Interpretations:Brontosaurus

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Big Trans[edit]

This song has huge trans energy. Very much seems like the story of someone coming into their identity/doing what they want, who describes the initial sense of hope and euphoria caused by taking the risk and finding their place in the world ("wearing an expression of optimism"). The narrator then later grapples with the longer "tale/tail" of the cruelty/disinterest of society toward people of their identity and the professional and mental health struggles associated with that (particularly depression and imposter syndrome). Beyond this, there are other indicators that the "Brontosaurus" in question is a trans allegory; the opening line implies a long life lived prior to when they "broke [their] eggshell" (with the phrase "broke my egg" being common slang in the queer community referring to someone coming out as trans) marked by patterns of body dysmorphia and/or dysphoria and feelings of hopelessness which are consistent with the experiences of many people pre-transition. Frankievallium (talk) 15:15, 13 November 2021 (EST)


Oh thank god someone else had the same thought, I was worried I was reading too much into it ..... 67.183.64.22 16:37, 13 March 2022 (EDT)

Birth defect[edit]

I think it's about someone with a birth defect. Growing up, the defect was the center of the narrator's identity, and he used it as a way to get attention ("Life was devoid of purpose / And so I joined the circus" ... "You crave some attention"). However, this caused him to feel empty and lifeless, and he became depressed ("People found it easy to ignore this" ... "And for this transgression you'll be repaid when / You fall and you fail and sink into depression"). He had to discover his own personality and identity for the first time, but doing so made him feel reinvigorated and optimistic for the future ("I went and stuck my neck out / Wearing an expression of optimism"). However, soon after this, he dies, possibly due to the defect ("Optimism and bad vision" ... "Do you think this tale has gone on for too long?" ... "You can join the chorus"). If that's too depressing, then maybe there was a time-skip, or maybe "join the chorus" is more literal and he starts playing music, though "Optimism and bad vision" implies that both of those ideas are incorrect. On the other hand, I don't know what "can't cut it as an artist" would mean if he died, so maybe he didn't die. Or maybe it's about an actual dinosaur. Who knows? --DoubleDenial (talk) 17:54, 13 November 2021 (EST)

Misread Lyrics[edit]

I always thought the whole "skinny at first then thick then back to being skinny" meant he was small then big then small again, which I interpreted as being born, which fit with the eggshell, then being a giant dinosaur, and then becoming a fossil, but then I realized it meant dinosaurs have long necks and tails and a thick torso, so... --⇂⇂↋ suᴉɥsuǝZ ʎɯɯᴉᒋ (talk) 07:46, 16 November 2021 (EST)

A failed artist[edit]

A artist who made a bold art, referred to as ‘the circus’, that just didn’t catch on. He initially did well but despite making emotional pieces and taking chances he ended up failing as a a artist. It’s also implied the singer is having trouble with taking criticism.

Their is the the chance it’s somewhat autobiographical, with TMBG being popular in the early 90s but overtime pop culture in general moved away from there ‘weird rock’ and the singer is obviously older like the John’s are at the time of writing.Although it’s likely just the snippet of self doubt and saddens that’s not 100% true like we can see in ‘Applause’ —Preceding unsigned comment added by 165.225.57.50 (talk) 09:31, November 18, 2021

Aging Rockers[edit]

I’ve listened to this song about 96,000 times these past few weeks and have tossed around many ideas of what it could be about, and have come to the conclusion about their own identities as aging rock stars. Warning- written on mobile so it’s probably formatted like doodoo.

It had been going so well
And then I broke my eggshell
And entered the world as a brontosaurus

They were living great lives, until they were birthed as “dinosaurs”, a term often used to describe old people, and “dinosaur acts” for music.

Here's my entire autobiography: I was
Skinny at first, then I got thick, and then back to
Being skinny again

Fat being a term for successful, and skinny as “starving”. They started as starving artists, had success, and now are back to starving artists.

Life was devoid of purpose
And so I joined the circus
Somehow they found it easy to ignore us
People found it easy to ignore this
Brontosaurus

As artists, people are often trying to express themselves, sometimes finding life meaningless. People ignored them and their art.

You want to leave an impression 
You want to express an emotion 
You crave some attention
And for this transgression you'll be repaid when
You fall and you fail and sink into depression

Artists want to express themselves, leave a history behind, and for that, they often fail and the repercussions for failing are often worse than not even trying. They’re punished for their efforts.

