Interpretations:Brain Problem Situation

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On the regular TMBG themes of alientation from the body, body as other or spintered, aging, and booze.

Wake up, Put on my makeup
And pick the rake up, And rake my hair

The narrator is either female, or this can be metaphorical, in that the narrator is putting on a false face for the world. Also, it echoes a Beatles' song about chemically altered states, "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds." There was a pop song also from the 60's that began with wakeup and makeup, "I Say I Little Prayer For You." The singer is left at home while her husband goes out to work, and she misses him and thinks about him during the day. Another real possibility is that the writer simply liked the repetition of sounds - wakeup, makeup, rakeup.


But I'm starting to feel like I got a
Brain Problem Situation on my hands

The body in rebellion - this time, the brain is not behaving as it ought.


On my hands, I'm looking down, and I can't see what I've got
On my hands there's a Brain Problem Situation

Multiple meanings of "on my hands" - 1. "I am dealing with" or 2. substance literally on the hands that the narrator cannot see. This implies the classical idea of "blood on one's hands" being a symbol for guilty participation in some act. Lady MacBeth, in her sleepwalking, attempts over and over to wash the invisible blood from her hands, for instance. This may also suggest the narrator is literally a woman, or that she is a powerful woman like Lady MacBeth. 3. "On my hands and knees", looking down at the ground and can't see anything of themselves, plus may not be functioning correctly to be in that position.

So the narrator is dealing with a Brain Problem Situation, and the BPS may also be the work of his/her own hands, and he/she feels sullied by it.


Twenty nine inches of snow on the top of the situation on the brain

"Snow on the roof" is slang for being aged, referring to white hair on your head, so aging is another layer of problem in addition to "on the top of" the problem with the brain. Snow was also slang for cocaine in the 1980's, another brain-altering substance, a cause of a brain problem.


And the scraper I buried somewhere in the springtime will emerge

Double meaning. 1. The tool to remove the snow, the age that is making the problem worse, is buried in time itself, the agent of aging, in the springtime, i.e., in my youth. In my youth, a let the the tool I would need to remedy this get lost. It can also mean, if we take snow to be cocaine, the buried scraper is the skills I will need to stop using it. 2. I had buried the tool I need to help myself, but in springtime - some future renewal, the tool will be found again.


I think, maybe, but I don't know
But I'm starting to feel like I got a
Brain Problem Situation in the bag

Double meaning. 1. "In the bag" is slang for "easily obtained, and assuredly kept." and

In the bag, in the paper bag, is the source of the call
It was traced to the paper bag
Yes the call has been traced to the bag

2. Paper bags are used by drunks to drink from in public, and the thing in the bag, the source of the call (i.e., the urge to drink) is in the paper bag. (This also references the TMBG song Heavenly Bodies, "we traced the phone call, it's coming from the snail shell" in which a desperate paranoid voice begs for help over the phone.) or

3. Third possible meaning. To be "half in the bag" is slang for being drunk.


Stand up, And put our hand up, And with our eyes closed, We touch our nose
And the cop tells us, but we don't know, But we're starting to feel like we got a Brain Problem Situation on our hands

Drunkeness is confirmed. The narrator, now referring to herself in the plural, for all her parts - hands, head - is being led away to

the drunk tank, We're in the drunk tank, We're in the drunk tank, All by ourselves

What do you think? ~Christina Miller, July 12, 2007


I think this song is about two different people with different situations coming to a similar conclusion. I assigned Linnell's character was someone with some sort of mental disorder - OCD, maybe? I don't really have any reasoning for this, though, other than "rake my hair". Seems this person's had some problems in the past, though ("And the scraper I buried somewhere in the springtime will emerge"). The Flansburgh Army is almost certainly drunk, as evidenced by the 'drunk tank' and 'the cop tells us...' lyrics, but also by what Christina just said about the narrator referring to xemself in the plural. So yeah, it's not much, but it's all I've got. -User:j2



Linnell's character is a druggie (using a rake for his hair and makeup = crazyness due to drugs, paper bag = what the drugs come in when he buys them, snow on top of brain = drugs look like snow, scraper thawing in the spring = resolving to quit in the spring). Flans is an alcoholic (drunk tank, cop is mentioned, touch nose with eyes closed). Pretty simple. Mr. 77


This song is TMBG's answer to Chumbawamba's "Tubthumping" or Garth Brook's "Friends in Low Places", a drinking song that everyone in the bar is supposed to sing along with. The cop stopped him because he saw the paper bag in the narrator's hand. Perhaps the bag has some Thunderbird in it? --Nehushtan 12:54, 5 September 2007 (UTC)


The part about burying a scraper always makes me think of the Coen Brothers film, Fargo.


I see this song as being about someone (either gender) with obsessive habits, evidenced by: Wake up, Put on my makeup, And pick the rake up, And rake my hair They have a set list of things to do for the day; it's driving them crazy, and they know it.

Twenty nine inches of snow on the top of the Situation on the Brain, And the scraper I buried somewhere in the springtime will emerge

Maybe he/she had tried to get help at one time, but now feels like it's too much to even try and get help anymore.

It was traced to the paper bag

He/she turns to drugs or alcohol to deal with their growing problem.

Stand up, And put our hand up, And with our eyes closed, We touch our nose

This made me think that this is the point where a mental problem finally overtakes him/her (split personality disorder, maybe, evident by the way "I" has turned to "we"). Not only is this person arrested, but their insanity is completely evident now. --jane_strummer



Probably no deeper meaning in this song[edit | edit source]

I feel that the lyrics in this song are very literal. It's about someone getting a DUI. Hungover from the night before, he barely pulls himself together before hitting the town. He can't find the snow-scraper but drives anyway and gets pulled over with an open bottle inside a paper bag in the car, the paper bag which is then discovered by a police officer and thus leading him to the drunk tank. A lot of TMBG songs have a deeper meaning, but not this one.

Possibly Insane?[edit | edit source]

I think that this song is about someone who was just recently released from an insane asylum, and the phrase "Brain Problem Situation" was a term that his therapist taught him to describe any time when something was wrong with his brain. He gets in various brain problem situations over the course of the day, eventually ending up with a paper bag with liquor in it and getting a DUI. He tries to tell the officer that pulled him over that he's having a brain problem situation, but because he looks normal, the officer just puts it off as drunken rambling. Eventually, after sobering up in the drunk tank, he is returned to the asylum, because he wasn't as sane as they thought.

-Echo O_O (talk) 12:24, 11 June 2015 (EDT)