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rollntider

November 07, 2017, 10:33:58 PM
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Author Topic: Lyric interpretations  (Read 776 times)

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Offline Crewe

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Lyric interpretations
« on: March 07, 2018, 02:41:44 AM »
So, it's late and I'm on zero sleep for two days and was listening to a song that has been a favorite of mine since it was released.
We know songs are not always are purely literal translation. Example, Saturday Night Special. Not one word or instance in that story contains any ambiguity.
However, take just about any Jack White tune and you suddenly have vague interpretations and analogous lyrics.
I thought we could post lyrics that you would like another opinion on to get a fresh perspective or perhaps to solidify your own understanding.
I enjoy discussing things like this but we will see if it has legs.
I'll start with Della and the dealer by Hoyt Axton from 79 (3:18)
Seemingly light hearted and fun song...
I think the lyrics are pretty easy to understand but if not, here ya go.
I'll wait to see if anyone has input before throwing my opinion out there.

It was Della and the Dealer and a dog named Jake
And a cat named Kalamazoo.
Left the city in a pick up truck,
Gonna make some dreams come true.
Yea, they rolled out west where the wild sun sets
And the coyote bays at the moon.
Della and the Dealer and a dog named Jake
and a cat named Kalamazoo
If that cat could talk what tales he'd tell
About Della and the Dealer and the dog
as well
But the cat was cool, and he never said a mumblin word.
Down Tucson way there's a small cafe
Where they play a little cowboy tune.
And the guitar picker was a friend of mine
By the name of Randy Boone.
Yea, Randy played her a sweet love song
And Della got a fire in her eye
The Dealer had a knife and the dog had a gun
and the cat had a shot of Rye.
If that cat could talk what tales he'd tell
About Della and the Dealer and the dog
as well
But the cat was cool, and he never said a mumblin word.
Yea, the dealer was a killer,
He was evil and mean
And he was jealous of the fire in her eyes.
He snorted his coke through a century note
And swore that Boone would die.
The stage was set when the lights went out.
There was death in Tucson town.
Two shadows ran for the bar back door
And one stayed on the ground
If that cat could talk what tales he'd tell
About Della and the Dealer and the dog
as well
But the cat was cool, and he never said a mumblin word.
Two shadows ran from the bar that night
And dog and cat ran too.
And the tires got hot on the pick up truck
As down the road they flew.
It was Della and her lover and a dog named Jake
And a cat named Kalamazoo.
Left Tucson in a pick-up truck
Gonna make some dreams come true.
If that cat could talk what tales he'd tell
About Della and the Dealer and the dog
as well
But the cat was cool, and he never said a mumblin word.

Offline TheNorm

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Re: Lyric interpretations
« Reply #1 on: March 08, 2018, 12:03:06 AM »
Hmm...the lyrics and the story seem simple enough: Della got tired of the Dealer, found someone new to make a fresh start with. Dealer was jealous, but he didn't survive. Who killed him, who knows...could be Della, or in some way could be the dog. Either way, the Dealer (I believe anyway) didn't make it.

Can say with a high degree of certainty I've never heard that song until now.
Immigrants Built America

Offline rollntider

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Re: Lyric interpretations
« Reply #2 on: March 08, 2018, 11:25:53 AM »
thats the dude from Gremlins... and like Norm said never heard that song until now. Also I think Norm got the same I did from the lyrics.
« Last Edit: March 08, 2018, 11:28:47 AM by rollntider »



Offline Crewe

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Re: Lyric interpretations
« Reply #3 on: March 08, 2018, 11:28:18 AM »
He also wrote Joy to the World by Three Dog Night

It does seem straightforward, but the only questions I come back to is the slang dog and cat. In that era, I can recall people called cat, but dog is a little more vague. Dog referred to an ugly woman, or could be a guy as in low down dirty dog I guess.
As for the cat, I think he was a mute. "If that cat could talk" implies he couldn't, and then "...he never said a mumbling word" suggesting he could try to talk but t would be heard as mumbling.
I agree Della ran off with Randy Boone, hence the line changed from Della and the dealer to Della and her lover.

This was a song that I latched on to because I thought it was a fun song till I discovered it was a dark gritty tune and it just stuck to me.

Offline cflnut

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Re: Lyric interpretations
« Reply #4 on: March 08, 2018, 02:33:20 PM »
I tend to agree with everyone else about this.

However without knowing the time frame this took place in, the Cat & Dog references are hard to narrow down.
You could make the assumption from the line " the dog had a gun, and the cat had a shot of Rye." that they were people. And when used in slang terms they could be interpreted as such:
  • Cat Slang sense of "fellow, guy," is from 1920, originally in U.S. Black English; narrower sense of "jazz enthusiast" is recorded from 1931.
  • Dog Slang meaning "ugly woman" is from 1930's; that of "a sexually aggressive man" is from 1950's.

So to me the only time that the slang for Dog and Cat seem to overlap is during the 1930's. Which seems to fit in with the narrative of the story given the line "Down Tucson way there's a small cafe Where they play a little cowboy tune."

And like Crewe said the Cat could be a mute, or perhaps just a quite, Introverted person who tends to mumble when he talks.

If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense.
Nothing would be what it is, because everything would be what it isn't.
And contrary wise, what is, it wouldn't be. And what it wouldn't be, it would.

