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Lyrics submitted by kirwar4face, edited by dcrutcher

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  • +1
    General CommentOriginal lyrics by Grace Slick. These lyrics are undoubtably inaccurate, but are just as accurate as the lyrics usually found on the web, which, if my information is correct, come from the lyric sheet of the original After Bathing at Baxter's LP. This version of the lyrics corrects some errors of that lyric sheet and perhaps introduces others. I'll update whenever I have what seems to be a more accurate version of such and such a line in the song. I welcome all comments.

    Alternate lyrics: 1)The phrase I render as "Animal eyes" is usually rendered as "Amber light". This seems just as likely. 2) "The only Jew"...I always heard this as "The only two in the room", which I assumed meant Bloom and Molly, but "Jew" is too apt and provocative a lyric to be doubted.

    Notes on the song: As most people know, the song is based on the novel Ulysses by James Joyce, with what looks like personal and political commentary by Slick. (Leopold) Bloom, his wife Molly, Stephen (Dedalus) and Blazes Boylan (a crush of Molly's) are characters from the novel. (Not having read the novel, I have no idea whose arm Stephen's got...or is it Molly who's got it?)

    Saxon-sick: as sick as a Saxon, a Saxon or Sassanach being the epitome of crudeness to a Celt. The verse reputedly refers to Bloom's fondness for cunnilingus, the "holy dregs" being menstrual fluid.

    "War's good business" : short form of a popular antiwar bumpersticker slogan that had just come into vogue at the time the song was written (1967?):" War is good business: invest your son." Exactly how this ties in with Ulysses is unclear, but Slick nails it to the wall and makes it sing.

    That's all I know about this song right now.
    kirwar4faceon July 23, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General CommentChemical change-
    Have a bit of a freak out -
    Come back down.
    Addoon October 22, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThe line "Wars good business" is taken directly from
    Phantom Scribbleron July 19, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentLike so many of Grace's songs during this time, and like Ulysses itself, it's a fairly stream of consciousness prose, in this case critique about societal norms and mainstream culture. Lyric is not accurate in many cases, like; "go out looking like a star", should be "grow up looking like a car."

    "War's good business so give your son and I'd rather have my country die for me" was and still is a fairly strong anti-war statement, based partly on JFK's slogan; "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country."

    A fairly strong and cynical look at mainstream culture that Grace was very good at.
    brumuson November 24, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General Comment1. It's Stephen (Daedalus) not Steven.

    2. "I'd rather have my country die for me" is undoubtedly an anti-war statement and a reference to John F. Kennedy's "Ask not ... ", but also probably a reference to Stephen's declaration from A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man:

    “I will tell you what I will do and what I will not do. I will not serve that in which I no longer believe, whether it calls itself my home, my fatherland, or my church: and I will try to express myself in some mode of life or art as freely as I can and as wholly as I can, using for my defense the only arms I allow myself to use -- silence, exile, and cunning.”
    dcrutcheron January 05, 2017   Link
  • 0
    Song MeaningI was under the impression that these lyrics are a reinterpretation of the final “Penelope” chapter of Ulysses – the only chapter from the perspective of Molly, wherein her middle of the night musings are captured through punctuation-less stream of consciousness. That said, several of the lyrics come from other sections of the book , but Molly did say that when Leopold returned he recounted the events of his day to her.
    I reread the book last year and it wasn’t until near the end that I thought to consider how these lyrics fit in. I downloaded the book (for free) on a Kindle to search for phrases. Many of the lyrics seem to have no relation to the book – of course with the disclaimer that the book is so dense that I will admit that many allusion could have slipped by me. I couldn’t find any connections in the first 2 verses, - No white shirt and tie, no wedding ring, no chemical change. And later in the song… I can’t make any sense of the arm . The lyrics seem to capture more the spirit of the nocturnal stream of consciousness ramblings.
    The connections I have come up with are :
    • The third verse seems to refer to the Cyclops chapter – wherein Leopold attempts to meet up with an acquaintance in a pub midafternoon and gets into a political discussion with a local denizen, who ends up airing anti-Semitic grievances (Bloom being a Jew) and attempts to assault him at the end. I don’t think Bloom ordered Mulligan Stew though. No throw-up that I recall.
    • As previously mentioned, Blazes Boylan is a guy who Molly having an affair with (no mere crush) which is central in the book. She has a rendezvous with him that afternoon, and Leopold is preoccupied with this throughout the day. Boylan is well endowed, according to Molly.
    • Leopold does sleep opposite Molly in their bed – with his head at the foot of the bed.
    • The gold star mothers farm I am guessing refers to Molly’s childhood in Gibraltar, but that is a guess.
    • I’d rather have my country die for me, was directly taken something Stephen said early in the book.
    • The references to mother in the final verse undoubtedly refers to Stephen’s mother who had died one month previous. Throughout the book, he reflects a lot on his mother, often with guilt. Hershey bar? Look like a car? No idea.
    • The ending of the song – “Somehow it all falls apart” is odd. The ending of the book is very positive and optimistic. Molly keeps repeating the word yes – presumably meaning a recommitment of her love to Leopold (although there are other interpretations).
    I am sure I missed much, and would love to hear others’ views.
    For another interpretation of the book, see Kate Bush’s The Sensual World
    MamboManon January 25, 2017   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI've always thought, without knowing of course and having never read Joyce, that the first lines were:
    Pentacle chains - like a lace,
    You've shouted the warning - amber light,
    Needless to say, I've never been good at figuring out what many rock singers are actually saying. Thank goodness for the internet!
    princemarzmusicon October 03, 2018   Link

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