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Body Electric
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nick the stripper
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PostPost #1  Posted: Mon Feb 20, 2006 12:06 am    Post subject: Body Electric Reply with quote Back to top

The lyric ‘crawl to the corner where the idiot children call’ has always given me the image of a small group of kids - either Iggy Pop fans or actual idiots - huddled together in the corner of a nightclub calling someone over to have a look at something or to try something, as does the line “the faceless breathless call”.

It’s also pretty obvious that the song is set in a nightclub. A ‘babel’ is a place of noisy confusion, and ‘Acid on the floor…’ is referring to a dance floor.

I also read somewhere - I think on this message board - that Von use to frequent a place called ‘The Phono’ that was located underneath a shopping mall in Leeds, and that would explain the line ‘Through the cables and the “underground” now’.

The lines ‘acid on the floorshow so she walk on the ceiling’ and ‘the body electric flashes on the bathroom wall’ always gives me images of LSD and “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas”.

So in summary, I see this song as autobiographical of Von going to “The Phono”, getting acquainted with the ‘wrong crowd’ - hence the line ‘this place is death with walls' - and dropping acid… or speed, most likely speed.

But that’s just my take on it, I don’t know if it’s correct or not.
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aims
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PostPost #2  Posted: Mon Feb 20, 2006 12:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Back to top

I think the "bathroom walls" refers to a particular club. Someone more familiar with Leeds than myself can probably tell you which.
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Dark
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PostPost #3  Posted: Mon Feb 20, 2006 12:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Back to top

Phono. Got to be.

Anyone know what the chorus in the "Untitled demo" version is?

"And the people in the house see nothing, nothing at all"?
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PostPost #4  Posted: Mon Feb 20, 2006 11:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Back to top

It has to be the Phono. There used to be mirrors all over the walls, which I guess is the reference to the bathroom walls.

The "Acid on the floor..." line could refer to the fact that the carpet in there was so disgusting that your shoes would stick to it if you stood still for too long. I was totally freaked out once when I found a corner of the carpet that was clean, and rather than being black/dark grey like the rest of it, it was actually red with black spots...
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PostPost #5  Posted: Mon Feb 20, 2006 11:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Back to top

sisters mythology says that floorshow was about the phono, but to be honest body electric could have been about any of the dingy holes in leeds at the time, if its about a club at all. such as the warehouse... Confused

can anyone more familiar with walt whitman's writing, and with literary analysis, spot any references to his poem "i sing the body electric", other than in the song's title?

http://www.daypoems.net/poems/1903.html

1959 and all that doesnt really have much to add either Neutral
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PostPost #6  Posted: Tue Feb 21, 2006 1:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Back to top

isn't "i sing the body electric" also, the title of a ray bradbury sci-fi short story/novel?
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nick the stripper
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PostPost #7  Posted: Tue Feb 21, 2006 3:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Back to top

eastmidswhizzkid wrote:
isn't "i sing the body electric" also, the title of a ray bradbury sci-fi short story/novel?


yep
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Doctor E
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PostPost #8  Posted: Wed Feb 22, 2006 12:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Back to top

Quiff Boy wrote:
sisters mythology says that floorshow was about the phono, but to be honest body electric could have been about any of the dingy holes in leeds at the time, if its about a club at all. such as the warehouse... Confused

can anyone more familiar with walt whitman's writing, and with literary analysis, spot any references to his poem "i sing the body electric", other than in the song's title?

http://www.daypoems.net/poems/1903.html

1959 and all that doesnt really have much to add either Neutral


Here’s my stab at an explanation of the allusion to Whitman.

Following fearlessly in the footsteps of T. S. Eliot, Eldritch likes to make obscure allusions to literary classics. Eliot often borrows graceful or heroic phrases of a past text to describe a banal modern situation to create anti-climax, in order to expresses his vision of the Waste Land of modernity. Eldritch borrows this comparison and contrast technique in the “Body Electric.”

Walt Whitman’s “I Sing the Body Electric” from Leaves of Grass is a celebration of the human body and human contact. Knowing this sharpens the reader’s appreciation of the Sisters’ “Body Electric,” because in the song Eldritch “sings the urban alienation.”

