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Deciphering Burning Beard

I have been listening to "Burning Beard" by Clutch for months now and I cannot decipher the meaning of the lyrics. At one point, they reference Occam’s Razor, so I thought this the appropriate place to try and find insight as to the meaning.

"Burning Beard" by Clutch

Every day I wake up we drink a lot of coffee and watch the CNN
Every day I wake up to a bowl of clover honey and let the locusts fly in
Lobsterbacks attack the town again
Wrap all my things in aluminum
Beams of darkness streak across the sky
Pink rays from the ancient satellite

Every time I look out my window same three dogs looking back at me
Every time I open my windows cranes fly in to terrorize me
The power of the Holy Ghost
The power of the Holy Ghost
Shadow of the New Praetorian
Tipping cows in fields Elysian
Saturnalia for all you have
The seven habits of the highly infected calf

Swan diving off the tongues of crippled giants
International Business Machine
Choking on bits of barley bread crumbs
Oh this burning beard I have come undone
It’s just as I’ve feared. I have, I have come undone

Bugger dumb the last of academe
Occam’s razor makes the cutting clean
Shaven like a banker, lilac vegetal
Break the glass ceiling and golden parachute on down

The power of the Holy Ghost comes to town
Shadow of the New Praetorian
Tipping cows in fields Elysian
Saturnalia for all you have
The seven habits of the highly infected calf

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The only sense I can make of this after a once-over is the play off of Steven Covey’s "7 Habits of Highly Effected People; in the last line of the chorus.

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My Take by LordDilly

The first verse mentions Lobsterbacks, a slang term used by Revolutionary forces to describe British soldiers in the War for Independence. From this, the lyric about watching CNN, wrapping stuff in aluminum, and satellites, I’d hazard a guess that the first verse is about getting paranoid from watching the news.

I have no idea what or who the three dogs mentioned in the second verse represent, nor the crane that flies into the window. "Shadow of the New Praetorian"- the Praetorian were the elite bodyguards of the Caesar in Ancient Rome, thus, shadow of the new elite? The references to fields Elysian, the Holy Ghost, and Saturnalia suggests a new religion (of the elite?) and I think the reference to "The seven habits of the highly infected calf" is about the Golden Calf of the Exodus story, and as Brandon said there is that famous book "Seven Habits of Highly Effective People"…

I think this song is railing against "Big Business" or "Corporate America", calling them a new religion for the elite. "Swan diving off the tongues of crippled giants" might mean those business execs who jumped to their deaths during the Great Depression (or any time a business goes South.) It is accusing the business world of dumbing down "the last of academe". I’m not sure what most of the rest of the imagery means, but maybe someone can pick up the ball (if my interpretation seems correct.}

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A coded song? by EyeOfSage

Aren’t you looking into this song a little too much. You are over-analyzing the song. If it’s a poem, the words might mean something, but it’s just a song. You should realize by now that modern day songs contain no meaning whatsoever. The author of the song obviously tried to make the line rhyme.

[I mean seriously, does the author know what Occam’s razor really mean?]

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uhhh.. by gnifyus

My first impression is the same one I get when I read those Spam e-mails that have the computer generated gibberish along the bottom, but actually after reading it, and looking around…

same 3 dogs

cranes (irony?)

burning beard

Elysium is an obscure and mysterious name that evolved from a designation of a place or person struck by lightning according to Wikipedia,

Saturnalia

I still see no connection. I’ll keep trying. (I hope this wasn’t just spam filler put to music.)

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Deviant Morphology by gnifyus

It’s not just modern day lyrics that give the impression of fever dreams. Poets such as Dylan Thomas and e.e cummings for example:

nonsun blob
a cold to
skylessness
sticking fire
my are your
are birds our all
and one gone
away the they
leaf of ghosts some
few creep there
here or on
unearth

This even has a name apparantly – deviant morphology which seems a fairly fitting name.

Many songs from the late 60’s and early 70’s; even mainstream bands like Yes seemed to apply this poetic imagery without a clear overall meaning to their lyrics.

And let’s not forget Captain Beefheart. (This guy even paints too, Brandon.)

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irrelavent by Anonymous

It is not the lyrics but the mood being communicated. Trying to figure them out is like trying to reason with Bush.

A song playing on common religious (mis)concepts and socio-human paranoia. An excellent song to play bass to as well! I’ve broken it down into lines of lyrics and explanations following immediately after.


