Everything's so easy for Pauline
Everything's so easy for Pauline
Ancient strings set feet a light to speed to her such mild grace
No monument of tacky gold
They smoothed her hair with cinnamon waves
And they placed an ingot in her breast to burn cool and collected
Fate holds her firm in its cradle and then rolls her for a tender pause to savor
Everything's so easy for Pauline

Girl with the parking lot eyes
Margaret is the fragments of a name
Her bravery is mistaken for the thrashing in the lake
Of the make-believe monster whose picture was faked
Margaret is the fragments of a name
Her love pours like a fountain
Her love steams like rage
Her jaw aches from wanting and she's sick from chlorine
But she'll never be as clean
As the cool side of satin, Pauline

Two girls ride the blue line
Two girls walk down the same street
One left her sweater sittin' on the train
The other lost three fingers at the cannery
Everything's so easy for Pauline

Lyrics submitted by delial

Margaret vs. Pauline Lyrics as written by Neko Case

Lyrics © Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd.

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Margaret vs. Pauline song meanings
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  • +6
    General CommentThis song is actually from "In Watermelon Sugar" by Richard Brautigan. Margaret and Pauline are two of the main characters in the story, and in her tour diary Neko said that this a book she loved. Just thought that might help :)
    myelectrichearton September 01, 2006   Link
  • +5
    My InterpretationI don't think of Margaret & Pauline as two separate people - they are two ways to be & to feel and you would be mistaken to think you can only relate to one of the two.

    I'm Pauline when I'm calm and cool and feeling beautiful. Like an "ice princess" who is not burdened by emotion.

    I'm Margaret when I'm fierce and in love and desperate and confused. When I'm ruled by my heart rather than my head.

    I wouldn't want to be just one of the two. I think a balance of bravery & love & wanting with mild & collected & satisfied is perfect. Now I just need to get there. :)
    nolafwugon October 11, 2010   Link
  • +4
    General CommentIn a radio interview with Neko, she said it was about how fate plays favourites - Margaret can't help but flounder, because Pauline is fated to be adored. Pauline sounds like a perfect princess, with a cool and collected heart and wavy cinnamon-coloured hair, while Margaret is oafish and clumsy - 'thrashing in a lake' and she lost three fingers at the cannery. And because it's fate, Margaret can never get ahead - she'll never be as clean as that cool side of satin Pauline.
    Ohhhhh Peacheson August 09, 2006   Link
  • +2
    General CommentI appreciate hearing that Neko Case based this song on a book. Makes me want to read "In Watermelon Sugar". Just came here to point out one thing about the lyrics:

    "One left a sweater sitting on the train
    And the other lost three fingers at the cannery"

    I love that she doesn't specify which girl was which. It would be easy to assume Margaret lost the fingers and Pauline lost the sweater. But what if it's actually the other way around? Margaret is so jealous of Pauline, and so dramatic, that she might actually envy Pauline's injury. People will pay attention to Pauline now that she's been hurt. She might even not have to work for a while, or get a lighter duty at work because she lost the fingers. Everything's so easy for Pauline. And dramatic Margaret might actually feel that losing the sweater is one more slight life has handed her, not realizing the gravity of her tiny loss compared to Pauline's big one. Just a thought.
    RachWho?on October 13, 2015   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI love the lines:

    One left a sweater sitting on the train
    And the other lost three fingers at the cannery

    As these are both tradgedies to the respective girls.
    I can just see some girls from my school flipping out about loosing a sweater, and if three of their fingers were chopped off.
    TheSFletcheron November 14, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentGreat deep song with multiple interpretations possible. Here's my thought:
    I think Margaret killed Pauline.
    Thinker5on March 14, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentIt seems likely to me that she draws a bit on Louise Erdrich's novel, Tracks. Margaret and Pauline are two of the main characters. Margaret isn't a girl though - she's an older Chippewa woman trying to survive on a reservation in North Dakota. Pauline is a half-Chippewa, half white Canadian girl who becomes very white in respect to her religion and culture. Pauline sort of sets herself against some of the people on the reservation and seeks to convert them to Christianity. It's a real culture battle, and Pauline comes off as a very horrible, self-made martyr. I am not sure this story is what Neko is after, though. Pauline's real enemy in the story is Fleur, who is sort of the Chippewa's defender and keeper of the old Chippewa ways. Fleur is also supposedly in league with a lake monster/man who gives her power over the winds. Other than the names of the characters and the lake monster reference, I think the song mostly has nothing to do with the novel in any specificity. Thief's comment seems to be a fair interpretation.
    RKLengon March 28, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis song, like all the others on the cd are based on eastern european folklore.
    louderthanbombson April 15, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI think Pauline is dead, and Margaret, who "has to go on living", envies her.
    dmesgon July 23, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentHere's my interpretation:

    "they smooth her hair with cinnamon waves
    and they placed an ingot in her breast
    to burn, cool and collected"

    The morticians beautified Pauline for her funeral

    "but she’ll never be as clean
    as the cool side of satin, pauline"

    Margaret's jealous of Pauline, who's dead in a coffin (cool side of satin) and in eternal peace

    "Everything's so easy for Pauline"

    once again, everything's easier when you're dead
    TearsforAffairson September 03, 2006   Link

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