Ah, icky thump
Who'd a thunk?
Sittin' drunk on a wagon to Mexico

Ah, well
What a chump
Man my head got a bump
When I hit it on the radio

Redhead señorita
Lookin' dead
Came and said
Need a bed in Español

Said, gimme a drink of water
I'm gonna sing around the collar
And I don't need a microphone

Icky thump
With the lump in my throat
Grab my coat
And I was freaking
I was ready to go

Yeah, I swear besides the hair
She had one white eye
One blank stare
Lookin' up, lyin' there

On the stand near her hand
Was a candy cane
Black rum, sugar cane
Dry ice, something strange

La la la la la la la la la la

White Americans
What, nothing better to do?
Why don't you kick yourself out?
You're an immigrant too

Who's usin' who?
What should we do?
Well, you can't be a pimp
And a prostitute too

Icky thump
Handcuffed to a bunk
Robbed blind
Looked around
There was nobody else

Left alone
I hit myself with a stone
Went home
And learned how to clean up after myself

Lyrics submitted by The Drizzle, edited by yasmeen914

Icky Thump Lyrics as written by John Anthony White

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

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Icky Thump song meanings
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  • +3
    General Comment

    Essentially, this song is a post-apocalyptic sequel to “Helter Skelter” that takes place in the aftermath of the prophesied race war that Charles Manson felt “Helter Skelter” was foretelling.

    To properly understand this song you must interpret both the lyrical and musical aspects. This starts with the title of the song itself, “icky Thump”, which is British term of exasperation for “Oh, God”. Whereas the song “Helter Skelter” is based off another British term used to describe a type of children’s slide found at English carnivals, “Icky Thump” is based on a more modern type of kid’s toy: a video game.

    The video game can be heard speaking throughout song via the electric Clavioline keyboard riffs that appear after each verse/chorus cycle. The opening sequence of the song lays out the ‘stakes’ of the main character’s adventures to come, essentially serving the same function as an opening cutscene to a video game.

    Taking “Icky Thump” to also represent the main character of the story, the opening riff explains the backstory: We are living in a post-apocalyptic world brought on by the race war predicted in “Helter Skelter”. Icky Thump himself is a product of that war: a punk-ass teenage male, half American and half Mexican. Having grown up entirely in the post-war United States. Icky Thump has never seen what he believes to be his true mother land: Mexico. Icky Thump decides to return to Mexico to try and discover his true roots.

    The first verse is a pretty straightforward interpretation of how the first part of that journey goes: he rides a wagon across the border, falls off the wagon while getting drunk, and wakes up in the bed of a Mexican prostitute. She offers to give him the hornswoggling of his life for a mere 10 pesos. To the young virgin Icky, this sounds like a heckuva deal, since his girlfriend back in America won’t even blow him, let alone hornswoggle him for what amounts to $.50 in US dollars.

    Icky gets down, and we hear his signature guitar riff come in for the first time. As expected, it’s a straight forward rock riff, infused with all the vigor and ferocity expected from the young punk’s first sexual experience. After he pops and passes out for the evening, the next thing we hear is the video game’s narrator ringing in the new morning to explain that the hero’s journey is not yet over. the princess is in another castle.

    In the second verse, Icky Thump wakes up to take stock of what happened the night before. He looks over at the bed to discover that prostitute he spent the night with is hideously deformed uggo, with a crusty white eye, a bent yellow snaggle tooth, and a huge matted muff of red hair. He can feel his throat swelling up from all the nasty border town cooch he had lapped up the night before like kid discovering Jolt Cola for the first time. Instead of singing around the collar, he looks down to find a scabbing red ring around the head of his dick. Flakes of sticky red-and-white powder come crumbling out the backside of his trousers, and he looks back at the bed to find the passed out hooker holding the crook end of a candy cane. He reaches for his coat to get the fuck out of there, but he realizes he’s handcuffed to the bed

    As the verse ends, he is taunted by a chiding chorus of “La-la-la-la-la-la’s”. Hornswoggled is right. Not so innocent anymore. We hear Icky’s signature riff again, but this time the first few measures are followed up by a more mature and intricate riff of octaves ascending and descending the neck of the guitar. There’s a lesson to be learned here and maybe Icky’s eyes are slowly opening up to a truth he was once blind to.

    This time, the third verse interrupts the Clavioline lines, cutting it short before it can get in the “last word” of its admonishing, parental notes. “Yeah, yeah, yeah,” Icky thinks, “He knows he fucked up, he doesn’t need to be lectured about it.” He’s a man now after all.

