Friday, August 7, 2009

Lyric Deconstruction: Take the Money and Run

Steve Miller Band, 1976

This here's a story about Billy Joe and Bobbie Sue
Two young lovers with nothin' better to do
Than sit around the house, get high, and watch the tube
And here is what happened when they decided to cut loose

Oh, good, a story song! I like story songs. Now, the names "Billy Joe" and "Bobbie Sue" indicate to me that this story probably takes place in the South. You never hear a grownup with two names anywhere else. What if your orthopedic surgeon was named "Jimmy Ray"? Would that freak you out?

Also, who hasn't had that period in your life when all you did was sit around the house, get high, and watch TV? For me, it was called "college." KIDDING. Sort of.

They headed down to, ooh, old El Paso
That's where they ran into a great big hassle
Billy Joe shot a man while robbing his castle
Bobbie Sue took the money and run

Yeah, I knew it was going to be in the South somewhere. Although Texas isn't really the South. Texas is kind of its own thing. When I think "South," I think Alabama, not Texas.

Anyway, back to our story. WHOA, didn't see that coming! They're a crime team. "Hassle" is putting it mildly, isn't it?

Go on take the money and run
Go on take the money and run
Go on take the money and run
Go on take the money and run

Right, the chorus. Not much going on here lyrically.

Billy Mack is a detective down in Texas
You know he knows just exactly what the facts is
He ain't gonna let those two escape justice
He makes his livin' off of the people's taxes

A new character, Billy Mack! He knows "what the facts is"? Steve Miller, please. There's no real rhyme scheme at all in any verse in this song, so would it have killed you to say "what the facts are"?

I love the last line in this verse for a couple of reasons: (1) Steve obviously was trying to think of words that rhymed with "Texas," and you can just see that he went "Oh, taxes, yeah!" and then had to think of some way to make the word "taxes" work in the song, so (2) It's so wonderfully irrelevant. It's like Dirty Harry stopping in the middle of the movie and looking at the camera and saying "You know, it's your tax dollars that pay for necessary police services like the type I provide"; and (3) You have to think that if Steve wrote this in 1996 instead of 1976 it would be something like "He gets his secretary to send his faxes".

Bobbie Sue, whoa, whoa, she slipped away
Billy Joe caught up to her the very next day
They got the money, hey You know they got away
They headed down south and they're still running today

Slipped away from what? Steve left the best part of the story out of the song!! I guess we're supposed to imagine that Billy Mack caught up with them and there was some sort of confrontation, but that's the money shot! C'mon, Steve! That's like not ever seeing the shark in "Jaws," but just having a lot of people talk about how someone got eaten. Not the same effect.

Singin' go on take the money and run
Go on take the money and run
Go on take the money and run
Go on take the money and run
Go on take the money and run
Go on take the money and run
Go on take the money and run
Go on take the money and run

I don't want to step on your songwriting or anything, Steve, but it's a little repetitive at this point.

UPDATE: In response to Burrito Justice's request, I have managed to locate the missing verse! Here it is:

Bobbie Sue put the money in derivatives
Sold exotic securities like chopped-up mortgages
Billy Mack lost the house where he used to live
Bobbie Sue took a bailout and run

Huh. So that's how they eluded Billy Mack. Weird.


Anonymous said...

Please oh please recreate the missing verse. Sounds like there were separated, must know why.

LilBlogger said...

Bobbie Sue took the money and ran after Billy Joe shot some guy. That's the deal. She ran. Billy Joe had to catch up with her cuz she had all the money, probably loved her a little too.

Rocco said...

can you do the killers "human" next? 'cause i'd really like to know what "are we human/or are we dancers" means.