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

Christopher R. Weingarten | January 27, 2009 - 11:30 am

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?