Is it just me, or is this song basically just "Hovering Sombrero '07"? It has similar instrumentation, rhythm, and tempo, and the same lyrical themes: personification of inanimate objects and the decay of things over time.
This actually reminded me of Unrelated Thing. I kind of like the idea of the first part about being owned, and the second of being free, but I think they could have done something a bit better with that concept.
It sounds to me like the new version of No Answer. -Mudbuck
To me, it seems to be its own incredible entity. I tried writing out an interpretation, but I can't find the thread connecting each situation and can't penetrate through the strangeness of it... yet for some reason I'm positive that the song isn't void of meaning. Too thick. ~ magbatz
This is what I was thinking, and it might be a stretch.
A man made a recording of his himself talking to be played over and over to keep his dog company after he dies.
During the recording with the mircophone, he is still a live and owns the mic. But the mic is not a live and doesn't know this.
Later the tape is played for his dog after he has died. The dog hears his voice and hears his master's voice, and thinks he is still there and is still owned by the man even though he is free.
- Freaky-- this morning I came to just that conclusion and was going to change my little comment. Except, in my interpretation, the cassette machine is playing a string of commands or something like that, so he really does not have the opportunity to be free. I still think this ties into stanza 1 in some more profound way than just to lead to recording the dog's voice; there must be some reason that it makes him sick. Maybe it has something to do with the strange man-machine-animal ownershippy-hierarchy dealio that's present in the song. ~ magbatz 23:27, 16 July 2007 (UTC)
- If I had to guess, I'd say that talking to the microphone being like talking to a wall brick is, in a sense, precisely what makes it sickening. I don't know about you guys, but I've had times (and observed others doing the same) when I got frustrated with some sort of inanimate object and started taking my frustration out on the object verbally. It certainly couldn't care less what you say, technically it's doing precisely what it's supposed to.
- As for the string of commands, it may well just be the voice calling the dog to it (calling from beyond the grave). Just a thought.
- Anyway, when I listened to this I mostly picked up that in the case of the microphone it isn't loyal to any one person as such; it "wants" to be free, it doesn't understand the concept of ownership. The dog, on the other hand, is loyal as most dogs are, and although it has the opportunity of freedom it would prefer to stay with its master. After all, I've heard stories of dogs that simply stayed at their late masters' graves (not sure if any of those were true, but the sentiment remains regardless). ~JazzJesus
The recording could be a suicide note. The guy in the first verse seems to be in a distraught state of mind.
The second verse is a slightly modernized reenactment of Francis Barraud's "His Master's Voice", the painting that was the basis for the old Gramophone/RCA Victor mascot.
Yes, the famous painting is being referenced. See this link: His Master's Voice. Summarizing: the dog is really hearing his dead master's voice from the phonograph's trumpet. --Nehushtan 18:27, 1 November 2007 (UTC)
I think JL might be a little sick of making podcasts. -Apathedron
I think it may not be a literal recording this song is speaking of, but something that someone keeps hearing despite themselves. My theory is that the narrator is someone who was always oppressed or abused by another.
"A voice is speaking from beyond the grave, From in a cave, beyond the grave, The turning wheels of a cassette machine, Will reenact the buried fact"
The oppressor is long dead, yet the narrator keeps hearing their voice automatically, and the hurtful things they had said before.
"The dog who hears it cannot understand"
Not a literal dog, but the narrator himself, and the way he's always seen himself in relation to the oppressor: as a dog, owned by someone else, all of his moves dictated and chosen for him.
"His master's turned to sand, And he's free, He doesn't see he's free"
Even though the abuse has ended, he is still used to hearing it/suffering it. He still mentally checks himself, expecting to hear his oppressor's voice. It's almost as if he doesn't realize that he's free from that life. --Jane Strummer
a song about freedom / slavery, inspired by the painting "his master's voice".
The imagery in the second verse is so direct in referencing the painting "His Master's Voice" that the song has to be inspired by it. The painting is iconic: A dog listening to it's master's voice on a gramaphone. The painting was bought and it's imagery used by the HMV record label which also expanded to music retail outlets in the UK.
The aspect of the painting that made it useful as a record label logo is that it infers the recordings were so clear and realistic that even a dog would think he was listening to his master's commands. Linnell's song implies a tragedy that the dog is therefore enslaved to his master long after he is dead.
However there is a whole extra level of irony in the story by means of the first verse. The dog's master is the first person in the song, talking to his microphone. It appears that the man is insane - speaking to his inanimate microphone as if he expects it to respond. We don't actually learn from the lyrics what the man says to his microphone, but the lyrics "it's like talking to a wall of bricks / it makes me sick" and "it doesn't know it's owned" suggest that he is trying repeatedly to command the microphone to obey him as master. The dog, therefore, is not actually listening to commands intended for himself, but for the microphone. The line "he doesn't see he's free" refers to the fact that the dog's master is dead and no longer has to obey his commands, but with added irony that the recorded commands were actually just a madman trying to command a microphone to obey him.
I just have something to say about the microphone being owned and the dog being free. I agree with the interpretation that the master is leaving a recording of his voice to his dog after he is dead. The recording, assuming no one stops it, will just go on playing for as long as it can, it can't just make itself stop playing. It is owned by the master, it cannot defy it's will, but being a recording and having no mind, it does not know this. The dog, however, does have a mind. It can do what it wants to now that the master is dead, it is "free." But, because of the recording, it does not know that. The recording that is itself owned by the dead master is keeping the dog from realizing that it is free from the master. I think that the narrator himself is the master, and the line "it makes me sick," might mean that the narrator wishes that he didn't have to use the inanimate object as an intermediary, that he could directly command his dog forever, whether because he enjoys speaking to his dog or he enjoys controlling his dog.