Thursday, April 19, 2007

Marconi plays the mamba.

Starship's We Built This City is reputed to be the worst song ever written. I was simply aghast when I discovered this. The worst song? Ever. But, but, but... We built this city! On what? On rock and roll! Surely such a rockin' song could hardly be the worst song EVER. To prove it to myself, I downloaded the song and started listening to it with my roommate.

About halfway through the song, I asked my roommate, "Did he just sing 'my pony plays the mambo?'" Surely not!

My trusty roommate Googled the song for me. "You're close," she said. "It's 'Marconi plays the mamba.'" Of course. That makes much more sense.

I poured over the song lyrics. I watched the video on youtube. While my colleagues watched video footage of the Virgina Tech shooter's "multi-media manifesto," I listened to Starship ask me, "Who rides the wrecking ball into rock guitars?"

I considered doing a verse-by-verse analysis of the song in the same vein as my MacArthur Park exegesis. To do so, however, would simply be a perverse use of my time (because clearly, what I'm writing now isn't a perverse use of my time). I was going to explain how the song is really about how awful Corporate America and law enforcement is. Now that's something I can totally get into. Instead, however, I will address only a few lines that are especially telling. If, however, you would like to know all the lyrics, you may find them here.

Someone's always playing corporation games.
Who cares? They're always changing corporation names.
We just want to dance here. Someone stole the stage.
They call us irresponsible; write us off the page.

Clearly, Starship is lambasting and sneering at those who take the corporate dollar. But what they're really doing is being ironic. Kind of in the same fashion as Alanis Morisette, where the only thing ironic about the song Ironic was that nothing she sang about had any irony in it. (Alanis totally had the last laugh on that one.) Where's the irony here? How much did We Built This City sell? Lots. In fact, I just paid ninety-nine cents to download it yesterday. It's been on commercials. Nothing is more ironic than a band taking the corporate dollar while chastising those who take the corporate dollar. Kudos to you Starship. That was clever!

Don't tell us you need us 'cause we're the ship of fools.
Looking for America coming through your schools.

I need to take this opportunity to make a lyric correction. I've listened to this song at least twenty times today. The lyric is NOT "simple fools." It's absolutely "ship of fools." When I asked my friend Robin what they hell they meant by "ship of fools," she pointed out that the name of the band is StarSHIP. Ah-ha! I bought it.

However, Starship's aforementioned irony struck me so much that I have since changed my mind. They were going deeper than a mere play on the name of their band. Indeed, "ship of fools" is an old allegory that has long been used in literature and art. With self-deprecation, it describes the world as a vessel whose deranged passengers neither know nor care where they are going.

Perhaps Starship is pointing out that our schools are flawed and failing, and that unless corporate greed stops, bastions of learning will merely be pumping out ship upon ship of fools. Or perhaps the band is stating that they are the so-called ship of fools. What with their rock and roll, they don't know where they're going and they don't care. Watch out! That attitude will be coming through your schools! And do you know why? The answer is simple. Because we built this city. On rock and roll.

There is only one more lyric that needs elaboration. For those who have gotten this far, I've saved the best for last:

Marconi played the mamba. Listen to the radio. Don't you remember...
We built this city. We built this city on rock and roll!

Guglielmo Marconi was interested in the work of Heinrich Hertz, who demonstrated that one could produce and detect electromagnetic ratioation, or "radio waves." Marconi's ideas were not his own, but he commercialized a practical system of radio communications. In fact, he established the first transatlantic radio service. His competition was Nikola Tesla, who you may remember from his appearance (played by David Bowie) in The Prestige. In short, Marconi is often credited as being the creator of what became the radio. Rock on, Marconi.

But what about this mamba thing? Most people think it's a dance. But it's not. The mamba is the most deadly type of snake. Ever. Seriously. I'm not making this up. The mamba is a snake. So perhaps Starship fucked up and meant to say "mambo." But come now... a band so brilliant as to use the phrase "ship of fools"? (Note that the band didn't write this song. Elton John's longtime collaborator Bernie Taupin wrote the lyrics.) No way. "Mamba" could not have been a mistake.

