Sophomore year
You rushed for an average of eight and third yards per carry
All eyes were on you

Junior year
You blew your knee out at an out town game
Nowhere to go but down, down, down
Nothing but the ground left for you to fall to

By July
You'd made a whole bunch of brand new friends
People you used to look down on

And you'd figured out a way to make real money
Giving ends to your friends and it felt stupendous
Chrome spokes on your Japanese bike

But selling acid was a bad idea
And selling it to a cop was a worse one
And the new law said that seventeen year olds could do federal time
You were the first one

So I sing this song for you
William Stanaforth Donahue
Your grandfather rode the boat over from Ireland
But you made a bad decision or two

Lyrics submitted by springheeledCJ, edited by KingQwerty

"Fall of the Star High School Running Back" as written by John Darnielle


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Fall of the Star High School Running Back song meanings
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  • +3
    General CommentThe line "giving ends to your friends and it felt stupendous" comes from the Notorious B.I.G.'s song "Big Poppa".
    "How ya livin' Biggie Smallz?
    In mansion and Benz's, givin' ends to my friends and it feels stupendous
    Tremendous cream, get a dollar and a dream
    Still tote gats strapped with infrared beams"

    I'm not that familiar with rap and hip hop, but my husband was listening to this song a few months ago. I heard this line and immediately said, "John Darnielle sang that in Fall of the Star High School Running Back!"

    All Hail West Texas is my favorite mtn goats album, I think.
    theemperorfabulouson August 19, 2008   Link
  • +3
    General CommentInitially the kid is at top of his game and then plans fall through. He gets ostracized by his friends (the football team), and ends up adapting to a whole new situation.

    These is some condescension in "people you used to look down on" but it's the truth. He realizes that this other group are actually pretty nice kids- even if they are fuckups. He gets accepted by them and for a little while things are working out. He's got friends again and he is happy.

    At this point I envision that he quickly becomes the "leader" of the group and does with his natural dimple cheeked charisma and through taking risks that impress everyone. This would involve stuff like smoking drugs, vandalize shit, shoplifting, etc. You know, the normal stuff teenagers do (and regret later).

    Eventually he takes one too many risks and ends up falling into a hole that he didn't realize he'd dug for himself. The new friends don't matter anymore because he is screwed.


    I love that at the end of the song you can hear John pushing a button the boombox that is recording the song. You can't beat that.
    j1eron March 31, 2010   Link
  • +2
    General Comment"Selling acid was a bad idea but selling it to a cop was a worse one"

    This is probably the greatest line in music history.
    Durango95on December 13, 2010   Link
  • +1
    Lyric CorrectionThe name is spelled 'Staniforth'.
    debaser__on April 13, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General Commentvery straightforward lyrics. probably most see them as a tpyical fall of a jock have backup plans dont throw your life aways story. but thats old news. i some how think darnielle is too smart for that. he seems above shit like that. the way i see it, its about doing anything you can to keep yourself in a good funk and have good things go to you. its about doing all you can and changing to keep strong.

    ...until you hit a brick wall.
    Cyrus_and_Jeffon July 23, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentYeah, I was best friends with the guy this song is about. (Figuratively, of course)
    leninstombon May 12, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentWilliam Donohue is the president of the Catholic League. However, in the recording I have of this song he says David Stanaforth Donahue. Davin Donahue is a race car driver.
    Tommy Pakkoon May 24, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General Commentmirrors the fate of Chris Klein's character in Election (except for the drug dealing and prison time)
    chowfun18on October 13, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentSome other thoughts:

    "Your grandfather rode the boat over from Ireland,
    but you made a bad decision or two."

    This makes me think the kid's family has a history to be proud of. It probably involves Irish immigrants coming here with no money looking for The American Dream(TM).

    Generations later the family has done well. They are affluent and living in the suburbs, but the grandchildren are brats. They probably think grandpa is uneducated and kind of crazy. They are embarrassed by his weird accent. They take everything for granted and have no respect for anything.

    What happens in the song is only going to bring shame to the grandfather who has worked so hard his whole life for the family.
    j1eron March 31, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General CommentHaving spoken to JD about this topic specifically, I will relate to you what he explained to me. This, like most of his songs, is not about a particular person, and especially not about anyone named "William Standeforth Donahue", as he's never known or observed anyone by that name. Part of the name, I think "William Standeforth...", was taken from a doctor's office he was at sometime during the writing of ALL HAIL. He just liked the name, and it fit the meter of the song well. And it is "William Standeforth Donahue" on the ALL HAIL recording, but has been sung differently at several live shows. He has acknowledged this, but I don't remember if he ever said it was intentionally changed or just sort of came out that way. Dunno. He was pretty open on the topic though, when asked.
    HopeSoForYouon May 04, 2011   Link

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