Interpretations:Stalk Of Wheat

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Interpretation 1[edit]

Linnell's last contribution to the album will be for many his favourie. It's a fun kids song (about paranoia!) that would not have been out of place on NO! Another one of Linnell's sing-a-long addictives, it's beautifully arranged and performed. You just wish it would last longer! (Mr Tuck) 06:52, July 10, 2004

I'm not sure if this is really a good example of a TMBG "kids song" - I find that it fits better under the "songs-with-sad-lyrics-and-happy-tunes" category ('I had a thought bubble of trouble and strife / And I'll have it for the rest of my life', among others). The narrator is out of luck, 'juice' (motivation?), money, work, and ideas, without even a sliver of hope (he/she/it has 'a dream of a gleam in my eye/and I'll have it 'til the day I die'). Even a 'walk on a stalk of wheat' feels 'like a trillion feet' to the miserable narrator. Kids would like it, but I really don't see it as geared towards kids. - Rhinoceros Rex 08:09, July 10, 2004
You are right in the sense that the lyrics are not for kids, but the musical construction certainly would appeal. Plus there is a nice irony in Kids singing along to this ode to adult misery! (Mr Tuck) 10:08, July 10, 2004
"Here's a song which we wrote for grown-ups because it's about being old and sad. But we think the kids might get a kick out of that because they're still young and happy." - John Linnell, 7-10-04, Minneapolis Kid's Show —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:26, July 14, 2004
Thanks John! (Mr Tuck) 08:22, July 17, 2004

Possible connection to Stalk of Wheat Might be a reference to the song They Might Be Giants ("They might be frying up a stalk of wheat").

Interpretation 2[edit]

The final song in the Spine's memory loss trilogy. Damn Good Times is about a girl with no old memories, Broke In Two is about a guy who can't make new memories, and Stalk of Wheat is about someone with no memory at all. Unaware of anything, he sings this happy little ditty and carries a gleam in his eye and a thought bubble of strife. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:32, July 14, 2004

Interpretation 3[edit]

Does Museum Of Idiots count as memory loss? The narrator's "honey" may forget him. --An orangutan 14:25, July 17, 2004

Dr. Seuss[edit]

This is probably unrelated, but "Dr. Seuss's Sleep Book" mentions a moose dreaming about drinking goose juice and a goose dreaming about drinking moose juice. The moose is thus "a moose denied", because he's been drinking the wrong juice.

Maybe this is a coincidence, though. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:57, September 1, 2004

Interpretation 5[edit]

Does anyone know if Linnell deliberately repeats the 'I'm insane...' melody from 'Absolutely Bill's mood' when singing 'I was out of ideas.'? Just wondering if this was a clever reference that tied to what he sings. Joe :) 13:22, November 5, 2004


This is about dying. The "stalk of wheat" is the walk to the afterlife, but the man is not completly dead yet. However, he may be braindead. (out of ideas). He is walking to find his god, the friend at the end of time. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:00, November 27, 2004

Interpretation 7[edit]

I'm going to say that this is a song that John began writing but was stopped short by songwriter's block. So he started throwing together words that rhymed with * in "I was all out of *", added another verse like the first, and ended up with a great song. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:03, January 15, 2005

Cockney rhyming slang[edit]

Just a sidenote, "trouble and strife" is cockney rhyming slang for "wife". So when he says "Had a thought bubble about trouble and strife and I'll have it for the rest of my life" it may be a reference to marriage. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:34, January 22, 2005

I noticed that also. You can sub in all sorts of fun things, once he uses the well known slang of "trouble-n-strife" for "wife"!
Cockney slang for "street" is "field of wheat." Going for a walk on a street makes more sense than taking a walk on a "stalk of wheat." The match isn't good, but ....
"Ducks & Geese" are "police" in the slang, so he was "out of luck like a policeman that died."
And if you use "Moose and Squirrel" for "Girl", and "Juice Box" for "c*cks" means he was all out of c*cks like a girl denied. Of course, that's pretty dirty, isn't it?
Seriously, though, I don't think they are above creative rhyming slang. ~(Christina Miller) 14:47, August 31, 2005
I like the rhyming slang connection. It's silly and perhaps far-fetched, but so is the song. Here's my addition: The line before "trouble-n-strife" mentions "a gleam in my eye" - which is commonly used to refer to a yet-to-be-conceived child (as in "when you were just a gleam in your father's eye"). It's not exaclty ryhming slang but perhaps it suggests that the singer feels burdened by his family. --Phlodo 18:44, 28 July 2006 (UTC)

