Interpretations:Let Your Hair Hang Down
Advice giving[edit | edit source]
I love TMBG and this song is very pretty but the "life coaching" tone of the lyrics kind of annoys me. I mean, why are there so many songs in which male singer/composers dispense life advice (as if they know better) to (presumably) a female person (the 'advice target' for want of a better term), while there are so few songs in which a female singer dispenses "I know better about your life & what you should do & how you should be" type advice to a male advice target? (WHY??!!!)
Or maybe there are plenty such songs & I'm just not thinking of them. I would really love to hear of any if anyone knows of any. --Tyranny Sue 09:17, 20 August 2011 (EDT)
Comment: Why do you presume the You in the song is female?
Reply to Comment: Perhaps the lyrics "When your hair's so long"
Paralyzed by Indecision[edit | edit source]
A song about someone who is unable to move forward because they are worried about all the possible bad things that might happen - "Without a written guarantee of perfect sailing, can you crawl from under the porch without a helmet?". The part that is a little ambiguous to me is whether the singer is trying to jolt that person into motion, or whether the singer is also mired in indecision. I thought the latter, until I read Tyranny Sue's interpretation of the song as an exhortation to action. I think that far from being a simple "life coach" message, there is actually a lot of ambiguity and ambivalence in this song.
I think lines like "why do we resemble concrete?" suggest that the singer himself feels unable to move. To me, it feels like he is talking about the issue (perhaps wishing they could move) but in the end is stuck. The song itself is an expression of the singer's indecision and inertia.
The chorus makes me think the singer is accepting the fact that they are going to stay put. Letting your hair hang down is something you do when you are relaxing in place, not when you are being active. "Let the wrong be wrong, would it be so bad?" The singer knows they should be trying to make changes, but at the same time feels that it's not so bad to seek the comfort of where they are now. But "before we can get all the facts, we may be going to have to act" suggests that the singer realizes that the choice may be made for them, regardless of their wishes.
Musically, I hear a connection to The Police, with the chorused guitar, and especially the backing vocals and instrumentation on the "who overturned the party cart" line. This is actually one of my favorite songs on the album, which seems to be an unusual opinion. - Jesse, 8/25/2011
Just relax![edit | edit source]
I agree with Jesse; this song is about just chilling out and relaxing, relinquishing control and taking life as it comes.
It also happens to be my absolute favorite song of the album. The first time I heard it, I just about teared up, thinking "This is the one!" by which I mean that perfect song that you have dreams about hearing, and when you wake up you're sad to find it was just a dream. --Salt-Man Z 22:54, 29 August 2011 (EDT)
So True, I love the song and I really don't see it as preaching. It is the one. It's a message I think to people whio much control everything be they people or the government. Ferret 06:30, 21 October 2011 (EDT)
not getting any younger so live a little[edit | edit source]
I love this song.
Clearly it's all about reaching an age where you just have to live and let live. Stop waiting for perfection and go out and try stuff. Even if it doesn't work out it's better to try than to do nothing at all. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 22.214.171.124 (talk • contribs) 21:37, 10 November 2011 (UTC)
Possibly a coincidence...[edit | edit source]
This may just be a coincidence, and I'm not quite sure how this could tie in with the lyrics, but the chords to this song spell out 'dead', this may be referring to the narrator of the song feeling as if he is dead because he 'resembles 'concrete'. Just a thought anyway!
Gender Identity[edit | edit source]
A song about being yourself, but my personal interpretation leads me to imagine that it's about a transsexual individual (most likely male to female, hence the hair motif).
The line that sticks out to me is, Do we have to drag the drag around, is that the plan? This woman is spending her whole life "in drag" as a man - when she could just let her hair hang down...
From there, the rest of the lyrics fit - for this individual, being themselves is going to be met with prejudice and even hate.
Now to read the other interpretations... it's unusual for me to come to an interpretation for a TMBG song on my own without hearing others' thoughts first! --Alecat
Call To Passion[edit | edit source]
As people age, their zest for life often fades as they compromise more and more with broader cultural forces, get tired, and succumb to fear. This fear is what the song is addressing. The singer does not believe people ought to become like concrete; to become a part of the unattractive, cold, solid and cracking, environment we've constructed for ourselves. Your hair is your identity. The singer supposes many are hiding their hair in fear. The singer supposes the fear is unnecessary.
Seeking Truth[edit | edit source]
The line "Before we can get all the facts, we may be going to have to act." draws this idea together. We cannot commit ourselves to one guaranteed truth, because new information should change our perspective. "Why do we resemble concrete?" emphasizes people adopting a dogmatic approach, rather than being open minded and flexible. The lines that follow portray unpleasant events. "Let the wrong be wrong, would that be so bad" draws back to accepting that something is wrong, and moving on from it. And arguably the long hair, while it could be specifically referring to a woman, could also be drawing parallel to the image of a hippie, which is an idea of a relaxed and open minded person.
I disagree with Alecat's approach to the drag line, because I read the verb drag as motion and the noun drag as the slang for an annoying or uninteresting person, which I feel fits TMBG's typical language. The line asks why we need to make them do anything different when they're fine just how they are. Its followed with "Can't we leave the barking dogs and join the caravan?" which goes back to a nagging force insisting an action be taken, when there is a desire to do something different, away from said force.
"Without the chance of perfect sailing" just brings it home that there is no promise that we'll be right, and the mentioned helmet is a means of protecting ourselves from being wrong. We have to accept that the pursuit of truth come with challenges over time, and that our current knowledge may be wrong. - Matthew N, ~11am (CNT) 7 Feb 2015
Letting the "wrong" be "wrong"[edit | edit source]
Okay, here is my take (not that you are all "wrong" or anything :P ) ... I'm a skeptic. Not a cynic, a skeptic. I try to not accept things as true in the absence of good reasoning. Unfortunately I can get frustrated by people who are credulous. I feel like this song could be directed right at me (male), it crushes me and reminds me to lighten up. It brings to mind a wonderful quote from a wonderful book by Carl Sagan:
"In the way that skepticism is sometimes applied to issues of public concern, there is a tendency to belittle, to condescend, to ignore the fact that, deluded or not, supporters of superstition and pseudoscience are human beings with real feelings, who, like the skeptics, are trying to figure out how the world works and what our role in it might be. Their motives are in many cases consonant with science. If their culture has not given them all the tools they need to pursue this great quest, let us temper our criticism with kindness. None of us comes fully equipped.”
I am so grateful for this song. Thank you, They Might Be Giants - David Draper, 2015.12.15