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Regina's Recurring Motifs

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I was actually just discussing this with my best friend a bit a while back... on the topic of her using a theme of "feet," one could also include:

"Dance Anthem of the 80's" - "An addiction to hands and feet..."

"Carbon Monoxide" - If I don't put my socks on right, they'll slide right off of my feet..."

"Twa Sisters/Final Film Score Project" - "First they wash their feet..."

"Eet" - "You can't remember, you try to move your feet..."

"Folding Chair" - "My feet are buried in the sand..."

"Mermaid" - "For a couple of feet, and they always bleed..."

"Flyin'" - "Kissed my cheek and rubbed my feet..."

"Ne Me Quitte Pas" - "Down in Lexington, they walk in new shoes stuck to aging feet..."

"A Cannon" - "Bare feet on the cobblestone street..."

"Ghost of Corporate Future" - All the lines about the Ghost telling you to talk off your shoes, stepping in loogies, etc. Shoes are on feet...

Uhhh.... so I'm pretty sure there are actually more than this. But it's all I can remember at the time.

<3 her, and every little thing she chooses to sing about. Smiler

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Her direct references to mothers.

It's amazing to see listed out!


(Ain’t No Cover)

saying I love a mother

but this ain’t no style


but I love a mother

'til the day that I die

(Aching to Pupate)

I’ll drink Heineken, eat cornflakes

Then I’ll call my mom and dad

Tell them that I’m doing fine

(Ballad of a Lovable Dictator)

Shake what your mama gave you

You know that it won’t last

(Bear Spektor)

but I live

in my mom's and dad’s house

with my little brother

Bear Spektor

(Bon Idee)

Don’t tell your mother that you are afraid

Don’t tell your lover that your heart might break

(Call Them Brothers)

Find their fathers and their mothers

If you remember who they are

(Chemo Limo)

Oh my god, Barbara

She looks so much just like my mom

(I Cut Off My Hair)

I called up my momma but I couldn’t be sweet

So I escaped through the window on a rope made of sheets

(Love Affair)

Yet despite this imperfection he was clean looking and respectable looking

And you’ll never find a mother who doesn’t appreciate a natural man


Porcupine-ology, antler-ology, car-ology, bus-ology, train-ology, plane-ology, mama-ology, papa-ology,you-ology, me-ology, love-ology, kiss-ology, stay-ology, please-ology.

(Lucky Penny)

And a dime just in time

for the little kid behind me to pick it up and yell:

Hey, mom! I found a dime!


My mom had been a rather crazy queen

But not at all like a sex machine


And i stood on my toes to catch a glimpse

Of my mother's eyes and my mother's skin

And she retired to her chamber

(Poor Little Rich Boy)

And you don’t love your mother

And you know that you should


In the ground they’re tattooing the stones with curses like cavemen

"Yo mama was here"


My mama thinks I’m grown but I’m really just little

And someday I will remember

(The Virgin Queen)

Headless mother, heartless father

Ghosts of the yes man past and future


Oh we’re born alone and we’re covered by m-m-m-mother’s kisses

The mind has already forgotten what the body still misses

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I didn't want to start a new thread about this, but it's too broad to add to the lyrics section, so i hope it's okay that i'm resurrecting an (awesome!)old thread to meention regina's prominent focus on nostalgia! Like agnosticism, love, and mental illness/disturbed characters, nostalgia is one of those "can't unsee" aspects of regina's work.

I was struck by its prominence while reading discussion of "school is out" in the lyrics section-- i don't know if that song is particularly autobiographical (most people who posted in that thread seemed to think so, as am i) but the narrator is quite clear that he/she doesn't want to grow up and leave childhood behind. This is such a big part of regina's song catalogue, imo!

There are songs which express nostalgia and desire for childhood explicitly:

"i just want time to play with my old teddy bear...

but i stay late cause i can't understand physics." ~School is Out

"you'll miss every toy you've ever owned


you'll want to go back

you'll wish you were small

nothing can solve your crying


...there's still no cure for crying"


but then, what about all the other songs which express this same feeling and even, imo, attempt to perpetuate/stimulate it in the listener?

