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Culture Forum

  1. 27 Sep '09 07:18
    Instead of discussing which band, genre, or musician is better I wondered if anyone fancied discussing the meaning of some song lyrics/ Basically we pick a song and then try and unravel what the composer intended them to mean, a bit like a book club. Anyone interested?
  2. 27 Sep '09 08:42
    Artist: The Mountain Goats
    Album: Tallahassee

    No Children
    I hope that our few remaining friends
    Give up on trying to save us
    I hope we come up with a failsafe plot
    To piss off the dumb few that forgave us
    I hope the fences we mended
    Fall down beneath their own weight
    And I hope we hang on past the last exit
    I hope it's already too late
    And I hope the junkyard a few blocks from here
    Someday burns down
    And I hope the rising black smoke carries me far away
    And I never come back to this town
    Again in my life
    I hope I lie
    And tell everyone you were a good wife
    And I hope you die
    I hope we both die

    I hope I cut myself shaving tomorrow
    I hope it bleeds all day long
    Our friends say it's darkest before the sun rises
    We're pretty sure they're all wrong
    I hope it stays dark forever
    I hope the worst isn't over
    And I hope you blink before I do
    Yeah I hope I never get sober
    And I hope when you think of me years down the line
    You can't find one good thing to say
    And I'd hope that if I found the strength to walk out
    You'd stay the hell out of my way
    I am drowning
    There is no sign of land
    You are coming down with me
    Hand in unlovable hand
    And I hope you die
    I hope we both die
  3. 27 Sep '09 10:15
    Originally posted by hopscotch
    Artist: The Mountain Goats
    Album: Tallahassee

    [b]No Children

    I hope that our few remaining friends
    Give up on trying to save us
    I hope we come up with a failsafe plot
    To piss off the dumb few that forgave us
    I hope the fences we mended
    Fall down beneath their own weight
    And I hope we hang on past the last exit
    I hope it's already too late
    ...[text shortened]... are coming down with me
    Hand in unlovable hand
    And I hope you die
    I hope we both die[/b]
    YOU DON'T GET TO CHOOSE! THREAD CRASHER

    I was listening to this yesterday and extolling its virtues to my other half who wanted to know why I was singing 'I hope you die, I hope we both die' to her.
  4. 27 Sep '09 22:57 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by Starrman
    YOU DON'T GET TO CHOOSE! THREAD CRASHER

    I was listening to this yesterday and extolling its virtues to my other half who wanted to know why I was singing 'I hope you die, I hope we both die' to her.
    Why don't I get to choose? I was here first!

    Anyway about the song: that's exactly my point. The 'I hope you die, I hope we both die' part. Is that a sign that there is still a glimmer of love in there, that he hopes that they both die? It's always confused me. On the surface it appears very hostile but if you look deeper you have to ask certain questions about the intent of the whole song, it's almost like a bit of a tantrum, but nothing serious.

    Consider the lines, "You are coming down with me, Hand in unlovable hand".
  5. 28 Sep '09 00:19
    Originally posted by hopscotch
    Why don't I get to choose? I was here first!

    Anyway about the song: that's exactly my point. The 'I hope you die, I hope we both die' part. Is that a sign that there is still a glimmer of love in there, that he hopes that they both die? It's always confused me. On the surface it appears very hostile but if you look deeper you have to ask certa ...[text shortened]... g serious.

    Consider the lines, "You are coming down with me, Hand in unlovable hand".
    I've always taken it to be the exact opposite of that. He's given up all hope and has been so hurt by the relationship that he's given up caring about his own life. Every line starts with 'I hope', but all the hopes he has are self-destructive. The fact that the tune is so upbeat further compounds that for me, it's like a black comedy, he's gone so far it's funny. I take the 'hand in unlovable hand' bit to mean they stuck together even though they both hate each other, in the way that some relationships continue despite being horrible for both people. He's dragging her down because he can't walk away, it's too late (he already believes it's too late and they've missed the exit as mentioned in the first verse). So I think his main thought is that if he's going down under the waves of dismay he's pulling her with him.

    Considering the song is called 'No Children' I've always assumed that this is a relationship in which either one or other of them is impotent, or that one of them wants a child and the other doesn't. Those situations can be horribly damaging and I can see how the loss of trust can grow from them.

    For me the song is real dark comedy, born from hysteria.
  6. 28 Sep '09 05:48
    Originally posted by Starrman
    I've always taken it to be the exact opposite of that. He's given up all hope and has been so hurt by the relationship that he's given up caring about his own life. Every line starts with 'I hope', but all the hopes he has are self-destructive. The fact that the tune is so upbeat further compounds that for me, it's like a black comedy, he's gone so far i ...[text shortened]... grow from them.

