"Certain People I Could Name" as written by and John C./linnell Flansburgh....
The few surviving samurai survey the battlefield
Count the arms, the legs and heads and then divide by 5
Drenched in blood they move across the screen
Do I need to point or do you see the one I mean
The one in back, the way he acts
Is he reminding you of anyone we know
Isn't he so like certain people I could name

Halfway through the thirty minutes
Halfway round the world
Here's the story on the genocidal overlord
In the palace with her epilettes
Watch her little gestures as she lights her cigarette
Look at her, you must see it too
Is she reminding you of anyone we know
Isn't she so like certain people I could name

Disembodied and detached a voice describes the scene
As a lizard stalks a helpless creature on TV
Music underscores the tragedy
Eyes with no expression watch the unsuspecting prey
Who is it like, doesn't it strike
You as the very image of someone we know
Isn't it so like certain people--how could anybody miss
The obvious and the uncanny and the clear resemblance
Isn't it just like certain people I could name

Lyrics submitted by Irrational

"Certain People I Could Name" as written by John Linnell John Flansburgh

Lyrics © Warner Chappell Music, Inc.

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Certain People I Could Name song meanings
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  • 0
    General CommentThe voice is from a bitter and hurt person who watches TV and sees his broken heart in everything he sees on the box.

    This is a very sad song. TMBG have good "lovers lament" songs, though you never would know by them being call "quirky" all the time. I think they are brilliant writers.
    randyisnoton April 05, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General CommentActually, I found it to be an amusing song about somebody who is easilly distracted. It's basically the experience of watching shows with a person who never follows the plot and talks a lot.

    In the first verse, the singer is watching a violent Japanese war film with us (perhaps in a theater... "moving across the screen" is something which is much more noticable on a wide screen than on a TV, where "pan & scan" cropping ruins those sorts of shots"). Amid the hideous gore, we are elbowed in the ribs because one of the warriors kind of reminds the singer of somebody.

    Verse two, 15 minutes into a news broadcast, just as the international news stories are starting (CNN's tag-line used to be "give us 30 minutes, we'll give you the world), the singer again gets a little too enthusiastic about how the female dictator on the screen is a lot like a mutual aquaintance.

    Verse three, watching a nature film, this time taken aback by a lizard who looks like "the very image of someone we know".

    Obviously not flattering, comparing somebody to a Samurai, a brutal dictator, and a predatory lizzard... but there are lots of reasons to dislike somebody enough to see their faces in such unflattering contexts. I disagree with the notion that it absolutely must be one of their "lovers lament" songs. Now "Twisting"... that's what I call a break-up song!
    DavidGrimmeron July 27, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General CommentDavid-
    I would buy your analysis if it weren't for the recurring theme. All three characters are sinister in some way. As you've described it the lyrics are meant to be silly. I don't take it that way. There is something deeply sad about this song. It builds beautifully toward an inevitable conclusion. This is probably my favorite TMBG song ever written, and that's saying a lot.
    loyalbuffon January 31, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis song makes me wonder... what did someone do to the narrator that he see them in all these evil contexts. they are even so evil that he can't say their name. If I look deep in to the song, I think i see what happened. the course of events is like this: he haves a girlfriend, the "lizard. She is very nice, doing nothing wrong, a perfect girlfriend. He is the "unsuspecting prey". After they are married, she becomes a controlling dictator, so he divorces her.
    They have a war about who gets the stuff. Once that is over his life is like a battlefield after the battle. They are the "surviving samurai", once together now two seperate people, "
    Count the arms the legs the heads and then divide by five", what do you get, 2.
    That is what I think. I could be wrong.
    great geo234on June 09, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General Commentyeah, to me this song is also about a guy who's watching tv and everything he sees reminds him of how cruel his gf or ex-gf was. The samuri just ripping people to pieces, the snobby, cruel image of the overlord, the poor innocent lizard being destroyed while no one seems to notice or care...the lizard is like his heart. :(
    supreme_ruleron July 24, 2005   Link

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