So what does Marconi playing the mamba mean? Clearly, "Marconi" is referring to the radio itself. The marconi. The device. The radio plays a deadly snake. Listen to it. We built this city. The snake -- the mamba -- is slithering from the speakers. Ready to kill greedy corporations. Ready to squeeze the life out of the police. Ready to free the world of all that is evil, and to leave behind only the youthful idealism that is encompassed by the tenets of rock and roll.

75 comments:

Anonymous said...

It's a song, Vixen.

But since you clearly have way too much time on your hands, I challenge you to find the deeper meaning of the line "I look at the floor, and I see it needs sweeping" from the Beatles 'While My Guitar Gently Weeps.

My position is that they ran out of ideas to rhyme with Sleeping, and while brainstorming one of them commented that the floor needed sweeping. Song finished, history made, no shots fired.

SaucyVixen said...

Ah, an anonymous stranger. I love those. They make me happy.

In case you haven't noticed, I don't listen to what may be construed as "good" music. I listen to shit. Like Jefferson Starship. I never graduated to the Beatles.

But you know what? I dig your interpretation. That's likely it. It's kinda like how America has the the line "there were plants and birds and rocks and things" in the song 'Horse With No Name.' They just ran out of nouns, so "things" it was. I mean, "plans and birds and rocks and sand" would make NO sense in a song about the desert, right?

Anonymous said...

They used sand in the next line. Probably had to re-write the whole beginning after that. Must be hell trying to write music and stay baked 24/7.

Ever listen to Steely Dan? I'm pretty sure they used a newspaper and a sewing needle (or a used syringe) to choose most of the words.

Paul said...

Actually, it wasn't Jefferson Starship at that point, they changed their name to simply Starship. Or as I liked to call them at that point in time, StarSHIT.

Talk about your great band going down the tubes. That was the death rattle for that band!!!

Oh, and while Steely dan's lyrics don't make much sense (a second only to Yes), musically they're one of the most amazing bands...EVER...

SaucyVixen said...

I don't know. There were some folks who could still write good lyrics while totally fucked up. Take Sting, for example. Oh, of course now he's all wonderful saving the rainforests and clearly NEVER getting high. But recall the song 'Walking on the Moon.' He was high as a kite on cocaine when he wrote that and started freaking out. He began pacing his room. And as he did, he said to himself, "Walking around the room. Walking around the room. I hope my legs don't break. Walking around the room." You can see where that lyric went...

My point? I don't buy it. Surely, America could have come up with a better noun than "things," regardless of their collective buzz.

Paul said...

Thanks, you've got that stupid song in my head again.....

Gringo John said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
JamesW said...

The MAMBA in the song is not the snake. It is a musical instrument that plays notes when your hand is near it. Hitler was known to play it during one of the olympics in germany.

SaucyVixen said...

James W,

The mamba is not a musical instrument. I knew this from the start, but giving you the benefit of the doubt, I searched far and wide in order to substantiate your claim. No luck. (There does seem to be a brand of guitars called either "BLACK MAMBA" or "VENOM MAMBA," but that seems only to give more credence to the proposition that a mamba is, indeed, a snake.

The closest instrument I could come up with that a person may confuse with "mamba" is "marimba." The marimba originated in Africa and is, essentially, a wooden xylophone.

I found no link to Hitler, though. All I found information about is a well-thought-of marimba player who lived in nazi occupied Germany.

So the next time you make a (so-called) correction, some citations or corroborating information would be nice.

areng said...

I recently heard StarSHIP with Mickey Thomas play at EPCOT flower and Garden concert series. They sounded VERY good and had a new young vocalist as good as Gracie!

bruced said...

