"Riot Coming" as written by Elliott Smith....
It's to reveal that fucked up cop
Amped up on prescription pills
That brought my heart to a stop
And I want to tell you there's a riot coming
Like a drug in the water
A punch in the stomach makes sons into daughters

I met a girl on the square
Who showed me how to kill my cares
But once that's done, man, there's nothing to do
Time's running backwards from me and you
There's a riot coming
Like a drug in the water
A punch in the stomach makes sons into daughters
My body's running but I don't see why it bothers

Sat down in jail with this friend of mine
Who'd never close both his eyes
But one was shut all the time
To cover the thing he was scared of
While he watched with the other
There was a riot coming
Like a drug in the water
A punch in the stomach makes sons into daughters

There's a riot coming
There's a riot coming
There's a riot coming

Lyrics submitted by paper bag writer

"Riot Coming" as written by Steven P. Smith

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

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Riot Coming song meanings
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  • +3
    General CommentThe first line is DEFINITELY "In Storyville, I fucked a cop". I listened to 2 different recordings of this [live & studio] and it is clearly this. Whoever has the power to, please change this.
    frejaon June 08, 2010   Link
  • +2
    General CommentI think he is talking about that general and natural sense of impedeing doom. His own nervousness and anxiety. then the song goes into how drugs seem to temporarily relieve it for him. because once its done, it comes back. it seems to me he recognizes the vicsous cycle. The part "My body's running....", feels like utter hopelessness. in the last verse i think he is talking about trying to find the answer but also at the same time having the feeling that the search is futile. and being scared that he might actually find it. i dont completely get this though. "Like a drug in the water"= melting spoon. the riot will soon come following mixture of drug with water in the melting spoon. "a punch in the stomach......." abuse from step father causing this. fact: 90% of drug addicts were abused/neglected in some way by the same sex parent. This song, among others, has impacted my life profoundly. thank you elliott.
    nickdunnyon October 04, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentIf it is "storyville," which i think it is, then i think it makes better sense with the last verse. My interpretation: I got busted by vice, while i was on prescription drugs (painkillers? during a detox, there can be pain and increased libido). I need a hit. (If it is "punch," he is referencing Charlie's abuse. If it is "bunch," he is again talking about painkillers. "Punch" makes more sense with "drug in the water.") I hate that I need this so much. I hate how it makes me. It was so much better the first time, when she showed me. Now I'm stuck in this addiction. I have a hard time keeping track of my life. My life is so pointless. I wish it would end. So I'm sitting here in jail, and my cell-mate has this way about him. He contradicts himself and acts illogically. At first I felt like I was better than him, but now I see. We're the same. When I get out, I'm shooting up. I don't care anymore. This is the only way I can feel good.
    dowhatisayon February 17, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General Commentamazing song.
    ferdinandthebullon October 07, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentOkey I know the lyrics of this song have never been printed, but I'm sure the first line is "In Storyville, I fucked a cop". Storyville being this...


    I dunno what he means by that first line but I'd never try and figure it out, Elliott's lyrics were too amazing for that. I prefer to see them from a personal point of view. Like I hear the chorus as...

    "There's a riot coming, like a drug in the water.
    A BUNCH in the stomach makes sons into daughters"

    I feel like he may be talking about those prescription pills, taking a bunch of them in his stomach. But that's more a personal thing, I know what addiciton to painkillers can do. I guess the thought of it "making sons into daughters" is kinda scary, some prescription pills can cause impotence O_O
    IcOnFeSsImEsSeDuPon January 29, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI can see why people have their own interpretations, but the line is surely a PUNCH?
    Fullerovon February 05, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThanks for the Storyville tip, IcOnFeSsImEsSeDuP.

    There is actually a storyville blue book on sale at ebay! That would be an awesome piece of American history--too bad it's $1,600.

    And I think nickdunny has the interpretation down right.
    PowderedWaterTooon March 31, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General Commentthe riot his his addiction and withdrawal symptoms. the riot is his addiction's ferocity.
    plainlyinsaneon May 16, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General Commenti love this song.
    modernaudreyon November 24, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI met a girl on the square
    Who showed me how to kill my cares
    But once that's done, man, there's nothing to do

    Girl introduced him to heroin. Once the high is gone, what else is there to do but try to get high again? What's the point of even getting sober, because what else is there to do?

    Oh, Elliott.
    emilykmkzon March 11, 2009   Link

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