Interpretations:Mink Car (Song)

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I'm not into very deep interps, for me this song is about a man dreaming he's rich (he has a diamong wig, etc.), but ends up realising that being so rich isn't that good (he gets hit by a mink car and dies, he could be alive if that car didn't exist). Once he gets hit (he gets knocked down onto the platinum ground), the silver chauffeur says "it's all in your head" (it's just a dream), and once he's totally dead (24-karat dead) he wakes up on his normal life without all that money, which -for him- is way better than the rich world he dreamt (woke up in a beautiful dream, alone).

It's some kind of a paradox, what he says he's doing is actually a dream, and what he "dreams" is when he's awake. I still don't get when does the "She is reaching past my hollow core..." part, though. --Kuriru 20:15, 27 August 2007 (UTC)

To me this song is about like getting caught up in being rich and all those desired "wants" It's just talking about getting hit by a mink car figurtivley the mink car being like hit by the wave of riches and it let him get to whoever, and its all in their head and its not all about riches and things like that.

For what it's worth, "Twenty-Four Carat Dead" is the name of an episode in the old Mike Hammer TV series.

Bryce's interpretation: you can't take it with you, but you wouldn't want to anyway.

My initial impression upon hearing this song was that it's simply a creative exercise, combining symbols in a subconscious way, in the grand tradition of surrealism. The more I listened, the more I thought about the lyrics, until I eventually began to see them like this. Let me emphasize that this is not an attempt to infer the Johns' intended meaning, it is an imposition of meaning onto the song by my own brain.

To me, this song is a statement of mortality's ubiquity; even the rich die. It's about the dangers of avarice, and the ultimate insignificance of material wealth.

It's knocking off my diamond wig
Knocking me down onto the platinum ground

"It," the car as it impacts with the narrator, is obviously disruptive, but the opulence of the setting makes it all the more disruptive. The diamond wig must be very important to the narrator, since it's the first thing he thinks of as he's being mowed down. His attachment to the wig makes it harder for him to accept what's happening.

Diamonds and platinum are obviously symbols of extravagance, but used in this way they symbolize a level of extravagance that actually decreases utility. Wigs are false hair; their purpose is to hide your existing hair (or baldness) by providing a convincing replacement. Diamonds, being non-fibrous and transparent, are particularly ill-suited for this purpose. Also, platinum is the hardest of the precious metals mentioned in this song. A ground of solid platinum would be uncomfortable to stand on for very long, like a lobby's marble floor that gives the doorman back problems.

Woke up in a beautiful dream

The contradiction of "woke up in a beautiful dream" makes it my favorite line in the song. I interpret the awakening as an epiphany. In death, the narrator realizes that his wealth is of no consequence. His description of the dream as "beautiful" suggests to me that he finds relief in this realization.

It also suggests that he finds it beautiful to be alone. Perhaps his wealth always kept him surrounded by false friends, or filled his life with demands and expectations from other people. Now that he is dead, he is finally alone. He begins to realize what has just happened to him.

I got hit by a mink car

Like the wig, the mink car ignores all practical considerations in favor of extravagance. Even beyond its impracticality, though, the car is dangerously seductive. Mink invites touch, it's soft and comfortable, but the touch of the car proves fatal.

Hit by a mink car driven by a guitar
And the silver chauffeur says

I'm a little confused by the presence of the chauffeur. What's he driving, if the mink car is driven by a guitar? Maybe the guitar is only "driving" the car in the sense of providing an impetus. If you accept that interpretation, it would suggest that the narrator is a rock star, and that all these luxurious trappings of his life come from that.

that it's all in your head
When you're 24-karat dead

This goes back to the fact that the narrator is alone in death. There are no more possessions, no other people, only the narrator's thoughts remain. None of it matters any longer. The relaxed vocals and loungey instrumentation throughout the song suggest that even the narrator's death doesn't matter to him, so at peace is he with his new freedom.

In my dream she is reaching past my hollow core
And her smile's an "Open" sign on an abandoned store

"She" is Death itself, the grim reaper. The narrator's hollow core refers to his superficiality in life. Death reaches past it, helping him to transcend his shallow materialism. The store metaphor is interesting on a couple of levels:

  1. The fact that the narrator compares it to a store (of all things) supports the whole materialism thing.
  2. If the smile is an "Open" sign, then the store could be the whole face. The fact that it's abandoned would suggest that it's fleshless bone, which is a common representation of the grim reaper's visage.
  3. The imagery of someone's smile being an open sign on an abandoned store makes it seem that "she" is hollow herself. Like her smile has no substance to it. It welcomes you to come in but there is nothing there you want or need.

Maybe the chauffer is the guitar?


