does Julie Andrews with a hint of remorse- "things I miss the most"
when the dog bites, and the bee stings
Gap Brandy (GB,
detect something troubling: The hurried, almost after-thought
delivery of, "The house on the Gulf Coast". Is this the new "Florida"
of DF lore? Is he making fun of us? I say, "Yes".
The Audi TT (GB, 6/11/03): One theme I find running through the
album (aside from the cybersuite)
is mortality and death. An interpretation I have of Things I Miss the
Most is not that the narrator is divorced and bankrupt to the point of
losing cookware, guitars and furniture, but that he's DEAD. In his
afterlife, his spirit haunts his Gramercy Park apartment unable to
interact with our world, barely able to perceive the living much like
ghosts would be to us. He can't affect the living world's environment,
he's got to "hunker down" to read the newspaper his adorable ghost has
left by the couch. The "girlie" magazine is not girlie as in porn, but
girlie as in something she would read and leave lying on the bed. He's
learning to meditate (since that's all he can do) and he's
(metaphorically) building the Andrea Doria out of balsa wood, passing
time doing nothing. The birdie verse is literal, as in the old
superstition that animals can see and empathize with ghosts. So he's
resigned to an eternity of lonliness and absolute boredom doomed to
remember the emotional and material Things I Miss the Most. Perhaps
this is the Dan's version of hell for their more morally bankrupt
characters, an eternity of suffering and longing for that which they
can no longer have....
Where would you get "sad cuisine"? Why, at the Sad Cafe of course! Yet another Eagles reference, and a song which has a lot of religious imagery and loss and resignation themes itself, including this line: "I don't know why fortune smiles on some, and lets the rest go free".
Through (GB, 6/11/03): Audi TT: Interested to see your take on
Things I Miss The Most.
I had thought of the play "Our Town" after a few listens -- where the
dead townspeople reminisce about what they miss about living.
"The days really don't last forever
But it's getting pretty damn close." Eternity?
DACW (GB, 6/11/03): AudiTT:
Excellent...apres the nookyular fallout of Blues Beach...rack
'em, Oleander...yes, they're laughing AT him, not with him as well as
Dave in Acquisitions...I'll have my Reuben on Wry please...
oleander (GB, 6/11/03):
Hilarious song about a pretty clueless yuppie divorced guy. Wonderful
lyrics: the poker-faced chorus. You start to feel a little bad for him,
and then "...the Audi TT." "My sad cuisine"--speaks volumes. "Adorable
ghost." "And then ba-boom!" Mr. F's delivery is so deadpan. Best line:
"I'm learning how to meditate/So far so good." Yes, the Andrea Doria
was a famous wrecked ocean liner a la Titanic, but more recent. It was
a lavish Italian luxe liner, which fits superbly in the imagery of the
song. In 1956 it made a wrong turn in the fog and another liner smashed
into it amidships. Within 20 minutes it was clear the AD was going to
go down. Most passengers were saved; about 50 died from the collision.
So here's our hero, a guy floating aimlessly in the fog just waiting to
get broadsided by something big, building (while he's falling apart) a
pointless model of a doomed 50's luxury icon, out of balsa wood, which
floats spectacularly but is quite brittle and extremely lightweight.
Now is there ANYBODY else who could invest an apparent throwaway line
with so many layers of meaning?... The song is chockablock with
yuppie semiotics. Everyone probably knows what an Eames chair is--a
modernist icon, now considered by jaded youth to be campy. The Eameses,
Charles & Ray, were a brilliant design couple for whom furniture
was only one creative outlet. Depending how much of a completist you
are, Eames chairs are still available (as are copper pans).
luckless pedestrian (GB, 6/11/03):
audi tt - great take on "things I miss the most" kind of the
sixth sense twist? like the slant you present - although walter
asks one of his cab riders if 'she's ever been divorced" when
addressing this song
Howard (GB, 6/12/03): On "Things I
Miss" I took the birdie lines at face value. Maybe I'm
missing something, but "I had a little birdie friend, by morning she
was gone, birdie good bye" more or less sums up the whole song, given
the hints of sadness and darkness in the vocals and harmonies at the
end of that bit.
wormtom (GB, 6/12/03): I can
understand the car and beach houses but what does the ex want with the
54 strat - sounds like pure spite
Hutch (GB, 6/12/03): Wormy -
A '54 Strat in good condition is probably worth about 20 Grand. That
was the first year Fender made that model.
wormtom (GB, 6/12/03): hutch - yes a 54 strat is big
so did he loose it to the ex wife in spite?
or did he have to sell it in the post divorce downscaling???
not something I'd ever wish on anyone
My first impression of EMG was that it was unflinchingly about death.
beyond mid-life crises here (Hey 19, What a Shame), we're
with the guy in the black robe carrying the sickle.
