"Stupidity Tries" as written by and Steven P. Smith....
Got a foot in the door
God knows what for
And he'll cut me down to size
Stupidity tries

Everything here is free
Everything but you and me
This painting never dries
Stupidity tries

Savannah shoulder raised a cheer
Coloring the sky with ash
Because they found some privateer
To sail across the sea of trash

The enemy is within
Don't confuse me with him
The truth is otherwise
Stupidity tries

And so I go from floor to floor
Looking for a port of call
Another drunk conquistador
Conquering the governor's ball

I couldn't think of a thing
That I hope tomorrow brings
Oh what a surprise
Stupidity tries

Lyrics submitted by EnjOy IncUbus, edited by vegso

"Stupidity Tries" as written by Steven Paul Smith Steven P. Smith

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

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Stupidity Tries song meanings
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  • +4
    Song MeaningIn an interview, Elliott said that “I realize that there’s no real point to me doing what I’m doing, but if that was at the forefront of my mind, I would get nothing done. And that would be really boring.” Here's the statement in context (this should make his statement easier to understand):

    Kierkegaard, the father of existentialism, said that if you make yourself ignorant to the futility of attempting the impossible, anything is possible. That’s the message embedded in “Stupidity Tries,” Figure 8’s spiritual anchor. “I realize that there’s no real point to me doing what I’m doing,” says Smith. “But if that was at the forefront of my mind, I would get nothing done. And that would be really boring.”

    Honestly, it's not surprising that Elliott make a song based on Kierkegaard's ideas; after all, that's where Either/Or came from.

    A link to the full interview: magnetmagazine.com/2001/01/02/elliott-smith-emotional-rescue/
    LSBrosephon April 02, 2013   Link
  • +3
    General CommentElliott said about this song," I think that the easier someone's life gets in a financial way, you have more people that expect you to answer to them. Whether you do or not is kind of your choice. But, definitely if you have nothing, you have nothing to lose, and you're very free in that way. If you got lucky enough to not have to worry about that... like my last job was spreading gravel and transplanting trees and things... so, I don't have to do that for the moment; but that means that there's a different boss to account to that's a more abstract one. "
    sweetadeline112358on September 12, 2008   Link
  • +2
    General Commenti think this is about life in general.....why do we bother doing anything? reminds me of Waiting For Godot by Beckett, we just pass the time as well as we can, trying to find a reason but there is none..................RIP
    badgeon May 26, 2005   Link
  • +2
    General CommentI think that this song covers a lot o situations, metaphorically. I don't really feel the need to comment on it, because it's just my favorite Elliott Smith song (period). But at the same time, I feel like I should say something because of that.
    And I agree with what most people said; it's a view of life from the optimistic yet sober guy, who just tries to do what he thinks is right and knows that the futility of the effort sometimes may even make it stupid.
    -Like a boyfriend (or ex) who's too emotional, or a Jehovah's witness (getting rejected at every door), maybe. ^_^
    Paulofuon March 05, 2008   Link
  • +2
    General CommentI feel like there is definitely a connection between Stupidity Tries and Georgia, Georgia. The fact that he mentions "savannah shoulder" in each is very profound. If we take Georgia, Georgia's "savannah shoulder" clause as a reference to a woman he knew who killed herself by driving off the road, we can better understand his reference in this song. also, "savanna" is a type of liquor, and "shoulder" is a synonym for any hard liquor in britain. coupling that with the fact that he mentions that her "veins [were] all full of beer" in georgia, georgia...it's still hard to know what he's doing with it in this song.

    my best guess is that he's saying that his experience that came from knowing this woman who committed suicide contributed in some way to his writing. thus, in a way, this event which has caused him to write great music has the record executives "raising a cheer" ("found some privateer to sail across the sea of trash", as someone mentioned, can be taken to mean that the record label picked him up to give a false image of great music to a shitty corporate label), even though he knows that their bullshit is just "coloring the sky with ash".

    that's all i've got. "savannah shoulder" has always haunted me because i could never figure it out. so that's my take on it.
    tehricksteron April 22, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General Commentfames sucks, all i want is the satisfaction of creativity, but it doesnt matter cuz i'll self destruct in the end
    VanishIntoOblivionon November 09, 2004   Link
  • +1
    General Commentnot sure about all of it,
    but the beginning and ending match perfectly (in my view)
    "Got a foot in the door
    God knows what for"
    -> he tries to keep his options (doors) open, but with no idea of what he's waiting for to happen

    and so it's (no) surprise when he can't think of anything he hopes for...

    p.s - "savannah shoulder"?
    isn't it "so then a shoulder"?
    Pclzon May 10, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General Commentpretty sure it's talking about looking back on a relationship that failed, in the heat of the moment you do anything to win someone over, but then looking back you realize how stupid and immature it was
    reincarnateon July 26, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General Commentthe relationship is with life.....

    he doesnt know why he bothers to keep living a pointless life, and that you would have to be stupid to bother.

    The way he says "paint" makes it sound like pain......his pain never stops.
    bubbamooon October 12, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI've been trying to figure out the "Savannah shoulder raised a cheer" bit, and am coming up blank. Any theories?

    And then the line in Georgia Georgia, "Your arsenal of excuses you never told her when you walked out on the Savannah shoulder, with your veins all full of beer, thinking well at least now everything is clear, but oh man, what a plan, suicide..."

    Since "Stupidity Tries" seems to be in some capacity about sucess (financial success, success in the music industry...(?)) and "Georgia, Georgia" doesn't at all, I'm having trouble with the connection.

    So he's walking out on the Savannah shoulder and his plan is suicide and then this is raising a cheer... so he could be talking (somewhat bitterly) about people glorifying his depression and seeing him as this privateer who is sailing across the sea of trash that is 90% of popular music? This is my best theory. Please, someone, back me up or shoot me down if you have a better one, because I analyze too much and this is bothering me.
    Oedipa_Maason October 06, 2008   Link

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