-Ghost of Corporate Future:

The businessman is being responsible and trying to stay dry, but then he acts childish: taking off shoes, licking rocks, cutting his own hair, putting dirtballs in his pockets. The phrasing of the song never returns to the ghost or the event where he visited the businessman, which imo opens the song to the audience, advising us to do the things that the "ghost" told the "businessman" to do.

-Lucky Penny

The basis of this song is that the narrator is not an "adult" but a "grown-up." The use of this childish phrase evokes the sense that the narrator is grown, yet retains childish characteristics: Throwing money away with some vague sense of making someone else happy, sharing a moment with a random cat, collecting rocks.

-Hotel Song Though we've disputed the physical age of the hooker (?) in the song, there's no doubt that she feels as though she were younger than her station in life demands:

"I am a child. It's too soon. I have dreams of orca whales and owls, but i wake up in fear." Childhood escapes her, despite her need for its return.

-Mermaid. Specifically, the lines where she sells her tail at a junkyard sale with her childhood toys. Something being lost or given away is associated with toys and childhood.

-Prisoners, where mama thinks they're grown but they're "really just little." This is just like the line i quoted from Hotel Song, in my view. An adult who hasn't "grown up."

-In Flyin' someone who is unprepared for sex experiences molestation at the hands of her teacher and never recovers

-Similarly, A Cooler Version of Yourself features a character who is "so young (and drunk)" and talks about sex like a kid sitting through a catholic mass. Nothing meaningful is acknowledged, just their own response to the physical aspects: it's boring, i pull away, and so on. (No offense to catholics--only that the services are meant to be spiritually relevant, rather than entertaining or flashy)

-Mustard Musketeers is probably a song about growing up, but there seems to be one final adventure where they play their make-believe card one last time. Some have suggested that the ending describes their adult lives. If this is true, then regina describes adulthood in children's terms--putting on costumes and "going in under cover," rather than truly maturing into a different kind of person.

-Reading Time With Pickle: the narrator works and seems to have the house to herself (or is seriously shameless in her love of the pickle!). Yet she plays with a pickle and reads it stories. The spontaneity of her action is reminiscent of children.

I could go on and on, but i just wanted to bring this up: i think regina's shameless in encouraging people not to grow up all the way: that there are aspects of childhood that can never be topped by adulthood. For this reason, we have to keep being and doing things that keep alive this spirit of childhood.

The inevitability of losing these things accompanies a million and one examples and suggestions on how to keep them.

Interesting and tragic, no? Wink

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Very interesting! Smiler

When I listen to her songs, I often have this quote in my mind: "The whole process of life is learning to look at things from more than one point of view, and that's not something that adults grow out of because they've stopped being children."

I think there are many songs which express the fear of growing up (Mustard Musketeers, School is Out,..) but more than that, I think she also proves that even if we have stopped being children, we don't lose our capacity to be amazed.

Interesting and... full of hope, no? Wink

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i agree it's a hopeful sentiment! I also think regina models her own life after it. She's fairly vocal about wanting to maintain childish qualities, and that she doesn't believe there's a particular point that acts as a dividing line between childhood and adulthood-we're all just people: older and younger. Smiler

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Originally posted by Be like the water, people.:

She's fairly vocal about wanting to maintain childish qualities, and that she doesn't believe there's a particular point that acts as a dividing line between childhood and adulthood-we're all just people: older and younger. Smiler

People are just people... Big Grin

And I agree with you: Childhood seems to be the third main topic besides love and death.

In "Firewood" she even connects the former and the latter.

Also, she often "asks" to be a little less grown-up and do childish things. In "Ne me quitte pas" for example: "But if you're a friend of any sort / Then play along and catch a cold", or in "Ghost of Corporate Future" (again): "Maybe you should kiss someone nice / Or lick a rock, or both" and "Maybe you should cut your own hair / 'Cause that can be so funny"

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