I see some connections here to Number Three

1. The chauffeur is silver. The guitar is the chauffeur. Thus the guitar is silver.

"I bought myself some denim pants and a silver guitar"

2. The attitude of the rich man.

"A rich man once told me, 'A-well, life's a funny thing'"

3. The whole sense of shallowness.

Maybe this song is about a yuppie getting a TMBG CD for Boss Of Me and then hearing Number Three and realizing he actually likes bluegrass. (Okay, a major stretch :) )

These interpretations rock my platinum socks. I would here like to include a note about the album title, which is also Mink Car. I believe the Giants chose to call the album this because the vast majority of these recordings already existed in other forms elsewhere -- be it on Dial-A-Song, or EPs, or Severe Tire Damage, or what have you. Most of these songs were already available in some incarnation, thereby rendering the purchase of this CD, however attractively packaged, really pretty unnecessary. A mink car would be a flashy and totally needless purchase, so I think TMBG were going for a little ironic commentary on their own product there. Good job, guys! --

The Cure have a song called "Mint Car." They are kind of like The Smiths, which evidently both Johns like, so it could be a reference...??

I look at this song in a slightly different light. The speaker isn't dying or being killed; he is having an epiphany. The "mink car driven by a guitar" is an opulent lifestyle brought about by fame and fortune from being a musician. He's got a "diamond wig," a "mink car," a "silver chauffer," and he's suddenly in a "beautiful dream," but he is "alone." He realizes the relative insignificance of material wealth and possessions compared to the simple necessity of human companionship. -- FireLily

I find it interesting that the "weird" stuff in this song sound like the "normal" version of stuff. It's hard to explain, take a look at this:

Diamond Wig = Diamond Ring
Platinum Ground = Paved Ground
Mink Car = Mink Coat
Guitar = Chauffer
24-karat dead = 24-karat gold

I read an article where Flans said that his wife suggested "Our Wives Want Mink Cars" for the album title, and it was later shortened to simply "Mink Car." I don't think he said where Robin came up with the term "mink car," though. Maybe SHE'S the Cure fan.

The majority of songs on the album relate in some way to a relationship, so I think that, as the title track, this song ties into that theme as well. The majority of adjectives in this sound relate to things being costly, perhaps reflecting the materialism in the relationship, while the "mink car" is the relationship which is destroying him when he gets hit by it. She is now with another person, since "In my dreams / She is reaching past my hollow core", reaching past his heart to someone else, and she is no longer available, though he still wants to be with her: "And her smile's / An open sign on an abandoned store". --Chuckie

Just a note: 24-karat gold is 100% pure gold, so 24-karat dead would be 100% pure dead, or completely, truly dead. ~Sammo260

Just another note: "silver chauffeur" sounds like a pun on "silver surfer" -- in addition to whatever other role(s) it serves LeFou 16:29, 5 May 2006 (CDT)

They say the 'mink car' is driven by a guitar. But Mink Car is the name of the album, and music is described as 'guitar-driven' if the guitar is a prominent instrument in the production. So perhaps the Johns simply took the term 'guitar-driven' to a literal level.

Being hit by a Mink Car to me means that you get hit with inspiration, an idea, a daydream, ya know, stuff like that. --Dunklekuh81

This song really reminds me of a psychedelic experience (the "It's all in your head" line solidifies this for me, though I could be taking it a bit too literally), possibly of a poor man who wishes for financial wealth, but instead squanders his money on acid and other various psychedelic drugs. In one such experience he has, something hits him--either an epiphany (that he doesn't really want to go on the other side of the fence), or he is literally hit by a car (he sees it as a mink car and a silver guitar as the driver because of the drugs). It could be partially inspired by the Beatles songs "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" and "Baby, You're a Rich Man".

Also, the silver chauffeur and the driver of the car who is a guitar--I tend to see them as one in the same. Perhaps a reference to their early song "Number Three" ("So I bought myself some denim pants and a silver guitar")? 0dd1 04:56, 28 March 2009 (UTC)

Car accident > mind-trip back to the 1970s?[edit]

The sound of this song for some reason reminds me of US 1970s TV show theme songs (particularly 'Welcome Back Kotter'). The Johns presumably would've watched TV in the 70s, maybe the car accident trauma sent the song persona back into the 70s, musically? To make use of a tired (& certainly not always true) old cliché (i.e. that "everyone's" childhood is a time when they felt safe) maybe it sent him back to when he was younger (mid teens, hmmm, dunno) & the world possibly felt safer?--Tyranny Sue 02:19, 22 August 2011 (EDT)

It should be noted that in some live versions, they sing "In my dream/ I am reaching past her heart of gold." In either case, the song seems to be about wealth, and how it doesn't necessarily make one happy. In the part about his dream, he acknowledges that others see right through his shallowness "She is reaching past my hallow core" (In the live version it can be interpreted that the people around him are hallow. People often say that their friends have "Hearts of Gold" but in the case of the singer, he can see right through it.) The phrase "And her smile's/ the open sign on an abandoned store" is a beautiful one that simply points out the difference of our outward images and our actual values.

