"Black Treacle" as written by and Alex / Turner....
Lately I've been seeing things
Belly button piercings in the sky at night
When we're side by side
And I don't mean to rain on anybody's cabaret
One of those games you're gonna lose
But you wanna play it just in case

And now it's getting dark and the sky looks sticky
More like black treacle than tar
Black treacle
Somebody told the stars you're not coming out tonight
And so they found a place to hide

Does it help you stay up late?
Does it help you concentrate?
Is it true you win when you chew your chin?
Am I ruining your fun?
And you talk the talk alright
Do you walk the walk or catch the train?
You wanted it, you got it
But you don't want it now

Now it's getting dark and the sky looks sticky
More like black treacle than tar
Black treacle
Somebody told the stars you're not coming out tonight
And so they found a place to hide

And now I'm out of place and I'm not getting any wiser
I feel like the Sundance Kid behind a synthesizer
And I tried last night to pack away a laugh
Like a key under the mat
But it never seems to be there when you want it

Black treacle
Black treacle
Black treacle


Lyrics submitted by Alistair1, edited by RemCorona

"Black Treacle" as written by Alex Turner

Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

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Black Treacle song meanings
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18 Comments

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  • +9
    General CommentSeriously guys, do you always resort to drugs when you can't figure out what a song means.

    It's in the title, Black Treacle. If you don't know what a treacle is, then it's understandably that you'd never figure out the meaning of the song. Treacle, in normal conversation, is a sticky molasses-like substance. However, the key is in it's alternative meaning as a term of endearment.

    I think the song meaning is pretty clear once you understand that. It seems like he is singing about a dating situation from the point of view from the guy.

    Lately I�ve been seeing things,
    Belly button piercings, in the sky at night,
    When we�re side by side.

    Sets the scene of what was supposed to be a romantic evening, staring at the stars.

    And I don�t mean to rain on anybody�s cabriolet
    One of those games your gonna lose,
    But you wanna play it just in case.

    A cabriolet is sort of like a carriage, ties back the previous stanza and indicates that the guy isn't out to hurt someone but he has clearly done so in the past. The game is the game of dating. He knows he's not always going to find a successful relationship, and in fact - it seems like he typically doesn't. However, despite past failures he continues to "play".

    Now its getting dark and the sky looks sticky,
    More like Black Treacle (than tar?)
    Black Treacle,
    Somebody told the stars you are not coming out tonight,
    So they found a place to hide.

    It has a dual meaning here, where the sky is getting cloudy/hazy. The stars are being hidden and the scene is not the picturesque romance it was meant to be. The stars also seem to be the girl he is with, as the relationship starts to fall apart. He is finding out that she isn't responding well to his advances, keeps drawing away, perhaps thinking he is not genuine (hence the "dark" treacle).

    Does it help you stay up late?
    Does it help you concentrate?
    Does it tune you in when you chew your chin?
    Am I ruining your fun?

    He is asking why she is backing away. He plays the victim here, wondering if it was all just a malicious joke.

    And you talk the talk alright,
    But do you walk the walk or catch the train?
    You wanted it, you�ve got it,
    But you don�t want it now.

    She talked exactly the way he expected, but he wants to know if she acts in that fashion or just jumps onto to a "train" to the next guy. She drew him in, she got him, and she dumped him - seemingly rejecting how he really is.

    Now i'm out of place and I�m not getting any wiser,
    I feel like the Sundance Kid behind a synthesiser,
    And I tried last night to pack away a laugh,
    Like a key under the mat,
    But it never seems to be there when you want it.

    It seems like this has happened previously to the guy. If he wants the girl, he cannot be himself. He tries to laugh it off, but wasn't able to find any humor in the situation so he continues with Black Treacles.
    monkeyfanon September 15, 2011   Link
  • +6
    General CommentSomebody told the stars you are not coming out tonight, so they found a place to hide.

