One, two, three, four

Our step mom, we did everything to hate her
She took us down to the edge of Decatur
We saw the lion and the kangaroo take her
Down to the river where they caught a wild alligator

Sangamon River it overflowed
It caused a mudslide on the banks of the operator
Civil War skeletons in their graves
They came up clapping in the spirit of the aviator

The sound of the engines and the smell of the grain
We go riding on the abolition grain train
Steven A. Douglas was a great debater
But Abraham Lincoln was the great emancipator

Chicken mobile with your rooster tail
I had my fill and I know how bad it feels
Stay awake and watch for the data
No small caterpillar, go congratulate her

Denominator, go Decatur, go Decatur
It's the great I am
Abominate her, go Decatur, why did we hate her?
It's the great I am

Denominator, go Decatur, anticipate her
It's the great I am
Appreciates her, appreciate her
Stand up and thank her

Stand up and thank her
It's the great I am
Stand up and thank her
It's the great I am

Stand up and thank her
It's the great I am
Stand up and thank her

Lyrics submitted by infranippies

"Decatur, Or, Round Of Applause For Your Stepmother!" as written by Sufjan Stevens

Lyrics © BMG Rights Management

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Decatur, or Round of Applause for Your Stepmother! song meanings
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  • +5
    General CommentI live in Decatur. Agreed, it's not the best place to live. All of my peers [the youth of Decatur] want to get out of here as soon as they can, but I'm fine. I, personally, like it here.
    The references to the lion and kangaroo are old legends; and no one knows whether or not these animals really did prowl around here long ago.
    As for the alligator, it's no legend, there's a small outlet by Lake Decatur, and it's filled with warm water, and one day some people found a live alligator in it! Granted, it was just a baby alligator, but it's interesting nonetheless.
    The Chickenmobile is one of the best known things around this town. It's owned by Krekel's, as someone already said, and they DO have the best burgers around!
    I just figured I'd pitch in a little with the background.
    Aside from that, I just love this song. It's so upbeat and catchy. :]
    Lisha_Kon March 24, 2008   Link
  • +4
    General CommentHow could he seriously use that rhyme scheme and so slickly pull together all of those events. It really just blows my mind how incredible he is at just about everything.
    Lightbluenesson July 07, 2005   Link
  • +2
    General CommentDon't want to...act like a know it all...but isn't Decaturs town motto 'I Am Decatur'
    MorphineColinon January 31, 2006   Link
  • +2
    My Opinion"The sound of the engines and the smell of the grain
    We go riding on the abolition grain train
    Steven A. Douglas was a great debater
    But Abraham Lincoln was the great emancipator"

    I know everyone loves the Douglas v Linconl debate line, but I find it so much more enjoyable in context.
    Brief Hisotrical Context:
    Stephen Douglas (that's actually how you spell his name) was this political figure in Illinois/the rest of the country who was working to push Chicago as a transportation center by building a railroads through Chicago to the west. (which would explain the sound of engines line as well as the smell of grain as Illinois is well known for being the prairie state.)
    Douglas happened to get tangled up in this political mess about slavery (he was an advocate of popular sovereignty and brought about the Kansas-Nebraska Act), but he didn't support the Lecompton Constitution (I would explain all these things, but that literally would make this an essay...) so the South hated him. He wasn't an abolitionist per say, but the South viewed him as one (they were very touchy about slavery which would explain the "abolitionist grain trian" line).
    During his bid for the presidency, he and Lincoln had debates (hence the line "the great debater"). Douglas was not elected President. Lincoln was. He however, was not an abolitionist either, he was anti-slavery (which is not the same thing as an abolitionist). Lincoln staunchly denied for years during the Civil War that the war was not being fought for slavery, but to re-unite the Union. (however, yes, he did give the Emancipation Proclamation, hence the line "the great emancipator"

    I really love this song because it is so rich in history.Every time I think of these lines, it jolts my brain which might come in handy when the AP US history test rolls around...and that power that it has over my memory makes the song much more rich to me.

    ps (I'm sorry if their are any historical inaccuracies...I'm only a student)
    awkwardgyraffon January 21, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General Commenta love the history of the region described in this song, the river flooding the cemetery and sending the dead bodies everywhere...that really happened in Decatur. I also like the reference to Caterpiller, which makes farming equipment and is the leading employer in the region
    slickpoetryon May 27, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General Commenti love the zoo referance.

    i miss illinois when i here this song...
    knittingon September 10, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI love this song. I'm from Decatur, and I used to work for Caterpillar! I think it's so funny how he added the Chickenmobile in there. There's a fast food place that has a car that looks like a rooster. They don't drive it anymore, but every high school senior asks them if they can take it for prom.
    youvandalon September 29, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI think I fell in love with this song, simply because of:

    "Steven A. Douglas was a great debater,
    But Abraham Lincoln was the great emancipator"

    I had been listening to it on the radio and not really paying attention and then that line came out of NOWHERE; it was a done-deal, it became my new favorite song. Then I bought the album and now I am in love with Mr. Stevens. The song just WORKS because it's descriptive and informative without being dry. Plus, the glockenspiel (sp??)...well, nuff said bout that.
    casieon November 07, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General CommentNope, I was wrong. 'Decatur, We Like It Here' which is actually far better.
    MorphineColinon February 01, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General Commentwhen i first listened to this song, certain lines jumped out at me. Just little things about decatur that i had forgotten. Especially the reference to the alligators... i remember thinking i've heard about that before, way back in elementary school.

    In response to the "I am" line comments:
    Decatur doesn't strike me as being an overly religous city, even in the history of it. Maybe because many decatur residents claim that the city is haunted. Once or twice i've heard it refered to as having 'more bars than churches'. Every fall 'haunted decatur' tours are available with books written of the same name. The civil war skeletons mentioned in the song have many stories about how they got to the cemetary, and that part of greenwood cemetary is known to be extremely haunted.

    About Sputnik22's speculation that the move to decatur had to do with God- i'm leafing through a short history of the area and it just seems that settlers moving west happened to settle along the Sangamon River and had no significance. The city itself is supposidly built on ancient indian burial grounds and during a harsh winter a group of settlers was rumored or have resorted to cannibolism.

    I always figured that the last lines were merely rhymes. I now doubt it, though.
    meem4on March 07, 2006   Link

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