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JackAdams's avatar

Can you explain some other lyrics to me, please?

Asked by JackAdams (6489points) August 23rd, 2008

From “Tin Man”

Oh, Oz never did give nothing to the Tin Man,
That he didn’t, didn’t already have,
And cause never was the reason for the evening,
Or the Tropic of Sir Galahad.

The last two lines make no sense to me, at all. Here is the You Tube link:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mXH1cB9iy9I

August 23, 2008, 11:59 PM EDT

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

9 Answers

cheebdragon's avatar

Maybe it rhymed….?
Or they were on drugs…

JackAdams's avatar

I’ll buy the “drugs” explanation…

August 24, 2008, 1:23 AM EDT

whatthefluther's avatar

Hard to explain the lyrics, when the guy who wrote them says they are jumbled nonsense. From the Highway Highlight boxed set notes:

Bunnell’s “Tin Man” was released as Holiday’s first single, reaching #4 in the fall of ‘74. The song was a return to the soaring melodicism of “Ventura Highway,” and it reestablished America on the airwaves. Still, Dewey has mixed feelings about “Tin Man”: “The song is jumbled in my mind—there’s not a lot of cohesiveness. I had really liked the chords, those major-sevenths. It was up and kind of bouncy, with a little Latin-y feel to it. That’s how it is: I get the chords and the melody, and then I have to get some words.”

Bunnell unravels the lyric as follows: “My favorite move of all time was probably The Wizard Of Oz, it still amazes me how great that movie is. And here’s my classic use of bad grammar: ‘Oz never did give nothing to the Tin Man…’ Another god-awful use of the language. But it served the purpose. But that was really the only cohesive thought I had. How do I convey that? The first verse—I guess that was a little bit of paranoia. We were being exposed to more and more sophisticated people, and there were times that I found myself with my foot in my mouth, saying things I wish I hadn’t. The first verse is very ambiguous. ‘The Tropic of Sir Gallahad’ is a whole other image to me about being chivalrous or a gentleman. ‘Spinning round, round, round, smoke glass stain bright colors…’—that’s all just purely kaleidoscopic imagery. The melody definitely dictated those words, because it was a swirling, rising thing.”

“Tin Man” almost didn’t become a hit, Beckley recalls: “The single had stalled, and John Hartmann [the band’s new manager] went in and did this full-on rant with Warners and kick-started it, and it went back up the charts again, which is very hard to do. John was not willing to let this die.”

cheebdragon's avatar

yeah….what ⇑ said..

Judi's avatar

Try to figure out what the ‘70’s hit “Horse With No Name” is all about!

stratman37's avatar

It clearly means he wanted to have sex with his mother.

whatthefluther's avatar

@Judi…Re “Horse With No Name”, also from Highway Highlight boxed set notes:

The America album was released in Britain to moderate response. Though “I Need You” was discussed as an initial single, Warner Bros. asked the band to come up with another song that would break them on the radio. So, five months after the album came out, they went into a small London studio and demoed four new tunes. Among them was an enigmatic Bunnell number with a catchy rhythm that was initially called “Desert Song.” Much to the band’s surprise, that was the song that Warners chose to release.

The band went into Morgan Sound Studios (where Beckley had played bass on demo sessions a few years before) to record the song, with Samwell producing and Kim Haworth brought in on drums. At Samwell’s suggestion, “Desert Song” was retitled “A Horse With No Name.”

A tune as famous as this one deserves a detailed explanation, though Bunnell suggests that its meaning has evolved over time: “I was messing around with some open tunings—I tuned the A string way down to an E, and I found this little chord, and I just moved my two fingers back and forth, and the entire song came from basically three chords. I wanted to capture the imagery of the desert, because I was sitting in this room in England, and it was rainy. The rain was starting to get to us, and I wanted to capture the desert and the heat and the dryness.”

The imagery came from Dewey’s childhood: “I had spent a good deal of time poking around in the high desert with my brother when we lived at Vandenberg Air Force Base [in California]. And we’d drive through Arizona and New Mexico. I loved the cactus and the heat. I was trying to capture the sights and sounds of the desert, and there was an environmental message at the end. But it’s grown to mean more for me. I see now that this anonymous horse was a vehicle to get me away from all the confusion and chaos of life to a peaceful, quiet place.”

Bunnell adds an aside about his choice of language in the song: “I have taken a lot of poetic license in my use of grammar, and I always cringe a little bit at my use of ‘aint’s,’ like ‘ain’t no one for to give you no pain’ in “Horse.” I’ve never actually spoken that way, but I think it conveys a certain honesty when you’re not picking and choosing your words, and you use that kind of colloquialism.”

“A Horse With No Name” broke more than the rules of English—it broke America as a major recording act in Britain, the U.S., and Europe. After reaching #3 in the U.K., it was released in the States, where it topped the Pop chart for three weeks in March/April 1972. It stirred some controversy—stations in Kansas City and elsewhere banned the song for supposed drug references (“horse” being a street name for heroin at the time).

The song’s resemblance to Neil Young’s work stirred some grumbling as well. Coincidentally or not, it was “A Horse With No Name” that bumped Young’s “Heart Of Gold” out of the #1 slot on the U.S. Pop chart. “I know that virtually everyone, on first hearing, assumed it was Neil,” Bunnell says. “I never fully shied away from the fact that I was inspired by him. I think it’s in the structure of the song as much as in the town of my voice. It did hurt a little, because we got some pretty bad backlash. I’ve always attributed it more to people protecting their own heroes more than attacking me.”

Judi's avatar

Wow. I was 11 when It came out and I never even had a clue, but I did memorize it!

monkeybutt's avatar

Admittedly, I am an avid fan of these guys-I could hear the desert southwest in their music and Kudos to anyone who could hear the east coast.
I think of the song “Tin Man” and relate it to California. Maybe it is because I grew up here and developed my own preconceived notions, or is it from me becoming jaded as I grew older. I liken this song to the facades that people put up, and the elusiveness people search for. To put it this way, imagine you are with a person who is searching still—for that special someone (not you/ouch)-that rare beauty they have seen in dreams or a magazine-or whatever-you just do not feel, despite all you have to give, you are not what they are looking for. What are thy looking for that is not already in front of them? When we find out it is not real then what? what do you do when the image you fell in love with is completely different from the actual person? and why must a person wish for someone else when the love they have been searching for was there all along?

Sometimes late when things are real
And people share the gift of gab between themselves
Some are quick to take the bait
And catch the perfect prize that waits among the shelves

But Oz never did give nothing to the Tin Man
That he didn’t, didn’t already have
And Cause never was the reason for the evening
Or the tropic of Sir Galahad.

So please believe in me
When I say I’m spinning round, round, round, round
Smoke glass stain bright color
Image going down, down, down, down
Soapsuds green like bubbles

Oh, Oz never did give nothing to the Tin Man
That he didn’t, didn’t already have
And Cause never was the reason for the evening
Or the tropic of Sir Galahad

So please believe in me
When I say I’m spinning round, round, round, round
Smoke glass stain bright color
Image going down, down, down, down
Soapsuds green like bubbles

No, Oz never did give nothing to the Tin Man
That he didn’t, didn’t already have
And Cause never was the reason for the evening
Or the tropic of Sir Galahad

So please believe in me

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