What does Misery mean?

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Green Day: Misery Meaning

Misery Lyrics

Virginia was a lot lizard from FLA
She had a compound fracture in the trunk
It started when she ran away
Thumbs out on the interstate
She hitched a ride to misery

Mr. Whirly had a catastrophic incident
He fell into the city by the bay

  1. PunkBenRN
    click a star to vote
    Apr 8th 2020 report

    There's a lot of terrible interpretations and misunderstandings of this song online. I'll break it down by line, and then at the end give an overview of the whole song.

    ** Virginia was a lot lizard from Fla

    A "lot lizard" is a prostitute that solicits at truck stops. "FlA" is a reference to Florida.

    ** She has a compound fracture in the trunk.

    A compound fracture is a bone that isn't cleanly broken, whether it broke skin or in multiple pieces - basically, a fracture that doesn't heal easily. In the literal sense, he's saying she has a broken pelvis, or broken back. I think people are misinterpreting this; I think he is saying she has 'skeletons in her closet, a phrase that means she has dark secrets (fracture = skeleton, trunk of a car = closet). It's a little sloppy but fits with the following lines, and is more a foreshadowing of her drug habit.

    ** started when she ran away

    As in ran away from home, as a teenager, prostituting herself for money/drugs

    ** thumbs out on the interstate


    ** she hitched a ride to misery

    Running away from home would lead to a downward spiral of despair

    ** Mr Whirly has a catastrophic incident

    I don't know for sure, but I think Mr Whirly is an allusion to the Replacements song. The catastrophic incident would typically describe an accident that's life changing or fatal - the incident is developing a drug addiction

    ** he fell into a city by the bay

    Specifically, San Francisco. The word 'fell' signifies that it wasn't intentional (as we soon find he's homeless)

    ** liquidated his estate

    Sold all of his possessions

    ** now he sleeps up on the Haight

    Referring to Haight-Ashbury, a neighborhood in San Francisco that was particularly big during the counterculture revolution in the 60s. Since he 'fell' and he sleeps 'on' and not 'in, we can infer he is homeless there

    ** panhandling misery

    Begging for money to feed his addiction

    ** chorus

    He gets high because he feels miserable, but he's miserable because he's addicted. He's past the point of no return, and although he yearns to find happiness that he once had, he knows its futile to try. Instead of nostalgia, his memories only serve to remind him how much his life sucks in the present. When people close to him are hurting, watching him crash and burn, they want to understand why it's happening and why it can't stop. But there isn't an answer, and it's nonsensical, but its the way it is.

    ** Vinny was a hustler of New Amsterdam

    New Amsterdam is what New York City was originally known as. 'Hustler' could refer to a million things, but in this narrative he was likely selling drugs

    ** he ran a drug cartel in Tinseltown

    He moved to LA and started selling drugs. Tinseltown refers to Hollywood. 'Cartel' is a bit hyperbolic, as its implied he's working solo...

    ** they found him in a Cadillac, bludgeoned by a baseball bat

    Not really the death of a gang leader. Absolutely reasonable for low level dealer that crossed someone the wrong way

    ** in the name of misery

    If you haven't caught on yet, misery means heroin. He was likely a heroin dealer in New York, moved to LA and kept selling but was impeding in someone else's turf, and was beaten to death. Well thats what it would be, unless...

    ** Gina hit the road to New York City

    Hey, isn't that where Vinny is from?

    ** Mysteriously the night Vinny croaked

    Hmm, maybe they're related?

    ** She stopped in Vegas to elope, with Virginia and the dope, and kissed the bride eternally

    Eloping is running away to get married, and Vegas is a popular spot for impulsive elopement. This verse reintroduced our protagonist, and we know she is addicted to drugs, so this pulls everything together. The vague 'compound fracture in the trunk' may have actually been foreshadowing this incident. We know Gina and Virginia are lovers, considering they are running off to elope. Gina left the night Vinny died, they had a sum of drugs with them and were on the run. So what likely happened: Vinny may have been a pimp of Virginia, and may have also sold drugs ('hustler' alluding to that he has multiple illegal ways of making money), Virgina wanted to get out of prostitution and it wasn't as easy as saying I quit. Her and Gina formed a plan to run away - they would kill her pimp. Because he was killed with a bat inside his own car, it was likely someone he trusted, or at the very least didn't see as a threat. He was sneak attacked with a bat, Gina and Virginia stole his money, drug supply, and car - the 'compound fracture in the trunk' is his shattered body in the trunk of the car. They drove off into the sunset, high on love. And heroin.

