Registry of Lyrical Offenders: Frightened Rabbit – “My Backwards Walk”

Previously we spotlighted some dance-floor romance by the sour Scotsmen from Frightened Rabbit. The Midnight Organ Fight is still playing on repeat, but it has since come to our attention that singer Scott Hutchison has a strike on his rap sheet.

“My Backwards Walk” begins with a modest scene-setting of regret:

I’m working on my backwards walk
Walking with no shoes or socks
And the time rewinds to the end of May
I wish we’d never met then met today

So far, so good. Hutchison pens some admirable post-breakup verses, lamenting memories that won’t fade and warbling plaintively through “drinking to forget” lines. He just wants closure, or, to quote Charlie Nicholson (Catherine Zeta-Jones) in High Fidelity, he’s going through “one of those what-does-it-all-mean stages.”

I’m working hard on walking out
Shoes keep sticking to the ground
My clothes won’t let me close the door
These trousers seem to love your floor

Clothes/close is an underused rhyme, but the magnetic attraction between pants and floor is truly a new spin on the breakup-sex trope. Unlike the more typical variety (“you’re no good for me but I’ll stay”), Hutchison clearly gets only misery from his prolonged exit. Rather than describe the passion and mixed emotions keeping him around, all he can think about is his pants, crumpled in a heap. You get the feeling they’re still around his ankles, while he just stares down at them, choked in shame.

We’re almost in the clear — get in, get out; sad song, nice wordplay — when Hutchison tries to kick it up to another level of epicness.

You’re the shit and I’m knee-deep in it

Oops. Imagining an ex-lover as a pile of feces (at least two feet high, by our calculations) is awkward enough, but Hutchison slips up seriously with “you’re the shit.” It’s unclear whether he meant this, but in grade school, being “the shit” was like being “the bomb” or “all that.” Occasionally, with a bag of chips. That saying may not exist in Scotland — this is the part of the world where fries are “chips” and chips are “crisps,” and soccer is “football” and Bruce Springsteen is “U2.” But next time, dude, run your lyrics by an American buddy or something. Or just stop watching Saved by the Bell reruns.

MP3: Frightened Rabbit – “My Backwards Walk”

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5 responses to “Registry of Lyrical Offenders: Frightened Rabbit – “My Backwards Walk”

  1. I don’t know, I have to disagree with you here. I think that line is a perfect encapsulation of the character’s dilemma; by juxtaposing these two incompatible uses of the word “shit”, Hutchison gives us a paradox to illustrate the difficulty of leaving.

    It’s the most perfect line on the album, in my opinion.

  2. You’re musical taste is obviously solid and you are pointing out what could be wrong with really good music…..I dare you to listen to any 2 James Blunt songs…..I dare you sir! :)

  3. My Eager Friend,

    Your logic is sound. We emphasize that we still enjoy Frightened Rabbit’s fermented musings; however, the disappointment over one “rotten apple” among Frightened Rabbit’s teeming peck can best be expressed by his most avid patrons.

    But in the name of clemency, we will give this Blunt fellow a go.

    If you would, please courier a song or two to wordsworthmedia@gmail.com, and our verdict will be posted here on Wordsworth by Fri’day eve. Let justice sing out!

    -Orr

  4. Pingback: a postcard from a tiny island: last month’s mix, august 2008; at [last year's girl]

  5. I think that I had the hardest time with that one line the first few times I heard the song. Everything else is beautifully poetic. The guy is trying his best to leave, and instead of walking forward, he keeps going in the wrong direction. Most of us have been there.

    The last line is more blunt than poetic, but it’s because he is finally giving up and telling it like it is. And it works because it gives us the same type of symbolism through different means.

    “You’re the shit and I’m knee-deep in it.”

    You are the very worst thing that could possibly be in my life, and I am stuck in the middle of it. You seriously can’t top that. Perfect.

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