I wanna be your kingpin
Living in Pekin
I wanna be your bigwig
Living in Pekin

I got the flu and away I flew
NYC, pediate blue
Dimetapp and spinal tap
City maps and hand claps

Statue of Liberty play
It only works once
Don't throw it away

Cause I wanna be your kingpin
Living in Pekin

Living in
Pekin
Living in

How can I
How can I give my love to you when
I don't know what to do


Lyrics submitted by OwnPersonalDemon

Kingpin Lyrics as written by Jeffrey Scott Tweedy Jeff Tweedy

Lyrics © BMG Rights Management

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Kingpin song meanings
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5 Comments

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  • +2
    My Opinion

    The protagonist in this song thinks he wants to settle down and be the main man (i.e., kingpin, bigwig) to his lover, living in Pekin (a small town in Illinois, but really any small town in the U.S.). However, the lure of the big city calls for him to give up the small-town life for hustle and bustle. He has "the flu," or itch, to seek bigger and better things, perhaps a faster life of drugs and music (hand claps). He realizes, though, that he only gets one chance at such a life, as suggested by the Statue of Liberty play--a trick play in football where the quarterback fakes a throw but hands off the ball to a running back, fooling the defense.

    So, the protagonist is in a conundrum: Should he stay in the stability of a relationship in small-town Pekin or seek greener pastures in the city? The last verse insinuates he doesn't know which choice to make. However, the name of the song is "Kingpin," meaning he will likely forgo the fast life and be the kingpin of his relationship in Pekin.

    Heaveon November 08, 2014   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    Pekin is a town in Illinois near Peoria. Likely some place that Jeff and Co would've visited to play shows early in their careers. One of my college dorm friends was from Pekin and I spent a week there one day. Hmm... I can't remember his name, nor my dorm's name, or much else. Those were the days.

    plarpcoon October 19, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    I dunno what this song means to me, but I like the wordplay. "Dimetapp and Spinal Tap, A-City Maps and hand claps." Kind of like how some of REM's best songs have no real meaning, just a lot of words thrown together that sound good.

    mark36on March 14, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    the beat of this song is badass.

    IMissIEmilyon February 08, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    I agree that the lyrics here are mostly nonsensical, but having lived for a short time in Beijing (Peking), it has a different sort of resonance for me.

    I've heard it said that all flu viruses originate in China. Whether this is true or not, it's certainly true that the combination of poor hygiene (people cough then spit their phlegm out on the street), and overpopulation in urban areas like Beijing, makes flu viruses spread quickly there.

    Whenever we'd come home to the West, I would stock up on cold and flu medication! Dimetap, PediaCare, etc.

    Whenever I hear this song, I remember our time in Beijing fondly (because of the rocking beat! Yeah!) but I also imagine someone traveling to Beijing as a tourist (city-maps), and then catching a severe flu, taking all kinds of over the counter meds. Then, they cut their vacation short and fly back to New York. Haha!

    disparatehousewifeon October 07, 2009   Link

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