My interpretation of this one seems to be opposite to most peoples' - to me, it's about someone who idly fantasized about coming into wealth and then did -- all at once. At first, he doesn't know how to take it at all, and he later feels content but still as empty as he did beforehand.

It's knocking off my diamond wig
Knocking me down onto the platinum ground

The way I see it, he had, for a long period of time, pretended to be wealthier than he really was in order to feel better about himself. He didn't really ever believe his fantasies would come true, though - it comes as such a shock to him, it's like he's getting hit by a car. The feeling of having his wig knocked off represents the fact that he doesn't have to stick to his pretensions anymore, as he has the real thing.

Woke up in a beautiful dream

After overcoming the initial shock, he feels incredibly content, as if everything he always dreamed of is now a reality for him. The singular exception to this is that he feels just as isolated from everyone as he used to - not only are his lonely traits and tendencies uninhibited by his new lifestyle, but he now has to deal with people faking interest in him for his money. He's still distrustful and suspicious of everyone, just for different reasons.

I got hit by a mink car
Hit by a mink car driven by a guitar

Even in retrospect, it's shocking that things turned out this way for him. I feel the guitar represents that the money he came into was due to a budding musical career, or maybe even one he'd been at for a long time that just happened to explode in popularity out of nowhere.

And the silver chauffeur says that it's all in your head
When you're 24-karat dead

He gets advice on how to go forward from other highly affluent people, and they all tell him some flavor of "quit worrying about the why and the how and just enjoy your new life." '24-karat-dead' sounds a lot like the state someone would have been in after having been touched by king Midas when he had his curse. It seems like the narrator is paranoid about his newly found wealth somehow cursing him, perhaps by affecting who he is as a person. The other wealthy people again just tell him not to worry about it.

In my dream she is reaching past my hollow core
And her smile's an "Open" sign on an abandoned store

He's started idly dreaming again, but at this point it's about falling in love. He fantasizes about someone who will see past both his new self and his old self - someone who doesn't only like him for his money and can see the good in him he doesn't think is there. There's again a suggestion that he feels empty and isolated here, and that he now thinks a woman could change that (as opposed to money). He wants her to be the one to initiate everything, comparing her to a store that is inviting him in - but once he's in there, there's nothing there, she's just as empty as he is. Since this is part of his fantasy, I think he yearns to be comforted by the supposed reality that everyone is empty inside and he's not an irregular case. All in all, these lines reinforce the image of him as a daydreaming, asocial, sedentary type. The money really hasn't changed him, but maybe it would have been for the better if it had.

I got hit by a mink car
Hit by a mink car driven by a guitar
And the silver chauffeur says that it's all in your head
When you're 24-karat dead

There's significance in repeating this verse, assuming the crazy narrative I've built up is in any way accurate. He never gets over the shock of being thrust from his mediocre life into this wealthy one, and continues to waste all of his time without ever really doing much of anything. He continues to feel empty and avoid dealing with his inner tumult, and the other wealthy people continue to tell him simply not to think about it - "it's all in your head."

So, to sum it all up, it's a song about a chronically lazy, daydreaming loner who happens into money and doesn't know what to do with it, continuing to be a chronically lazy, daydreaming loner despite the fact that he had been convinced that his life would drastically change for the better if only he had money.

Or it's that way from one perspective, at least.

The presence of the Cure song "Mint Car" makes me think that this had an origin similar to that of "Weep Day" in that They misread/misheard the title and used that as a jumping-off point. Suddenly the idea of a mink car exists and they start populating that world until we end up with the song we have now.

Quick warning: This is a very dark interpretation, but it’s what I honestly feel when listening to this song. I think there are more emotional subtexts throughout, but that this is sort of the premise.

I’ve always thought that Mink Car existed in the space of a person’s final rush of dreamy brain chemicals upon death. They’re asleep at the wheel, awakened by their car crash just long enough to experience this surreal impression of the events before drifting into sparkly death. “And the silver chauffeur says that it’s all in you’re head when you’re 24 karat dead” makes me think of the strange beauty of a seamless transition between a dream and the moment of death. A passenger is reaching for the wheel when she’s “reaching past my hollow core,” but ends up dead by the time the narrator notices her: “an open sign on an abandoned store.”