Interpretations:Hot Cha

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Not get personal, but what if this song is, perhaps obliquely, about the lyricist's big brother, Earl, Jr?

In the story of the prodigal son from the New Testament, Jesus tells us that a man had two sons. One stayed at home, did was his father told him, worked hard. The other son asked for his inheritance up front, left home, spend all the money, and finally made his way home, broke, hungry and in rags. When he sees the son he had given up for dead heading toward him on the road, the father is happy and tells the servants to kill the fatted calf and set up a feast.

This enrages the good son, who wants to know why the bad son gets special treatment and he doesn't when he was obedient and worked hard. The father tells him, basically, that the bad son was lost and now he's found, and that is a cause for celebration. (The idea being that God will always welcome you home, no matter how bad you have been, I think.)

Earl, Jr., spent his youth wandering eastern Europe, and living a footloose hippie life. The good son, John, might have some resentment towards the bad wandering son; it's hard to say. Notice that the feast when the wandering son comes home is "such a party" but at the feast, they will eat him! Fondue forks for everybody! In other words, he will have to pay some price for wandering; the family will get to take little fondue-fork-sized bites of him.

(Notice this is a close repetition of another song, "You'll Miss Me," in which the narrator says you'll miss me when I'm dead, and "the mortician waits with a shovel and a fork.")

It sounds to me as if the narrator is genuinely hurt that Hot Cha keeps leaving suddenly without notice, making them worry he's dead, and that he wants him back. If I had a smart big brother who didn't toe the line but was still welcomed home whenever he re-emerged, I might have some conflicting emotions.

Of course, I have no real insight into the lyricist's head, but it kind of fits. Also, in this story, if he is telling this story of a prodogal son, he is Jesus, not Hot Cha. --Christina 20:02, 22 October 2007 (UTC)

Looks like there's a grain of truth to the above theory. I'm fairly sure I remember reading something similar in an interview with the band, long ago. 07:00, 3 April 2016 (EDT)

Hot Cha = Jesus Christ.

'Nuff said.

I thought John Lennon. Hot Cha = an Englishman. One who went away into the isolation of domstic bliss the first time, then was taken away suddenly the second.

Jesus Christ is a good theory, but I don't see TMBG as Christians especially, and are probably more likely to be singing about a music-related person.


I'm more inclined to think Jesus, as while he was not the prodigal son, said phrase may be an indication of a Biblical reference, intended to clue us into the preceding words-"Drink and cook", which, if the song is indeed Biblically-themed as "the prodigal son" may indicate, obviously refer to the Communion rites (when I say obviously, do note that I only mean that it is the case if and when a Biblical theme is assumed; I am not trying to pretentiously state that it is obvious in all cases).

I agree, I didn't even have to think to much to get this one, I thought it the first time I heard the song, Hot Cha is definitely JC...

I don't know what anyone means by Je-THAT GUY, I jsut think it's about a guy who has a mental disorder to randomly and suddenly play hide-and-seek. Maybe he's an ameoba. i don't really get this one. It's just about a guy who likes to play hide'n'seek. But very weirdly, just drops whatever he's doing and hides. Maybe he's just paranoid. Uh-huh. A paranoid ameoba. Who woulda' thunk it. --Homfrog 18:36, 1 May 2006 (CDT)

Like many songs by TMBG, perhaps it is better to define the song stanza by stanza:

Hot Cha, where are you?/ Everybody's eyes are closed/ I can't see why I miss you so/ So Hot Cha, where are you?

~I belive the begining stanza actually recaps the entire song. Hot Cha has already commited suicide and the Narrator misses him. This idea will certainly be reinforced throught the remaining of the song~

First time Hot Cha went away/ A floating island was his home/ Then the phone rang off the hook/ And Hot Cha had to come back home

~The first time the narrator "lost" Hot Cha is when Hot Cha went on a drug binge. Often times, a high can be discribed as a happy place, such as an island. This image also has a double meaning, as a far off island would obviously be far away for the normal, everyday life of a person. I am convinced that this "floating island" is nothing more than a metaphor for a drug binge. This, in no way would be distant from TMBG, as their best songs thrive off metaphors.

The phone next symbolizes Hot Cha's friends and the help that they give Hot Cha, quite possibly an intervention or something of similar magnitude. The idea of an intervention is reinforced by the fact that Hot Cha HAD to come back. Often times interventions are not discussed with the ones who recieve the help and are thus forced~

Hot Cha, where are you?/ Everybody's eyes are closed/ I can't see why I miss you so/ So Hot Cha, where are you?

