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Genius Next Door

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Some said the local lake had been enchanted

Others said it must have been the weather

The neighbors were trying to keep it quiet

But I swear that I could hear the laughter

So they jokingly nicknamed it the porridge

'Cause overnight that lake had turned as thick as butter

But the local kids would still go swimming, drinking,

Saying that to them it doesn’t matter

If you just hold in your breath 'til you come back up in full

Hold in your breath 'til you've thought it through, you fool

The genius next door was bussing tables

Wiping clean the ketchup bottle labels

Getting high and mumbling German fables

Didn’t care as long as he was able

To strip his clothes off by the dumpsters

At night while everyone was sleeping

And to wade midway into that porridge

just him and the secret he was keeping

If you just hold in your breath 'til you come back up in full

Hold in your breath 'til you've thought it through, you foolish child

In the morning the film crews start arriving

With donuts, coffee, and reporters

The kids were waking up hungover

The neighbors were starting up their cars

The garbagemen were emptying the dumpsters

Atheists were praying full of sarcasm

And the genius next door was sleeping

Dreaming that the antidote is orgasm

If you just hold in your breath til you come back up in full

Hold in your breath 'til you've thought it through, you foolish child

I've had a lot of free time on my hands, so I have been posting pretty often in this thread--I hope this is not bothersome to anyone.

So, "Genius Next Door." A rarely mentioned song that has been around for a while, which was deemed important enough to show up on the present album. Some people say it is pure nonsense, but others, though agnostic about the precise meaning of the lyrics, find the piece astoundingly beautiful. Many people listening to the performance at the last concert I attended were literally moved to tears by the piece. What has been accomplished by the music in this situation if the lyrics remain opaque?

I think "Genius Next Door" represents the mastery of one of RS's particular styles. The lyrics evoke certain images in a sequence with powerfully moving effects, but present a dead end to literal interpretation.

Spektor has mentioned in interviews that she writes songs as if writing short stories. This brought to mind the adage of Edgar Allen Poe that the short story serves the purpose of instilling a single emotion in the reader--e.g., terror*.

Thoughts?

*look into the short stories of Franz Kafka, specifically The Metamorphosis. That story literally made me feel an emotion I had never felt before.

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Some said the local lake had been enchanted

Others said it must have been the weather

The neighbors were trying to keep it quiet

But I swear that I could hear the laughter

So they jokingly nicknamed it the porridge

'Cause overnight that lake had turned as thick as butter

But the local kids would still go swimming, drinking,

Saying that to them it doesn’t matter

If you just hold in your breath 'til you come back up in full

Hold in your breath 'til you've thought it through, you fool

The genius next door was bussing tables

Wiping clean the ketchup bottle labels

Getting high and mumbling German fables

Didn’t care as long as he was able

To strip his clothes off by the dumpsters

At night while everyone was sleeping

And to wade midway into that porridge

just him and the secret he was keeping

If you just hold in your breath 'til you come back up in full

Hold in your breath 'til you've thought it through, you foolish child

In the morning the film crews start arriving

With donuts, coffee, and reporters

The kids were waking up hungover

The neighbors were starting up their cars

The garbagemen were emptying the dumpsters

Atheists were praying full of sarcasm

And the genius next door was sleeping

Dreaming that the antidote is orgasm

If you just hold in your breath til you come back up in full

Hold in your breath 'til you've thought it through, you foolish child

I've had a lot of free time on my hands, so I have been posting pretty often in this thread--I hope this is not bothersome to anyone.

So, "Genius Next Door." A rarely mentioned song that has been around for a while, which was deemed important enough to show up on the present album. Some people say it is pure nonsense, but others, though agnostic about the precise meaning of the lyrics, find the piece astoundingly beautiful. Many people listening to the performance at the last concert I attended were literally moved to tears by the piece. What has been accomplished by the music in this situation if the lyrics remain opaque?

I think "Genius Next Door" represents the mastery of one of RS's particular styles. The lyrics evoke certain images in a sequence with powerfully moving effects, but present a dead end to literal interpretation.

Spektor has mentioned in interviews that she writes songs as if writing short stories. This brought to mind the adage of Edgar Allen Poe that the short story serves the purpose of instilling a single emotion in the reader--e.g., terror*.

Thoughts?

*look into the short stories of Franz Kafka, specifically The Metamorphosis. That story literally made me feel an emotion I had never felt before.

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i've always really wanted to find some grand meaning behind this song... i'm not really happy to let it be that there's nothing more behind it than communicating an emotion... i'm not knocking that possibility, of course, and i don't think there's anything wrong with pieces written for that purpose (in fact, that's exactly how i interpret Eet). I just really, really want there to be more to Genius. i know that's not a good reason to insist that there /is/ more, but hey, a girl can dream, right?