    ** Hell hounds on your trail now once again, boy. It's groping on your leg until it sleeps

    Billie Joe closes the chapter and goes into a more generalized narrative. Hell hounds are mythical beasts, essentially the service animals of Satan. If we understand heroin addiction as an entity leased out by Satan, where you would contract with Satan for the euphoria heroin brings, he sends in the hell hounds to enforce the contract - the hell hounds represents withdrawals, where when you stop you are hit with physical torment until you use again, when "it sleeps" until the high wears off again.

    ** the emptiness will fill your soul with sorrow

    The cyclical nature of addiction completely sucks the life out of you. It comes to a point where there is nothing left, your only focus is getting high and figuring out where your next high is coming from. You don't have time or energy for anything else, so you lose everything that made you who you are- your hobbies, friends, dreams, aspirations... all gone. Its all drugs, all the time, and that's one of the darkest existential depressions one can slip into.

    ** its not what you make, it's what you leave

    Life is no longer about creating, making memories, producing tangible artifacts, building families, etc. Instead, its leaving withdrawals, and leaving the depressing reality that you've trapped yourself into. Because when you're high, you can briefly avoid misery. Life isn't making happiness, it's leaving misery.

    The whole song is about heroin addiction. It tries to demonstrate a gritty vignette of the throes of heroin through interrelated stories that tie into each other. I think Mr Whirley is just to paint the scene and build context. Its also possible that Gina and Virginia are the same person - Gina is a nickname for Virginia, and the elopement could just mean she was 'Eloping' with the heroin, in the sense that she was committing the rest of her life to it. Its emphasizing how it really destroys your entire life, and even trying to escape you will always be followed. Like the movie Requiem for a Dream, it's trying to show the misery of heroin addiction from the point of view of the addicted, but not first person; its trying to objectively describe it, because within addiction you can't always appreciate how destitute you really are.

    It's a beautiful song, and it bothered me no meaning had done it justice.

  2. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Aug 19th 2019 report

    I don't know what the song is actually about but 1st of all: I checked out this song earlier today, 2nd of all: the melody of the song, the song title itself, and even the lyrics of the song, actually reminds me a lot of my personal favorite character: "Misery" from one of my favorite cartoons Ruby Gloom. since Misery knows about history related things that unsuccessfully turned out really wrong years ago and I think I'm guessing the lyrics of the song mentions several historical events, does it? so the melody, the lyrics, even the song title fits the Ruby Gloom character "Misery" herself, it fits her really well don't you think? :)

  3. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Mar 20th 2012 report

    ~Virginia was a lot lizard from FLA
    She had a compound fracture in the trunk
    It started when she ran away
    Thumbs out on the interstate
    She hitched a ride to misery~

    Virginia was a hooker/street walker in a certain town, but then she got beat up or something. Thus she ran away and hitched a ride to somewhere else, which turned out to be worst then the place she had came from.

    ~Mr. Whirly had a catastrophic incident
    He fell into the city by the bay
    He liquidated his estate
    Now he sleeps upon the haight
    Pan handling misery~

    "Mr. Whirly" cheated the mob, or some kind of crime ring, so he got killed because he cheated them, thus he is dead the whole misery plot over again.

    ~And he's gonna get high-igh-igh
    When he's low low low
    The fire burns from better days
    And she screams, "Why, oh why?"
    I said, "I don't know"
    The catastrophic hymns from yesterday
    Of misery~

    He thought that a high would make him feel better, but now he's just a brunt out. His lover or someone who cares about him wants to know why he has done this, and he has no clue why.

    ~Well Vinnie was a hustler out of Amsterdam
    He ran the drug cartel in Tinseltown
    They found him in a Cadillac
    Bludgeoned with a baseball bat
    In the name of misery~

    He was killed.

    ~Regina hit the road to New York City
    Mysteriously the night Vinnie croaked
    She stopped in Vegas to elope
    With Virginia and the dope
    And kissed the bride eternally~

    They left, after they killed a man, and they stopped to elope, and sadly they both died from a OD, seeing as how it says 'kissed the bride eternally.'

    ~Hell hounds on your trail now once again boy
    It's groping on your leg until it sleeps
    The emptiness will fill your soul with sorrow
    Cause it's not what you make it's what you leave~

    You're past will always be there, and until you can expect it you'll never get pass it. You'll always regret the big mistakes in you'r life. The last line, just says, that no matter what you have made out of your life, it's how you lived it that truly matters.

    (This is just how I think of what this song means.)

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