Second time he went away/ Left the bathtub running over/ Stereo on and cooking bacon/ Never came back to tell us why

~The second time Hot Cha "left" was through death. The stereo is a very imporant piece in this theory. I belive that Hot Cha shocked himself by dropping a Stereo in a overflown tube of water. I belive that the bacon is nothing more than a symbol of euphoria, almost almost felt by victims of suicide who have come to terms with there choice. For this to work, however, you must agree that cooking bacon in the morning is a plesant situation. Nevertheless, the bacon is the most unclear part of this song.

  • Well, as long as he's electrocuting himself by dropping a stereo into a bathtub, could the "cooking bacon" refer to him being "fried" by the electrocution? HE's the bacon being cooked. I win. --McBob 05:36, 2 December 2006 (UTC)

The suicide idea is deeply reinforced by the fact that Hot Cha never returns~

If that honey would come back/ We would throw such a party/ Drink and cook the prodigal son/ Fondue forks for everybody

~I think that the prodigal son reference is actually comparing the potential party with the one that the prodigal son recieved upon return. It is understood that the prodigal son's party was rather splended, yet, reinforced by the second line, the party that would occur if Hot Cha somehow returned would be far more splended. This is all wishful thinking, however, and I belive the narrator is just doing this is some sort of grief~

Hot Cha, where are you?/ Everybody's eyes are closed/ I can't see why I miss you so/ So Hot Cha, where are you?/ Hot Cha, where are you?/ Hot Cha, where are you?

~At this point, Hot Cha's death is far gone. By saying that everyone's eyes are closed, it simply means that everyone has already forgotten about Hot Cha. The narrator, however, can do no such thing. He misses Hot Cha so, and is pained to feel such meloncolic feelings~

I remember reading something on a message board somewhere years ago about the similarities of "Hot Cha" and the show Dragon Ball Z. It's been a long long time since I've watched that show, but I'll see if I can remember all the similarities. The first time Hot Cha (who in this allegory is Goku) went away, a floating island was his home. The floating island can be taken as the palace of King Kai where Goku trains the first time he dies. The phone rings off the hook because everyone else is getting their asses kicked by Nappa and Vegeta and they know only Goku can beat them. The second time he went away was when Goku dies the second time, which I'm a bit hazy on, but I think it was after the Cell Games, and it was a sacrifice on his part. His wife had no idea he died, so she's home happily cooking bacon. And if he'd come back, everyone would be happy. Granted, I highly doubt this is what TMBG had in mind when they wrote the song, but it does have some parallels, and ever since I read that message board post, I can't help but think of Dragon Ball whenever I hear Hot Cha. Just one of those things I guess.

Frankly, I see Hot Cha as being a sort of tribute to coffee. Its kind of a simpler interp but here's how I see it:

"Hot Cha, where are you? Everybody's eyes are closed" - This means they are out of coffee, and everyone is sleeping.

"First time Hot Cha went away. A floating island was his home" - The first time he went without any coffee, he had a weird dream about a floating island, or something along those lines.

"Then the phone rang off the hook, and hot cha had to come back home" - Meaning the phone woke him up, and he had to drink more coffee to avoid falling asleep.

"Second time he went away, left the bathtub running over, stereo on and cooking bacon" - Next time he was doing a bunch of stuff before he fell asleep and left everything on.

"If that honey would come back we would throw such a party. Drink and cook the prodigal son. Fondue forks for everybody" - If they had more coffee, they would celebrate by drinking with it(?).

I dunno, just what I thought of...

Drink and cook the prodigal son: drink and cook with wine (and some sort of bread) We use drinking the prodigal son as code for drinking all the time. I thought it was common.


All I noted on first listening was that "cha" means "tea" in Korean and Chinese, and possibly other languages, and the "everybody's eyes are closed" line refers to the caffeine present in many teas.

Would it be possible that they got the title of this song from what Hal used to always say on the show "Malcolm in the Middle". He would always exclaim "Hot Cha!" when he was pleased with something. I'm pretty sure the song isn't about this, but it's possible that TMBG saw this and liked the way "Hot Cha" sounded. They did a lot of music for this show so it isn't out of the question.

Coma or pyschotic episode?[edit]

I liked the suicide version, the cooking bacon may well be Hot Cha himself.

