For example, the story of Ziggy Stardust is about an aliens coming to earth and the rock star (Ziggy) who acts as their prophet.

Other links I see:

- Six feet down at age 25 - parallels "Rock'n'Roll Suicide" from Ziggy

- Came down like water/for the age of solar - i.e., Maxwell is going to extinguish the "age of solar" - see "Five Years" from Ziggy

- Kiss Your Sons and Daughters Goodby - see "Starman" from Ziggy and "Oh! You Pretty Things" from Hunky Dory

There's plenty more if you can be bothered. But basically someone sat down and wrote a song with as many faux-Bowie lyrics in it as possible.

And I love it!

Palace Music – new partner Lyrics 8 years ago
Please stop comparing the genius of W. Oldham to the twee irritation that is the Magnetic Fields...

The National – Pink Rabbits Lyrics 8 years ago
At the moment my main comment about this is that it might be the best song they've ever written.

Sounds like it's about two people having some sort of denouement in a street in LA in the rain.

Rilo Kiley – A Man/Me/Then Jim Lyrics 10 years ago
Why does everyone think the conversation in the second verse is on the telephone?

It's very clear:

"A woman COMES TO my house once a week"

She's selling, amongst other things, phone plans, but she's there in person.

Bob Dylan – Cross the Green Mountain Lyrics 11 years ago
It's definitely "ravaged". There are a few other mistakes, e.g. pretty sure it's "unknown world is so near" rather than "dear".

One of the best Dylan songs ever, and therefore one of the best songs by anyone ever. Criminally neglected, no doubt due to its length and complex subject matter.

Stars fell over Alabama
I saw each star
You're walking in dreams
Whoever you are

gives me goosebumps every time.

Bob Dylan – Cross the Green Mountain Lyrics 11 years ago
It's definitely "ravaged". There are a few other mistakes, e.g. pretty sure it's "unknown world is so near" rather than "dear".

One of the best Dylan songs ever, and therefore one of the best songs by anyone ever. Criminally neglected, no doubt due to its length and complex subject matter.

Stars fell over Alabama
I saw each star
You're walking in dreams
Whoever you are

gives me goosebumps every time.

Placebo – Brick Shithouse Lyrics 11 years ago
Just like to add that "Don't you wish you'd never met her" repeated as a bridge in a song is stolen directly from "Dirty Blue Gene" by Captain Beefheart, from the album "Doc at the Radar Station".

At the Drive-In – Non-Zero Possibility Lyrics 11 years ago
Yep, no offence to depressed teenagers (I was one once) but think outside the personal/political/social box a bit - surely this like many other songs on this album has a strong scifi/apocalyptic theme running through it. Not everything has to be about 'issues' - music can be fictional.

To me this song seems to be about some sort of plague or war. The protagonist is working to 'clean up' the dead - i.e. he's in a morgue, and he's putting the make up etc on bodies to make them look ok for their funerals. But these people haven't died in their sleep - they are bruised and torn. There are plenty of hints that something bigger is going down - there are flies crawling on the bodies (i.e. sanitary standards have fallen) and a discussion of how these people were dead before they were born, doomed, hexed etc. There's some kind of enemy out there too - "they still eat their young", "protoculture" etc.

The National – Thirsty Lyrics 11 years ago
"Hawk" and "dove" are commonly used terms in the context of foreign affairs. Hawks favour force and aggression, doves favour peace and conciliation.

I consider this to be about searching for self-identity. He's lost hold of who he thought he was - he didn't think he was a "princess" but he's having a breakdown anyway. So he asks his partner to hold onto him anyway. The Hawk/Dove to me is about trying to understand yourself - am I an aggressive person? Am I a bleeding heart? Reactionary? Progressive?

The National – You've Done It Again, Virginia Lyrics 11 years ago
I see the Virginia character as wanting to live this life of passion and intensity, but failing and drinking to compensate. She wants the boy to come in with her after a date, but he won't. She wants to be a funny, captivating person but the truth is that she can't talk to people easily and can't hold their attention.

