No confidence man
Charlie got a band in his hand
A rubber loop
Says, I'm the man you really want
So just act natural
Don't try to tell me your bullshit scheme
Because I have no idea what you mean
No idea
I'm just trying to sleep
I've heard quite enough
Just to listen is really tough
Because you're on it all the time
Hearing the bells, it's 9 a.m.
You better wake up your friend
Before he won't wake up anymore
Because I got to split, I'm late to leave
He gave me nothing but grief
And some bullshit story only I would believe
I've heard quite enough
I heard quite enough
You're on it all the time
You're on it all the time
You're on it all the time
And you're full of it all the time

Lyrics submitted by EnjOy IncUbus

No Confidence Man song meanings
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  • +2
    General CommentI think this song is about rape. Rape and drugs.
    "Charlie got a band in his hand
    A rubber loop
    Says, I'm the man you really want
    So just act natural"
    rubber loop sounds like a condom to me.
    'Im the man you really want/just act natural' = self explanitory.

    "You're on it all the time
    And you're full of it all the time"
    the only thing that comes to mind with those lines is drugs.

    but I might be wrong, whatevs.
    xoSiouxsieon December 11, 2009   Link
  • +2
    My InterpretationHe's talking about his stepfather's abuse of his mother and him, and his eventual exit to from Texas to Portland.

    I kind of thought the rubber loop was represented his mother in his stepfather's hands, Charlie in control of her. A loop is a cycle, something happening over and over, probably related to abuse. I don't really see why he'd use a condom during abuse of Elliott?

    This sort of "fuck off" language "Don't try to tell me your bullshit scheme/ I have no idea what you mean/ I'm just trying to sleep" could be said from anyone to any other person in the narrative: him listening to his Charlie's bullshit, or Charlie talking to him or his mother. Remember that it's a song so it's more written for how it makes the listener feel and relate than communicating documentation of exact events (of which the listener probably has no idea). The point is that it feels abusive, alienating, disconnected, mean, etc. But it's probably Elliott talking to Charlie right? The way he sings "just trying to sleep" feels more vulnerable and the speaker is probably the one being abused.

    Elliott listening to parental conflict and any of Charlie's shit: "I've heard quite enough, just to listen is really tough".

    Then an imposing figure in the household who is "on it all the time". Someone who is just always fucking there, always on you; an oppressive presence, maybe with drugs involved, but i think it more likely has to do with alcohol in Charlie's case.

    Because I got to split, I'm late to leave: Elliott taking off to get away from the abuse. The "won't wake up no more" always felt druggy to me but I don't know what it means. Maybe someone's around who isn't supposed to be and asleep? Maybe the line is just super cool and feels right for the song. The lyrics are impressionistic typical of Elliott's writing, and sometimes the words are just there because of their feeling or connotation.
    pat1032312on August 20, 2014   Link
  • +1
    General Commenti wonder if this fits in with the 'flowers for charlie' theory, in that charlie was his stepfather.. if flowers was his forgiveness this was the opposite.. probably more of an abstract description of his feelings for his stepfather when he was still bitter about the issues they had.
    lisalynnon January 06, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI agree that this song is mostly about abuse. Here's what I have to add to what's already been said:

    No Confidence Man - reminds me of a confidence man, a con man, a man who can talk you into anything, who can trick you into things, make you believe that black is white. Also, a con man is always playing a role, always "on".

    Elliott remembers Charlie coming to him when he's just trying to sleep and sexually abusing him (rubber loop = condom, "I'm the man you really want; So just act natural"). Also, reminds me of the line in Southern Belle "I wouldn't have you how you want".

    Twice Elliott mentions Charlie's words as being important. He accuses Charlie of telling him "some bullshit scheme" when he comes to him in bed with the 'rubber loop' and then later he says "He gave me nothing but grief; And some bullshit story only I would believe". I think this goes along with the con man thing. I think Charlie justified his actions at the time (you know like saying "I'm doing this for your own good" or "I know you love me and that you want this" or "you brought this on yourself" or some such blame the victim nonsense.) And as a kid, of course it's hard not to believe it. Thus Charlie is a con man.

    But now as an adult, Elliott knows it's all bullshit, that Charlie is 'full of it all the time', he sees through the lies so now Charlie is "no confidence man".

    One last possible interpretation is that part of the song is set in the present where Elliott speaks to a friend about himself saying "You better wake up your friend [ie. Elliott himself]; Before he won't wake up anymore; Because I got to split, I'm late to leave". I think he's saying to a friend that at some point he is going to die so he doesn't have to listen to Charlie anymore [either literally or in his remembrances] so his friend had better wake him up while he still can.
    frejaon June 08, 2010   Link
  • +1
    General CommentGod... I don't mean to be arrogant or mean (I do not claim to know all about Elliott, but I do know a good deal for a fan), but some of these comments are ridiculous. Rubber loop= condom? No... Just no... I've always assumed rubber loop means a belt... as in for beating a child... in this song. Elliott did not experience the revelation or delusion that Charlie molested him until the early 2000's (after he started quitting drugs and all that). He definitely did not start using heroin in '93. You don't just keep that secret from everyone, and all of his old friends were horrified that he started using. If the rest of the evidence isn't enough. It seems to me that this is a song Elliott wrote about the relationship he had with Charlie, and the bitterness he felt about the way Charlie had treated him. I think some of the confidence man comments may hold some merit. I agree that all that about 'bullshit schemes', 'nothing but grief', 'bullshit story', and 'you're full of it all the time' is probably elliott talking about how charlie would tell him lies, tell him to do things that were " for his own good" ( charlie might have even thought they were) and now Elliott has realized that only a trusting child would believe such things, and that they were all bullshit. My two cents.
    Jateon August 12, 2014   Link
  • +1
    Song MeaningI'm pretty sure that the "rubber loop" is referring to a belt, that Elliott was beaten with by his step father. I think that saying it means that it is a condom is a pretty far stretch (pun intended).

    This whole song seems like a description of Elliott's life when he was being abused by his step father Charlie. There are descriptions of verbal and physical abuse in this song. The line "just act natural" kills me every time. It just broadens the emotion of fear, and makes the listener feel like they are in an unsafe situation at home.

    Also, the whole "wake up your friend" part makes me think of fleeing the house because it is unsafe, and not wanting to stay at home.

    Just my thoughts on the lyrics. Very haunting song. Also very underrated.
    Jack.Chadwickon February 15, 2020   Link
  • 0
    General Commenti agree with that idea, lisalynn. makes the most sense to me, i mean he mentions "charlie" after all. (but i don't want to sound presumptious with that, because who really knows what his songs are about except elliott??)

    really sad song, anyways.. i really get that feeling of frustration listening to it.. the feeling of being stuck in a bad relationship, having to listen to someone's inane, pompous ramblings..

    just my interpretation though! :)
    pollyethyleneon April 03, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General Commenthe was a kid when all that went down, and kids often feel no control. plus he may have felt he had to listen 'cos he loved his mom and it was her husband. just what i thought of........
    lost_in_twlighton April 05, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General Commenti think its about having an abusive stepfather (charlie) and not being able to do anything about it because he cares about his mother and as lost_in_twilight said it was her husband
    giv_emhellkidon May 02, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General Commentthis was done with pete krebs, on thier single shytown, and if you like elliott, you should check pete krebs out. this in my opinion is elliots best song.
    turjake2on September 04, 2006   Link

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