It was as dark as get-out

Get Out was a horror film about aging white people taking over the bodies of young black men in order to stay physically youthful. They’re saying their attempts at staying youthful and relevant was as dark as this movie and premise.

I went and stuck my neck out
Wearing an expression of optimism
Optimism and bad vision

Of course every artist is optimistic about their careers and reception. They stuck their neck out (brontosaurus have long necks!… and an expression for taking a risk) and we’re optimistic about the results. But, they were wrong.

Do you think this tale has gone on for too long?
Join the chorus, you can 
Join the chorus
Can't cut it as an artist
Maybe I'm too sensitive
Who would have believed skin could be so porous?
Brontosaurus skin can be so porous

Porous skin being the opposite of thick skin. Taking criticism to heart and not being able to handle public opinion.

So… is this about the Johns? Probably not completely. But I’m sure their are many threads that parallel their own careers and feelings regarding where they should be in their lives. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 73.15.78.116 (talk) 19:09, November 20, 2021

I didn't think of "as get-out" as a reference to the Jordan Peele movie (though it could be that too). I just read it as a shortening of the phrase "as all get-out", which has that dash. --Cheeseball701 (talk) 02:11, 6 December 2021 (EST)

Monty Python tribute[edit]

There seems to be several oblique references to Monty Python, including joining the circus.

The thin, then thick, then thin again is a direct reference to their sketch on Miss Ann Elk's theory on the Brontosaurus. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 137.186.111.106 (talk) 19:56, November 20, 2021

The lifecycle of a band[edit]

This song is about the lifecycle of a band which peaked early in their career, but continues for a long time afterward. The shape of a brontosaurus is skinny at the ends and fat in the middle, similar to the popularity graph of the band.

While I don't think the song is strictly autobiographical, one interpretation is that the narrator is John Linnell, with the first verses referring to TMBG's success with Flood, the third and fourth verses referring to the hiatus between Factory Showroom and Mink Car, and the final verses referring to TMBG's work after 2001.

The first three verses describe the band's early popularity and decline. They "got thick, and then back to being skinny again", which is a metaphor for becoming popular and then unpopular again. They "joined the circus", signing on with a label, touring for large crowds, doing interviews and appearances on late night TV.

The third and fourth verse describe the band's attempt to make more meaningful music. They produce new music which can "leave an impression" or "express an emotion", diverging from their earlier comparatively vapid hits. But "people found it easy to ignore this", their new albums weren't received well.

The fourth and fifth verses describe the band's creative struggles. They "fail and they fail and sink into depression," frustrated at the reception of their new work. "It was as dark as get-out" describe their withdrawal from the public eye and hiatus.

The fifth verse describes the band's return. The band "went and stuck their neck out", producing new music, getting over their depression by "wearing an expression of optimism and bad vision." The narrator derides his younger self for being overly optimistic now that he knows better.

The sixth and seventh verses describe the final stages of the band's career, and considerations of retirement. Similar to the tail of a brontosaurus, the band has been at it for a long time and they wonder if "this tail/tale has gone on for too long," referring to both the tail of a brontosaurus and the tale of their history. Failing to match their earlier success wears them down because "[they're] too sensitive". They invite the listener to "join the chorus," to follow in their footsteps and take their place as the next generation of musicians. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 96.255.167.178 (talk) 08:25, November 24, 2021

I am crying right now, this is beautiful, I'm not kidding. I love this song now. --⇂⇂↋ suᴉɥsuǝZ ʎɯɯᴉᒋ, who is not the guy above, I did not write the lifecycle of a band thing :/ (talk) 10:52, 2 December 2021 (EST)

Another vote[edit]

Oh yeah the interpreters above have it spot on, it's totally about aging rockers. To come up with the hilarious image of a brontosaurus, I can only imagine Linnell surveying the hit-makers of his youth, contemplating the outcome of their careers, and mulling the phrase "dinosaur act."

The song seems to be about mid-level successes rather than the superstars who can still fill stadiums (and who are somewhat revered/honored for their "artistry") like the Rolling Stones or Bruce Springsteen. I'm thinking of the still-touring 1970s leftovers with maybe two or even zero original members left, like Foghat or Styx. If you're Dennis DeYoung your career started off small (skinny) then you had some big hits (thick), then the world moved on and you can't really sell that many records any more (skinny again). At the tail end of their career, they are very "easy to ignore."