I didn't like Things I Miss too much for that reason--it seemed to be a more mundane break-up song. I liked an early poster's comment about the narrator being dead; although I didn't buy it, it was an attempt to tie in the theme.
But this is no ordinary break-up. The narrator is facing the things he misses and is probably never going to have again. When she left, he was not about to jump back to the mate market. He's too old, or too withdrawn.
The litany is a funny yuppie gift list, yes, but it's also reminiscent of all the things that go when you age. Death comes in stages.
The Audi TT and the house on the Vineyard remind me of the list of things the old man loses at the end of the "All the World's a Stage" speech from "As You Like It."
The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slippered pantaloon
With spectacles on nose and pouch on side;
His youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide
For his shrunk shank, and his big manly voice,
Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion,
Sans* teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.
Hank Silvers (GB, 6/12/03): Here's an early whack at it: In "Things I Miss the Most", the protagonist is alone in the aftermath of a failed romance, but he doesn't sound as though he's about to break down. Even though she cleaned him out, taking 2 houses and a car -- and, perhaps for spite, his prize guitar -- he doesn't sound particularly bitter or despondent. Instead, he dispassionately lists his former possessions as though he was itemizing the losses for an insurance claim. Perhaps he's just numb, or maybe it's a positive side effect of those meditation lessons.
I can't believe this...as a child I vaguely remember, from a couple
to the Empire State, that my mother's 2nd cousin's husband (are you
with me?) in NY was the President of an Italian ship corporation...but
what I didn't know until last night (the balsa wood crack came up) that
his company owned the freakin' Andrea Doria! Mum said he was never the
same after that...
Hey, what if Things I Miss the Most is a post-Nookyular Last Mall lament - then the "birdy" could be a "Canary in a Coalmine" If it doesn't come back...then things could get a whole lot worse before falling apart in the merciless fallout rays of Blues Beach...or whatever...
Hank Silvers (GB, 6/12/03): In "Things I Miss the Most", the protagonist is alone in the aftermath of a failed romance, but he doesn't sound as though he's about to break down. Even though she cleaned him out, taking 2 houses and a car -- and, perhaps for spite, his prize guitar -- he doesn't sound particularly bitter or despondent. Instead, he dispassionately lists his former possessions as though he was itemizing the losses for an insurance claim. Perhaps he's just numb, or maybe it's a positive side effect of those meditation lessons.
Bill (Blue Book, 6/16/03): While hunting for that last quote I glanced at some 11TOW lyrics and was struck by the similarties and contrasts between the reclusive protagonist of "Girlfriend" and the guy in "Things I Miss The Most." WB's tune is considerably darker in tone and the black humor is mainly conveyed by his delivery and the wisecracks about his faithful companions, TV and liquor.
in my cave
It's corn flakes and Camels
And the long restless shadows of my life
None but the brave
Jim Beam and Jack Daniels
Channelhopping these empty days and nights
Glued to the screen
Rerun by rerun
At the dark outer limits of my soul
The Green Acres of my good intentions
And the Twilight Zone of zero self-control
Dust and despair
Cobwebs and confusion
Collecting in the corners of my room
All of my dreams
I just can't be rid of them too soon
Tired of my brain
Tired of this movie
Too tired to get up and shut it off
The time that remains
What good can it do me
Now that I know that too much is not enough"
course the prototype for both songs may be the Statler Brothers'
on the Wall,"
which was used as the basis of an essay by another favorite curmudgeon
of mine, Kurt Vonnegut)
And in the same song you get something that sounds a bit like the overarching theme of the entire EMG project:
pullin' in a picture now
Up off my back pages
And all at once am privy to
The entire grim design
Of a great civilization
In the terminal stages
Of a slow but steady mental moral spiritual decline"
Rajah of Erase (Blue Book, 6/20/03): What must have gone down when they came up with, "I'm building the Adria Doria -- out of balsa wood"? I don't know how Don is going to bray out that line on the tour without cracking up. Personally, I almost fell out of the Barco-lounger when I first played it, lyrics in hand. It's soo whacky and far afield but soo right on. The poor schlep in TIMTM reminds rings with an incredible degree of truth and honesty. And I seriously wonder about his values. Then again, men just don't handle break-ups well at all. We're basically spineless in that arena.
Peter Q (Blue Book, 6/20/03): Actually there's a bit of trickery in the lyrics of TIMTM. What appears to be psychological explanation is not - no reason for the disintegration of the relationship is provided at all, and the actual things he misses are not in and of themselves the things that make a difference in a relationship ( maybe sex, but obviously that can exist for itself just like a car or a chair ). We could actually make the case that this guy is a shallow boob and B & F are saying this is what love and relationships have become in our society - cars, houses on the Vineyard, talking, ie superficiality and not real emotional connection.