    What an awesome line. Gosh, I love the Arctic Monkeys.
    martabellamyon June 15, 2011   Link
  • +6
    My InterpretationMine's totally different to all yours...but yeah...
    I personally see it as someone being in a relationship with someone, where things they've been together a long time but neither really want to get married to each other. They still love each other, but both start to get nostalgic about their youth and when they were out every night and young and rebellious.
    Eg "Lately I've been seeing things
    Belly button piercings (reminders of rebellious youth)
    in the sky at night
    When we're side by side (they now share a bed at night like a true, respectable couple)
    And I don't mean to rain on anybody's cabaret (He's not putting down anyone who wants no romantic involvement or just thrills just because he's now "tied down", if anything he misses it)
    One of those games you're gonna lose
    But you wanna play it just in case
    (In relationships, you can only go on to break or marry, and both can be seen as losing, but you play because you're in love and hopeful things will turn out well)

    And now it's getting dark and the sky looks sticky (A cloud of doubt is coming to their relationship as both feel pressure to move forward or break up)
    More like black treacle than tar (Both of these are viscous substances, and act as a metaphor for him being stuck in this relationship. Black tar is foul, but however, black treacle is still sweet. He still dotes on her, he's just not sure he wants to marry her.)
    Black treacle
    Somebody told the stars you're not coming out tonight
    And so they found a place to hide
    (Neither of them go out to have a good time anymore as they act a mature and proper couple, and the bleak sky shows that neither really have faith they can stay together forever).
    Does it help you stay up late?
    Does it help you concentrate?
    Is it true you win when you chew your chin?
    Am I ruining your fun?
    And you talk the talk alright
    Do you walk the walk or catch the train?
    You wanted it, you got it
    But you don't want it now
    (I think this is all about the fact both think too much on how long their relationship can last, and challenges why they do this. The last few lines say, 'you did step up to the plate and date her, and you want to stay with her, but can you really last that long term?')
    And now I'm out of place and I'm not getting any wiser
    I feel like the Sundance Kid behind a synthesizer
    (He doesn't know what he's doing as he's never been in a relationship with the prospect of marriage: he has no experience to work off and no idea what to do, and he feels stuck. Second line gives an example of someone who would have no idea what they are doing.)
    And I tried last night to pack away a laugh
    Like a key under the mat
    But it never seems to be there when you want it
    (He tried to shrug it off and joke with himself, but he just ended up burying the fact he wants to be free. The key is a metaphor for opening the door to freedom, but there isn't an open door at the moment. He's trying to laugh about the fact that whenever you want a girlfriend there never seems to be anyone, but now, its only her and he doesn't know if she's the one.)
    Thanks for reading my interpretation, telll me if you agree
    BleakCuriosityon July 08, 2014   Link
  • +2
    General Commentyeah sounds like tar to me.

    seems pretty random but potentially about drugs? especially:

    "Does it help you stay up late?
    Does it help you concentrate?
    Does it tune you in when you chew your chin?
    Am I ruining your fun?"

    dunno though....just guessing
    will10000on May 20, 2011   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI agree. It seems like some reference to the drug plant food "chew your chin"... just a thought
    ArcticChrison June 08, 2011   Link
  • +1
    Song MeaningI guess we're all on the same page of it being more or less about drugs.
    What some of the lines mean to me....:

    Lately I've been seeing things,
    Belly button piercings, in the sky at night,
    When we're side by side.
    (I think it's a reference to him and a girl tripping out on some drugs, laying side by side and just looking at the night sky and then he starts to hallucinate.)

    And I don't mean to rain on anybody's cabriolet
    One of those games your gonna lose,
    But you wanna play it just in case.
    (Perhaps he's saying that he knows this girl's not right for him, but he's gonna give it a shot anyways.)

    Does it help you stay up late?
    Does it help you concentrate?
    Does it tune you in when you chew your chin?
    Am I ruining your fun?
    (Sounds to me like just another drug reference in which he may be questioning the girl for the reasoning behind her taking the drugs.)


    Now i'm out of place and I'm not getting any wiser,
    I feel like the Sundance Kid behind a synthesiser,
    And I tried last night to pack away a laugh,
    Like a key under the mat,
    But it never seems to be there when you want it.

    (This last one's my favorite! Probably another reference to the drugs and his perception on their effect on him; He's the like the Sundance Kid behind a synthesizer could mean he see's himself like a criminal for taking these illicit drugs, but he feels a bit trippy...sort of like if you've ever played with a synthesizer with all those sounds. And he tried to pack away a laugh could mean that he's trying to enjoy himself, but he just can't seem to do so.)

