I still remember you dressed in grey.
Working undercover for the CIA
You were cursing Silber living in Back Bay
Sailing on the Charles when I heard you say

Let's go down to Normal Town
Right now
Down, Down, down

I washed you lover and scrubbed your face
Running from Miss Porter's you showed up one day
From a flat in South End where you made me strong
You said, "We're burning out at both ends."

So I came along.
Let's go down to Normal Town
Right now
Down, down, down

Hey! Wouldn't it be great to never worry
About your future never asking why?
Hey! Hey? In a subdivision watching television
And our lives go by.

Let's go down to Normal Town.
Let's go down to Normal Town.
Right now
Down, down, down


Lyrics submitted by oofus

Normal Town Lyrics as written by Kevin Griffin

Lyrics © BMG RIGHTS MANAGEMENT US, LLC, Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.

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Normal Town song meanings
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5 Comments

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  • +1
    General Comment

    I don't know exactly what it's about (it sounds mostly fanciful) but it refers to the time when they were living in Boston after college when they were just starting out. "The Charles", "Back Bay", and "South End" are all geographic references to Beantown and "Mrs. Porter's" is a private, all girls boarding school in Farmington, CT, about two and a half hours from Boston.

    diggit18on December 05, 2004   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    Just to expand on diggit18's comments a little bit: "Silber" is almost certainly referring to John Silber, a long-time academic and political figurehead in Boston for many years. So this is an additional reference to Boston along with the others that diggit18 mentioned. The big question is the one that diggit18 posed about whether the song is made up or fact-based. I think it's made up and the first clue is the "CIA" line. That makes the whole thing sound improbable. Also, the idea of a girl running away from a boarding school tips the scales towards the "made-up" column. This sounds like a pretty extreme story overall and probably not fact-based. My guess is that it is a made-up story about a guy who takes in a girl who wants to get away from it all. She runs away from the school and he takes her in and washes her old life clean ("scrub your face") and together they forget about their futures while living in Boston. For those who've never seen the their live House of Blues DVD from 2004, Griffin mentions that "At the Stars" was completely made up. He imagined that he had grown up in California instead of New Orleans and so he wrote a story about a guy and a girl sneaking out of the house to drive up the coast. This is a clue that perhaps he did the same thing here; he just transported himself to Boston in his own imagination and made up this story. Additionally, I think the sound of the song itself is another clue that it is made up. It just "sounds" made up; it's very mysterious and intriguing-sounding and it just doesn't sound like the kind of backdrop you would put to a fact-based story. We will never know for sure what's going on here but I think all clues point towards it being a made-up story about the narrator taking in a runaway. The thing that matters most here isn't the meaning but the fact that it is an incredible song. I would say that this is a strong contender for being my personal favorite BTE song of all-time; it's a shame that it's as overlooked as it is.

    ScreenNameNeededon September 09, 2010   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    I realize my analysis above was probably incorrect because of the chorus. "Let's go down to Normal Town" suggests that they are looking to get OUT of Boston rather than stay. "Running out at both ends" probably means that it's not working out for either one of them there and they should leave. It could mean that they are both running out of money. And "both ends" specifically may refer to the two areas of Boston that he mentions: Back Bay and South End. Now that I see this part of it, I think there may be a stronger case for it being fact-based because this is a much more realistic dilemma. It could be that the CIA and running away from Miss Porter's are just outrageous metaphors for a relatively normal story. "CIA" could refer to dreams and ambitions that aren't coming true for them in Boston and running away from the school could be just wanting to get away. Ultimately, we will never know for sure what's going on in this song but it's such a great song that it's certainly worth taking the time to wonder what it means.

    ScreenNameNeededon September 13, 2010   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    Normaltown's a neighborhood in Athens, GA, where REM kinda got their start (and the B-52's.) REM is BTE's fave band, mentioned in a couple other songs (Road Trip to Athens, A Lifetime.) This is a fictional story of a guy and girl wanting to get out of Boston and go down to Georgia. Kinda like Augustana's song but in reverse. ;)

    hrlquin831on February 02, 2014   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    So, I honestly believe this song is about schizophrenia, or a schizophrenic episode. Lyrically, it has many pieces and seems to allude to a dual nature several times. But, it could just be me.

    Jroqon October 14, 2018   Link

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