However, I always though of it as someone having two savant-like psychotic episodes, which would be fairly indistingushiable from a drug induced one, and that he came back from it. This happened again, but he never emerged from the coma, everyone's eyes are closed because although they can see his body they have given up on him. The stereo, cooking bacon and bath leaving people to ask, "why now?" what mental state triggered his exit? I think this works well with the extremely loose jazz break in the song at this point, kind of like how you have to go to the edge to find good jazz, but don't fall off. They are terrified and yet facinated by Hot Cha's journey! =D


OK - on the Jesus Thing, which I know is wrong from what Flans said but WHATEVS I DO WHAT I WANT. By STANZA: Hot Cha, where are you?/ Everybody's eyes are closed/ I can't see why I miss you so/ So Hot Cha, where are you?

First time Hot Cha went away/ A floating island was his home/ Then the phone rang off the hook/ And Hot Cha had to come back home

See, first time Jesus "went away", i.e. died on the cross, he was buried in a cave, and after 3 days was resurrected, and there was a big crowd by the cave, and folks were calling for him to come back. But not on the phone. They didn't have those then. I know, what the fuck. Floating islands are pretty cool, and presumably Heaven is too, so there you go.

Second time he went away/ Left the bathtub running over/ Stereo on and cooking bacon/ Never came back to tell us why

Second time is when Jesus went back to Heaven after saying "sup" when he exited the cave all fine and dandy. Cooking bacon -- refers to how when he said that eating pork and such was a-OK because nothing God made is unclean (double reference: the TUB muthafukkas -- tubs get your ass CLEAN, just like bacon is now). And Jesus hasn't come back yet.

And the chorus is basically the narrator all waitin' for the 2nd coming. Which would technically be a third coming I guess, but whatever. And dude's not shown up yet, so the narrator's all like "man, where are you man, people can't see your total awesomeness and shit" and Jesus is all "chill bro".


Hot Cha and the Book of Acts[edit]

A number of people have mentioned that this song alludes to Jesus Christ without really backing it up. Let me try to explain why I think Hot Cha has some strong parallels with the New Testament Book of Acts.

What the Book of Acts is about: The Book of Acts describes the activities of Jesus's followers after his death. In Chapter 1, we learn that Jesus came back after ascending to heaven, and spent 40 days visiting and teaching his followers. At the end of these 40 days, he went up to heaven again. The two central characters in the Book of Acts (besides the absent Jesus) are Peter and Paul. They are two very different people with different backgrounds, and they even clash a little. Between the two of them, however, they attract many followers to Christianity through baptism. Another central theme is that Christianity is a fulfillment of the Mosaic tradition, and many of the old laws of Moses (like circumcision or prohibition on certain kinds of meat) are done away. Finally, a continuing theme is that Jesus will one day return again, and the people at the time anticipated that it might be soon.

So with that background, let's find some references in the lyrics to Hot Cha:

 Hot Cha, where are you?
 Everybody's eyes are closed

Jesus's followers miss him ("where are you?") and now can only communicate to him via prayer ("eyes are closed").

 First time Hot Cha went away
 A floating island was his home
 Then the phone rang off the hook
 And Hot Cha had to come back home

The first time he went away was when he died on the cross. Heaven is represented by a land somewhere up in the skies ("a floating island"). But people prayed to him and he came back for 40 days.

 Second time he went away
 Left the bathtub running over
 Stereo on and cooking bacon

The second time he left was at the Ascension after 40 days. The "bathtub running over" may refer to the thousands of baptisms his followers performed after that. The "stereo" are the differing, but complementary voices of Peter and Paul. The reference to "cooking bacon" may refer to the lifting of Kosher dietary practices.

 If that honey would come back
 We would throw such a party
 Drink and cook the prodigal son
 Fondue forks for everybody

The first two lines here may refer to the way Christians look forward to Christ's Second Coming in the future. Drinking and cooking the "son" is an easy reference to the Last Supper, and the modern practice of Communion / Sacrament, where followers eat bread and drink wine, and consider it as representing his actual body and blood. If that's not clear enough, the "fondue forks" invoke again the idea of the fondue dish, two of the main ingredients of which are bread and wine.

Someone above speculated whether the Johns were religious enough to have had this interpretation in mind when they wrote it. I don't see that they need to be particularly religious to write about a theme that is well known in Western Art, and my guess is that they are familiar enough with the events involved that they could have written a song about it.

Also, it may be only tangentially related, but when I wrote my first fan mail to the Johns back in the 80s, my reply was signed (by one of the Johns, I don't know which) as "Yours in Christ". Make of that what you will.