TT (GB, 6/12/03):
My take on BB's lyrics... (first a disclaimer: my theory is that if
SD lyrics don't seem to be about anything, then they are about either
the music business or drug addiction). In the first stanza the narrator
is in bad shape and wants to "beat the mean streets of Medicine Park".
Drugs is another word for medicine. He wants to overcome his drug
addiction. So he "clicks his heels", Wizard of Oz imagery (which in
turn has plenty of drug imagery) and "doubles down" (raising the stakes
in gambling) to Blues Beach (rehab). People often use vacation images
when talking about rehab. A girl I know takes a yearly "vacation" at
the "dry out place".
I love the choruses throughout this song. At Blues Beach he's sizzling, frying and chilling, symptoms of drug withdrawal, in the "merciful" rays. Then one of my favorite lines: "The long sad Sunday of the early resigned". The "long sad Sunday" conjures up more vacation imagery. The last day (Sunday) of that week at the beach is always bittersweet because you know you have to go home and back to your workaday world. Rehab stays also end on Sunday.
The next stanza is a little inscrutable, but the name Trina is short for Katherine, which means "pure". It also could mean Trinity, another religious and purity symbol. So anyway he's off to rehab for a little "vacation". Then the great "paranymphic glider". More vacation imagery but another word with roots in purity and yet another bride image. The listener, a "hypothetical friend", is another rehab patient. The *last* people you want as friends are your cohorts in rehab.
The last stanza is about how difficult rehab is as the drugs come out of your system. The chills ("grab big dog a blanket") and how bad you feel (things may get a whole lot worse") and even the temptation to get a fix ("Before suddenly falling apart") and completely failing. "Your roommate Yvonne". Yvonne means archer. Archer... arrows... needles. And if she "still wants in" (his vein) he's gonna have to pull some strings (to get drugs at rehab, which is not impossible, trust me).
And now he's dying. If he succeeded in scoring in the previous stanza, then rehab is a complete failure. In any case, he's resigned to the fact that he's not cured and never will be. He will always fight this addiction and it ain't no vacation.
Roy.Scam (GB, 6/12/03): Why do so many people not like this one? The campy early 60's sound has just enough steely surprises and unexpected chord changes to keep it from becoming "Sugar Shack". This song makes dying sound like fun. ... Like a day at the beach. Plus, I'm prone to like a song that quotes Laura Nyro, maybe twice. My biggest complaint is that parts of it sound like "Tomorrow's Girls" recycled. But no one can completely avoid copying himself.
Hank Silvers (6/20/03):
"Beatsters! My brothers in the subculture of the Early Resigned! Remember it now. You lie if you say you don’t."
Huge props to Hank for discovering this in one of Mr. Fagen's "Premiere" articles. Quoted without permission but with utmost respect.
Rajah of Erase (Blue Book, 6/25/03): I love the three couplets on BB, "It takes a crusty punk to really beat the mean street of Medicine Park," "They were gassed and running every which way but unhappily not for us," and "Things may get a whole lot worse before suddenly falling apart," they are inspired satire, irony, ribaldry, whatever. Check the music behind these lines, it reminds me of sunshine, puppies, kids skipping down to the carnival rides, it's so joyful. The notes Donald hits on the word "unhappily" couldn't be more breezy. Meanwhile, everything's coming unglued and going to shit, the juxtaposition is so very sharply drawn. It's like one of those days where everything is just going so wrong, nothing's working no matter what you try, you're losing things, breaking things, and after a while it begins to actually get comical and absurd. Like that, "Look on the Bright Side of Life" song from that Monty Python movie, Life of Brian, "Life's a crock-a-shit, when you look at it." 'Sfunny.
Russ (Blue Book, 6/27/03): I hear the lines in the Blues Beach fade as: "Everyone's tall and tan... I wanna be on the sand".
Midsummer in New York (GB, 7/5/03): this album's "Hey Dupree" or "Cousin 19", only muuuuuuch better...
"Things I Miss The Most""Godwhacker"