Lady Bayside (Blue
6/20/03): Maybe it's just with TIMTM that when it comes down to
if the singer/writer's ending a *bad* relationship, the things you do
the most may not have much to do with the person with whom you were
The human contact, the sex (is bad sex better than no sex?)--those are expected. I love the line "the Audi TT". It is so sly, so snide.
And so classically Steely Dan.
Rajah of Erase (Blue Book, 6/20/03): The only thing that seems to convey some modicum of true regret from this guy in TTIMTM is "somebody to trust." You can be able to talk to lots of people satisfactorily, of course have sex with anybody, it being one of the basic of human functions, but, that trust thing. Now you can truly trust relatively very few people in your life. What do we make of the "trust" element here? Does this schlub have a saving grace?
Peter Q (Blue Book, 6/20/03): Of course the point being - and this is another stalwart in the SD lexicon - the gal is the source of his misery, emasculating him to the point where he can only curl up with girlie magazines. The guys in these songs are so weak! And their women - only bitches, whores, cannivers or runaway Lolita types. The lyrics are eternally incapable of embracing a normal, healthy female at all, a rather bleakly misogynistic viewpoint.
Man with no face (Blue Book, 6/20/03): The protagonist in TIMTM is perhaps another in the line of put upon male characters as in Black Cow or Negative Girl. He doesn't miss her funky attitude or their fights, but he does miss their talk and the trust he had for her, and he still calls her adorable. From the depressive way he's reacting, it sounds like she ran off with another guy and then cleaned him out in the divorce settlement, even getting his prize guitar. I read the "Birdy" verse as a girl. Donald sings it really plaintively, as if he wanted more than just casual sex out of his birdie friend. Maybe he couldn't even perform. Anyway, he sounds like an emotional wreck, wallowing in self-pity.
Duke of Earl (Blue Book, 6/20/03): I think it's a song about losing your lover, but not just any loss. It's the death of his "Sugar Mommy"...the guy married (or maybe didn't marry, just a physical relationship) a wealthy old lady because he had a thing for old ladies (an old bird, per se). He enjoyed the talk, the sex, and all of the great amenities of being married into money. They didn't have the greatest of times (fighting with the kids and about the kids from her first marriage who are entitled to the inheritance), but he enjoyed a few of the things. Now that she's gone (sees the adorable ghost), he's lost it all because her children were in the will and he wasn't. He quit his job when becoming associated with her, and now he's basically got nothing. Also Birdy bye-bye could be a reference to her dying in her sleep (by morning she was gone).
Bill (Blue Book, 6/20/03): I suggest there are some parallels between the newly-impoverished schmuck in TIMTM and an even shallower character in "Fall of 92" (a Becker/Fagen composition), you know, the guy that drives his beloved dog to the pound in his Beemer cause he can't afford the dog food after losing his cushy job but somehow can keep the fancy vehicle....
Peg (Blue Book, 6/20/03): As I see it, the protagonist in TIMTM is a comical loser who is such a schmuck he got taken not only to the cleaners, but got stripped down to his virtual skivvies after a divorce. Classic use of exaggeration to create humor.
Javier (6/25/03): In "Things I Miss The Most" I can find the same character I met 10 years ago in "Tomorrow's Girls". Obviously, he left his wife and kids for some young and beautiful girl. The girl now took the Audi TT and his house in the Vineyard. Now he jerks off with a girly magazine like, let's say... Penthouse. He could be Bill Clinton, don't you think?
Chief of Theory (Blue Book, 6/25/03): I think TIMTM has the following problem: it's SD winking at us, saying Look at us put the screws to these yuppie bastards. It makes you too conscious of listening to a song. The only thing I know how to compare it to is when you watch a Godard film and you can see the boom mike hanging over the actors' heads, drawing you out of the fictional story in the film and bringing attention to the fact that you're watching a movie. Anyone else have this feeling? I am curious to know.