I think perhaps she is in a way beautiful and worthwhile but she's so unsettled and difficult to connect with that no-one understands or fully appreciates her - "your heart's full of liquor/and me and everybody else are just ice in a glass", i.e. there's a lot going on inside but instead of being able to communicate it to people through a genuine connection she just pours her discontent into them. The image of "ice in a glass" suggests that she deals with others like they are empty vessels for her angst.

The National – Friend of Mine Lyrics 11 years ago
I love how someone will explain direct from the horse's mouth what something is meant to mean, and yet someone else will still give a different (and plainly wrong) explanation!

The National – Runaway Lyrics 11 years ago
Holy hell this song is good. The lift in the music that goes along with "what makes you think I enjoy being led to the flood" is something else.

The National – Reasonable Man (I Don't Mind) Lyrics 11 years ago
Interesting song, full of regret.

My take - it's about being too cautious and accommodating in life. You can lose your girl & your friends for want of speaking up and intervening, you can wait instead of taking action, you can shake someone's hand when you want to hit them.

The singer has done all of these things, because he reasons/rationalises that "a careful heart is better than none". But because of this he has suffered great pain, which he now carries around with him.

The twist is that he suggests that others NOT follow his example - "if it happens to you/the same kind of deal/I recommend fire/instead of the fool". In other words, don't be a cautious, hesitant fool who sees everything he values slip away - instead fight (apply 'fire'). The sadness in the song is thus that he is aware of his own characteristics of hesitation and inaction, but is unable to escape them despite the pain they cause.

Leonard Cohen – The Stranger Song Lyrics 12 years ago
Some interesting ideas on the meaning of this song here. In general I agree with the notion that it is about a woman who has a series of failed relationships with men who are too focused on their ambition to achieve something ideal and sublime (presumably in an artistic sense, although that is not clear) to have a meaningful relationship with her.

A couple of thoughts on specific lines:

"And then sweeping up the jokers that he left behind
you find he did not leave you very much not even laughter"

The "dealer" has left the woman, and he's taken his cards with him. All he's left behind are the jokers (which she's left to sweep up) - cards which are typically 'wild' or have nil or indeterminate value. When she tries to play the jokers she finds they are worthless.

"It's hard to hold the hand of anyone
who is reaching for the sky just to surrender"

I understand this line to mean that the man is constantly over-reaching, and trapped in a cycle of defeat/failure as a result. He wants to be great, to find his one ultimate winning card, but he fails every time he tries and he knows it. Thus he is "reaching for the sky" but only to inevitably fail - "to surrender". No coincidence that in cowboy movies and the like you hear the phrase "reach for the sky" - it is, indeed, a gesture of surrender. It's a great metaphor though because it would literally be hard to hold the hand of a person making this gesture, and in the context of the song it is hard for this woman to get a meaningful connection with a man who is determined to reach for the ideal in his life.

"And then leaning on your window sill
he'll say one day you caused his will
to weaken with your love and warmth and shelter
And then taking from his wallet
an old schedule of trains, he'll say
I told you when I came I was a stranger"

Contrary to some of the above, I understand this to represent the scene where the man inevitably walks out again. Suddenly in his mind he never really wanted to be there - it was just that he needed shelter and the woman "caused his will to weaken". In other words he turns on her and blames her for distracting him from his imagined task of achieving greatness with her love. So he pulls out the train schedule because he's leaving, and uses his escape clause - "I told you when I came I was a stranger", i.e., I never promised I would be yours and so you have no reason to be upset that I am walking out now.

The National – Cardinal Song Lyrics 12 years ago
I think people are pretty close on the meaning, but have it a bit backwards. He does have a woman he loves and is/was with in a real relationship, but at some point the power shifted to her in his mind. He believes this is because he went too far in being honest and vulnerable with her, and now he thinks the right way to do this would have been to "save it for the deathbed". As ghosttrainhobo says, it's the "principle of least interest" - he got (as he sees it) sucked into being honest and vulnerable, and now she has the power and he is the weak dependent one.