Three other things make me laugh. First, for the "dark as get-out" line I imagine a literal scene of the singer standing on a stage waiting for the curtain to open and the lights to come on... it's dark. Then the curtains open and he "sticks his neck out", wearing a big smile of "optimism" to greet the audience - but having "bad vision" because he's old and his eyesight is getting weak.

Second, if you think "this tale has gone on for too long", you're not alone. He knows most people (in the music press, for example, and radio programmers) agree... they are the "chorus" of voices saying "Hey bud, it's over! Go home!"

Number three chuckle is the phrase "skin can be so porous". Like Jimmy said above I read this as being "thin-skinned" - "too sensitive" to take the criticism: "You'll never be an Artist! You were always just a middling pop singer and now your time has passed. Move on!" --Nehushtan (talk) 21:36, 2 December 2021 (EST)

Major transgender energy[edit]

If I had a nickel for every TMBG song that could be stretched into a most likely unintentional but halfway decent trans allegory, I'd have two nickels, which isn't a lot, but it's weird it's happened twice.

Essentially, this song is a transfeminine person and their process of coming out, having a negative reaction from the people around them, but then transitioning and finding a place that accepts them.

It had been going so well And then I broke my eggshell And entered the world as a brontosaurus Brontosaurus, brontosaurus

For the purpose of this song, being a Brontosaurus = being transgender. The song literally begins with the protagonist living a good, normal life, until they "break their eggshell." In the trans community, an "egg" is a trans person before they come out, and once they realize they're transgender, they have "broken their egg" or "hatched" depending on the person you're talking to.

Here's my entire autobiography: I was Skinny at first, then I got thick, and then back to Being skinny again

One common side effect from people on estrogen supplements is suddenly gaining weight, before it gets redistributed to the chest and hips. The protagonist starts skinny, gains weight from the pills, and then once they take effect, they're skinny once more.

You want to leave an impression You want to express an emotion You crave some attention And for this transgression you'll be repaid when You fall and you fail and sink into depression

This is a reference to before they transitioned, when they tried to express themselves and their worries, and got shut down by the culture of toxic masculinity surrounding them, which often makes masculine people feel as if they can't express their emotions without being judged.

Life was devoid of purpose

And so I joined the circus 

Somehow they found it easy to ignore us People found it easy to ignore this Brontosaurus, brontosaurus

"Joining the circus" is being used as a shorthand for leaving home, like the old trope of children running away from home to join the circus. In this case, the person leaves their home, expecting to be ostracized, but end up pleasantly surprised that they can openly live as a Brontosaurus (transgender person).

It was as dark as get out But then I stuck my neck out Wearing an expression of optimism

Life as an egg is dark, sad, and depressing. It's not an easy situation to be in. And worse, coming out is a big risk in many parts of the world, it can lead to ostracization or worse, with trans people being victims of violent crimes at a significantly higher rate than cisgender people. As such, coming out and living as your authentic self can literally be "putting your neck out." Despite that, the protagonist still stays optimistic, especially with their new, more accepting community.

I'll be honest though I have no idea what the Pourous Skin is all about.

Aging Rockers 2[edit]

I also got the impression that the song was about aging rockers, or "dinosaurs" to use a very old term. I also think that it might be about Linnell's feelings about the band. He has said in a recent interview, if my memory serves me, something to the effect of "I know we're culturally irrelevant, but for a couple of old guys I think we're still mining interesting territory."

I also think the "emergence" of the dinosaur is like an appearance on a new media platform. The song sounds like an allegory for celebrities from the pre-internet past emerging on YT, twitter, IG, etc.

The poor brontosaurus is still working, but culture seems to have left them behind. The song is too humble to spell out the virtues of such a paradoxical relic, the artist fallen behind culture: the sincerity of their efforts. As a brontosaurus, they're a pariah of publicity, but this purifies their own desire, a spiritual victory, if a commercial disaster: "You want to leave an impression you want to express an emotion, you crave some attention. And for this transgression you will be repaid when you fall and you fail and sink into depression." The glimmer of hope and the vitality of the music don't prevent the inevitable tragedy.

"Do you think this tale has gone on for too long? ... You can join the chorus." In an age of generalized publicity, no publicity is bad publicity.

Nitpicking[edit]

I'd just like to nitpick the reference to porous skin. The idea that some sauropods were semi-aquatic hasn't been popular among the scientific community since the 1970s, instead opting for the idea that they were completely terrestrial.

It's just a Monty Python tribute[edit]

Nothing more. Nothing less.

Signed, DonutEater (talk) 17:50, 16 January 2022 (EST)