Every day I wake up we drink a lot of coffee and watch the CNN
Typical beginning to most of American days
-
Every day I wake up to a bowl of clover honey and let the locusts fly in
Euphanism for inviting the end of times
-
Lobsterbacks attack the town again
Repeating of history reaching back to the days of the Redcoats. Take your pick of current events.
-
Wrap all my things in aluminum
The belief that government and alien forces are reading our thoughts, and that aluminum foil will deflect the effects. A swan song for the paranoid.
-
Beams of darkness streak across the sky
Alien craft.
-
Pink rays from the ancient satellite
The "Ancient Satellite" is another name for our moon.
-
Every time I look out my window same three dogs looking back at me
a.k.a. Cerberus, three-headed dog of the underworld, ensuring that once souls entered the realm of Hel (one L), they were trapped indefinitely.
-
Every time I open my windows cranes fly in to terrorize me
-
The power of the Holy Ghost
Holy Ghost = Religious and Moral Majority.
-
The power of the Holy Ghost
-
Shadow of the New Praetorian
Already addressed several times in other posted replies.
-
Tipping cows in fields Elysian
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Saturnalia for all you have
Saturnalia is the old festival from which Christmas took most of its ritual. Contrary to popular belief, the old ways went that the god Saturn, adorned in red, would descend upon of persons home, leaving either gifts or punishments. This all centered around how that individual acted throughout the year and what offerings were left for Saturn. Such things can be found in Santa’s Naughty or Nice list, and the leaving of cookies and milk.
-
The seven habits of the highly infected calf
Actions of the religious as per dictum of their own version of god worship.


Swan diving off the tongues of crippled giants
Originally from Monk John of Salisbury in the 11th century, stated again in a letter by Sir Isaac Newton to Robert Hooke in reference to the advancement of science and his own personal brilliance: "If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants."

Obviously diving head first in the opposite direction, that back towards religious superstition and complete disregard of reason through the misconstrued words of those "Crippled Giants" in the science community. (case in point, breakthroughs in stem cell research being outlawed for reasons of religious fervor.)
-
International Business Machine
The church
-
Choking on bits of barley bread crumbs
Once used as sacrifice to Gods, such as in Lammas, or Bread festival, with which the last grains of the harvest were made into loaves of bread and offered for a greater harvest the following year.
-
Oh this burning beard I have come undone
The mistranslation around 12 century of Moses’ "Burning Bush" was found to actually be "Burning Beard" in recent re-translations. Symbolic of direct communication with God. Getting the story straight from the horse’s mouth as it were. Not at all surprising, the state of "Religious Ecstasy" and "Insanity" are often very close together. Hence coming undone.
-
It’s just as I’ve feared. I have, I have come undone
See above.
-
Bugger dumb the last of academe
Destruction of reason and any organization that lauds it.
-
Occam’s razor makes the cutting clean
Theory that the simple answer is normally the correct one.
-
Shaven like a banker, lilac vegetal
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Break the glass ceiling and golden parachute on down
In reference to "What Color is your Parachute", authored by Richard Nelson Bolles
-
The power of the Holy Ghost comes to town
Effect of the Moral Majority in your personal life
-
Shadow of the New Praetorian
-
Tipping cows in fields Elysian
-
Saturnalia for all you have
-
The seven habits of the highly infected calf
-

Hope you enjoyed this.

I’m not sure of every reference, but from what I piece together in the song is that he’s trying to use nationalism and religion to spark or continue war.

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duh by Anonymous

Elysian is mentioned in the movie Gladiator, something about if you find yourself lying in green pastures, don’t worry you are already dead…blah blah blah and you are in elysium.
The seven habits refers to the seven deadly sins.
And yes the song writer knows what Occam’s theory is. Its a pretty simple concept.

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3 dogs by Anonymous

I could be wrong but the 3 dogs could be the holy trinity(Father,Son,Holy Ghost) because when he says "the power of the Holy Ghost" in the back ground, just after it, I hear "woof woof woof". I’m not sure it could just be a reference to the "power of the Holy Ghost" dogging you or what not. just a thought

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good insight by Anonymous

Stumbled across this, and found most of the comments to be pretty spot-on and act well to add cohesion to this rather frenetic song. I have a couple notes to add:

The Elysian Fields are a type of beatific and idyllic afterlife; cow tipping is a much-mentioned, seldom-performed past time of teenagers in the Midwest. A nice juxtaposition of disparate, yet still related phrases.

Cranes have a rich history throughout mythology. In different cultures, they’ve represented health, beauty, omens and longevity of life, among many others. One instance that comes quickly to mind is the Japanese tradition that making 1000 origami cranes would grant one perfect health. There’s also the industrial aspect that affects the use of the word, especially in the context of this song.

The three dogs could represent further paranoia and/or the ever-lurking presence of some force weighing on one’s mind. Pretty much any trinity could be interpreted here. It’s also worth noting that when Neil sings "Woof Woof Woof," after the next "Power of the holy ghost," he says "Pass auf," which pretty much means "watch out" in German.

By saying "I have come undone," the persona is admitting that he has come to worship this International Business Machine religion, having grudgingly (thus, "choking") offered up his barley bread sacrifice. "It’s just as I feared" is the justification and realization of his earlier paranoia.