However, my take on the rest of the song is a bit different to what most have posted above. I think this is meant to be in his head, not in fact how his lover actually treated him. Suddenly he feels like the weak one, so he has taken it upon himself to go out and sleep with other women almost at random, as a way to win back his power and control over his love life. So:

fall asleep with stranger's wives
the wild wives of unknown men
good for you, you've just become
just another one of them

is about exactly what it says - sleeping with "stranger's wives". But by doing this as an act of retribution against his true love he falls back to being just another typical unfaithful man in her eyes, destroying any value he got from his honesty ("you've just become/just another one of them"). In that context this makes sense:

jesus christ you have confused me
cornered, wasted, blessed and used me
forgive me girls i am confused
stiff and pissed and lost and loose

He's not used to being so vulnerable, and it's left him confused and feeling "cornered, wasted, blessd and used". He's asking the girls he's then gone and slept with to forgive him because in his highly charged emotional stage he's "stiff and pissed and lost and loose" (great line) - i.e. out on the rampage because he is upset by how he feels about his true love.

Editors – Papillon Lyrics 12 years ago
MrMMTk, I think you may be right about the 'waking up' aspect of it. I agree with others that it is about forgetting about a higher power helping you, you have to do the work yourself (not put down your guns).

The Papillon reference is definitely to the book/film - Papillon is a character who relentlessly tries to escape imprisonment out of a sense that his imprisonment is unjust and unfair, to a point where he is prepared to risk execution or death at sea to escape.

Editors – In This Light and on This Evening Lyrics 12 years ago
Holy hell, how are there no comments on this song? Great opener, fantastically atmospheric. I like the simple repetition of the lyrics.

Muse – I Belong to You/Mon Coeur S'Ouvre a Ta Voix Lyrics 12 years ago
I strongly dislike both this song and the lyrics to this song. The album would IMHO be much better off without it. It is particularly jarring between the mega-rock of Unnatural Selection and MK Ultra and the epic Exogenesis.

Pulp – The Night That Minnie Timperley Died Lyrics 12 years ago
I read somewhere that this was about a real murder. I like how he sort of blames the feebleness of males her own age for driving her to something worse ("patethetic teenage wrecks").

Pulp – Seductive Barry Lyrics 12 years ago
I'm surprised at the negativity - I love this song. And the line "I will light your cigarette with a star that has fallen from the sky"... the perfect mix of seedy and pure.

Pulp – Roadkill Lyrics 12 years ago
No comments?? Another great track from this album. The lyrics are self-explanatory I suppose - seeing the darkness in life as a result of losing someone. But the delivery is amazing.

Pulp – I Love Life Lyrics 12 years ago
Overall, I take this as meaning that painful though it is, and although you didn't choose to start life ("sentenced you to life"), you have to keep choosing to be alive, otherwise you won't be.

I love the little interlude:

"You got a problem.
I lost my keys when I stayed at your place.
On the floor of your living room, you made the scene but it'll never get shown on TV.
So tonight prepare to kiss goodbye to my lovelife."

To me this shows what is great about J Cocker's writing - in four lines he sums up that: (a) they are having an affair; (b) this type of tawdriness is all you can really get from life (when read in the context of the song); (c) it's about to end because he left his keys there, so when the boyfriend/husband gets home he will eventually find them and the deception will be uncovered; (d) this type of drama seems huge in your own life, but of course it's totally commonplace ("it'll never get shown on TV"); (e) we do these things to ourselves ("you made the scene...").

I love this song. And album. And Pulp.

Elvis Costello – Lip Service Lyrics 12 years ago
Am I crazy to think this song is about oral sex?

I mean... "lip service", "going through the motions", "if you change your mind/you can sent it a letter to me" (letter i.e. French letter, perhaps), "don't make any sudden movements", "don't act like you're above me" etc etc

I normally shy away from the "it's sex"/"it's drugs" interpretation but...

