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Random Rules
Silver Jews Lyrics


In 1984 I was hospitalized for approaching perfection
Slowly screwing my way across Europe, they had to make a correction
Broken and smokin' where the infrared deer plunge in the digital snake
I tell you, they make it so you can't shake hands when they make your hands shake

I know you like to line dance, everything so democratic and cool
But baby there's no guidance when random rules

I know that a lot of what I say has been lifted off of men's room walls
Maybe I've crossed the wrong rivers and walked down all the wrong halls
But nothing can change the fact that we used to share a bed
And that's why it scared me so when you turned to me and said

"Yeah, you look like someone
Yeah you look like someone who up and left me low
Boy, you look like someone I used to know"

I know you like to line dance, everything so democratic and cool
But baby there's no guidance when random rules

I asked the painter why the roads are colored black
He said, "Steve, it's because people leave
And no highway will bring them back"
So if you don't want me I promise not to linger
But before I go I gotta ask you dear about the tan line on your ring finger

No one should have two lives
Now you know my middle names are wrong and right
Honey we've got two lives to give tonight
To give tonight
To give tonight, oh oh oh oh oh

Lyrics © Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd.
Written by: David Craig Berman

Lyrics Licensed & Provided by LyricFind
To comment on specific lyrics, highlight them
Most interesting comments from YouTube:

Steve Cabral

In the second verse of “Random Rules,” the standout, opening track from Silver Jews’ 1998 album American Water, singer David Berman confesses, “I know that a lot of what I say has been lifted off of men’s room walls.” In context, he might be referring to a tendency toward vulgarity or baseness. But taken another way, it almost seems like a meta-commentary on Berman’s uncanny ability to stitch together a breathtakingly beautiful song out of vivid one-liners.

As one-liners go, “Random Rules” contains some of the best Berman’s ever written. He begins with a now-legendary opening line: “In 1984 I was hospitalized for approaching perfection.” Next thing you know, he’s “broken and smoking where the infrared deer plunge in the digital snake,” which is somehow both evocative and cryptic to the point of being nearly indecipherable. But everything returns to a sobering, melancholy core in the song’s chorus: “I know you like to line dance/ Everything’s so democratic and cool/ But baby, there’s no guidance when random rules.”

Berman’s words come together almost like Dadaist poetry — for which men’s room walls can sometimes provide the perfect venue — and Berman does, in fact, have a history of writing poetry outside of music. “It’s kind of like football players in the ‘70s who started endorsing taking ballet lessons. Who am I to argue against sharpening agility?” he told Pitchfork in 2005. “All musicians should write poetry or at least read it if they want to improve their game.”

Take a step back, though, and the connections between each of Berman’s punchy, seemingly self-contained lines grow more tangible. Berman isn’t piecing together lines of a cut-and-paste word puzzle, but rather attempting to pick up the pieces of a relationship that’s been shattered. And suddenly, each of those brilliant little moments sprinkled throughout the song hit just a little bit harder, and sting just a little bit more. And when Berman narrates a conversation with a painter about why roads are colored black, it’s downright devastating: “It’s because people leave and no highway will bring them back.”

By suggesting that “random rules,” Berman muses on the inherent randomness in the universe — the feeling that everything is meaningless, or at least can feel that way when its meaning is stripped away from you. But the song itself is loaded with meaning, humor and vulnerability. There’s nothing random about it at all.



Matt M

Crossroads
Sometimes it descends
Sometimes it ascends, but the
Road will always meet you.

Meet me in the middle
Where nothing intersects with
What you have been.

Where the moon rises
And sets at the same time
Seams are sewn together.



Xiaoyue Rolin

In 1984 I was hospitalized for approaching perfection.
Slowly screwing my way across Europe, they had to make a correction.
Broken and smokin' where the infrared deer plunge in the digital snake.
I tell you, they make it so you can't shake hands when they make your hands shake.
I know you like to line dance, everything so democratic and cool,
But baby there's no guidance when random rules.
I know that a lot of what I say has been lifted off of men's room walls.
Maybe I've crossed the wrong rivers and walked down all the wrong halls.
But nothing can change the fact that we used to share a bed
and that's why it scared me so when you turned to me and said:
"Yeah, you look like someone
Yeah you look like someone who up and left me low.
Boy, you look like somene I used to know."
I asked the painter why the roads are colored black.
He said, "Steve, it's because people leave
and no highway will bring them back."
So if you don't want me I promise not to linger,
But before I go I gotta ask you dear about the tan line on your ring finger.
No one should have two lives,
now you know my middle names are wrong and right.
Honey we've got two lives to give tonight
Source: Musixmatch



All comments from YouTube:

Brendan Malone

Rest in peace, David. One of the most singular lyricists rock music had seen.

Steve Cabral

In the second verse of “Random Rules,” the standout, opening track from Silver Jews’ 1998 album American Water, singer David Berman confesses, “I know that a lot of what I say has been lifted off of men’s room walls.” In context, he might be referring to a tendency toward vulgarity or baseness. But taken another way, it almost seems like a meta-commentary on Berman’s uncanny ability to stitch together a breathtakingly beautiful song out of vivid one-liners.

As one-liners go, “Random Rules” contains some of the best Berman’s ever written. He begins with a now-legendary opening line: “In 1984 I was hospitalized for approaching perfection.” Next thing you know, he’s “broken and smoking where the infrared deer plunge in the digital snake,” which is somehow both evocative and cryptic to the point of being nearly indecipherable. But everything returns to a sobering, melancholy core in the song’s chorus: “I know you like to line dance/ Everything’s so democratic and cool/ But baby, there’s no guidance when random rules.”

Berman’s words come together almost like Dadaist poetry — for which men’s room walls can sometimes provide the perfect venue — and Berman does, in fact, have a history of writing poetry outside of music. “It’s kind of like football players in the ‘70s who started endorsing taking ballet lessons. Who am I to argue against sharpening agility?” he told Pitchfork in 2005. “All musicians should write poetry or at least read it if they want to improve their game.”

Take a step back, though, and the connections between each of Berman’s punchy, seemingly self-contained lines grow more tangible. Berman isn’t piecing together lines of a cut-and-paste word puzzle, but rather attempting to pick up the pieces of a relationship that’s been shattered. And suddenly, each of those brilliant little moments sprinkled throughout the song hit just a little bit harder, and sting just a little bit more. And when Berman narrates a conversation with a painter about why roads are colored black, it’s downright devastating: “It’s because people leave and no highway will bring them back.”

By suggesting that “random rules,” Berman muses on the inherent randomness in the universe — the feeling that everything is meaningless, or at least can feel that way when its meaning is stripped away from you. But the song itself is loaded with meaning, humor and vulnerability. There’s nothing random about it at all.

Marco Clivati

thank you for the analysis :)

Sadakichi Hartmann

Beautifully put. Thank you.

Wally Brando

The best opening line of any album ever

Jewfro DZak

@Harry Weiss Good Choice. The AJJs produced my personal second favorite all-time song, a song which possess the greatest song opening lyric ever, imo: "I'm a blank page, in notebook waiting to be filled with countless drawings of cocks."...AJJ honorable mention in same category: "I wanna fucc the devil in his mouth...""

Harry Weiss

Jordan

Harry Weiss

AJJ’s Knife man album starts with. “ the Michael Jackson of drunk driving played his final game tonight.” That’s a contender if you ask me.

Vinyl Diary666

"Teenage angst has paid off well, Now I'm bored and old"

Jewfro DZak

I call and raise you one Patti Smith's Horses' Gloria's "Jesus died for somebody's sins, but not mine."

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