I like your interpretation and write-up. You might be interested to know your post is the first hit when you google "marconi plays the mamba," which I'm not ashamed to say I did.

Anyway, I wonder if jamesw was thinking of the theremin, which is the only instrument you play without touching.

spaceface said...

Yes.. I stumbled into this realm of wisdom after having googled "Marconi plays the mamba". My goal was to find out of this was the same Marconi who dabbled with the radio-wave; these suspicions have been confirmed. Thank you very much. I stumbled across a starship concert yesterday in from of the Missouri state capital. After viewing a flawless performance of 'We built this city' at the close of the set, I decided to watch their video on youtube knowing that it would be hilarious. Not to my surprise, it conjured up feelings and cloudy memories from the young age of 6 when I could hear my mother listening to commercial radio.

PS: I know that Blender rated this as the #1 worst song of all time however, although I am not generally a fan of this genre, this song fills me with a strange delight. I'm pretty sure the worst songs ever were written by Dashboard confessional, the Killers, or Blink 182. This dude can sing.

spaceface said...

And of course Grace Slick of Jefferson airplane fame, who is no longer with the band but appears in the video.

spaceface said...

Forgive me for posting yet another time but I have run into some rather interesting clues which may lead to further elucidation of these cryptic lyrics.
If you will go to approx 7:00 in this
recent live Starship performance, you
can clearly hear Mickey Thomas sing
'Marconi plays the mambO'. I know that the original studio recording includes the word 'Mamba'. However , I think it is now quite clear that Mr. Thomas is correcting this mistake; he says mambo with such force that you can tell it really has been bothering him for quite some time. Clearly he is referring to an early Marconi broadcast of the Cuban musical form know as Mambo which, not unexpectedly, means 'conversation with the gods'. Clearly this is an allusion to the abstract, subtle, and nuanced aspects of all Starship lyrics.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rwP132ITGMw

saddlehome said...

On the contrary, I believe that the lyric is meant to be taken literally and refers to a little known Italian musical technique that was in fact practised by the young Guglielmo Marconi. The photographic evidence speaks for itself.

http://www.dse.nl/~jillslair/marconi-mamba.jpg

Fool's tail said...

Goodness me... what a wond'rous gift to bequeath to a child ;-)

Davo said...

If you have ever messed with an AM Radio as a kid, trying to tune in all those remote stations with an earpiece in, you always get the same rythmic static between stations that feels like a latin beat such as the mambo or cha cha cha.
I have always thought this is what the writer meant that "Marconi plays the Mamba, listen to the radio" is the radio, with what Marconi is credited for inventing, is Marconi and it/he plays the Mamba/Mambo.
Just a thought.

Davo said...

As a kid, listening to the AM portable radio in bed with an earpiece, the static late a night between stations was always the same rythmic pulse, like a latin mambo or cha cha cha. I always thought this meant the since Marconi was radio, and it played the mambo on its own, that Marconi played the mamba, listen to the radio meant just that! Just a thought.

Ike said...

You should mention what "this City" is that was built on rock and roll.

As the radio announcer in the song says, it is "the City that rocks, the City that never stops, the City by the Bay."

San Francisco.

Nik said...

Goodness me. A wealth of information all because I googled "Marconi plays the mamba."

I would like to add that it is also extremely tongue-in-cheek for Jefferson Airplane -er- Jefferson Starship -er- STARSHIP to quip, "Who cares? They're always changing corporation names."

Also, in regard to America's "...rocks and things...", I would like to add my personal favorite throwaway lyrics from the great Alice Cooper himself:

"Well, we got no class
& we got no principals (principles? & class? - nice double entendres, AC!)
& we got no innocence
We can't even think of a word that rhymes!"

- School's Out

SaucyVixen said...

Nik,

The tongue-in-cheek changing names bit was not lost on me. I merely felt it too obvious to point out. :P

Blusztejn said...

