Interpretations:South Carolina

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Interpretation 1[edit]

Not a whole-song interpretation (it's pretty clear, isn't it?) but i thought I'd point out that I always though the line

"I was an I but now I am a V"

was extra-clever because it alluded to an IV, which he would obviously need in the hospital after the wreck... —Preceding unsigned comment added by Unknown Author (talkcontribs) 20:36, 20 May 2004

(I think this is a reference to the narrator having becoming bent in the accident - ASL)

Interpretation 2[edit]

I wanted to say that the Wheel had turned from an "O" into a "D" is because it got flattened on the top. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Unknown Author (talkcontribs) 17:32, 19 July 2004

Interpretation 3[edit]

I wanted to say that the Wheel had turned from an "O" into a "D" is because it got flattened on the top.

[ I think that part of this song is about suing the person who crashed into the bike riding narrator. The narrator wins the lawsuit and collects a large sum of money for the damage he sustained in the wreck. Though the bike was totally annihilated, the money won was more than enough to cover the costs of a new bike. However, the story is not told in real-time. It is being looked back on by the narrator who now has a butler (Garcon) and is dining upon snails and other expensive foods that he couldn't afford in the time before the crash.

"The other day my neighbor has a dented bike / Second day he called me from intensive care / Says he needs a picture of the dented bike / For the evidence of what a wreck he had"

While he is in the hospital, the narrator arranges a hearing of his lawsuit and thus he needs a photograph of the damages for the court case.

"Accident / Accident / Lift that fork, eat that snail / Garcon summoned, have a new cocktail / Lift that fork, eat that snail / Garcon summoned, have a new cocktail"

The events that made him rich still ehoes in the back of his mind as he enjoys his new lifestyle. Perhaps he feels a tad guilty? Maybe he didn't deserve that much money?

"If I had to do it all again, buy bicycle / If I had to do it, I would crash my bicycle / I'd crush my head / Collect the bread /Crash my bicycle"

He obviously rethinks his guilt and decides that if he had the choice, he would do it again if that meant he could have more money. He most likely was corrupted by the sudden increase of wealth, and has become very greedy. And that's my two cents (or more). -Brittany W.

Interpretation 4[edit]

I like how you get the _feeling_ of the wreck from the POV of the cyclist - the view from the ground: the destroyed bike, the red reflector bits, the policeman's chorus moving the crowd back; you really see yourself crushed on the ground.

It also kinda mimics the action in places, although this might have been accidental - there are lots of circular bits - the policeman's chorus goes round and round, over and over, like a wheel, like pedaling a bike. The section where the observations of the cyclist from the ground is punctuated by a line that's just "Wreck!" It's as if he's replaying the moment of impact over and over while looking at the scene.

Cool little song.

I think "Garcon" may not the name of the butler, it's how you signal the waiter in French, as in, "Waiter, where's my drink?" ~Christina Miller, September 2004

Interpretation 5[edit]

The singer gets into a bike accident, and he wins some money, but it doesn't satisfy him ("And I won some damages and they were punitive By which I mean the punishment was damaging")

So, he looks over his case, notices how easy all of the evidence for his case was, just some broken glass and twisted tires, and decides to do it again, to get more money. However, the second time, the police just ignore him, he lays there bleeding to death on the ground, and thinking about all of the stuff he will gain by getting into another accident, but the police officer just keeps repeating his refrain, and the singer dies there, on the ground, damned by his own greed. My own 2 cents. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs) 02:47, 22 February 2005

Interpretation 6[edit]

As far as I know, garçon means boy in French, so it makes sense that he's talking to his waiter; he's telling the waiter/butler to summon up a new cocktail for him. It seems to me to be as if the narrator is telling the story to the listener in the restaurant or his home. The narrator is telling the story of how he got all his money. In the lines "Fork (fork)/Snail (snail)/Garçon (garçon)/Cocktail (cocktail)," he is demonstrating his newfound wealth to the listener. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs) 03:23, 7 October 2005

Interpretation 7[edit]

Did he have a real accident the first time? One the first day he said he had a dented bike, and on the second day he said he was in intensive care. Either he took a long time to go to the hospital, or he staged the entire thing. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs) 14:33, 7 October 2005


This is about Linnell's bike wreck that prompted Dial-A-Song, or at least based on it... This is has 3 different points of views...

