Brand New: Me vs. Maradonna vs. Elvis Meaning
Me vs. Maradonna vs. Elvis Lyrics
We go slow when we first make our moves.
But five or six bring you out to the car.
Number nine with my head on the bar.
And it's sad, but true.
Out of cash and I.O.Us.
Desperate desires and...
Many of Brand New’s songs can be very hard to interpret, but I think this is actually one of the easier ones to figure out. It definitely circles around a young and somewhat immature couple and their date that ends in somewhat of a disaster. The first verse definitely indicates that they go to a bar together and have a good time. The boy in the relationship is very cunning, and sees the get-together as his chance for a one-night stand. He gets his girlfriend drunk, then takes her back outside (“About 5 or 6 bring you out to the car”). The differences between them start here: she truly loves him and wants a lasting relationship, while he just plays along to get in her pants a time or two, both of their feelings displayed in the lines “Desperate desires and unadmirable plans”. This guy is using the girl for sex, but she thinks he really loves her back, and so goes along in “A sober straight face gets you out of your clothes”. He feels a little guilty at this point for taking advantage of a clueless and unbelievably loyal girl (“If you let me have my way I swear I’ll tear you apart”), but he knows he can get away with it because of how much she likes him… “I will lie awake / Lie for fun and fake the way I hold you / And you’ll fall for every empty word I say”. And he does.
anonymous Dec 11th, 2006 12:05pm report
I’ve been meaning to actually write this out forever, but I finally couldn’t sleep and got around to it. So here it goes:
First, you have to look at the title, Me vs. Maradonna vs. Elvis. I think I talked about this a little when we were going to get your tattoo, but basically it has to do with perceptions and conflict. By using “vs.” as the conjunction instead of “and” or “or” or even not using one, the title has a sense of struggle, combat and conflict. The “Me” is self explanatory. Maradonna is a biblical reference, referring to Naomi’s return to Israel in the book of Ruth. When she returns, she tells her former friends “Do not call me Naomi (which means roughly “joyous one” I believe), but call me Mara, for I have turned bitter.” Mara donna, bitter lady. The speaker (Me) realizes who he is struggling against, this lonely person full of bitterness. Maradonna, on the other hand, does not perceive the speaker as he is, but as she wants him to be, an ideal, a charmer, an “Elvis.” She wants to be swept off her feet.
The use of numbers in the first verse is something I found particularly fascinating. Obviously, the setting is a bar (“number nine with my head on the bar”), so the obvious interpretation is drink counts, which seems to jive generally with the song. A far more interesting interpretation has to do with the symbolic use of numbers in the Bible. In Hebrew culture, certain numbers had certain significance (this is especially evident in John’s writing of Revelations). The number three, for examples, denoted importance. Anything that appears three times in Scripture is a culture underlining (for example, when Christ, upon his resurrection, asked Peter three times if he loved him). Seven was the number of completeness, in a way “God’s number.” Ten was a number of power, representing regal authority and might. These numbers become important when you notice exactly what numbers are used in the first verse. “one or two, we get used…” then “five or six, take you…” and “number nine with my head…” In every case, the writer stops just short of a number that holds symbolic significance, suggesting to me a certain hollowness in the experience. The girl he hooks up with feels like she is on the edge, perhaps, of being important and memorable, but never quite departs from being bland and indistinct. It is neither important, nor complete, nor powerful, but falls short of all of them. The “out of cash and I.O.U.s” at the end of the verse also suggests a sort of bankruptcy, which, if combined with the earlier lines, extends beyond mere monetary deficiency.
The second verse is the one I found the most confusing and difficult to interpret. The first two lines are cohesive, suggesting again the struggle and depravity of the encounter. The next two lines almost suggest a preliminary hookup outside the bar, after which they return, presumably to get transportation back to the apartment, though “A sober straight face gets you out of your clothes” seems misplaced (as if it should come later or be in a different tense). On the two lines after, I must admit I have no satisfying interpretation. Either the viewpoint switches to a third person observing the speaker and Maradonna or it is speaking in a “male against female” sort of terms. It also has an aura of understatement (“who they’ll kiss”) that seems odd, considering that kissing is the least of things that most people would fear others knowing if they find hookups in sleazy bars. The last three lines are a flash forward, which I’ll look at closer when they come up again at the end of the song.