Cmon lighten up, though your exegesis is on the mark. At first this song bothered me and I felt that Starship with the name change was a big sell out, but this song grew on me over the years. As I've matured so have their other lyrics. I saw them play last summer in bklyn, it was great to see the city is aging well.
what drove me here...I thought Mickey Thomas was singing "Marconi plays the number"

Mark Peppers said...

Got here via a Google search for 'marconi plays the mamba' after NPR's 'Planet Money' used this song as their theme yesterday. Brilliant analysis, I really enjoyed that!

dinogaby said...

Well, again, I'm another person who googled "Marconi plays the mamba" and came up with this.
I listened to this song on the radio for the first time a few weeks ago and I instanly got hooked with its catchy tune. Who cares if Blender rated this as the #1 worst song ever written, I think it's still pretty enjoyable.
Also, the in-dept analysis of the song lyrics was awesome. Thanks for that.
I think that "Marconi plays the mamba" is the best line from this song, seriously... how many people haved googled that by now? xD

Anonymous said...

Did I ever tell you I sang this at a banquet for JA in high school? Now I know what I was singing about! You rock! (((Saucy Vixen)))


Rock on!

(authenticity3 here)

defessus said...

i too googled "Marconi plays the mamba". i loved this thread, and just didn't want to exit without adding my "me too".

kittykat.aloha said...

I'm kinda with defessus, wanting to add my "me too."

Though I must say, I was thrilled to learn who Marconi was and that he was included in such a popular song in its day.

And about the whole worst song ever thing, it's a matter of opinion. I happen to throughly enjoy this song for its upbeat tempo. But then again, could just be me. :P

droopy d said...

Hear here! Love the article. You've got a new reader. I, too, arrived here by Googling "Marconi plays the mamba." The phrase popped up in an odd exchange of comments, and it sounded familiar, but I couldn't place it. Turned out to be the song that I'd been humming just hours earlier. What a kwinky-dink.

And I think Blender was guilty of hyperbole when they named the song the worst song, ever. I can think of many songs that are much, much worse. For example: Billy Don't Be a Hero, performed by (take your pick) Bo Donaldson & the Heywoods (1971), or Paper Lace (1974).

David said...

I always thought "Marconi plays the mamba or mombo listen to the radio" referred to the beat of the between station static on an old AM radio. There is definately a Latin Beat emitting between stations. Listen to it at night, to the radio that is, an AM radio, and listen for the Latin Beat. That is how I interpreted it.

linuus41 said...

Yeah, I'm a Googler too; glad I found this. I knew this song from when it first came out, and for some reason never thought that Marconi line was too weird. Now that you mention the snake connotation, though, it makes me think that "playing the mamba" could be a reference to snake charming? Playing the horn and making the snake dance? Charming the corporate snake beast that radio has become?

Vixen -- I like your style!

Anonymous said...

Just an idea, but couldn't they be referring to Marconi 'playing' (or acting) the role of a snake (or Mamba) by taking credit for an invention that wasn't his to lay claim to?? With all of the other references to corporate America, is it possible they mean Marconi himself IS the Mamba?? Listen to the radio, it's NOT his?
This line is REALLY pulling my OCD into overdrive!! Will someone write the writer of the song and ask him WHAT THE HELL that is suppose to mean??

Tiffany said...

I googled "Marconi plays the mamba" as well...

It irks me that this was the #1 worst song ever.. But what do I know?... My favorite song is "Video Killed The Radio Star", lol.

Kate said...

Previous Anonymous Poster of August 10th! I have just read all these comments, and I like your interpretation best! Wasn't there some sort of debate and snitchiness involved with the invention of the radio (or was that television?). I like the idea that Marconi is trying to sneak credit for something someone else did, perhaps something like building a city on rock'n'roll, perhaps something like building a city on rock and roll of which the public needs reminding. Don't you remember?

Tommie said...

Another googeler! Nice writing just wanted to know who Marconi was and there u go.