    Anyways, that's my take on the song.
    Gonna see them in concert in Orlando in a couple of months!



    carlitoswashereon August 24, 2011   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI think the song is about getting off drugs, especially when he says "More like black treacle than tar". I think that he is having withdrawal when he talks about "the stars not coming out" he is referring to a life that doesnt seem as fun without the drug. Also in the last verse he talks about feeling out of place, and that might be a side effect because all of his friends do the drug and he is left outside of the circle being clean. That is the way i took the song, but to each his own.
    tavissd1on November 03, 2011   Link
  • +1
    My InterpretationThe success of a song can usually be attributed to its ambiguity, however here is a case for the song being about specifically heroine.

    "Now its getting dark and the sky looks sticky more like black treacle than tar"
    It looks like black treacle rather than black tar - referring to black tar heroine. And it looks enticing. I think this is the most convincing line.

    "I don't mean to rain
    on anybody's cabaret
    One of those games
    you're gonna loose
    but you're gonna play just in case."
    Heroine is dangerous, and this is the warning, and the author doesn't want to be the party pooper.

    "You wanted it, you got it,
    but you don't want it now"
    Now that you're addicted.

    And heaps of references to being a recluse, which is fairly specific to heroine use.

    Like:
    "You tried to pack away your life
    like a key under the mat,
    but it never seems to be there
    when you want it"
    Becoming alienated from your relationships from being away doing heroine for so long, and they aren't there when you are thinking of returning to day to day life.

    There's lots more. Keep your ears open.
    Millauon August 16, 2012   Link
  • +1
    General CommentAlex Turner on 'Black Treacle':

    "This was much later down the line. I watched a couple of westerns when we were doing this, like Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid which gets a reference in there. I also just wanted to put 'belly-button piercings’ in a tune, I thought that would be good. I’d kind of wanted to do it for a couple of weeks and then managed to fit it in there. Why? I’d not thought about them for a while and they came on my radar somehow. And then I thought about this thing of them and the stars being juxtaposed."

    Read more at nme.com/blogs/nme-blogs/…
    riaki1998on July 29, 2013   Link
  • 0
    My InterpretationI think that the topic of this song is "Alex trying to help his friend with his problem about drugs and excesses". If you watch the videoclip of this song, you also get this kind of taste. Let´s begin:

    "Lately I´ve been seeing things" : Alex has noticed some problem
    "Belly button piercings in the sky at night, When we're side by side" : A problem related to the night life, when he is out with his friend.
    "And I don't mean to rain on anybody's cabaret" : He does not want to stop the fun or be a smart ass but...
    "One of those games you're gonna lose
    But you wanna play it just in case" : This is pretty clear, he is giving an advice.

    "And now it's getting dark and the sky looks sticky
    More like black treacle than tar
    Black treacle
    Somebody told the stars you're not coming out tonight
    Until we find a place to hide" : The chorus is quite mysterious, but the "black treacle" instead of "tar" metaphor could be interpreted as it follows: So much fun and so much excess is like the black syrup, it´s too much, it´s sticky and unpleasant if you take too much. A tar as the fun-drugs-nightlife in a reasonable manner, in its golden median tastes good and it´s a pleasure.

    "Does it help you stay up late?
    Does it help you concentrate?" : This could be cocaine or amphetamine
    "Is it true you win when you chew your chin?" : Known effect of this kind of drugs. Alex is asking if having theses kind of side effects and bad health is truly worthy.
    "Am I ruining your fun?" : Again like in the cabriolet line.
    "And you talk the talk alright" : His friend gives him good reasons to live that sex-drugs-rock´n´roll lifetime
    "Do you walk the walk or catch the train?" : This line is very important. Alex says that he should walk the walk, this means, being flexible to change his lifestyle in the different phases of a lifetime's way. His friend should not take the train of becoming a drug addict and stay there without evolving.
    "You wanted it, you got it" : His friend wanted the rockstar lifestyle and he got it. Time to move on.
    "But you don't want it now" : Because it´s hurting him.

    "And now I'm out of place and I'm not getting any wiser
    I feel like the Sundance Kid behind a synthesizer" : While he is talking to his friend, Alex realises that he is being too invasive and he is preaching too much.
    "And I tried last night to pack away a laugh" : He tried to end that conversation with a joke.
    "Like a key under the mat
    But it never seems to be there when you want it" : But it did not work. His friend went out of the conversation being angry with Alex.
    rosaMon March 19, 2014   Link

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