Great Songs: "The Skin of my Yellow Country Teeth" by Clap Your Hands Say Yeah

Listen to it at the band’s MySpace page. I can be hung over and full of chocolate, you put me on a treadmill and play this song and by the time the first chorus kicks in I will be actively engaged in trying to make my heart explode, it’s that rockin. A song about the neverending incremental change of life, the fact that a single continuous “I” that persists through time is really nothing more than a useful working model of what consciousness is. There’s the boy with the shotgun shooting down honeybees that sting, but the boy could use a little sting, which is a perfect metaphor for resisting painful positive change, which seems to belong to the earlier, West Virginia part of the protagonist’s life. Immediately after he’s asking to go to a party, talking to someone who ‘looks a bit like coffee’. I take this to mean that in New York the country boy has been exposed to people he never would have met back home.
All crappy analysis aside, this is a perfect song. All the more shocking is that a band which nearly always sounds like a cross between Pablo Honey-era Radiohead, The Violent Femmes and Rufus Wainright sould some up with something so perfectly perfect.

Once – The dogs have quit their barking
“Son,” – my neighbor said to me.”
Know the emptiness of talking blue
the same old shoe.
“Run – I’ll do no more this walking
Haunted by a past I just can’t see
Anymore
Anymore
But let me tell you I have never planned
To let go of the hand that has been
Clinging by its thick country skin
To my yellow country teeth
Far – Far away from West Virginia
I – Will try on New York City
Explaining that the sky holds the
Wind the sun rushes in and a child
With a shotgun can shoot down
Honeybees that sting
BUT THIS BOY COULD USE A LITTLE STING!
Who – Will get me to a party?
Who – Do I have yet to meet?
You – You look a bit like coffee
And you taste a bit like me
How – Can I keep me from moving?
Now – I need a change of scenery
Just listen to me I won’t pretend to
Understand the movement of the wind
Or the waves out in the ocean or how
Like the hours I change softly slowly
Plainly blindly oh me oh my!
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~ by Joe on May 12, 2007.

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