I honestly have no idea what it could mean, though! i'll think on it... it is rather cryptic.

i certainly agree, though, that the lyrics will have little to do with a meaningful, specific interpretation... i guess it'll come down to what you feel the song id about (?)

sorry this wasn't more insightful Frowner i hope other people post their ideas on this song; i look forward to seeing what it means to others.

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I've been thinking about this song long and hard for quite a while now, and have been similarly stumped.

So then I came to the conclusion that you're kind of just supposed to enjoy the ride. Rather than questioning all the imagery and wondering what it means and how it applies to life, you're supposed to let it just wash over you, y'know?

Obviously there are themes of loneliness, and that feeling of being isolated, misunderstood. But I think that beyond that, you can drive yourself crazy unless you just sit, suspend disbelief, and let Regina's story telling take you wherever your mind wants to go.

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This might be a simple, literal interpretation of the song, but I think it has to do with autoerotic asphyxia. The asphyxia that occurs before drowning is said to cause an orgasm.

So, the "enchanted" lake is only enchanted because of the euphoria produced from the hypocapnia (lack of oxygen to the brain that makes you feel "high")....just hold your breath 'til you come back up in full. The kids play that game to experience a euphoric feeling.

The genius next door's secret is the fact that he's into autoerotic asphyxia, hence his stripping his clothes off by the dumpster while everyone was sleeping. He's ashamed so he does it at night (the embarrassment goes hand in hand with the "neighbors were trying to keep it quiet" line...it's something people don't like to talk about).

By the final verse, one of the local kids eventually died via this "enchanted" lake, hence the arrival of the film crews.

The genius next door is as "genius" because he thinks he has the antidote for life's problems...orgasm through the enchanted, though thick as butter (ew), lake.

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^ I agree, I look at this song in a literal way as well. A kind of story-song.

And really quick, this is one of the things I love about Regina. Who else would write an epic song about a lake and autoerotic asphyxia?

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quote:
Originally posted by tourniquet737:

This might be a simple, literal interpretation of the song, but I think it has to do with autoerotic asphyxia. The asphyxia that occurs before drowning is said to cause an orgasm.

So, the "enchanted" lake is only enchanted because of the euphoria produced from the hypocapnia (lack of oxygen to the brain that makes you feel "high")....just hold your breath 'til you come back up in full. The kids play that game to experience a euphoric feeling.

The genius next door's secret is the fact that he's into autoerotic asphyxia, hence his stripping his clothes off by the dumpster while everyone was sleeping. He's ashamed so he does it at night (the embarrassment goes hand in hand with the "neighbors were trying to keep it quiet" line...it's something people don't like to talk about).

By the final verse, one of the local kids eventually died via this "enchanted" lake, hence the arrival of the film crews.

The genius next door is as "genius" because he thinks he has the antidote for life's problems...orgasm through the enchanted, though thick as butter (ew), lake.

I never considered these possibilities, though I did assume that the genius next door drowns. Fantastic!

I always wonder with some of her more difficult lyrics if there are obscure allusions that I'm just missing, since RS has such a diverse cultural background.

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I see it as a story song. You know those cheesy movies where a small town is disrupted by a weird occurrence (eg bleeding statue) that turns it into a tourist attraction? That's what I think of when I listen to this song.

The lake (a possible source of many peoples' livelihoods in our small town setting?) is affected by a seemingly supernatural event, and, as is to be expected, everyone freaks out. Some try to give it a logical explanation, others call it a sign from God, and the local teenagers, always willing to experiment, take their chances on swimming in it. Whilst totally plastered, of course.

A local misfit pensively observes the happenings. I see this character as having some form of narcissistic personality disorder. "Genius Next Door" is a label he has given himself, attributing qualities of superiority to himself, despite not gaining (and secretly desiring) the attention of his peers. Not being invited into the drunk swimming festivities, he tries the lake out himself. He quickly becomes addicted to the feeling of fullness he gets from being in this mysterious lake alone late at night. In his delusions of 'genius,' he gains an unearned sense of 'ownership' of the lake, and feels as though he and he alone understands what made it "thick as butter." This supposed knowledge is "the secret he was keeping."

Of course, word spreads about the lake, and "film crews start arriving," prepared to show the town's secret to the world. In some senses, life carries on as usual; in others, all hell breaks loose. The Genius, as usual, excludes himself from the activity, feeling that he knows what everyone else is trying to find out.

I know I haven't said anything insightful about the song. I see it as storytelling for the sake of storytelling, not a commentary on life. Its a gorgeous song though...

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This may or may not have been an inspiration for GND, just something that caught my eye...

I was reading Shakespeare's play "Troilus and Cressida" for class and came across this line: "Some say the Genius so cries "come" to him that instantly must die" (Act 4 scene 4).

It's probably not a source but still intriguing I thought. Genius (capitalized no less!), death, and crying "come" in the same sentence!

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