The third verse is probably my favorite. “Your eyes are fighting sleep as your mouth makes your demands” seems to again speak to a theme of duality, of the uninterested, tired eyes conflicting with the demanding mouth. It also emphasizes the lack of sight, but the overabundance of talking. “You laugh at every word, trying hard to be cute, I almost feel sorry for what I’m going to do” reinforces the title’s foreshadowing of the character’s perceptions. The author recognizes what Maradonna really is, despite all her pretenses, and feels (almost) bad for the way he’s going to use her. “And your hair smells of smoke” is fairly self explanatory, adding a visual image and the idea of a very sensory expression of the “where she’s been” quality. “Who will cast the first stone?” is a biblical reference (one I hope you recognize) and one of Brand New’s best. If you don’t recognize it, it’s from the story of the adulteress brought to Jesus by the Pharisees, who demand of Jesus whether or not the law should be carried out and the women should be stoned. Jesus simply replies “He who is without sin, cast the first stone.” “You can sin or spend the night all alone” again reinforces the idea that what they’re doing is a wrong, yet also brings in the assertion that its better than the alternative.
“Brass buttons on your coat hold the cold in the shape of a heart that they cut out of stone” is a very lyrical line that has slightly shaded meaning. It plays off the imagery of being cold-hearted, stone-hearted, etc, and suggests an uncaring nature. “You're using all your looks that you've thrown from the start, If you let me have my way, I swear I'll tear you apart” reinforces the idea of a failed deception and implies a gray sort of victory for the speaker. “Cause it's all you can be” is a play of those old Army recruiting slogans, which is, at least, highly ironic. “You're a drunk and you're scared” is self explanatory. “It's ladies night, All the girls drink for free” is just a cool use of the English language and brings in various bar images and references.
I will lie awake.
Lie for fun and fake the way I hold you.
Let you fall for every empty word I say.
In these three lines, the speaker seems to sum up the three main ideas of the song: emptiness, deception and subtle conflict. “I will lie awake” is (I’m sure we’ve all experienced it) a reference to the inability to sleep while contemplating something you’ve done that you regret. “Lie for fun and fake the way I hold you” is the deception, the attempt to give meaning to someone else even though it clear there is not. “Let you fall for every empty word I say” again speaks to deception, but also implies an almost vicious leading on, words said intentionally to bring about a desired effect.
anonymous Sep 7th, 2006 9:06am report
It sounds to me like he's having a one night stand, and the girl he's with is someone he knows, who actually really likes him, and he knows he's just taking advantage of her to make himself feel better.
LyricalgeniusBN Feb 22nd, 2010 2:59pm report
First and foremost this song is not about rape. Jesse Lacey is a lyrical genius and he does not make songs that are easily interpreted. The title has three people in it that lead the song meaning to one and only point. Maradonna is an Argentinian soccer player that was famous for being one of the greatest soccer plalyers in the world, Elvis is known for being the king of rock and roll, and Jesse is a amazing song writter. Maradonna fell out of fame and fortune when he started to use drugs and took his fame for glory. Elvis was famous and he fell out due to drugs and and gambling. Jesse lacey is stating that he does not want to become one of the people who get famous doing the things he loves and then become nothing when his interest turns to other things. He loves music and loves writting it and he wants to keep it that way.
I agree with the majority of this guy's interpretation aside from the title. The song is Me vs. Maradona vs. Elvis. Not two N's. But more importantly I agree with plastic cup politics about this title pretaining to Diego Maradona. Thought to be the best Futbol player of the 20th century along side Pele. But I don't think it's referencing his "Hand of God" shot that everyone is talking about. I think it's referencing his substance abuse. Diego Maradona failed a drug test, after cocaine showed up and he was suspended/ expelled. What do we know about Elvis? Death by drugs. Sometimes you have to make sure you aren't interpreting things to deeply.
Elvis = Drug Overdose basically killed him
Diego Maradona = Drug usage basically ended his career
Narrator (Me) = Alcoholic/ drunk
What do we have in common = Substance abusers.
