From This Might Be A Wiki

Ever since I first heard it, I've felt the song was a dream. Or like a dream... not very much about one. The distorted vocals, the guitars, and the imagery in my head(especially when I thought Skullivan was Skeleton) creates this dream like sequence. And, near the end of the song/dream, you have an alarm clock-type sound (it's there from the beginning, but apparently someone was pressing snooze, eh?) Then, at the end of the song, Linnell's line slowly fades (I guess that's the right word. I don't have the vocabulary to describe it.) out. Flans' lines could be something someone is saying in real life? Perhaps the dreamer is sleeping on a couch in an apartment. No clue what to do with Flans' skullivan line, though. Subconscious intertwining? Yeah, so I rambled. Hi, I'm new. Someday I'll come back here and possibly clean this up. Did anyone else notice that part of "When the Skullivan walks in the moonlit night" is backwards at around 0:58? Interesting. This is one of my favorite TMBG songs, but that has nothing to do with interpretation. - Fizzward

What I'm getting from this song is much like a major theme from (work with me on this) the movie Monsters, Inc. Sure, they're monsters, they're scary, but they walk and talk and go to work like regular people. They even have human names, like James P. Sullivan and Mike Wazowski. On that same vein, the repeating chorus leads you to believe Skullivan (even sounds like Sullivan) is perhaps some scary skeleton, or whatever you will, who rises up on moonlit nights scaring children and whatnot. But really, he's just a gracious host who likes Tootsie and wants you to enjoy your tea. So to sum it up with a tired cliche, don't judge a book by its cover. --Brian Q

This song is definitely about the tragedy of the gifted child.

Oh, god... That was pretty hard on the ears. I sped it up with quicktime and it was something.... Strange.

Whoa. This song gets really freaky if you play it backwards with quicktime... "thgin tilnoom eht ni sklaw navilluks eht nehw, ho".

Hey, y'know who I think Skullivan would look like? Cartlidge Head. Yup.

I say it's about things not being what they seem. Meaning Skullivan seems like a scary, weird guy, but hey, maybe he's not.

On top of what Tailwhip said in the discussion section of this interpretations page (about how it's all about an old person because of the tea, Tootsie, etc. references,) I think the main thing is that "The Skullivan" is just an overdramatized way of referring to an old man. It's as though he'd introduce himself as something like John Skullivan but the locals are so used to him they call him The Skullivan. He's just a likeable, possibly eccentric old guy who takes late night strolls, invites people over from time to time, and sometimes decides on a whim to rent old movies that he thinks people would enjoy. The only reason the song is sung so eerily is because it sounds funny with his name. Skullivan would probably get a big laugh out of it himself if a kid sang it to him. --JiuNoon 13:19, 19 May 2006 (CDT)

Yeah I'd agree that it's basically a mock-scary song about some fictional monster, but he's actually got a very polite British manner. Seems to be it was another chance for TMBG to try out new musical conventions, like distorted vocals and other technical alterations to test the human tolerance for dissonant melodies and jarring rhythms.