Interpretation 9[edit]

I thought of this when I was taking a shower, and I guess something clicked and had too much time. Here is what I think. This song is saying that he (Linnell) is out of ideas that are not as great as Flood used to be, "and here's the reason why"

-I went for a walk on a stalk, on a stalk of wheat And it felt like a trillion feet = "They Might Be Giants" *(obivously for the one line in it)

-I was looking for a friend at the end, at the end of the line And it took me till the end of time = "Leterbox" (based upon the fact that the song includes waiting for a letter and about a friend never telling him anything so he waits "til tomorrow" so it feels like the end of time)

-I was all out of luck like a duck... = "Lucky Ball and Chain" (He lost his lucky ball and chain, so therefore out of luck)

-I was all out of juice... = "Dead" (returned a bag of groceries, and so what is in the bag of groceries can be found by listening to "Grocery Bag", which obviously not on Flood, but still explains what is in the grocery bag "juices")

-I was all out of money... = "Minimum Wage" (explains itself. If you are on minimum wage you'll tend to quicky be out of money)

-I was all out of work... = "Hearing Aid" (now this one gives me trouble... Hearing Aid relates to work and with the interpretation in my mind, out of work could mean working so hard and thus becoming out of work, or exhausted, so needing more coffee! Overworking let's say.)

-And I was out of ideas... = Basically stating now he is out of ideas now and possibly be "We Want A Rock" (he was out of ideas, so he follows the trend)

-I once had a dream of a gleam, of a gleam in my eye And I'll have it till the day I die = "Birdhouse in Your Soul" (the gleam being the "night light." This could be Linnell's very clever way of saying how "Birdhouse in Your Soul" will always stick with him, since they play it at almost every show and in Linnell's explaination... [I think WNYC Spinning On Air 1 - before Birdhouse In Your Soul is played])

-I had a thought bubble of trouble, of trouble and strife And I'll have it* for the rest of my life = "Twisting" (trouble and stife right there...)

Ok so, basically I tried to prove my point, but to me it made so much sense, ah oh well. Makes you think though. But don't get me wrong even though I intepret saying that Linnell hasn't any ideas as great as Flood, it is just an interpretation. It is not true that he has no ideas better than Flood. I love just about every song They have. -Joseph 02:07, March 2, 2005

Intentionally clumsy rhymes[edit]

A side note: The similes in this song are intentionally clumsy (a bunny that's broke?) in order to emphasize Linnell's writer's block. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:51, October 1, 2006

Interpretation 11[edit]

I'm not certain that this song really means much of anything beyond what the lyrics say, to be honest. I think Linnell simply wanted to write a song that captured the feel of the great depression. During the depression, the music had a very big band feel, as does the song, also the lyrics would easily fit in with boxcar jumping hobos who had lost hope but still had a dream of coming out of their slump. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 11:43, July 3, 2007

Stalk of Wheat/Simplier than it seems[edit]

Dum, dum, dum, dum, I think stalk of wheat is simply about the strife of life. The first couple of lines are about someone on a simple mission on a supposedly simply path (stalk of wheat) but gets lot so it takes him for what feels like forever to get there and even when he does, his friend is late and doesn't show so everything feels like time is wasted and taking forever.

The protagonist is probably just had nothing but bad luck all their life or on this particular day and proceeds to get worse as (s)he excessively tired, broke, and recently fired/doesn't have a job and now they're just lost, aka they're out of ideas. What direction can they take now? Everything else has gone downhill

Now the gleam in the eye I think is supposed to justify the song's cheerful true, I think despite all the crud the person suffers they still have a glimmer of hope that they carry with them for the rest of their life. Though the thought bubble of trouble and strife I think is the person's spirits dampening with the thoughts of the harsh realities they must face and they're listed once again and finally concludes:

"I got nuthin'." —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 05:50, January 15, 2011

Interpretation 13[edit]

expanding on the whole Flood theory, the jerk who's a joke is the racist friend or the ugliness men, while the trouble and strife represents the old term for woman, as in woman and men. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:30, February 23, 2012

Interpretation 14[edit]

I was looking for a friend (at the end)

At the end of the line

And it took me 'till the end of time

It made me remember what I studied in math, that two parallel lines meet at infinity. -Duubhglas 06:25, June 1, 2013