Interpretations:Hearing Aid

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I always thought it was some old person trying to convince everyone else he's still worth something.

I thought it was about an old guy who just wants to die already. Hence the "your mercy" and the electric chair bit. --SMB 03:03, 30 June 2009 (UTC)

This seems to me like another one of Flansburgh's cryptic anti-work songs. "Frosty the Supervisor" could be the narrator's boss, whose job is the most important thing in his life and who does not have a family. The narrator can sometimes find the time to feel bad for his boss, but generally believes he chose that life for himself. The narrator has "turned off (his) hearing aid," e.g., tuned out the problems and complaints of others; he admits that his apathy is reprehensible, but suggests that swift and decisive punishment ("the electric chair") wouldn't quite match the crime of bloblike passivity. Instead, he commits a kind of psychological suicide, plunging himself into his work and calling for more coffee, boss, more coffee.

I believe Flansburgh means for this song to function as our own "hearing aid"; that we need to wake up and start realizing what is really important in our lives. Of course, a lot of coffee is fueling this interpretation, so who knows.

Is it me, or does the "backwards" message leading in to this song actually say the same thing forwards and backwards:



And does the voice say "Oh Lucifer, your mercy?" This kinda freaks me out...

Fortunately, my room has rubber lining the walls. ---AbsolutelyMyMood 14:15, 28 Jul 2005 (EDT)

I noticed a lot of lyrical parallels in this song to various lyrics by the Smiths, as well as mythology surrounding that band. Smiths leader Morrissey used to wear a hearing aid as a fashion statement. Also, "A Rush and a Push and the Land is Ours" by the Smiths includes the lyric, "They said, there's too much caffeine in your bloodstream," which parallels "more coffee for me boss." "Frosty the supervisor" echoes the subject of the Smiths song "Frankly, Mr. Shankly." The rest of the lyrics are reminiscent in a less specific way of Morrissey's songwriting.

Flans's vocal delivery seems to be in Morrissey's drawling, morose style. The sampling in the background of the song also mirrors various Smiths songs which use found sound, but the ska-ish intro does not really correlate at all. - Sam, 17 Dec 2005

It isn't saying 'Lucifer, your mercy'... I think it's saying 'Mercy' backwards instead...

The recording is definitely saying "Your mercy," first backward, then forward. This I have concluded after 16 years of being disturbed thoroughly by it. No CLUE where it could've come from. I assume it's a TMBG-recorded thing. Sounds like Elvis, though...?

It's literally a palindrome! Since "Your mercy" is played forwards then backwards, it says the same thing both ways. Oh, btw, I agree with the 'Flansburgh cryptic anti-work' lyric theory mentioned above (Anony Mouse)

I think that it's about how we can't all constantly focus on everything bad in life, (like Frosty the Supervisor's lonliness), because then we'd become hypercritical of ourselves (the electric chair's not good enough), and sometimes we have to "turn off our hearing aids" and ignore it.

I always took this song in a very straightforward manner. I figured it's about a boss who chides one of his workers for being lazy, saying that even the electric chair wouldn't be good enough for him. He also criticizes the workers frequent coffee breaks saying the coffee will mess him up even more than he already is. The worker responds by turning off his hearing aid, telling his boss not to give his complaints because he can't hear him, and asking for more coffee saying he's not as messed up as he wants to be.

I reckon the song's about someone who is apparently lazy, who might work at the north pole, and to spite his boss, turns off his hearing aid and acts all stuck up, and his boss is extremely cheesed off and pours his anguish of loneliness into this guy with the hearing aid. Also, something tells me the boss might be mentally unstable and hearing-aid guy is taking advantage of that, and trying to wind him up. -Lachlan W

I always saw this song as being a bit like Fight Club-- an anthem to slack and disregard. Flans sings of a man who's finally gotten it all figured out; that the key is to just stop caring, turn off one's hearing aid and just move at one's own pace, whatever that may be. If that means becoming a 'slacker' to everyone else-- one who, to them, deserves worse than the electric chair, so be it, You're a slacker, and that's just fine. Besides, more coffee for you.

  • edit: Meant "Office Space", not "Fight Club". It's 6am and I've been up since yesterday. Hah.

I had always thought the lead-in was a just bad spot on the disk. Now I see that they did that on PURPOSE! Wow. Yeah, it's annoying.

This song is about a guy who can ignore his boss, simply by turning off his hearing aid. Then, he might go into his office, lock the door, and relax; I say this because of the "knocking on a door" sound at the beginning of the song. That's his supervisor, looking for him.


The line "The electric chair's not good enough / for king lazy bones like myself" is a play on the protagonist mishearing a comment from his boss due to his hearing aid being turned off. The boss's actual comment contains an obscenity, which the protagonist hears incorrectly. So, it's not "for king lazy bones..." it's actually "f***ing lazy bums." If you're trying to read the lyric as a more literal quotation of the boss's words, we can assume the word "for" gets lost or mixed up with the beginning of the word "f***" again due to the hearing aid being turned off. [Note: I don't have actual confirmation from the artist on this, but it seems so obvious I had to point it out.]

Perhaps it's a glimpse into the mind of the worker in the Snowball In Hell middle dialogue?

Really Really[edit]

From Flansburgh, introducing the song on June 17, 1990: "This next song is a very personal song. It's about really, really, really hating your boss." --Nehushtan (talk) 22:54, 26 April 2021 (EDT)

As I remember, on May 18, 1990 (Orpheum Theater, Boston), he said it was about working in Strawberries. Strawberries was a Massachusetts-area record chain that was known for not being nearly as good as Newbury Comics. Apparently the owner was convicted of having mobsters beat up a Philadelphia record wholesaler in a dispute over payments, though this was more to do with Levy's record label ownership than with the store. Matt w (talk) 13:28, 12 January 2023 (EST)