Anonymous said...

The radio waves identified by Marconi, when diagramed, looked like a snake (think gentle up and down wave) . . . thus the reference to "Mamba".

Anonymous said...

It's actually Marconi plays the mambo not mamba. I'm in choir and we're are going to have a concert called American Pop Forever and that song is included. The lyrics go as I have said before. Marconi plays the mambo. MAMBO NOT MAMBA OK PEOPLE!

SaucyVixen said...

Anon,

You may be in choir, but you are wrong. Very, very wrong. I'm sorry you are so very wrong.

Nik said...

The sad state of American choir today ... "I'm in choir and we're are going to have a concert called American Pop Forever and that song is included."

Daniel said...

Vixen, you are preaching to the choir, abandon hope all ye who enter here (there).

reverendflash said...

Wow. Some really stupid people here. Like the guy who thought "the city that rocks" and "the city that never sleeps" are both San Francisco, when they are really Cleveland and New York, respectively. Then there's the guy who thought that Bo Donaldson's COVER of a Paper Lace song came out three years BEFORE the original when, in actuality, both versions of 'Billy, Don't Be A Hero' came out in 1974. Like many, I too got here by Googling 'Marconi plays the mamba', but I bet you could also get here by Ask.comming 'Where can I read really uninformed comments about music?'

Joe Rubino said...

Wow, I just put in A ROCK THIS WAY disc as our background music at work. Just so happens that this song is on there and with 18 songs on repeat all day, I hear We built this city a few times. I googled marconi plays the mamba to see what the dealio was on it...interesting interpretation Vixen. Good stuff.

JRUB

Robin said...

Very interesting. I stumbled upon this when using Google to find out if Marconi in the lyrics referred to the same Marconi of the radio. Which it did.

Anyway, I'm replying because I see so many people say Jefferson Starship is bad, but to be honest I actually love their music (I'm only 19 years old but I like listening to old music rather than commercial new bullshit).

Ka said...

woooow I love this thread. I actually read the entire thing. That's what I get for googling bizarre lyrics (Marconi plays the mamba, of course).

The best interp I've seen myself is that they're saying modern radio is poisoning the youth of today. XD You know... Marconi representing the radio, the mamba representing an extremely venomous snake. Though I actually like the AM static-mambo theory. Especially if the singer is nowadays saying the lyric is really "mambo."

Of course if it's "mambo" then they could just mean you can dance to stuff on the radio. Which is true. I do it all the time.

PS: I love this song. How can people not like this song?! It's not like "IF YOU LIKE PINA COLADAS, AND LONG WALKS IN THE RAIN~~~" or the Gilligan's Island theme or something, geez.

Anonymous said...

Yet another googler of the infamous line. I'm doing it because of a temporary obsession with Grace Slick. As a 35 yr old, I'm suddenly in love with her mid 80's version, with some serious like of her late 60's early 70's type.

If I'm completely honest, though, I'd always thought that this particular song, and any song that has "rock and roll" in the lyrics, was tainted with a degree of lameness that required changing stations, momentarily. Now, though, I am totally into this and the Mannequin song. Yay!

Paul Scott said...

Usual thing - young people assume that everyone else is stupid, apart from them!

When you get a bit older, you will realise that you're stupid too!

Instead of writing all this crap, the solution was so simple - you just need to ask the person who actually wrote the lyrics what they meant! But I doubt you ever thought of that, because you think you're much more clever than them, as we all do when we're your age.

The reality is this is an enduring, massively enjoyable song, and we don't know what the lyrics mean, unless we ask the person who wrote them. They wrote one of the best ever rock songs, so I would treat them with some respect, unlike you.

SaucyVixen said...

Dude.

This was a mindless and fun essay written three years ago. Lighten up. Get yourself a sense of humor.

Vaguely Remember said...

In a VH1 special, Paul Kantner commented on this song saying, "Uh No, you didnt build this city, you didnt build shit". I love Paul Kantner.

