He stood like a statue
As he was beaten across the face
With a horse whip
Where the wounds already exist
A well-oiled rifle
And never lonely, Marlon JD
If you want to come down, come down
Give him some dignity

So see, so see Marlon J.D.
So see, so see Marlon J.D.

Learn to live without clutter
To live without luxury
Sometimes I envy them
Goodnight yourself, Marlon JD
He did not defend himself
He didn't even raise his hand
I will not beg because
This is how I am

So see, so see Marlon J.D.
So see, so see Marlon J.D.

"Bare floors, plain white walls.
No window curtains, nothing but essentials.
With no luxuries, no ornamentation,
Utter simplicity.
But it's also clean,
It's clean as a rifle."

So see, so see Marlon J.D.
So see, so see Marlon J.D.

"And, and they're never lonely
And sometimes I envy them"

Lyrics submitted by deltasunlight

Marlon J.D. Lyrics as written by Nicholas Jones James Bradfield

Lyrics © BMG Rights Management, Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

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Marlon J.D. song meanings
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  • +1
    General CommentThe verse about being whipped in the face was a reference to the Marlon Brando film “Reflections In A Golden Eye”, which Nicky says was one of Richey’s favorite movies. He also lifted the “Learn to live without clutter” line from the film.

    “So see, so see Marlon J.D.”

    Maybe J.D. doesn’t stand for James Dean and I’m way off. But assuming it does, Dean and Brando were briefly mirror images of each other: two 1950s film icons, sex symbols, beloved actors. But their lives took two different paths. James Dean died young and beautiful in an auto accident, he’s frozen in time forever as he was in “Rebel Without A Cause”. Marlon Brando lived a long life, lost his good looks and due to his erratic behavior lost the same favor he had with people in the 1950s. And although Brando is thought of highly as one of the greatest actors to ever live, Dean’s brief career was untarnished and gets to be viewed in the “what might have been light”. For all we know it would have been Dean embarrassing himself at Michael Jackson’s 2001 Madison Square Garden concert if he had lived. But he left the world at the top of his game and for a lot of people (including Richey unfortunately) that is desirable compared to declining in later life as all humans do.
    MBlackon June 11, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General CommentIs it worth mentioning that James Dean is also the name of the band's singer and lead guitarist, James Dean Bradfield?
    umbrillianton August 06, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General CommentReminds me of the film/ rock star idea of 'live fast, die young and leave a beautiful corpse'. You haven't the rest of your life to grow old and ugly and embarrass yourself- instead you have left with a bang, leaving only a small number of beautiful photos and a revered career behind you.
    manic4manicson June 18, 2013   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis song is about Marlon Brando, and his character in the film 'Reflections In A Golden Eye'. 'J.D.' possibly stands for James Dean.
    Reiveron June 05, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI would say the "J.D." of the title does refer to James Dean, and is initialized for a reason. Like MBlack said, Dean and Brando were cut from the same cloth. Whereas Marlon Brando lived on, becoming a grotesque self-parody, James Dean's life was shortened in his prime. Therefore, the title could be seen as two sides of the same coin, one abruptly cut-off, one allowed to live on with dubious consequences.
    DollarShorton June 27, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentBefore I read the comments above, when I first heard this song I immediately thought it was about soldiers in WW1, especially deserters, being killed in action, or being beaten or shot for cowardice, when they were already suffering from malnutrition and trenchfoot. This coming from all the references to "living without clutter", "well oiled rifles" and not begging or defending themselves, simply because they didn't have the energy or firepower when facing battle, or because they are already pacifists "this is how I am". And of course the chorus character is written in serviceman terms "Marlon, J.D."

    Reading the comments above adds another dimesion to it. The song is obviously about rebellion. Kind of like Richie saying "look at WW1, you're either going to die or end up a weak but comfortable old man while the world you fought for changes and you can't do anything about it" You might as well fight for what you believe in and risk death, even if that means not fighting at all and giving up. "So see Marlon Brando and don't end up like him, James Dean".
    StrangeOrangePatagonianCaton October 22, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General CommentIt is also to note that James Dean the actor himself had admired Marlon Brando. There were many speculations of Brando and Dean to have been a couple. Although back then, homosexuality wasn’t socially accepted back then. Although Brando has only said that him and Dean were friends, Elizabeth Taylor, had said that Dean was ashamed to be a bisexual. You can find this information on James Dean’s Wikipedia and many other sources. While Brando was open about the fact that he slept with both men and women. To me Richey’s lyrics could be about the Dynamic about Dean’s and Brando’s sexuality. While Dean was confused, Brando was open and upfront and did not care what people thought of him sleeping with both.
    jaded11091on April 20, 2022   Link

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