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The Loop

Published: 2010/07/21
by Ryan Burke

Word Class: The Lyrics of Brian Fallon (Gaslight Anthem)

Site editor’s note: Here is an essay on the top 5 lyrics of Gaslight Anthem’s Brian Fallon. Please feel free to send us an essay on your favorite lyricist- Send to jambands@jambands.com

Fallon at Bonnaroo 2010 – photo by Kevin Yatarola

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One could spend days on end dissecting the lyrics of Brian Fallon (of Jersey’s Gaslight Anthem). From his youthful angst to his gut wrenching honesty, he has mastered the art of storytelling, conjuring up memories of the likes of Dylan, Springsteen, and Waits. For starters, here are 5 of my personal favorites. For good measure I’ve included all the lyrics to each of the songs, they were just too good to leave out.

1. “Great Expectations” ( Great Expectations of course is a book by Charles Dickens and Estella is a character in the book)

Mary, this station is playing every sad song.
I remember like we were alive.
I heard and sung them all from inside of these walls.
In a prison cell, where we spent those nights.
And they burnt up the diner where I always used to find her.
Licking young boys blood from her claws.
And I learned about the blues from this kitten I knew.
Her hair was raven and her heart was like a tomb.
My heart’s like a wound.

I saw tail lights last night in a dream about my first wife.
Everybody leaves and I’d expect as much from you.
I saw tail lights last night in a dream about my old life.
Everybody leaves, so why, why wouldn’t you?

Mary, I worried and stalled every night of my life.
Better safe than making the party.
And I never had a good time, I sat my bedside, with papers and poetry about Estella.
With great expectations, we had the greatest expectations.

I saw tail lights last night in a dream about my first wife.
Everybody leaves and I’d expect as much from you.
I saw tail lights last night in a dream about my old life.
Everybody leaves, so why, why wouldn’t you?

It’s funny how the night moves.
Humming a song from 1962.
We were always waiting…always waiting.
We were always waiting for something to happen.

I saw tail lights last night in a dream about my first wife.
Everybody leaves and I’d expect as much from you.
I saw tail lights last night in a dream about my old life
Everybody leaves, so why, why wouldn’t you?

__________________

The Bob Seger/Night Moves reference is classic Fallon. “We were always waiting for something to happen” is a theme Fallon simgs about frequently, perhaps a nod to Bruce’s “Badlands”. “I saw tail light last night in a dream about my first wife…” is such perfect imagery/symbolism, I can’t believe Dylan didn’t use it first.

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2. “Here’s Looking at You, Kid” (The classic line from Casablanca is perfect for this title)

You can tell Gayle, if she calls, that I’m famous now for all of these rock and roll songs.
And even if that’s a lie, she should’ve given me a try.
When were kids on the field of the first day of school.
I would’ve been her fool.
And I would’ve sang out her name in those old high school halls.
You tell that to Gayle, if she calls.

And you can tell Jane, if she writes, that I’m drunk off all these stars and all these crazy hollywood nights.
That’s total deceit, but she should’ve married me.
And tell her I spent every night of my youth on the floor, bleeding out from all these wounds.
I would’ve gotten her a ride out of that town she despised.
You tell that to Janey, if she writes.

But boys will be boys and girls have those eyes that will cut you to ribbons sometimes.
And all you can do is just wait by the moon and bleed if it’s what she says you oughta do.

You remind Anna, if she asks why, that a thief stole my heart while she was making up her mind.
I heard she lives in Brooklyn with the cool, goes crazy over that New York scene on 7th Avenue.
But I used to wait at the diner, a million nights without her, praying she won’t cancel again tonight.
And the waiter served my coffee with a consolation sigh.
You remind Anna, if she asks why, tell her it’s alright.

You know it’s hard to tell you this.
Oh it’s hard to tell you this.
Here’s looking at you, Kid.

__________________

I think everyone that’s ever made it big, probably wants to tell all the girls that passed on them, that they missed the boat. I doubt anyone could put it quite like this tho, “You can tell Gayle, if she calls, that I’m famous now for all of these rock and roll songs.

And even if that’s a lie, she should’ve given me a try” Fallon is saying a final goodbye (and perhaps a FU) to the girls in his past, but very tongue in cheek, “And even if that’s a lie”, and “That’s total deceit” show Fallon doesn’t quite take himself that seriously. Also in the last verse the roll is flipped on him, and it’s his ex, Anna, not him, who “lives in Brooklyn with the cool” We all lie, boys with boys.

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