Mickey Thomas said...

And just WHAT is going on here?!!!!!

Jake said...

WHAT a hoot. I actually got out of bed at 1 am to google marconi plays the mamba. Actually I googled while charlie plays the bumbum. Somehow I've been perfectly happy that this was the correct lyric for 30 years of my life until now.

Anonymous said...

I don't really don't know when you wrote this, but it's just what I was looking for. I'm from Argentina, and I just couldn't believe when you said that there're people saying this is the worst song ever written. Hell no, I love this song, and I really appreciate your analysis, if it's the word.

brianwpb75 said...

I loved this song as a kid, when it was new, along with their other hit from the same album, Sarah.

I had completely forgotten about it until 2002, when I was at a Christmas party in a karaoke bar in Japan and one of my Japanese co-workers sang this song.

Anyway, I added it to my project playlist... uhh... playlist and just heard it again and couldn't resist the urge to type into google, marconi plays the mamba.

Spaceface's youtube video showing Mickey Thomas overemphasize MambO settles the issue in my mind, though some other bloggers have argued that Mambo wasn't invented until after Marconi's death. That is an argument to be taken up with Mickey Thomas.

Thank you Saucy Vixen and Spaceface!

iluvPablo said...

I,too am one of the many people who googled "Marconi plays the Mamba" Vixen i would like to say that I like your interpretation very much! I went to an official lyrics page and the lyric is, indeed, MAMBA. The site I went to is below :)
Once again, nice job

http://www.lyricsfreak.com/s/starship/we+built+this+city_20129679.html

lulu said...

i googled this marconi plays the mamaba and your interppretation makes sense, it could be it, songwriters are poets in many ways as Yeats, shake spare never sang... so it makes sense to me

xollins said...

googling 'marconi plays the mamba' led me here. And, it seems that by posting this along with so many others, I'll help keep it the #1 result. Had a lot of fun reading all the ideas here -- I think some of them are probably deeper than the writer's. I always loved this song and, in particular, the bit about the wrecking ball b/c it has a great little guitar riff that follows.

Anonymous said...

Vixen this is Dallas pirate radio out in the extreme rural fringes.

I think your breakdown of the lyrics is 'spot on' and probably dead on. Take a BIG bow! MANY MANY years ago I met Bernie Taupin in Chicago at a local club. Totally shocked and blubbering, I said hello, and, asked him one question..

I asked him about the whole mamba thing. He looked a little surprised and then using his hands up close to his lips he made a forked tongue kind of gesture. It was DEFINITELY a snake he was joking with me about. Good work!!!

Dave Bromage said...

Another Googler here! I've been so obsessed with working out what this meant or whether it's a mistake.
Bernie Taupin's official website officially states that the lyric is 'Mamba' so I'm happy with the snake reference! However, I shall message him to see if he replies & will report my findings here.
Nice blog!

seventhmist said...

Wow a lot of criticism for something meant to be a bit fun and different!
Googler myself like so many above lol. I appreciated your perspective so thanks :)

Ketan Shah said...

Just heard it on the radio this morning and had to Google the lyrics and found this blog.

Whatever the meaning, it is a fun song and puts a smile on my face.

Scott Brownstein said...

I have always like this song and have often wondered how it can be the worst song ever (as many have pontificated) if everyone remembers it? We quickly forget all the bad cuts. BTW I have always gotten the Marconi line, but then I knew about him a long time ago in a different context. No other interpretation and in fact Transatlantic radio was always referred to as Marconi...

Scott Brownstein said...

And if you think Starship is obtuse, try "Video Killed the Radio Star," the first song ever played on MTV by the Buggles, now those are lyrics that mean a lot...even today!

AlanK said...