Elvis Costello – This Year's Girl Lyrics 12 years ago
Dear god, no comments?

Fairly self-explanatory lyrics, but a great song nonetheless.

Frank Black and the Catholics – Calistan Lyrics 12 years ago
I think you're right - he's driving perhaps down a broken old highway (invisible planes are cracking the concrete) to LA, and he's cataloguing what used to be there - superhighways and the hybrid American-Spanish culture ("Juan Wayne"). "Calistan" seems to me to be a hybrid of California and places we typically regard as backward, chaotic, despotic and struck by civil war - Afghanistan, Pakistan, etc.

A great thing about this song is the sounds he uses. For example, Ws and Ps: *W*ent in from the *W*eather *W*hen I got *W*heezy/I *P*lay some *P*achinko, I *P*lay some *P*achisi. I also like how he hardens the "J" in "navaJo", it makes the sound work in the chorus.

Great song!

The Walkmen – This Job is Killing Me Lyrics 12 years ago
I also believe these to be the lyrics to Tenley Town.

The Walkmen – Don't Get Me Down (Come On Over Here) Lyrics 12 years ago
Yes these lyrics are waaaaaaaaaay wrong...

Tom Waits – Mr. Siegal Lyrics 12 years ago
I would really like to know what this line means: "don't you know that ain't no broken bottle that i picked up in my headlights, on the other side of the nevada line". Any thoughts?

Tom Waits – Downtown Lyrics 12 years ago
I am outraged at the lack of comments on this song. The archetypal Waits song from this period, loaded with seedy romance and great imagery ("I want to break your bottle and spill out all your charm").

Art Brut – What a Rush Lyrics 12 years ago
Sounds to me like "it's a... henchman, it's giving me orders".

David Bowie – Oh! You Pretty Things Lyrics 12 years ago
Oh, and having read a summary of that Arthur C Clarke novel, I think the song clearly references it.

David Bowie – Oh! You Pretty Things Lyrics 12 years ago
It should be mentioned that "The Pretty Things Are Going to Hell" is the counterpoint to this song.

"You're still breathing but you don't know why
Life's a bit and sometimes you die
You're still breathing but you just can't tell
Don't hold your breath
But the pretty things are going to hell"

Read the lyrics to that song - the "homo superior" race got hooked on heroin and wasted their lives, like we all do.

Also, why does everyone have to obsess about the gay thing? Just because Bowie might have meant it as a play on words doesn't mean that he definitely did, no matter how baldly you assert that he did. He might have, but the song has perfectly obvious non-gay meanings.

Art Brut – What a Rush Lyrics 12 years ago
Isn't it "parents" please lock up your daughters?

Art Brut – Slap Dash For No Cash Lyrics 13 years ago
"Why isn't everyone trying to sound like U2?
It's not a very cool thing to do"

Heheh. Brilliant, especially with the timing, just after U2's latest self-parody.

Art Brut – DC Comics and Chocolate Milkshake Lyrics 13 years ago
Yes, it's "she probably gets that a lot". And it's a great line!

Art Brut – Demons Out! Lyrics 13 years ago

For starters, it's "Demons Out" not "Demon's Out".

Also, I'm fairly sure it's "The Record Buying Public SHOULDN'T be voting".

Also I love this song. And Art Brut. What's the first part about?

Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here Lyrics 13 years ago
I think some people are misunderstanding the war reference.

Did you exchange a walk on part in the war
For lead role in a cage?

I think he is posing the question: how did we go from the "greatest generation" of WWII, where ordinary people were extraordinarily brave, selfless and courageous in the face of something so massive and terrifying (millions of brave people had 'a walk on part in the war') to the selfish, wanton consumerism of the 1950s and beyond where everything is about you, you, you - an ego and money driven society of people who all demand to be the centre of attention but are really trapped in their little lives ('lead role in a cage', and let's not forget that this was recorded in the mid-1970s, height of the culture of self-indulgence and hedonism).