The verse (stanza?) that starts out "Bugger dumb" is about conformity and resignation to this corporate theology/philosophy/ideology that has been established by the persona, who is growing fearful of his imminent assimilation into it. The first lines speaks of muting the reliance on and influence of thought and education. The line about Occam’s razor begins by saying that this conformity is the simplest and best answer, and "cutting clean" sets up an almost paraprosdokian play on the phrase, by juxtaposing it with the actual act of shaving one’s face. "Shaven like a banker" shows the transformation into your stereptypical businessman; "lilac vegetal" is a famous after-shave for men—more word play on shaving. Glass ceilings is a phrase used in the corporate world to describe an inevitable passe one will reach in his or (usually) her station due to an inherent quality (being a woman, for one, would be an example). A Golden Parachute is a retirement package that a CEO or such will set up for him/herself for when he/she steps down from the position. It usually includes things like a high pension, stock options, and other benefits—this is especially beneficial if the company is in the red. It seems this could be read as saying that once you give yourself over to this force, succeed to the top of this once-despised, now-embraced commerciality.

I should stop now before my English major kicks into any higher gear—wouldn’t really want a queer-theory reading of Clutch . . . or would we?

Anyway, it’s a great song, with great word-play and basically just rocks.

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New preatorian by Anonymous

Shadow of the new peatorian
tipping cows in the fields of Elysian

The New preatorian `Children soldiers?`
tipping cows `is a child’s prank` in the afterlife since they could not play and have fun in their earthly life.
And I actually think he sings `choking on bits of fallen bread crumbs` Dying, not surviving on the leftovers from the international business machine, therefor he must shave his beard work up the corporate ladder and break the glass in and settle down with a handsome gold parachute. All big timers get a huge severance package.

I hope I got something spot on, thankful for replies.

To bugger:

Fuck, or screw. An act of copulation.

Bugger dumb the last of academe:

To defeat a hated enemy simply by outpopulating them. “They got the guns, but we got the numbers.” Gives the next line some clout.

I didn’t read all of the comments, but the ones that I did didn’t really put this idea out there. International Business Machines (IBM) is one of the world’s most powerful corporations, if not the most powerful. I haven’t thought about this song in an analytical sense until just a few moments ago. I was thinking it was about awesome beards having awesome powers, that is until IBM just kind of jumped out at me. =P

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An addition by Anonymous

I’ll add this:

“Every day I wake up to a bowl of clover honey and let the locusts fly in”

This line is a reference to John the Baptist, who spent long days in the wilderness with locusts and wild honey for his only food, says the Bible.

The song’s lyrics most definitely have meaning. Neil Fallon is no idiot; of course he knows what Occam’s Razor means, and all the rest of it. This song is rife with imagery from literature and popular culture. It tells a story not in a narrative sense, but in a metaphorical one.

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bad trip by Anonymous

neat thread.

only addition: barley bread is the historic vector of rye ergot poisoning, a fungal precursor to lysergic acid and its family of psycho active drugs but aslo a poison: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ergotism. People could taste the fungus in baked bread, and baking did reduce its potency, so if they were starving they choked it down – maybe they would live through the bad trip. so they didnt starve and hoped for the best. st anthony’s fire is a bad trip. whether or not this abstraction was intended by the band, the notion of the “bad trip” is consistent with the song.

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lilak vegatal by Anonymous

Last Looks at the Lilacs
To what good, in the alleys of the lilacs,
O caliper, do you scratch your buttocks
And tell the divine ingenue, your companion,
That this bloom is the bloom of soap
And this fragrance the fragrance of vegetal?

Do you suppose that she cares a tick,
In this hymeneal air, what it is
That marries her innocence thus,
So that her nakedness is near,
Or that she will pause at scurrilous words?

{pierce to the darkness of the (stair /stare )of the minds eye
from the quivering impulse of the minds awareness/fresh}

Poor buffo! Look at the lavender
And look your last and look steadily,
And say how it comes that you see
Nothing but trash and that you no longer feel
Her body quivering in the Floréal

Toward the cool night and its fantastic star,
Prime paramour and belted paragon,
Well-booted, rugged, arrogantly male,
Patron and imager of the gold Don John,
Who will embrace her before summer comes

division of perspective from delusional ether of self aware vagrancy of the vagrant sea
singularity of any proceeding consciousness
if linear actualization can find its existence apart from the voices that shadow imagined awareness
or am i SAYING STATIC AWARENESS IS NEVER A LIGHTNING STRIKE

BUT vague is the true reality as to the full extension of distant observation held to the specified

if I remove the eyeball from the observer is a TRUER REALITY AVAILED TO THE VISION IN CONSCIOUSNESS

silence has a place where static of mind exhausts its confusion has a tinfoil folding over within aluminum spire tip of conscious wave beyond mass waves of bias from vagrant sea of the rested shore assured sure

This is a reference to Philip K Dick, who claimed to have had a gnostic vision – been granted a brief glimpse of the face of god – via a pink beam of light. In a separate essay, Dick claimed that the Roman Empire had launched a satellite (ancient satellite) that was able to monitor our thoughts.

It’s only natural that Clutch (Fallon) would reference PKD, as they’re fans of all things sci-fi and seem obsessed with people who have visions (specifically paranoid visions – re: the entire CLUTCH album).

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