Song of the Day #1,604: ‘Red Dress’ – TV On the Radio

Here’s another track from TV On the Radio, who seem to have popped up a few times on recent Random Weekends. This is another cut from Dear Science, my favorite of their albums.

The appeal of TV On the Radio is the seeming incongruity between their electrified funk sound and the English major complexity of their lyrics. Today’s song is yet another metaphor-rich track that begs for in-depth analysis.

Is it an anti-war song? Anti-consumerism? A comment on slavery? On Religion? Maybe all of those things and more.

And it also rocks like a son of a bitch.

Hey Jackboot
Fuck your war
Cause I’m fat and in love
And no bombs are falling on me for sure
But I’m scared to death
That I’m living a life not worth dying for

And your plow shear
It’s a sword
And its wide arcing swing chops the heads off of many things
Mono crops… Laughter roars
Oh high hilarity
Oh muck bury me
Oh standard bearer carry me burning home from another tour

Go ahead put your red dress on
Days of white robes have come and gone
Come and gone
Oh you rivers, oh you waters run
Come bear witness to the whore of Babylon

“Hey Slave” They called
And we caved
We answered
To a new name
Shout it loud shout it lame
But black face it
You’re such a good dancer
Oh you’re a star
You’re carnival
Jacaranda petals fall
Mix with the blood of the saints
Shot down in the square
Don’t track it in on the soles of your shoes
When you’re dragged into the back of this car

Go ahead put your red dress on
Days of white robes have come and gone
Come and gone
Oh you rivers, oh you waters run
Come bear witness to the Whore of Babylon

It’s a trap
That much is plain
Still,maybe send snapshots
Of all your sweet pain
Playing tortuous games
It goes: Lens, light, fame
Read my names on your lips
When the man cracks the whip
And you’ll all shake your hips
And you’ll all dance to this
Without making a fist
And I know that it sounds mundane
But it’s a stone cold shame
How they got you tame
And they got me tame.

So go ahead put your red dress on
Days of white robes come and gone
Come and gone
Oh you rivers, oh you waters run
Come bear witness to the Whore of Babylon

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One thought on “Song of the Day #1,604: ‘Red Dress’ – TV On the Radio

  1. Dana says:

    What do you get when you combine INXS, talking heads and Peter Gabriel? Basically this song. It’s a good one as I like all three of the influences. What’s the song mean? I’ll leave that to the English majors in the crowd

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