I love the melancholy of this song
It even has that nearly quiet apologetic opening stanza
like someone who's world has come crashing down and is resolved to resignation while everything else is busy around them
obviously the big divorce - and the world is oblivious
"I don't mind the quiet
Or the lonely nights
I don't miss the funky attitudes
And I don't miss the fights
I lie on the couch 'till suppertime
And hunker down and read the Post
And that's when I remember the things I miss the most"
our protagonist looks backwards to fill his void
he doesn't mind the empty house, the isolation
but he realizes there was a lot of strife he could gladly have done without
his old companion's qwirks are obvious - but he isn't having to deal with them now, so fond reminisence sets it
he's got more time on his hands, and nobody placing demands on him
hence the relaxed spiraling pace to dinnertime
the paper harkens to leisurely sunday mornings with old beau
Somebody to trust
The Audi TT
The house on the Vineyard
The house on the gulf coast
These are the things I miss the most"
love this chorus
sparse, direct (maybe too direct)
he longs for the positive things she brought him
and misses that core element of trust fundamental to it all
then things digress to the adult toy chest
materialism ala mode
cars and houses - big ticket items
my take is he married into bigger money and prestige
and those things stayed in the family
enjoyed Dr Mu and Angel's Kennedy correlation
but I prefer it more vague
"I kinda like frying up
My sad cuisine
Gettin' in bed and curling up with a girlie magazine
But sometimes in the corner of my eye
I see that adorable ghost
And then ba-boom I remember the things I miss the most"
dinner for 1 - sad cuisine
probably an easy stir fry - doesn't feel the effort to cook (espec for 1)
girlie mag - his ex's old evening reading material
Martha Stewart or Cosmo? reminding him of her abscence
(the Heff and Larry Flynt end doesn't work here
it's less the physical than the emotional)
adorable ghost - his departed love
ba-boom - a honeymooner "I got it" moment
Somebody to trust
The comfy Eames chair
The good copper pans
The '54 Strat
These are the things I miss the most"
second chorus strays to the exotic materilistic
thy shalt covet
Eames was an expensive designer 60's chair
the strat priceless and again acquired with ex's abounding affluence
and stays in the family
(he can't be taken to the cleaners when they weren't his to begin with)
the tit for tat of divorce possessions is all in her favor here
"I had a little birdy friend
By morning she was gone
a non fullfilling aquaintance
younger, none of the sophistication of his former spouse
she sees the state he's in and is quickly out of there
he sees the meaninglessness of the encounter
"I'm learning how to meditate
So far so good
I'm building the Andrea Doria out of balsa wood
The days really don't last forever
But it's getting pretty damn close
And that's when I remember the things I miss the most"
self help 101 - get in touch with one's real self
that guy you lost in the relationship
a project will keep me busy
the irony - cheap balsa and a tragic leasure liner
a freudian mirror of his less plush surroundings and sinking esteem
just love the next line's double innuendo
days don't last forever - meaning that relationship is gone
but they do drag on too long - my current painfully dreadful situation
timtm - the what a shame about me of EMG
a ghost of his former self
self absorbed,longing for that good life
not the more substaintial things that might make it truly significant
I think you guys are being a little harsh on this guy. Consider
His wife/lover/whatever leaves him. The first things he thinks about are the immediate losses he suffers and the weird feelings: the talk (or rather the odd silence), the sex (when you’re used to getting it and it dries up, well, you guys should know what I mean…), someone to trust (and that feeling of disconnection after the trauma).
As a few weeks pass, he starts tripping over little losses, things that didn’t register immediately because they were below his radar after the breakup or were things he just took for granted. I can even see his thinking. “I’ll make some pasta. Damn! I can’t! She took the good pans!” “Time to lounge in front of the TV…but the good comfy chair is gone. :( “
Months pass. He’s getting his life back together and really analyzing it all. And he finds that the things he misses in the long term are closely tied to the earlier immediate losses. He hasn’t had a really good discussion in a long time. He hasn’t been able to bring himself to go out and find a woman for any reason. And he can’t really get away from it all because all the things he used for escape are gone like the Audi TT and the vacation houses. He’s caught in his own little purgatory until he can find a way out.
So where does he go from there? Blues Beach! Where else?
I think this fits in with my idea that the album is about a man losing his woman and the stages he goes through trying to get over her. The Last Mall is her packing up her stuff. Godwhacker is a manifestation of his anger. Since he’s been learning to meditate, maybe he’s leaning to Eastern religions and rejecting the Judeo-Christian stuff he paid lip service to all his life. Slang of Ages is him trying to get back into the dating game after so long. Green Book is him getting comfy and hitting the clubs. Pixeleen is about how he uses technology to try to fill some of those empty spaces (playing video games, downloading porn, stuff like that). Of course, he’s filling empty space with empty images and distorted idealized crap so when he starts messing around with Gina, she seems crazy in comparison. By the end, he’s not the same man. He’s gone from a family man and husband to, well, a character in a Steely Dan Song. :) All he can do is surrender to the malaise and ride it rather than fight it. His sorrow has beaten him so he closes the shop that is his self-esteem AND his old life. He has to start over again. It’s sad, but it’s also happy because he’s liberated from the shadows of the past. His new life isn’t going to be the caliber of his old life, but at the same time, there’s the possibility that he might be able to find a way to live with it all. A sad ending, but one could argue that a new crappy life is still progress from his old sad one.
"The Last Mall""Blues Beach"