Eldritch contrasts the underground nightclub, “death with walls,” with the natural setting of Whitman’s poem. Eldritch’s line “Too much contact, no more feeling” is an ironic allusion to Whitman’s celebration of joyful sensuality in “I Sing the Body Electric.” Whitman revels in the electric vibrancy of bodies. Eldritch sings of the nausea of being surrounded by drugged out bodies (“acid on the floor”) awash in noisy music (“The sound around them all”). Both works present a crowd of people, but no one in the nightclub feels the spontaneous joy of the people in Whitman’s poem.

The ending of the song, can be read in a number of ways, like the rest of the lyrics, of course. Here is one possibility. The modern “idiot children” only see a flash of the “body electric”--the fully alive human being--on the bathroom wall. The fleeting vision of Whitman’s natural vibrant body mocks the modern idiots. The vision is eerie, but it also holds out the possibility of an alternative to nightclubbing . . . we’re nightclubbing, we’re nightclubbing, we’re nighclubbing . . .

That's all for now.
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PostPost #9  Posted: Wed Feb 22, 2006 12:31 pm    Post subject: Re: Body Electric Reply with quote Back to top

nick the stripper wrote:
going to “The Phono”, getting acquainted with the ‘wrong crowd’

Yep, that happened to me in "Oktober" last year Twisted Evil

The song could be about the mental scars left with Our fearless leader! after a visit to the "Phono's" toilet, it was a very disturbing experience
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PostPost #10  Posted: Wed Feb 22, 2006 1:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Back to top

@ Doctor E: We are not worthy! Smile
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PostPost #11  Posted: Wed Feb 22, 2006 7:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Back to top

eastmidswhizzkid wrote:
isn't "i sing the body electric" also, the title of a ray bradbury sci-fi short story/novel?
and a Weather Report album

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PostPost #12  Posted: Thu Feb 23, 2006 12:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Back to top

Quiff Boy wrote:
@ Doctor E: We are not worthy! Smile


Kind thanks, Herr Administrator--and many thanks to you for bringing us Heartland! It's a lovely place.
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PostPost #13  Posted: Fri Feb 24, 2006 9:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Back to top

Thanks for the interesting takes on this one. i've but one question left.

i remember reading in an interview that the line 'acid on the floor so she walks on the ceiling' is some sort of grammatical distortion. i've been trying to put that phrase every which way i could, but haven't found the key on how it's distorted (not to mention why...) Anyone?
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PostPost #14  Posted: Fri Feb 24, 2006 10:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Back to top

I always heard that line as "Acid on the floor so she walk on the ceiling", not walks -- and the mixi.net lyrics page seems to agree with me. So that's not grammatically correct English. For what it's worth. I can't think for the life of me what that might mean though. Laughing
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itnAklipse
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PostPost #15  Posted: Fri Feb 24, 2006 11:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Back to top

Ahh, quite distortion if that's it Smile But yes, i've also always heard 'walk'
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PostPost #16  Posted: Fri Feb 24, 2006 12:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Back to top

“acid on the floor so she walk on the ceiling”

At first that line sounds odd, but when you think about it, it isn’t really.

The Phono is underneath a shopping centre - am I right? - so she is actually walking on the floor of the shopping centre, which is the ceiling of The Phono.

Acid can mean LSD; a corrosive substance; or a sharp, bitter, sarcastic quality in speech and writing.

Maybe there was a bitter argument on the floor so she went for a walk on the ceiling?

*shrug* I’m just grasping at straws here.
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PostPost #17  Posted: Mon Mar 27, 2006 6:38 pm    Post subject: The Body Electric Reply with quote Back to top

Don't forget his anti-American sentiments. Whitman is a renowned American poet who writes a tribute to the vibrant body - the American body. Eldritch takes this body and torments it in a subterranian hell.
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PostPost #18  Posted: Sat Aug 12, 2006 10:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Back to top

What's that lyric in the Portastudio Demo?

