Interpretations:Dinner Bell

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Pavlov's Dog[edit]

This song is about Pavlov's Dog ("experimental dog / salivating dog / good dog / waiting for the dinner bell"). Pavlov

What's the dinner jacket? Saliva? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs) 20:22, July 30, 2004

Beyond Pavlov[edit]

It seems to me that it's talking about anticipating dinner and being hungry at the same time, comparing it to being one of Pavlov's Dogs, eating when they're told to by the bell. The dinner jacket with the dinner still on it is sneaking snacks or something. I don't know, but it goes behond Pavlov. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:02, February 4, 2005

Interpretation 3[edit]

There seem to be two voices in the song. The first is in the main lyrics, and is about a person who lives from meal to meal. The chorus reveals that he left on the clothes he wore to dinner the night before, just so he would be immediately ready when it's time for dinner again. But he refuses to eat until the signal is given, turning down all manner of food.

The second voice is praising him for this attitude, saying "good dog" as he turns down food. Is the song being sung by a dog? Quite possibly, and the "dinner jacket" is merely metaphorical, and the second voice is that of the master.

I have another interpretation, though. When and where did people actually dress up for dinner? Victorian and Edwardian England, for one. I interpret this song as being sung by an upperclass Brit whose life essentially revolves around waiting for the next meal; the second voice is that of society, that has tamed this man and reduced him to a dog-like existence. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:28, February 12, 2005

Interpretation 4[edit]

I agree, it's a little more than just describing a dog classically conditioned to salivate when it hears a bell.

I think it is about the dog's point of view. The narrator lovingly lists all the possible food he might eat, as if he is constantly day-dreaming about food. If dogs daydream, it is probably about food. Also, the portion, "Waitin for the dinner bell to do the bell thing, dinner bell, dinner bell, ding DING DING!" has that rising inpatience, especially in the way in which it is sung, that reminds me of what the dog does when you bring the dish over and are getting ready to put it down - makes an escalating set of impatient movements, as if he's thinking, put the bowl down, put the bowl down, bowl down, bowL down, put the BOWL DOWN DOWN DOWN!

It is also on the oft-used theme of many TMBG songs - someone is controlling me from the outside. The dog says he is saving his appetite for the dinner bell, but in fact he will get fed when the scientist feeds him, after the dinner bell. Unreliable canine narrator imagines he is in control, because it is more pleasant that way.

It is interesting to note that Pavlov's dogs didn't salivate because they were about to get fed, they salivated because Pavlov put meat powder on their tongues and rang a bell. The bell eventually solicited salivation without the powder, which is called "classical conditioning." Classical conditioning is for non-voluntary responses, like salivation, no thought involved.

So this is a song about the lively inner mental life of a dog, based around conditioning a bodily response that requires no thinking - Pavlov's dog doesn't salivate because the bell tells him he about to get fed, it salivates because the non-volitional part of his nervous system that controls salivation has been conditioned to do so.

If I wanted to get all crazy, I would draw some parallels to sex, but I will shut up now and let others speak.

"Speak, boy, speak!"

Cool song. ~Christina Miller 13:39, April 12, 2005

I don't think it's ABOUT a dog or Pavlov's dog. It certainly references Pavlov's dog, but most dogs don't "leave on their things"... I think the dog references are a metaphor or comparison and that the narrator is most definitely human. The song is drawing paralells between Pavlov's dog and the hungry narrator, or just people in general. --ASL 05:38, February 19, 2006

Interpretation 5[edit]

YAY! I interpreted the first stanza! =D But I have no other evidence. =(


I've been leaving on my things (The guy's been leaving pieces of stuff he's done, memories, behind)
So in the morning when the morning bird sings (So when he dies)
There's still dinner on my dinner (There's still a bit of him...)
Jacket 'til the dinner bell rings (...around when he dies)

I... think... {is probably way off} --Lemita 16:12, 2 May 2006 (CDT)

Interpretation 6[edit]

My interpretation of the first stanza line by line

I've been leaving on my things (a dog always wears his fur, doesn't change clothes ever)
So in the morning when the morning bird sings (so in the morning)
There's still dinner on my dinner jacket (there's still bits of food in his fur)
Till the dinner bell rings (until it's time to eat again)

I know I usually prefer more in depth interpretations, but I think that this one's just about Pavlov's dog. A more interesting interpretation regarding this song... on the tmbg webpage at some point in time (don't know if it's still up there but it might be) I remember someone asked the Johns whether or not the experimental dog, salivating dog, good dog line was written about Pavlov's dog. Linnell responded that that's part of it. Most would see this as meaning that that's only a part of the meaning of those lines, I think he meant that that's only part of the song that is entirely about Pavlov's dog. -Rilom 21:51, August 13, 2006

The above interpretation of the chorus seems to fit to me. Dogs do lick themselves, of course, so that way he can taste the food when he's not being served dinner. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:19, August 23, 2007

Interpretation 7[edit]

I'm sure he feels like he eats and does other things on command sometimes due to the tight schedule when on tour. He frequently wants to do other things but he considers "saving his appetite". I am pretty sure this is also literally about being hungry for food, as well. It could even be about sex, performance, and fidelity, but I doubt it. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 05:41, February 25, 2009

Dinner bell means control[edit]

I think that this song is about self-control. When I hear this song, I think about a fat guy who wants to eat all the time and thinks about nothing but his next meal, but he is on a diet so he has to wait to eat until dinner time. He gets more and more anxious as he waits (diner bell, dinner bell, DING, DING, DING!). When he is finally allowed to eat, he is a "good dog". —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:07, October 5, 2009

Interpretation 9[edit]

Minus the Pavlov references, it's about a slob who spills all manner of food on his clothes, sleeps in them, and then makes the tiniest concession to manners by resisting the temptation to pick bits out of the buffet that is his dinner jacket. --Rafe 01:05, October 14, 2009


I think this song is about addiction. When you crave something, you are not really craving it, you are craving the brain chemicals which are released from the consumption/experience/fulfillment of the thing you are addicted to. So he does not crave an egg, a bottle of vinegar, garlic bread, etc. He is just craving the dinner bell, because the dinner bell is what gets those chemicals flowing in his brain. I see a lot of parallels between this song and "The Statue Got Me High". —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:40, November 24, 2009

A Song About Addiction[edit]

I think this song is about addiction, but not to food. The narrator compares himself to Pavlov's dog waiting for a bell to cue him to eat, and this is the reason for all of the talk of food. The addiction is pornography, and he's limiting himself to a certain time of day or week in which to indulge himself, trying to ween himself off of it. Food is both a natural reinforcer like sex and also comes in many varieties, just like porn. This interpretation also explains the part about the "shoulder, bicep, elbow," and other parts of the arm: because the arm is obviously used during masturbation. Sorry for the pervy interpretation, but that seems like the most likely explanation to me. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:18, December 14, 2012

I agree that the song is comparing Pavlovian conditioning to chronic masturbation. The two topics meet at the play on words repeated throughout the song: "Jack It" till the dinner bell rings.

Mmm...sorry, no.[edit]

Yeah, no idea. But: not addiction. Probably.

-When Cheese Met Chalk (I don’t know how to make a talk bar please help)

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