As well as the obvious Syd references, I think the rest of the song is really one person who feels that their eyes are open to the world talking to someone who they fear is lost to the illusion that has been spun around them. The singer can see that the world has been reduced to ashes and lies, and is telling this other person that they have had the wool pulled over their eyes and should wake up to it.

Thus I take "how I wish you were here" to mean, "I wish you could see reality and not the fantasy world you have been taught to live in", i.e. I wish you were here in the real world with me, because even though you're physically present you're not really HERE.

On that basis, the album cover sort of makes sense - the one guy is on fire, but neither of them seems to notice the obvious reality and danger of the situation, they are just shaking hands like it's another business meeting. Pink Floyd is saying: wake up, stop doing business deals and realise youre F**KING ON FIRE, man.

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – O Children Lyrics 13 years ago
I see it like this -

1. The protagonist's generation of adults have f##ked up the world and built human systems which make it a generally horrible place (the "gulag", which in history is the ultimate example of the horrors people inflict on one another). They have done this to their short term profit but long term detriment.

2. The protagonist feels he is about to die - by his own hand, perhaps, or at least unwillingly ("pass me that lovely little gun", "the light is dim" etc). At the same time, he and his peers have had the shocking realisation that they have lived worthless lives and made the world a worse place by forgetting their original values ("poor old Jim's white as a ghost/he's found the answer that we lost")

3. He is speaking to his child, trying in his way to apologise and warn the child about the world that the adults have created.

4. He knows deep down that the message won't get through to the child ("there ain't nothing we can do to protect you"), and that the same type of people he once was (the "cleaners") will come to the child, and convince it that the ways of the world are good and correct, and that as an adult the child will subsequently participate in building and maintaining the very same system, the "gulag" - so "here take these before we run away/the keys to the gulag", i.e. the world, such as it is, is yours now.

5. The "cleaners" will make is all seem like it is the right way for things to be by hiding the blood - "the cleaners have done their job on you/they've hosed you down, you're good as new" - i.e., when the child makes the same choices that the protagonist did, it will be because society is structured in a way that hides the true costs of those choices until it is too late. Consumerism, supporting corrupt governments, "righteous" wars, etc etc. To me the "cleaners" are governments, corporations, the media, and other manipulative people/groups who profit from the current system.

6. I find the gospel part at the end to be intentionally ironic - after selfishly wrecking the world and abandoning his child to its fate, he now has the temerity to ask God (or whoever) for salvation (getting him to "the Kingdom"). I think this part highlights that this is said slightly mockingly: "we're happy Ma, we're having fun, the train ain't even left the station", i.e., his generation have forgiven themselves and found 'salvation' and now they're back to having fun even though the "train" isn't necessarily going anywhere. But there is also a real fear in there - "have you left a seat for me? is that such a stretch of the imagination?", i.e., after all I've done, is it even possible that I could be redeemed?

I think this song ties together with another great line from this album: "I went to bed last night and my moral code got jammed/I woke up this morning with a frappacino in my hand". There's a theme of obsession with success clouding our vision of what is really important

Absolutely unbelievable song.

Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band – I'm Glad Lyrics 13 years ago
No comments but... come on! This song is unbelievably awesome. As is this album.

Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band – Electricity Lyrics 13 years ago
Three comments is a disgrace. This song is insane on every level. Listening to it you are propelled across the same dark roads and black seas...

Neil Young – Ohio Lyrics 13 years ago
I cannot believe that even now there are people stupid enough to blame unarmed students for heavily armed soldiers murdering them. Some people don't deserve to live in a democracy if they are this clueless about why it is never the fault of the person without a gun in this situation. The soldiers could have left, they could have communicated better, they could have done a hundred other things, instead they killed defenceless people who couldn't shoot back.

As for the song, a couple of thoughts on specific lines:

"We're finally on our own" - there's no longer any pretence that everyone is on the same side, when the government is prepared to shoot its people then the people are on their own.