The author is comparing himself to other famous people that have ended there careers and failed do to drugs/alcohol
anonymous Oct 6th, 2009 10:32am report
Although brand new and jesse use a lot of biblical references, the title is not one. Jesse has started it is Maradona the footballer and elvis the singer, both at one time were top of ther professions but ended up wasting it. "I'm a big soccer fan and [Argentine striker Diego] Maradona is kind of like the Elvis of the soccer world," he explained. "He was a star and then he let the world get to him, and then he was this washed-up figure, but he had these shining moments when his old magic came out. And I can totally see myself, maybe 10 years down the road, ending up the same way, becoming this washed-up figure who used to be great and who isn't really anymore. I can't imagine anything more awful than that." http://www.vh1.com/artists/news/1475456/08052003/brand_new.jhtml
anonymous Mar 18th, 2009 3:30pm report
ok...maradona was a famous soccer player and elvis was a famous singer... both of them were at the top of their industries at one point and then lost it all to drugs...this song is jesses feelings of anger for selling out towards them...using the clever metaphor of taking advantage of a drunk girl... he is saying its just as easy to sell out and use drugs as to take advantage of a drunk girl, and how just as jesse would never take drugs, he wouldnt ever take advantage of a drunk girl
anonymous Jul 31st, 2008 7:22am report
I think Jesse Lacey is one of the best songwriters of our time.
The songs about taking advantage of a drunk girl because he's been fucked over so bad he needs to clear his conscious by doing the same to someone else. It's human motive and coping with reality.
Tlk2themaninchrj Aug 10th, 2007 8:50pm report
I think its a metaphor for something els. the song is said to be about him being afraid of wasting his life. Elvis and Maradonna both were very talented at what they did but they ruined there career by using drugs. Maradonna was a soccer player and elvis was a musician and they were both very gifted.
anonymous Feb 19th, 2007 2:48pm report
In an interview, Jesse said this song was referring to how "the industry" takes advantage of musicians.
Also, Maradonna was defeated by his own alcoholism... Thus the bar references. The genius of the song is how many interpretations it could have.
LawsonShort Jan 25th, 2007 1:14am report
This song is definitely about a guy using a girl, but also possibly the girl wants him to do this to her so she can make him hers. plasticcup_politics is definately correct when he analyzes the title... The title of the song is actually Me Vs. MARADONA Vs. Elvis, not Maradonna. Maradona was a famous Argentine footballer who cheated/lied, elvis could not play the guitar and therefore "lied" to millions, and "me" obviously represents the speaker lying to the girl. It's a battle of who is the greatest liar. brilliant song.
plasticcup_politics Dec 19th, 2006 12:02pm report
WOW! pretty in depth interpretation, oner I could never have made (I have like NO biblical knowledge). I liked it but I have another interpretation for the title.i agree that there is a a recurring theme of deception, the narrator is decivng the girl in the song.
The narrator vs. maradonna and Elvis is all about which one out of them is the better liar.
Maradonna was a footballer right? most known for the controversial "handball" incident in the world cup, making him a cheat and Elvis could not actually play the guitar, therefore decieving his fans and ME, The Narrator, is a liar and a cheat too. I think the narrator wonders who would win in a fight between the three of them.
i love this song! to the person who said it was about rape, I personally think that was far form correct but freedom of speech and everything,right?
anonymous Nov 13th, 2006 11:16am report
Well... Maradonna and elvis both used drugs and were at a point in their carreer where they were falling from their stardom.
This use of alcohol and replacing the "girl" as his subconcious this shows he's afraid of falling from success and becoming a user just as much as maradonna and elvis.
anonymous Sep 5th, 2006 9:46am report
well basically I don't think it has anything to do with a girl as such, I personally chose to take the "girl" as a metaphor for his subconscious and what he is doing to it.. Inner conflict kind of thing.
Lines such as "my tongue will taste of gin and malicious intent" although sound like a couple kissing, if you choose to take it form the inner conflict perspective mean that he is greatly aware of his attempt to harm his subsoncious or weaker self, and that he used alcohol to pacify himself to make it easier.
Or "out of cash and ious" suggest the reason he is so cruel and manipulative is becuase he's so spent.. So hollow and empty to the point where he'll wrestle with his own mind to gain some sort of victory... Momuntary gain.
It sounds vague, but it works for me :)
anonymous Apr 29th, 2006 4:07am report
This song is basically about a guy raping girl. She gets drunk and he has sex with her and he starts to feel bad because he knows what he's doing
(by 5 or 6 bring you out to the car)
(a sober straight face gets you out of your clothes)
(I almost feel sorry for what I'm going to do)
(you can sin or spend the night all alone)
It's also about someone who leads on a girl totally until the point where she doesn't even know who he is.
(I will lie awake. lie for fun and fake the way I hold you. let you fall for every empty word I say)
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