    For me the song is real dark comedy, born from hysteria.
    The juxtaposition of the happy melody and the pessimistic lyrics has always baffled me a bit, I keep searching for positive aspects, and I think that there are some to be found. They're the classic old couple who no longer get along, so they fight, like old couples often do, and they hate each other, like old couples often do, but deep down I think that they still love each other. I'm also tainted in my opinion by the rest of the songs on the album, specifically Oceanographer's Choice.

    You mentioned the song title, and I think that it refers to the clichéd notion that having children brings a couple closer together as they have something other than each other to focus on.

    The Mountain Goats wrote many songs about this cursed couple (The Alpha Series), and Tallahassee is entirely about them, I did a bit of research and apparently when they play it live, John Darnielle sings "I hope you both die", because he had given up on writing songs about them.

    On "Protein Source of the Future...Now!" the final track "Alpha Omega" (released 3 years earlier) the relationship actually ends as one of them abandons the relationship and writes a goodbye note to the other one, and this is regarded as the true end of the series. (Which makes Tallahassee a bit of a prequel, I guess?)

    Here's the song on youtube for anyone that hasn't heard it:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wRP6egIEABk

    The audio quality isn't as great as I would like, but it's the best that I could find in 4 seconds of searching.
  7. 28 Sep '09 12:21
    Originally posted by hopscotch
    The juxtaposition of the happy melody and the pessimistic lyrics has always baffled me a bit, I keep searching for positive aspects, and I think that there are some to be found. They're the classic old couple who no longer get along, so they fight, like old couples often do, and they hate each other, like old couples often do, but deep down I think that th ...[text shortened]... eat as I would like, but it's the best that I could find in 4 seconds of searching.
    But oceanographer's choice is really fatalistic as well. Superman gets killed in the first two lines. The stanza with the line 'And I throw myself all around you' resolves with 'and night comes to Tallahhasee' as if the act of embrace is dark and smothering. I'm convinced that Oceanographer's choice is about those 'it's broken so it doesn't matter' screws. His surprise in 'Look at that, would you look at that? We're throwing off sparks' illustrates how powerful those encounters can be when all the hatred, years of unsaid words and regret are transformed into sexual passion, once you've slipped the bonds of caring anymore.

    I really feel you've got this one the wrong way round. To my mind Tallahassee's a story about a crippling, drink fuelled relationship well past its prime, in a house that is as crumbling apart as those that live in it. It's a dark album, delivered with the comedic flare that makes Darnielle so damn good.
  8. 28 Sep '09 12:44
    Originally posted by Starrman
    But oceanographer's choice is really fatalistic as well. Superman gets killed in the first two lines. The stanza with the line 'And I throw myself all around you' resolves with 'and night comes to Tallahhasee' as if the act of embrace is dark and smothering. I'm convinced that Oceanographer's choice is about those 'it's broken so it doesn't matter' screws ...[text shortened]... ark album, delivered with the comedic flare that makes Darnielle so damn good.
    I guess we'll have to sort of agree to disagree, even though my mind still isn't made up on this track. I was reading some song-lyrics-meanings-forum type thing, and it was quite similar to what we're doing here, although a lot less complicated. One post was about how it was positive and that they love each other deeply, the next poster claimed that they were horribly doomed and hated each other, and the next person said that it was so passionate and romantic, and so on, round and round. It really does mean different things to different people.

    There are possibilities and clues that make me wonder: He uses the word "hope" 20 times, that was obviously intentional, it has to mean something.

    And another is that it could be taken from the perspective of someone who's had way too much to drink (as they're both Bukowski style alcoholics), and this person who has managed to maintain the façade of happy marriage during those brief moments of sobriety has decided to suddenly let loose with exaggerated emotional statements that don't really mean anything.

    There's also the idea that it is obvious that he cannot live without this person that he despises, that this obviously depresses him, and he missed that last exit, making him a coward. Like they're addicted to poison: the poisonous relationship, and the bottle. They want to quit but it would kill them.
  9. 28 Sep '09 14:55 / 2 edits
    on the surface, it's a song about the dark emptiness that people feel when they are clinically depressed. Nothing (except perhaps pain) has any meaning. Suicide becomes a consideration.

    on another level - it's one huge oxymoron -- upbeat song w. depressing lyrics; and the whole idea of hoping for things that you'd expect a person to dread.

    on another level - it's an effort to overcome anxiety by deliberately embracing every bad thing you can think could possibly happen, and thus making peace with it.

    on another level - it's a zen riddle -- purposely saying things that are self-contradictory in an effort to get people to attain enlightenment by transcending the "logical way" of looking at the world.

    or maybe someone just wrote a bunch of pessimistic stuff because those are the kinds of lyrics the audience is most likely to consider "cool".
  10. Standard member Natsia
    Lippy Brat
    28 Sep '09 15:00
    I have a quasi love affair with this album.
    Every time I listen to it, it means something new to me, personally, but I guess that would be true for anyone who have a band they really enjoy and what they're going through on a personal level at any given time...

