"Chopsticks" as written by and Phair....
I met him at a party and he told me how to drive him home
He said he liked to do it backwards
I said, "That's just fine with me,
That way we can fuck and watch TV."

It was four a.m. and the light was gray, like it always is in paperbacks
He asked if I liked playing jacks
I told him that I was good to sixes
But all hell broke loose after that

I told him that I knew Julia Roberts when I was twelve at summer camp
We didn't say anything after that
I dropped him off and I drove on home
'Cause secretly I'm timid

Lyrics submitted by iKickDogs

"Chopsticks" as written by

Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

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Chopsticks song meanings
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  • +1
    General Commentit's about not having sex. she meets a guy at a party, shares inane conversation with the intention of having sex but she ends up just driving him home. she's secretly timid, as much as she'd like to think she's brave and brazen by doing the driving and having all these thoughts of sex and leading the conversation into sexual territory, she's very shy.
    blair23on February 10, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI think it's about a girl who's not just timid but also naïve. She intends to do something spontaneous/ something to show that she's mature (have sex with someone she barely knows) but she doesn't know how to go about it. He talks about kinky things: doing it backwards and the thing with jacks but her mind is too innocent to know how to respond properly. She's thinking about things children would think about: TV, summer camp, etc. When she talks about her skills in the actual kid's game as opposed to in the bed, perhaps he realizes how innocent she really is because that's when "all hell broke loose".
    ClymClemClamon April 29, 2011   Link
  • +1
    General Commentalso she tries to play it off like she changed her mind at the end and decided just to drop him off at his house instead of going inside. "SECRETLY I'm timid" But 1. there was no chemistry between them and 2. as I mentioned before, the guy probably realized that she didn't know what she was doing. Her timidity probably wasn't such a big secret, at least, not to him.
    ClymClemClamon April 29, 2011   Link
  • +1
    My Interpretation"Chopsticks" contrasts a sinister sonic palette against a lyric that feels confused and drugged, almost. I have trouble thinking of this as simply "pick up a guy at a party and sleep with him but there's no chemistry" song. The high reverb on the piano, Phair's monotone delivery, the feedback and screech of the guitar at the "playing jacks" / "all hell broke loose" part-- this spells out a tryst gone wrong, perhaps violently wrong. Victims of trauma can go into a catatonic, thousand-yard stare, state of mind especially when recounting the traumatic events. This sounds less like a stereotypical Gen-X disconnect between sex and emotional connection than a catatonic retelling of a sexual assault.

    Even though the protagonist is in control-- she picks him up, agrees to "do it backwards", it's her car they are in-- it doesn't mean that what happened between them was consensual. She said that "all hell broke loose after that" which should give the listener pause especially as it comes on the tail of the screeching guitar figure. What Phair leaves out of the lyric is for the listener to determine.

    We have an inconsistency in the lyric, though. The protagonist "met him at a party" and he told her how to drive him home so we are made to understand that they are at *his* house yet at the end of the song she "dropped him off" and "drove on home". So where were they? A third location that he was pretending to be his home?
    JoeyJoeJoe70on January 31, 2017   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI think she's found a boy that she really likes at a party, as clearly stated, and agrees to have sex with him even if it's degrading (fuck & watch TV). Afterwards, she takes him and he tries to make conversation, but they're both so mismatched they can't create a dialogue. Then at the end, you realize that she did this even though she's still vulnerable and shy.
    TheModNymphon June 29, 2003   Link
  • 0
    General Commentwell, i think you summed it up wonderfully :). However, I did not know that Ben Folds covered this. I found that to be a pleasant surprise.
    Grayon June 30, 2003   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI saw Ben Folds cover this when he was part of The Bens and shouted "Liz Phair rules". He looked at me funny. :-)

    I don't really get the second verse.

    > He asked if I liked playing jacks.

    Is he mounting her doggy style?

    > I told him that I was good to sixes,
    > But all hell broke loose after that.

    I really don't get that either.
    elwyn5150on December 09, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI think it's referring to the game jacks... y'know, the one little girls play by bouncing a ball and picking up the little metal things. She can get to six, but no more...
    Keion December 24, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI think the game jacks (being played by children) means that she is to young for him like they have nothing in common because she is so much younger. I also think that she had a one night stand with him and she wanted it to be more than that but he didn't. Like the verse "the light was gray
    Like it always is in paperbacks." Paper backs being romance novels and in her mind it was like a fairy tail at first.
    rapunzelEEDon January 08, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General Commentwhen she talks about playing jacks, i think i get it. or maybe i'm a sicko. oh well, here goes. no i cant say it!!!!
    yo mamma!on April 18, 2005   Link

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