Nice blog, some great comments here. I always heard the one reference to mean who "writes" (not "rides") the wrecking ball into our guitars. This evokes the use of pop power chords or maybe the mid-80s prevalence of songs for hire, used by producers like the mercurial Ron Nevison, to "spruce up" established rock acts...Heart, Ozzy Osbourne, Triumph, and the Ship of fools in question, among others. All told...mamba/mambo, rides/writes, the lyrics can work either way. Certainly the song is awkward in several places, but it's great that it can still be a topic of interest while Blender is out of print.

Anonymous said...

Love the comments! Yes, I am a googler! It's amazing that a few beers drives the curiosity to such an extent. I love this song, but I think the world also needs charlie plays the bum bum. Do you mind if we develop your idea into a song?

ynot said...

Ocean liners of the early 20th century had a Marconi shack on the top for wireless communications, staffed by Marconi employees rather than the shipping line. Marconi was on the Lusitania when it was torpedoed by the German submarine U-20 on May 7, 1915 en route to Liverpool from New York City (America was neutral then). Perhaps "Marconi plays the mamba" refers to his miraculous escape from the ship (which sank in 18 minutes, compared to 2.5 hours for the Titanic three years before) when 1,195 others did not?

Anonymous said...

I think they meant "Marconi plays the mambo," but they weren't the sharpest antennas in the radio shack, so to speak. It's like that Jay-Z lyric "we run streets like drunks run streetlights," where he obviously meant stop lights, not streetlights. Oops.

Bryan said...

See, my interpretation is that the "official" lyrics are wrong. If you listen carefully, there's no 'l' in the "listen" they sing.

I've always heard it as "Marconi plays|placed the Mamba hiss into the radio", which makes a lot more sense.

Tine said...

hahahahahahahaha

i love this song and the commotion ;) i'm going to make my own "the pony plays the mamba" t-shirt

Themo H Peel said...

I read this just trying to find out what 'Marconi plays the mamba' means and was taken aback at how well written your article is! Well done Saucy Vixen and thanks for the analysis. I think I'll be trawling the rest of your posts for other interesting nuggets.

Doug said...

I'm just glad I'm not the only loser who's actually Googled this.

Oh, and up until now I always thought it was "Marconi plays La Bamba." (I still think it might actually be that. Ha.)

Chris Trentham said...

Now that I read all the lyrics "Marconi plays the mamba", makes perfect sense. The song is all about lamenting the corporate control over rock n' roll and unfortunately, they have to play along to get their music heard. Marconi (The radio) is "playing the part" of a mamba snake, spreading the poison (corporate music)." Listen to the radio!
It's actually a very cynical song that sounds big, dumb and happy. Quite the contrast between the lyrics and the high energy that it's performed at. I love the song actually.

Anonymous said...

Building on the previous poster, I wonder if the word 'play' is not so much something resigned like 'playing the part' but more like something duplicitous like 'using for one's own advantage' as in the word 'player', which means a man who exploits women for his own sexual needs. Even now our desire to make sense of these lyrics, which are at bottom unintelligible, is starship playing us to generate more interest in the song in order to boost sales and make more money. This is corporatism at its most insidious

Anonymous said...

another googler...actually bing-er. i actually thought the line was always, 'my cody plays la bamba'. next youre going to tell me that the line from the eagles song isnt really 'on a dark desert highway, cool whip in my hair'.

JalRod said...

Marconi plays the mamba!

JalRod said...

don't you remember?

Anonymous said...

First "carry ye a laser". Then, "on a heavy trail, head full of Zombie". After that, what does "this room won't be open 'till your brothers or your sisters come" mean?

Makes sense I'd google "Marconi plays the mamba". The secret meanings of all the gobbldeygook of my childhood is being made plain. Thanks, Google, and thank you for a good interpretation, Saucy Vixen. Did you think people would be still commenting on this over five years later?

Michael Sullivan said...

I just want you to know that YEARS after your original post, your clarification of Starship lyrics is still finding an appreciative audience.

Thanks for all you've done.