Why The Worst Lyric On “Merriweather Post Pavilion” Is Resonating With Everyone

Jan 27th, 2009 // 70 Comments

Animal Collective’s Fleet Foxes-slobbered-on, Kanye-endorsed video for “My Girls” has been bumpin’ around for a few days and has been getting some pretty positive praise, despite generally looking like an expensive version of Green Man from It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia. And more than any lyric on Merriweather Post Pavilion, the chorus to “My Girls” has people Tweetinging or Tumblring or whatever the fuck they do now. The most common reading on (always-accurate!!!11) lyric sites is:


I don’t mean to seem like I care about material things like a social status
I just want four walls and adobe slabs for my girls

Sure, in hard economic times, it’s rockcrit 101 to champion dudes who sing about the joys of simplicity and domestic life. What twentysomething who just got laid off from his graphic design job doesn’t want to occasionally be reminded that there are more important things in life than bottle service? (Conversely, politics blog The American Scene is paints Sr. Panda as a crunchy conservative in his “longing for property and for home.” What?)

But, really, fuck the economy. Is this dude saying “adobe slats” or “adobe slabs”? And what does that even mean?

Says SongMeanings.com commenter tonyjames:

adobe slabs refers to building a home from the ground up like way back in the day. basically stating that as father he’s going to work hard in providing for his children. but yes i agree that while most animal collective songs are a little difficult to interpret on the first try, this one is way easy to understand. its in general a song about a man providing for his family and making his father proud in the process.

So yeah, I love the sentiment and, hell, I even love this bloopy-bloppy mess of a song. But even so, I just can’t look past the fact that this is a crappy lyric. And I overlooked “Are we human or are we dancer.” Dig it:

1. By its very definition, social status is not a material thing. At all. Remember when David Cross tried to buy a house on “indie hipster cred”? Doesn’t work!

2. It’s a line about growing up and taking care of your wife and kids but still sung with that Peter Pan syndrome fake-naïveté that these guys haven’t abandoned since they were murmuring “I am the pantha!” through a Line 6 pedal.

3. To force the rhyme of “slat” and “stat[us]” they sort of leave off the “-us” reducing it to “a social stat” which is really like cutie-poo Hollertronix board slang given new life as song lyric. Nix social stat? Totes awes fam bros!

4. “Adobe” is like the least musical word humanly possible, next to maybe “coprophagia” or “phlegmatic” or “weltanschaung.”

5. With four walls and some slabs (or slats), the Panda Clan still doesn’t exactly have a roof.

I dunno. After looking at that cover for seven hours, maybe he means Adobe Photoshop?

  1. Kieran

    this article is essentially a waste of time. you don’t say anything interesting, just invalid and immature things about a truly great song.

    ‘Adobe” is like the least musical word humanly possible, next to maybe “coprophagia” or “phlegmatic” or “weltanschaung.’

    what a ridiculously ignorant thing to say. all this article manages to do is highlight that you’ve completely missed the point of the song, and ultimately the ‘bloopy-bloppy’ (you buffoon) genre altogether.

  2. Chris

    It’s “Weltanschauung” with two Us. Tend to agree with the article btw, but it’s a neat little pop song if taken at face value.

  3. The song is about the simplicities in life, and not overthinking them. By overthinking the aesthetic values of the lyrics you undermine the song meaning.
    Also the melody is hot in combination to the groove.
    Regarding the lyric adobe: although a 2-syllable word would work better than “adobe”, adobe slabs is a phrase. It’s an old fashioned phrase that almost reeks of the phrase “settling down.” I think it’s perfect. “Four walls and adobe slabs for my girls.”

    Social status also IS a material thing. Not by definition, but it’s regarded as such. He’s saying that he believes social status is like currency in the real world. And it’s true. Who you know will get you where you want to be.
    Dismissing the idea of social status allows the listener to concentrate on the simplicity of the message.

  4. alex

    Man, why are you so bitter?

  5. AR

    It seems as though the author of this article is unable to google the word “adobe” and discover that it is… a building material. That is used in brick form. To make houses. And thus it is completely fair to call them “adobe slats/slabs” even if slats is a stretch semantically. You essentially focus entirely on this single phrase. Which is ridiculous. It is like complaining about Wagner using the phrase “nicht fertig” is scene 3 of Das Rheingold. As far as cutting off the ending of status, if you are complaining about near rhymes, you should pretty much complain about every song ever. Oh, and whilst you might think adobe is an ugly word, an opinion you are completely entitled to, the word has won a national one word poetry contest, which suggest popular and professional opinion disagrees with you.

  6. AR

    Oh, and is it really necessary for him to mention the roof? Again, if you want everything to be that literal, you would probably need to give an equally ridiculous critique to the vast majority of music. Seriously, I feel like an ex must have broken up with you, somehow working in “adobe slabs/slats” and you’re still bitter about it.

  7. although i see where you are coming from, i still think this is a great song and i dont care if they choose to use an old phrase.it makes sense in a way. but it wasn’t until just recently it bothered me enough to look up its meaning and end up here. its a truly unique song just as all of animal collectives other ones, and i love it!

  8. tyler

    couldn’t have said it better..

  9. tyler

    wait, not about the article, but agreeing with Kieran’s post. how could i ever agree with that dumbass, i mean, i guess i just love “bloopy bloppy” music. or maybe i just have fully functioning ears, and this guy doesn’t…

  10. Everybody

    Why did I even go to this post? This is written like an 8th grader who happens to read more than the rest of the class (I used to be that guy… I grew up.) We can argue perfect rhymes all day. I can explain to you alternative building styles all day. Say something interesting or don’t say anything at all.

  11. adam

    I always thought it was ‘a dolby set’ – like dolby digital 4.0 or 5.1 or 7.8, whatever number we’re up to.

  12. Gorgeous George

    You read wayyyy too far into this.

    The lyric “adobe slats” refers to the shingles used on the roofs of many European homes (Especially in Spain, Portugal, Italy and many parts of South America). Noah Lennox lives with his wife in Portugal. Where these roofs are commonplace. All he’s saying in this song is that he wants four walls and a roof for his girls (wife and kids)

  13. jim

    Man this is such a great song, you clearly just dont get it…..

    oh well, YOUR problem, not the worlds….

  14. lame

    i think you meant to say “are we human or are we DENSER”
    so good job, you’re a hater and dumb.

  15. tpc

    This is a lame article. Please write about something that needs to be written about.

  16. Kurt

    Don’t listen to these guys! They like the catchy tune and feel they need to defend themselves. I loved the article and haven’t laughed that hard in a very long time. Thanks !

  17. Austini

    He says “Like our social stats” not “status”

  18. Ave

    Dude, honestly. I’m 15 years old, and I understood that lyric the first time I heard the song. Maybe if you payed attention in school (or actually did your research), you wouldn’t have to waste people’s time asking stupid questions and being a pansy over a song lyric.

  19. Jackthegentleman

    Really? You cant understand that the idea of the song is that a social status is so important in the modern world that its like a material item. The song is about not caring about it, and living in a cheap home with his wife and daughter. Its about rejecting the search and strife of finding ones self in the social world, and creating your own social world that is based on family. I say duh, to you sir

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