Interpretations:Token Back To Brooklyn

From This Might Be A Wiki

I know they said what this song is about, but here's what I thought the first time I listened to it:

The token back to Brooklyn fell between the grating
And we're just watching it sinking

Their only chance to get home was this bus token, and it fell through a grate! They can't get it back now.

The fare went up to one hundred dollars
And we can never go home again

They decide to buy a new one, but since the fare went up to one hundered dollars, they can't, because they don't have the money.

The bill collector's drinking lighter fluid
And says he'll tell our parents

I'm not sure about this line. My only guess is that the people that the song is about when away far away in hopes of getting a job, didn't get the job, and told their parents they did. They don't have any money for the bill collector, so he threatens to tell their parents about their current state.

Our feet start running at a furious pace
But we can't get away

There's no way out. They're stuck where they are.

I think this is a very concise musical tribute to a nightmare that most of us have. The imagery (and music, for that matter) is very dream-like. The surrealist landscape is one that is juxtaposed onto reality, but concerns unrealistic events. The end result is terrifying, and leaves the "dreamer" with a sense of powerlessness: it is anticipated that authority figures (parents, the bill collector) will dole out punishment (unfairly perhaps, as lighter fluid is alcoholic) in reaction to an innocent mistake (the loss of the transit token).

I agree. Tis evidently a nightmare, everything goes wrong and the mood is of eeriness. The dreamer is a child, or sees himself as a child. The bill collector drinking lighter fluid would be considered unthreatening by an adult, but he is evil and knows how to strike fear into the stranded children by threatening to tell their parents, whom he almost certainly wouldn't know, about an innocent mishap, whereas anybody with a hint of humanity would try to help the kids out. Balb Kubrox

This song always reminds me of the scene towards the start of the movie Jacob's Ladder, where Tim Robbins is trapped in a closed subway station.


Perhaps this is just the Giants own take on the MTA song that was popularized by the Kingston Trio. Charlie never returned home because soon after he boarded the subway in Boston, the fair was raised.

This song is clearly very much inspired by Charlie on the MTA: sans the populist satire, and with more of a nihilistic feel. - wittytirade

This is quite simple. The singer and whoever he's with are in Manhattan, going to go home to Brooklyn by boat. They lose their ticket (or token) at the dock and it sinks into the water. They try to buy another ticker, but they can't, they don't have any money. The fare for a new ticket doesn't const $100, but when you have no money, anything seems that price.

The line, "The bill collector's drinking lighter fluid," may be a subtle reference to the Bruce Robinson movie, Withnail & I, wherein the eponymous chracter drinks lighter fluid when he discovers that he has run out of booze.

Easy. As punishment for something, these teens have to pay the bills for their parents. They leave Brooklyn in search of part-time jobs or something, but get lost. The next day, they've found what they need. However, they're too tired to work, and thus don't get money for the bills or even the subway. The bill collector's drinking lighter fluid because he can't afford alcohol. And that's why he'll tell their parents. See, J from Seattle cleans up all the loose ends! Signing off, it's J from Seattle.

It's about how John and John have lost connection with their "roots" in Brooklyn, and they're "just watching it sinking" in the sense that they can't do anything to stop their fame. "We can never go home again" because they've been considered sell-outs by many of their early fans. "Our feet start running at a furious pace" they're trying as hard as they can to please everyone, but can't.

The line "says he'll tell our parents" might not be about punishment. I imagine the kid walking up to the bill-collector, to tell him that he lost the token, and the bill collector is "drinking lighter fluid" which might imply something akin to a fire-breathing dragon, just something scary. I imagine the bill-collector leaning down and saying "I'm sorry, kid. You want I should call your parents for you (i.e. so they can send money)?" and the kid just sees this scary, fire-breathing man and he gets scared and runs away. I have this image of the bill-collector leaning down to be on level with the kid but just looking bigger and more threatening to this scared child.

Dangerous Subways Everywhere![edit]

Hmm, perhaps the inspiration for this was the same horrific subway ride as described in the '85 Radio Special Thank You?

In March, we were all trapped deep inside a subway car racing down tracks going faster, much faster, until they never let us out a full ten blocks later.

Curious, considering the guys have probably ridden the NYC subways thousands of times themselves...but there's always the unknown, nightmare-like danger of a car running off the tracks or "never" stopping (short of slamming into a wall...). --MisterMe 13:15, 4 September 2012 (EDT)