Not to get all analytical, but the progression of the song is about divestment in layers, about voluntarily giving away things to get some contentment, about simplifying. He is cleansing himself, his social presentation, his body, and his mind.
Notice he is working from the outside in, as he takes off the parts of his person, starting with the worldly outer self, the presentation, the clothes. He even starts with his outer clothing...
- I got rid of my jackets and coats,
...then clothing against his skin.
- I threw out all of my pants
He expresses disgust with this part of himself, this part of his presentation to the world.
- I got sick of my stinking clothes,
- I had to get rid of them
- I'm not yet considering replacing them,
- I'm only glad to be rid of them
- and rest awhile, rest awhile
Having divested of pretense outside his body, now he mortifies his body itself with the power of light and fire, taking off a layer of physical body.
- I lay out in the sun too long, and burned off all of my skin
This change is disorienting, and for a moment, he tries to re-skin himself, by crawling into his car.
- I felt so dizzy I got into the car
But having started, he has to finish
- Out of the burning wreckage I fell wanting only to lay where I fell and rest awhile, rest awhile, rest awhile!
Now that his physical body is cleansed, he moves inward to his consciousness. Artiface of the mind, social game-playing, swapping moves with others in order to win, is depicted with chess:
- I became friendly with Ruy Lopez, the author of works on chess
Lopez has a famous chess opening named after him, a generally accepted good set of opening moves, an opening everyone agrees is standard, and good way to begin a game, but the narrator is stripping himself of these artifaces everyone agrees are necessary.
- "Ruy," I said, "you're incorrect," he cut me off and acted mad
- He won't even talk to me now but I don't care 'cause I'm sick of that guy
- and I need to rest awhile, rest awhile
The narrator has purged his life on three levels, so now he can rest.
[~Christina Miller, June 2007]
- Oh wow. I had the basic thought that you and the rest of these interps seem to be pointing to: Somebody sick and tired of too-highly complex life who just wants out, and proceeds to exit the civilized and social life, if just for awhile. But the structure of the song that you pointed out just adds to my amazement and respect towards Mr. Linnell. Now that it's visible to me, there's no way that he just happened to be working from each outer layer inward (jackets to pants to skin to flesh to weird mind games), so kudos to John L. and kudos to you! ~ magbatz 05:44, 22 January 2008 (UTC)
Coming out of a speech tournament, I didn't win anything but a couple of stress-related acne breakouts. When I'd gotten home, I shooed the cats away, turned off the lights in my room, stripped to my boxers, and crashed in my bed. In periods of high stress, whether it's the aftermath of a major speech tournament, the effects of a combination sunburn/car wreck, or a fallout with your legendary chess buddy, sometimes all you want to do is lay down right where you are and say "fuck it all". I think that's what this song is about; when you're in a miserable mood, sometimes all you can do is lay down, wait for the bad stuff to pass, and rest awhile(rest awhiiiiiiiiiiile!)
I agree with the above interp. For this song, the operative word and emotion for me is catharsis. The essense of rock! --Nehushtan 14:10, 14 Apr 2006 (CDT)
I agree with both of your interpretations...but the first part of the song about getting rid of his clothes reminded me of The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath. In one of the chapters, she talks about her last night in New York City, and felt that she needed to be rid of her life, so she threw out every article of clothing she owned. I don't think that the reference was intentional, but that's what it makes me think of. - Overjoy
I'm taking the liberty of making this a little more personal, because I happen to relate a lot to Linnell's stuff, especially. This song, I think, is about the sort of "anal-expulsive" reaction to life in general that comes with fatigue. Rather than feeling suicidal and looking towards death to get you out of your situation, you just want to walk away from life, in your physical body. You might want to leave all your belongings â€“ down to the clothes on your back â€“ behind. You might, fatigued, make mistakes, lose track of time and have accidents and have a guiltless "fuck it" attitude about the circumstances. You may even want to walk away from all your relationships, even if it's just a casual "chess buddy" situation. I remember, a couple years ago, I had one of these experiences. I got into an accident, with a curb, really messing-up the control arm, on my car. I drove the car home, but I didn't go inside. I just sat outside the car and laughed, in the driveway. After the car was fixed the exhaust ended up falling off, in the parking lot of a friend's apartment. I was stranded. I stood at the corner and some stranger called me a faggot for no reason. I contemplated taking all my belongings; all my clothes, everything, burning them with my car and leaving the city without the smallest goodbye. Just to get away, rest, and be free of all my shit. - josh is UUAH
Maybe I'm just stuck in my own corner of the world (which is the psychiatric hospital where I work), but I think this song may be about someone having a manic episode. The burning skin, the car wreck, the getting-rid-of-clothes, the chess guy (well, maybe not that), it all points to mania. And when people who are manic come to the hospital, they definitely need to rest a while. And medicine. But he doesn't mention that.
You guys need to think more deeply.
Maybe you need to partake of the Devil's Lettuce. He got rid of his Jacket and Coats and pants; his mother and father and others, his friends and family. He moved out, said 'to heck with them!'. He needed to get away from them. He didn't want to go out and make a bunch of new friends yet. He wanted to do nothing, watch tv, stop thinking about it all. He sat in front of his computer for a long time and smoked the Big Stone Herb, if you catch my drift. He felt confused/torn apart so he decided to smoke weed. It's an intense experience to smoke alot of weed. He got high. Wanting only to do things his brain and him do when he's high. Ruy Lopez is just a metaphor for an act between these two people: Presumably john and john. They played chess regularly, I'm assuming. They were friends, then they had an argument about a personal issue. Author John expressed his opinion, John got mad. Now he won't pick up his phone/texts or whatever, I assume. But that's whatever, you get it from here.
That's what happened, he wrote a song about it.
- "He sat in front of his computer for a long time and smoked the Big Stone Herb, if you catch my drift." I'm going to need to have this explained a little more clearly, if you don't mind. ??? ~ magbatz
I think this song is about a character who is Bipolar. The character alternates between hyperactivity (throwing away all his clothes, getting into a car after having his skin burned off) and depression (lying still for an excruciatingly long time). Each time that he does something hyperactive and thoughtless, it is immediately followed by inactivity as the character becomes tired and has to "rest awhile". His disorder leads to him alienating his friend (who happens to be Ruy Lopez) and destroying most of his own possessions.
Connection to Au Contraire
Both songs involve mundane situations that involve a name drop
Rest Awhile- Ruy Lopez chess guy
Au Contraire- Jodie Foster Ghandi Bach playing poker