The first is the neighbor, or perhaps a witness. He thinks the narrator is out of his mind when he asks him to take a picture of the bike. So this could be an interview of the wreck.

The second is the narrator, telling about the wreck. He seems happy-- he sued the cause. So now he's filthy rich.

The third is at the end, the policeman. This purpose is what happened to him, and the chaos. It's that whole, "Everything's ok. We're cleaning it up, let the guy breathe" while panic is behind the scenes as the narrator, perhaps seriously injured, is taken to the hospital (as seen in the IV allusion thingie). So yeah, it's a bike wreck, and some guy suing (sp?).

Agreed. The 3 narrator thing makes it like a musical and I think is unique on any Giants/solo recording. Easily in Linnell's top tunes. (Mr Tuck)

I imagine that the narration takes place in a fancy French restraunt-- the whole cocktail and snail thing. Both the witness and the narrator are there, both telling the waiter what happened...

Sorry, just my thoughts on the song. --Lemita 16:41, 1 Jun 2006 (CDT)

Punitive damages[edit]

You're not likely to receive punitive damages as a result of a bike accident, just compensatory damages (if any at all). —Preceding unsigned comment added by Tcp (talkcontribs) 18:57, 17 October 2012

Interpretation 8[edit]

The neighbor (witness) said that Linnell needs a picture of the dented bike for the court case. He sues the court, then gets filthy rich. He gets bent (I was an I now I am a V) and his tires do as well, (O to a D) and now he happily munches on snails and endless cocktail refills. He loves the wealth so much, he decides to get into another bike crash. Then another. Finally, the cops get the point. They completely ignore him, leaving him bleed to death, damned by his own stupidity, losing all of his wealth, and his memories of his wealth and previous bike crashes flash before his eyes, leaving him dead.

Saskia16 (talk) 20:24, 29 December 2016 (EST)Saskia16

Background of the Narrator[edit]

My own additional interpretation is that the narrator is a courier & he got in the accident while on the job. And normally he makes minimum wage working as a courier, but after his accident which sees him able to afford fancy French dinners, he decides he's going to do it again once he's recovered enough to go back to delivering things.

This is kind of implied by the lines

"If I had to do it all again by bicycle

If I had to do it, I would crash my bicycle"

Did the narrator really win the suit?[edit]

I was just reading over everyone else's interpretations and it seems like I'm in the minority here but I always assumed that the narrator of the song didn't actually win the suit. I think I get that sense mostly from the intro: how the song begins with them frantically asking their neighbor to collect evidence for their case. It makes it seem like the lawsuit is still in its earliest stages, but the narrator is already celebrating their victory.

Also, it's unclear who's responsible for the accident. For all we know, the narrator could have crashed the bike themself and so there's not really anyone to sue in the first place. Or they're doing some kind of ill-advised cash-for-crash scam, making a fraudulent injury claim about a city bus or something. In any case, they're just assuming that because they were injured, they'll get a huge settlement, so they're going ruining their credit at a French restaurant. This really casts these lines in a new light:

And I won some damages and they were punitive/By which I mean the punishment was damaging/It crushed my hand/It crushed my head/Garçon, where's my drink?

First, they imply that they won the suit. Then they immediately walk that claim back (backpedal, if you will) by saying that they weren't necessarily invoking the legal definition of "punitive damages." Then they insist on the severity of the injury twice. And finally they get frustrated and change the subject.

I think the story is so much more tragic and Linnellian if the narrator is unreliable, delusional, impatient and greedy in this way: acting as if they already have a settlement purely because they feel entitled to one.

Danwillisdan (talk) 09:43, 15 November 2020 (EST)