    The third verse is Icky reflecting on his journey and cursing himself for ever leaving home. If he’s half American and half Mexican, why did he automatically assume that his real roots were in Mexico, rather than America? Like most American teenagers, he felt he was different, and he assumed that the root of that difference was the fact that he was half Mexican, rather than full-blooded American. He’s realizing that perhaps he was wrong though. After all, If he’s a product of the race war, than the land of the race war has been his true mother land from the start. He is a true-blooded American, because all Americans came from somewhere else.

    Icky decides to get the fuck back across the border where he came from and starts bashing at the handcuffs with a stone. At this point, he has reached the final boss of the game. We hear his riff come in again for a third time; the keyboard fights against him. Icky is able to punch in the correct sequence of guitar notes, unlocking the code and defeating the final boss at minute 3:40. Icky’s riff plays loud and free and fades out as he disappears back across the border.

    EarthToGregon September 21, 2015   Link
  • +2
    General Comment

    heres my interpretation:

    Icky thump Who'da thunk? Sittin drunk on a wagon to Mexico?(an american is going to mexico. who'd of thought someone "like them" would go there?)

    Ahh well What a chump Well my head got a bump When I hit it on the radio(passed out at some point)

    Redhead senorita Looking dead Came and said "Need a bed?" En Espanol(a mexican woman offers him a place to stay)

    I said "Gimme a drink a water, I'm gonna 'sing around the collar' And I don't need a microphone."(he's rude and only asks things of her with nothing in return)

    Icky Thump With a lump in my throat Grabbed my coat And I was freaking I was ready to go!(he's ready to leave without thanking her)

    And I swear Besides the hair She had: one white eye, One black (nk) stare Lookin' up Lyin' there.(he only thinks about what she looks like and not her hospitality)

    On the stand Near her hand Was a candy cane Black rum, sugar cane Dry ice (and) something strange(imports of foreign country's...except the dry ice, i dont really no about that. maybe another country's idea)

    La la la la la la la La la la la la la la

    White Americans, what? Nothing better to do? Why don't you kick yourself out You're an immigrant too?(americans come from everywhere. however, the original white americans took the country from native americans. those white americans want to drive out foreigners, even though they are themselves.)

    Who's using who? What should we do? Well, you can't be a pimp And a prostitue too.(who's getting more out of living in america. those who've been here longer or the newcomers? you can't send others out (pimp) and send yourself out (prostitute)

    Icky thump Handcuffed to a bunk Robbed blind Looked around And there was nobody else(he assumes he was robbed by the mexican woman, even though it may not have been her.)

    Left alone I hit myself with a stone Went home and learned how To clean up after myself. (without the mexican woman he wound up "hurting himself" and had to clean up after himself instead of being catered to."

    i think the song is generizing the woman as any present-day foreigner of america.

    mandarinbaby99on March 01, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    This song is lyrical brilliance. Especially the verse...

    "Redhead senorita Looking dead Came and said 'Need a bed?' En Espanol"

    It fires off five rhymes one after the other (red, head, dead, said, bed) and it also seems to follow a type of pentameter (not sure if I'm usign that term correctly :P ).

    "RED-HEAD SEN-or-I-ta" LOOK-ing DEAD CAME and SAID 'NEED a BED?' En ES-pan-OL"

    On top of this, they manage to put a meaning into the song, something that not a lot of artists do (points at rap music). Really, this is one of the White Stripes' best, in my opinion.

    ...But did they really have to break up ON MY BIRTHDAY? D:

    Pumpkinboton March 08, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    Just heard it on the radio, and shit, this is awesome. It's definitely what the stirpes said it would be, it's hilarious 70's ridiculous dumb-rock - And i say that in the most awesome way possible. Fuck, Each 'chorus' is a solo in friggin' 19/16. This is way different than the last few albums, guys. This is epic.

    jwarlickon April 26, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    and icky thump is a british expression, exclusive to north britain

    Oobleshmerfadarkleon April 26, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    supermegaunbelievely amazing!!!! that's all I'll say the new record is going to be sick!

    Zerovermarson April 27, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    ahhhh, wow I don't normally go for prog, but if the rest of the album is going to sound anything like this, damn this'll be one epic album. i also like jack's more politically-enhanced lyrics.. i think it's obvious this song is outlining the US crisis about their immigration system and illegal aliens, etc.

    vulgaron April 27, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    Jack said this album would be great for fans of their first album, so he might be revisiting the political theme to an extent to show that (since The Big Three Killed My Baby was the last political song they did)

    TheTriforceon April 28, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    the la la part doesn't fit in the song, the music is pretty good tho

    rong.o.prsnon April 28, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    Awesome, I'm glad they're moving back to stuff like their first album, and less with the piano, even though I liked that, too. The only complaint I have is what sounds like an electric bagpipe...

    SGK531on April 28, 2007   Link

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