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“left hand free” i don’t understand the lyrics to this song, but i sure like it.

March 7, 2017

The song? “Left Hand Free,” by a band called Alt-J. If you’ve seen “Captain America: Civil War,” you’ve heard at least part of it. If you stayed through the credits, because you knew there would be a short film after the end of the credits, then you have already heard the full song.

If you are too cool for Captain America (shame on you) then you can still hear the song. I’m putting it at the bottom of this post.

But first..

Just after 3 am. Time for tonight’s music pick. And some music history and various semi-amusing ramblings..

I don’t understand the lyrics to this song. I listened to this song several times then read the lyrics, then read two articles about the lyrics, then read an interview of one of the three band members who created the song. He doesn’t understand the lyrics either.

We have officially entered Bob Dylan territory. In a Martin Scorsese-directed doc on Dylan, called “No Direction Home” (so great a film that I bought it even though I’m not generally a Bob Dylan fan.. yeah, sacrilege but whatever), Joan Baez talked about Dylan cackling, and admitting to her that he had no idea what the lyrics he was writing were about.

He was laughing, he said, because he predicted that people in the future would spend a lot of time trying to decipher the lyrics, and he himself had no planned meaning.

Perhaps that is the case with this song too. Although, it doesn’t sound much like anything Bob Dylan wrote, it does have odd, incomprehensible lyrics.

Do I like the lyrics? I don’t know! I listened to a lot of songs in the ’90’s that didn’t make sense to me. Those bands from Seattle.. Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Alice in Chains, I didn’t get some of their lyrics either.. but so what..

I didn’t mind not understanding the meaning (if there was any meaning) of songs by those bands, but I really want to understand this song.. because the chorus is so catchy I want to sing it.. loudly.. but I don’t want to sing a song at the top of my voice if I don’t get it, and nobody else does either.

Anyway.. this song is by a band called Alt-J. The band chose that name because, on a keyboard of a mac computer, the alt key (which is also the option key), combined with the pressing of the “j” key equals this: ∆

That is not just a triangle, it is the sign for the fourth number of the Greek number system. The sign is called “delta,” and its meaning is “change” or “difference.”

Ok then.. cool enough name for a band, but when I first saw it, I thought it was the name of a rapper. I’m not into rap, except for a bit of old school from the ’80’s and ’90’s, so I’m glad Alt-J is not a rap band.

In this song, they sound very American.. swampy, gritty, a bit like The Black Keys or The Heavy.

Ha. Whoops, The Heavy is from England too! Well, since the Stones have had a swampy gritty American sound since the ’60’s, I figure it’s ok for The Heavy and Alt-J to continue the tradition.

Right then.. what do I like best about the song? The cowbell!

Unlike “Don’t Fear the Reaper,” by Blue Oyster Cult (an American band that I thought was from somewhere else), this song does not need more cowbell. Will Ferrell will not be making an appearance in an Alt-J video, because this song has just the right amount of cowbell already. Sorry Will.

So.. here it is, one of the funkiest down-home grooviest songs I’ve heard since “How You Like Me Now?” by The Heavy, here is Alt-J, with “Left Hand Free.” I’ve decided to post a live version of the song, even though the studio version sounds a bit more aggressive, because this performance was at Red Rocks, probably the most awesome concert venue on the planet. Quite powerful visuals.

And here are the lyrics, in case you are interested. Maybe you can figure them out, but I doubt it. Just enjoy the song, it’s really great.

Ain’t shady baby
I’m hot like the prodigal son
Pick a petal, eenie meeny miny mo
And flower, you’re the chosen one

[Chorus]
Well your left hand’s free
And your right’s in grip
With another left hand
Watch his right hand slip
Towards his gun
Oh no

[Verse 1]
I tackle, we tussle
And oh my days, we’re rolling
My right hand’s gripped on his
Colt single-action army
Oh no

[Chorus]
Well your left hand’s free
And your right’s in grip
With another left hand
Watch his right hand slip
Towards his gun
Oh no

[Verse 2]
N-E-O, O-M-G
Gee whiz, girl, you’re the one for me
Though your man’s bigger than I am
And oh my days, he disagrees
Oh no
(Speak easy)

[Interlude]

[Bridge]
Well my left hand’s free
Well my left hand’s free
Well my left hand’s free
Oh no

[Reprise]
Ain’t shady baby
I’m hot like the prodigal son
Pick a petal eenie, meeny miny mo
And flower, you’re the chosen one

[Outro]
Well your left hand’s free
Well my left hand’s free
Well my left hand’s free
Well my left hand’s free
Well my left hand’s free
Oh no

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