Song of the Day #3,074: ‘The Boy With the Arab Strap’ – Belle & Sebastian

belle_sebastian_boy_arab_strapThe title track from Belle & Sebastian’s third studio album, 1998’s The Boy With the Arab Strap, is a quintessential B&S song. It’s delicate, quietly rollicking, precious but snarky, unmistakably the work of this wonderful, improbable band.

Lead singer/songwriter Stuart Murdoch took the “Arab Strap” reference in this song from a Scottish band of the same name. He didn’t realize it referred to a device used by men to maintain erections.

[Verse 1]
A mile and a half on a bus takes a long time
The odour of old prison food takes a long time to pass you by
When you’ve been inside
Day upon day of this wandering gets you down
Nobody gives you a chance or a dollar in this old town

[Verse 2]
Hovering silence from you is a giveaway
Squalor and smoke’s not your style
I don’t like this place
We better go
Then I compare notes with your older sister
I am a lazy gett, she is as pure as the cold driven snow

What did you learn from your time in the solitary
Cell of your mind
There was noises, distractions from anything good
And the old prison food
Colour my life with the chaos of trouble
Cause anything’s better than posh isolation
I missed the bus
You were laid on your back
With the boy from the arab strap
With the boy from the arab strap

[Verse 3]
It’s something to speak of the way you are feeling
To crowds there assembled
Do you ever feel you have gone too far?
Everyone suffers in silence a burden
The man who drives minicabs down in Old Compton
The Asian man
With his love hate affair
With his racist clientele

[Verse 4]
A central location for you is a must as you stagger about making free with your lewd and lascivious boasts
We all know yo’re soft cause we’ve all seen you dancing
We all know you’re hard cause we all saw you drinking from noon
Until noon again
You’re the boy with the filthy laugh
You’re the boy with the arab strap

[Verse 5]
Strapped to the table with suits from the Shelter shop
Comic celebrity takes a back seat as the cigarette catches
And sets off the smoke alarm
What do you make of the cool set in London?
You’re constantly updating your hit parade of your ten biggest wanks
She’s a waitress and she’s got style
Sunday bathtime could take a while

One thought on “Song of the Day #3,074: ‘The Boy With the Arab Strap’ – Belle & Sebastian

  1. Dana says:

    It’s been awhile since you’ve posted a B&S song.

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