Offline Crewe

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Re: Lyric interpretations
« Reply #5 on: March 08, 2018, 03:13:49 PM »
great post.
the song was from the late 70's but I suppose the song could take place any time before that.
Thanks for the input, good stuff

Offline rollntider

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Re: Lyric interpretations
« Reply #6 on: March 08, 2018, 06:27:13 PM »
I will give it a shot, but be a little different.
Quote
In a little cafe
Just the other side of the border
She was just sitting there givin' me looks
That made my mouth water
So I started walking her way
She belonged to bad man Jose
And I knew, yes I knew I should leave
When I heard her say, yeah
"Come a little bit closer
You're my kind of man
So big and so strong
Come a little bit closer
I'm all alone and the night is so long"
So we started to dance
In my arms, she felt so inviting
And I just couldn't resist
Just one little kiss, so exciting
Then I heard the guitar player say
"Vamos, Jose's on his way"
Then I knew, yes I knew I should run
But then I heard her say, yeah
"Come a little bit closer
You're my kind of man
So big and so strong
Come a little bit closer
I'm all alone and the night is so long"
Then the music stopped
When I looked the cafe was empty
Then I heard Jose say
"Man, you know you're in trouble plenty"
So I dropped my drink from my hand
And out through the window I ran
And as I rode away
I could hear her say to Jose, yeah
"Come a little bit closer
You're my kind of man
So big and so strong
Come a little bit closer
I'm all alone and the night is so long"

this one to me is pretty straight forward, but I think it told a story in the verses and used the chorus to bring character back and make him realize he was better off without her. I always liked that it told a story and liked the way it used the chorus to do it.



Offline cflnut

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Re: Lyric interpretations
« Reply #7 on: March 08, 2018, 07:06:48 PM »
The girl is a flirt. Even though she is Jose girl, she still flirts with other guys when Jose is not around.
The guy telling the story dose get a warning about Jose coming, but weather he ignores it or doesn't have time to react is unclear. However given this pat of the song here:
  • "Man, you know you're in trouble plenty"
    So I dropped my drink from my hand
    And out through the window I ran

I don't think he had time to react, and a fight ensued, with the story teller on the losing end.

In the end the girl acts all innocent to Jose, saying the same thing that she said to the story teller. Hence making him realize he was being played.
If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense.
Nothing would be what it is, because everything would be what it isn't.
And contrary wise, what is, it wouldn't be. And what it wouldn't be, it would.

Offline Crewe

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Re: Lyric interpretations
« Reply #8 on: March 08, 2018, 07:27:23 PM »
I agree. She's a tease and he's still drawn to her knowing it could end poorly for him.
Confronted, he high tails it and like nut said, could be after a beat down. And that would actually make more sense to me because he paid a price for his bad decision.
And then she just continues on with no consequences or regrets.

Offline Crewe

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Re: Lyric interpretations
« Reply #9 on: April 28, 2018, 06:41:15 PM »
Alright, hit me with your interpretations here.
Hardest Button to Button by White Stripes

We started living in an old house
My ma gave birth and we were checking it out
It was a baby boy
So we bought him a toy
It was a ray gun
And it was 1981
We named him "Baby"
He had a toothache
He started crying
It sounded like an earthquake
It didn't last long
Because I stopped it
I grabbed a rag doll
And stuck some little pins in it
Now we're a family
And we're alright now
We got money and a little place
To fight now
We don't know you
And we don't owe you
But if you see us around
I got something else to show you
Now it's easy when you don't know better
You think it's sleazy?
Then put it in a short letter
We keep warm
But there's just something wrong with ya
Just feel like you're the hardest button to button
I had opinions
That didn't matter
I had a brain
That felt like pancake batter
I got a backyard
With nothing in it
Except a stick. a dog
And a box with something in it
The hardest button to button
The hardest button to button
The hardest button to button
The hardest button to button
Uh oh
The hardest button to button
The hardest button to button
Uh oh
The hardest button to button
The hardest button to button
The hardest button to button
The hardest button to button
The hardest button to button
Uh oh


Offline Crewe

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Re: Lyric interpretations
« Reply #10 on: May 10, 2018, 07:04:29 PM »
no takers?
here's my thought.
Feels like its about a kid dealing with jealousy issues when a new baby is born into the family.
Jack White is rarely literal, but where I really have questions is the line about, you think its sleazy then put it in a short letter.
It just doesn't seem to fit the narrative, unless he's implying the older kid actually did severely harm the new baby.
The line, But if you see us around I got something else to show you...this just leaves me blank.

Offline TheNorm

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Re: Lyric interpretations
« Reply #11 on: May 14, 2018, 11:44:36 PM »
How the hell did I miss all of this?
Anyway, I'll have to check out this song in the next day or so and give my take...
Immigrants Built America

Offline Crewe

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Re: Lyric interpretations
« Reply #12 on: May 29, 2018, 08:38:37 PM »
How the hell did I miss all of this?
Anyway, I'll have to check out this song in the next day or so and give my take...

yea uh, hello?  ;-)

Offline TheNorm

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Re: Lyric interpretations
« Reply #13 on: June 02, 2018, 01:58:24 PM »
Yeah, your interpretation doesn't seem that far off after listening to it. Jealousy issue after a new baby sibling arrives is what i get out of it. Not much else, really.

Never really listened to this song before, but a pretty decent one from Jack White and his 'sister' lol.
Immigrants Built America

Offline TheNorm

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Re: Lyric interpretations
« Reply #14 on: June 02, 2018, 02:07:39 PM »
Decided to check out the wiki on them because even though I knew they were from Detroit I wasn't really much into that scene. I'd seen a few "garage rock" bands at spots in the area during the 90s, but most of them were forgettable...save for the Verve Pipe oddly enough.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_White_Stripes

The place where they first met, Memphis Smoke in Royal Oak, I used to go there all the time (they had some amazing food)...even around the time Meg White used to work there.
Immigrants Built America

 

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