At first I thought it was "and the people in the houses of the holy say nothing at all" which lead me to introduce a lyric from Led Zeppelin's Houses Of The Holy into The Mumbles' version but now I hear "and the people in the house of their god say nothing at all"

Question
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PostPost #19  Posted: Sat Aug 12, 2006 11:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Back to top

I hear "and the people in the houses say they're nothing at all"

And whether it's deliberate or intentional, there's a good "skipping" part on "acid on the floor" in that demo.
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PostPost #20  Posted: Sat Aug 12, 2006 11:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Back to top

@ Nick&doc E: Your ideas sond very plausible.
Highly interesting to read!
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Lord Emsworth
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PostPost #21  Posted: Sat Oct 11, 2008 2:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Back to top

itnAklipse wrote:
Thanks for the interesting takes on this one. i've but one question left.

i remember reading in an interview that the line 'acid on the floor so she walks on the ceiling' is some sort of grammatical distortion. i've been trying to put that phrase every which way i could, but haven't found the key on how it's distorted (not to mention why...) Anyone?


markfiend wrote:
I always heard that line as "Acid on the floor so she walk on the ceiling", not walks -- and the mixi.net lyrics page seems to agree with me. So that's not grammatically correct English. For what it's worth. I can't think for the life of me what that might mean though. Laughing


I believe I found the solution to this 'cryptic' line. "So she walk" only sounds as if it were ( Wink ) incorrect, but in fact it is just a subjuctive.

The subjunctive is some sort of grammatical form and I have already provided an example in the previous sentence when I said it sounds as if it were incorrect. For a better explanation here is a page that describes if fairly well, even with excerpts from grammar books and plenty of examples.

Roughly, this line does not mean that because there is acid on the floor she has opted to walk on the ceiling instead. But rather, that the purpose of the acid on the floor is to make her walk on the ceiling. Whose intention it is to make her walk on the ceiling, is not entirely clear from that first clause, "Acid on the floor".

But I think it might just be herself. IOW, she takes a good dose of acid before going to the dancefloor with the intention of making it feel as if she were walking on the ceiling. Or ... "acid on the floor so she walk on the ceiling."

Or something like that anyway ...


Subjunctive in your lyrics so the listener be confused.
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PostPost #22  Posted: Sat Oct 11, 2008 2:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Back to top

Acid on the floor were she to walk on the ceiling?
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Lord Emsworth
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PostPost #23  Posted: Sat Oct 11, 2008 3:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Back to top

markfiend wrote:
Acid on the floor were she to walk on the ceiling?


You mean it would fall out of her pockets and rain down like confetti? Very Happy Interesting thought, but I think it would then say "[There would be] acid on the floor if she walked on the ceiling"

Nah, the causal chain is the other way 'round, I think. The walk on the ceiling as an intended result of the of the acid on the floor.

But then again I am not a native speaker ...
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PostPost #24  Posted: Sat Oct 11, 2008 4:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Back to top

English isn't your first language? I'm surprised and impressed.

Having said that, I was being largely facetious in my previous post. Wink

"Acid on the floor so she walk on the ceiling" can't, I think, as it is, be subjunctive unless it's a fragment of a larger, unspoken sentence.
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PostPost #25  Posted: Sat Oct 11, 2008 6:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Back to top

markfiend wrote:
English isn't your first language? I'm surprised and impressed.

Having said that, I was being largely facetious in my previous post. Wink

"Acid on the floor so she walk on the ceiling" can't, I think, as it is, be subjunctive unless it's a fragment of a larger, unspoken sentence.


[She takes] acid on the [dance]floor so [the acid can 'demand'] she walk on the ceiling.

Think of old-fashioned sounding constructions using "lest". So, for example:
"[She takes] no acid lest she walk on the ceiling"
would express roughly the opposite, but still use that ominous 3rd pers. sing. + "walk"

(And just to be clear, I think walking on the ceiling just means tripping.)

I guess it just sounds a little old-fashioned, odd and fancy, but is strictly speaking not incorrect. Just like it may seem a little odd to use allusions to Walt Whitman poems to make a point about an obscure club. (Or like Von - at that time - "getting acquainted with the ‘wrong crowd’"?)
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