    No children, I have to agree with Hoppy on that one. There has to be love there, if not why be so hell bent on seeing everything destroyed? As if the pain and hatred (afterall, what is hate if there is no passion) is the the fuel for keeping them together.
    I'm probably talking out of my A55 here, so feel free to correct me, but it seems to me like a declaration to riot against everything everyone else has come to "know" about them and the way they interact, their spiral into using alcohol and the cliche of smoking as a personal barrier between, not wanting to spark off any more arguments, but not wanting to leave either.

    South Plantation Road, gives me that impression, after The House That Dripped Blood we head into the real resent and bitterness between them, only to discover that there are still sparks. See America Right, Peacocks, Have to Explode and finally the need to stay together; Oceanographer's Choice.

    ...
    Please don't beat me, if none of the above makes any sense.
  11. 28 Sep '09 15:48
    Originally posted by Melanerpes
    or maybe someone just wrote a bunch of pessimistic stuff because those are the kinds of lyrics the audience is most likely to consider "cool".
    Anyone else and I'd be inclined to agree, but Darnielle isn't about this at all. His back catalogue includes such beautifully uncool entities it's hard to imagine he ever learnt not to tuck his shirt into his trousers...
  12. 28 Sep '09 15:49
    Maybe I just resonate with the overtly tragic humour in his songs, but I can't help but think that once you've been through all the crap you can, life's a lot easier to take as a joke, or somewhut.
  13. 29 Sep '09 08:20
    Okay, seems like everyone has had their say, new song time:

    This is a Fire Door, Never Leave Open - The Weakerthans

    Headlights race towards the corner of the dining room.
    Half illuminate a face before they disappear.
    You breathe in forty years of failing to describe a feeling.
    I breathe out smoke against the window, trace the letters in your name. Our letters sound the same; full of all our changing
    that isn't change at all.
    All straight lines circle sometime.

    You said "Somewhere there's a box full of replacement parts to
    all the tenderness we've broken or let rust away.
    Somewhere sympathy is more than just a way of leaving.
    Somewhere someone says 'I'm sorry.'
    Someone's making plans to stay."

    So tell me it's okay. Tell me anything,
    or show me there's a pull, unassailable,
    that will lead you there, from the dark, alone,
    benevolence that you've never known,
    or you knew when you were four and can't remember.
    Where a small knife tears out those sloppy seams,
    and the silence knows what you silence means,
    and your metaphors (as mixed as you can make them)
    are linked, like days, together.

    I still hear trains at night, when the wind is right.
    I remember everything, lick and thread this string
    that will never mend you or tailor more
    than a memory of a kitchen floor,
    or the fire-door that we kept propping open.
    And I love this place; the enormous sky,
    and the faces, hands that I'm haunted by,
    so why can't I forgive these buildings,
    these frameworks labelled "Home"?

    Headlights race towards the corner of the dining room.
    Half illuminate a face before they disappear.

    -----------------------------------------
    I searched for a decent version of this song, but failed to find anything that wasn't live. I recommend listening to it on Spotify if you can, failing that here's a link to a live show which doesn't do it justice at all: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B6eZGNTaKWY&feature=related
  14. 29 Sep '09 15:59 / 2 edits
    Originally posted by Starrman
    Okay, seems like everyone has had their say, new song time:

    [b]This is a Fire Door, Never Leave Open - The Weakerthans


    Headlights race towards the corner of the dining room.
    Half illuminate a face before they disappear.
    You breathe in forty years of failing to describe a feeling.
    I breathe out smoke against the window, trace the letters in y t justice at all: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B6eZGNTaKWY&feature=related[/b]
    the song seems to be saying - "It was all so simple when I was four - but it's all emptiness, now that I'm forty" - but I'm not sure.

    If these are the lyrics that got Palynka talking about poor lyrics, well I feel Palynka's pain.
  15. 29 Sep '09 16:38
    Originally posted by Melanerpes
    the song seems to be saying - "It was all so simple when I was four - but it's all emptiness, now that I'm forty" - but I'm not sure.

    If these are the lyrics that got Palynka talking about poor lyrics, well I feel Palynka's pain.
    Palynka would stir a whirlpool just to see it go round faster. Your opinion on the quality of the lyrics is irrelevant in this discussion, we're trying to talk about the intended meaning.