"This summer I hear the drumming" - to me, this line hints at the real message of the song, which is that its time to take back the country. Young hears the drumming of the people who won't take this stuff any more from the Nixon administration. Obviously the line reflects the military element of the national guard too. It took a few years, but he went down...

Belle & Sebastian – I Fought in a War Lyrics 13 years ago
A bedsit is a type of cheap, low-rent accommodation. I think back at the time of WWI anyone living in one would be either poor or falling below social standards and living as a single person in an era when you would have been expected to marry. So I take this line to mean that there was a sense of social upheaval and degeneration in England before World War I, and some people even thought that the war would be a good thing, but the protagonist is there on the front lines and is realizing that what he is experiencing is something unimaginable and new which makes those old concerns seem insignificant.

This is a fabulous song. It goes well with "The Soldiering LIfe" by The Decemberists.

Tom Waits – Everything You Can Think Lyrics 13 years ago
I'm pretty sure it's "red flamingos" not "black flamingos"

Also this is the greatest song ever...

Interpol – The Scale Lyrics 14 years ago
Oh, and it's definitely "Them's the breaks", it's a common expression and fits in with the line "This is a bandit's life".

It is NOT "ebbs", which makes no sense, you can't "ebb" something, it's a reflexive verb.

Interpol – The Scale Lyrics 14 years ago
I totally disagree with the 'abortion' theory - there's just nothing direct to support it in the song - it's a nice exercise in reading meaning into things though. No offence, but I tend to think people come on here and read things out of their personal lives into songs.

Myself, I take this a bit more literally. To me this song has a Godfather-esque flavour. It's about someone who has been betrayed by a partner or ally in some illicit enterprise (the 'bandit's life') and now they wait at sunset ('clouds of fire') to exact revenge by killing their partner.

I take the My son/My sun thing to be a deliberate play on words - "my son" is the way two men (not literally father and son) might speak to one another, and it's also a reference to the sunset.

I'd say there are two main scenes here. First, some gathering or event where the former ally is speaking and the protagonist finds it hard to hear that person's lies with a straight face because he knows the truth and what must be done - "I can still feel it when you lie" - and so he picks up a flower and hides his expression. This could well be at the funeral of someone who has been killed by the former ally, and the protagonist must now listen to these insincere remarks at the funeral and bide his time (a funeral would fit with the rose).

Second, the scene outside at sunset, where the protagonist and his allies lie in ambush, waiting for dark and their target - "under a molten sky, beyond the road, we lie in wait" and the sun/clouds lines. And of course, "you think they know us now? Wait til the stars come out" - that is, people have made assumptions about me/us, and now by this act of revenge I will correct their understanding (by killing you).

There are also lines which are more exposition and justification than straight description - the protagonist is cooly angry that his former friend (or perhaps former protege) has betrayed him and now it is time to show him that what goes around comes around - "I made you, and now I take you back".

Seriously, think about Michael Corleone in the Godfather and think about it. It makes sense. Well, to me it does.

Tom Waits – All the World Is Green Lyrics 14 years ago
patobrien - precisely.

And yeah, if I knew of a bar that played this kind of stuff I'd never leave it either.

Bob Dylan – Went to See the Gypsy Lyrics 14 years ago
No comments on such a great song? But what is it about?

I can detect some Christian themes, perhaps, but it also sounds like one of BD's personal anecdotes.

The Killers – Glamorous Indie Rock and Roll Lyrics 14 years ago
God I hate this song. I don't care if its irony, a joke whatever, calling a song "Glamorous Indie Rock and Roll" is just LAME.

Highlights the worst aspects of the Killers IMHO - this and a couple of other songs knock a star at least off the first album.

Moloko – Indigo Lyrics 15 years ago
Wow, what an enlightening thread.

Rameses was an Egyptian king. The Colossus was a giant statue at Rhodes which collapsed.

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