(non)Cover of the Week 39 Your Stripes

When Buffalo Tom played this past June, in addition to showcasing some new songs, we wanted to open up a bit and work on some less-often-played numbers from the past. One such song was “Your Stripes,” from Sleepy Eyed. I loved playing and singing it and it was one that many friends remarked on afterward. But even so, it goes by so fast and loud that it does not allow a whole lot of listening to and enjoying the lyric. While I don’t think it is Shakespeare or Dylan, I do think it is a nice little lyric, so why not give it the acoustic treatment for a (non)Cover of the Week?

The record was released in 1995, which makes me think I wrote the song in 1993 or so. It is an oddly nostalgic theme for a 27 year-old. Those of you following along at home will agree that this is a recurring theme and it makes me wonder if I was in the moment and enjoying those prime years enough. But singing it today brings me to the conclusion that I was nostalgic for the very period about which I was singing; I could feel it going by. But I also realized that nostalgia fools us into thinking all in the past is wine and roses.

Another thing that I am reminded of is that sometimes you hear a guy singing in a band and you assume he is singing about a woman. Sometimes, though, he is singing about his band.

Your Stripes mp3

For those of you with greedier ears, here it is in .wav format

Let me know if that makes a big difference for any of you.

17 thoughts on “(non)Cover of the Week 39 Your Stripes”

  1. fantastic; I think I always knew this wasn't about a girl but to have this type insight into the lyrics of one of your favorite bands is just great. The rough loud rock assault of "Sleepy Eyed" juxtaposed against the poetry and tension of the lyrics made that album song for song, for me, up there with "let me come over." Lots of summer images, color images in the album; lemon drops, tangerine, sun dresses and cobalt skies and hot mold plastic dinosaurs and hay fever; Themes of bittersweetness-but all these with the specter of waving goodbye,sparklers(which for some reason always conjured up visions of miller's crossing)and cruel life(I love the you can't learn that from books line). And Sunday Nights- that's the saddest, excellent chorus in that one though.

    I don't begin to really know what I'm talking about- but I guess I'm just saying that I recognize the fact that you are writing about losing something, and seeing it in slow motion as it goes, worrying whether or not you enjoyed it enough or will be able to find solace, let alone a reason. Its all written in the sand, it seems.

  2. Another great one thanks…!!!

    I'm thinking about what you wrote about playing the more obscure stuff, is that difficult? And by difficult I mean how do you balance how many obscure/ vs hits to play?

    Bear with me here, but I was at Steely Dan the other night at it was the internet request night of their Beacon stand. So we got a good mix of hits, and a few bones thrown to the die hards. (We actually ended up with Aja in it's entirety.)

    Now I know you guys are pretty generous with taking request on stage during the show and handle people yelling out their favorite song pretty well.

    So the question is would you ever think of taking a poll of fans, walking out on stage and saying this what you wanted, so here it is?

    Sorry this is so long.

  3. Wow! I love hearing these songs done this way, all stripped down. This is a great song, Bill, with a lyric I adore, "and as rich as chocolate cake, and i took all i could take and laid claim all i could stake" (not sure if that's the correct lyrics, but that's what I hear). Consider doing more BT songs, seems everyone loves them! Are you going to do another residency this fall?

  4. Bill, I *really* enjoyed this version of Your Stripes. The version does make a difference; somehow I appreciate the song more than I did before. I think knowing the background behind the lyrics changes everything. I mean, how can it not? I did think the song was about a girl; it never occurred to me that you might have been singing about Buff T, or your favorite band, as Paul notes in his brilliant comment.

    I always considered Summer to be a sort of companion to The Boys of Summer – both songs speak of the end of summer as a season, but also of the end of time periods, of loss, leaves burning, sports and musical heroes aging or retiring. I have ten years on you, and have many times in my life felt nostalgic or sad for the moment in which I was living.

    It may sound really corny, but Carly Simon's Anticipation nailed that feeling for me when she sang, at the end of the song, "..and stay right here, 'cause these are the good old days, these are–the good old days." Back in 1972, when I first heard that lyric, I felt as if she was singing about somehow who was already feeling nostalgic and sad about a moment that was happening right now, be it falling in love, or whatever.

    So yes, this (non)CoTW-version does make a big difference for me.

    And if you can forgive this sidebar: Greg W – I was at the Dan show last week as well (all three of them, actually), and appreciated the bones they threw at us. I thought Dr Wu, Any Major Dude, and Rikki all qualified as such. So your question to Bill about whether Buff Tom might consider something similar – a polling of fans to decide what songs to play for them – is a good one, and I too await Bill's answer. 🙂

  5. Hey Randy what did you think of Fagen's voice? A little rough around the edges, but I heard he was suffering from a cold.

    Maybe Bill could cover Don's New Frontier next time he is in the bomb shelter.

    Yes we're gonna have a wingding
    A summer smoker underground
    It's just a dugout that my dad built
    In case the reds decide to push the button down
    We've got provisions and lots of beer
    The key word is survival on the new frontier

  6. Greg: Fagen's voice was in bad shape, but he gave it his best. Oddly enough, his voice was best on the Friday 31 July show, which was the first one after the cancelled show two days earlier. And it would be cool for Bill to cover a Dan tune, but – er – he's not a fan, I believe. (But I'm not complaining!)

    That said, Bill, I'm wondering if the nostalgia theme is one that permeates the themes about which you write. I'm thinking of one of my favorite lines, which is from Postcard:

    "Where for art thou, Johnny Carson
    Retired, and never coming back." The first time I heard that line, it knocked me over, and remains so vivid to me about a time that was immediately over – the nostalgia began as soon as he bid us a heartfelt goodnight. And even the idea of a postcard – you send one to someone and when they receive it, they are already experiencing a nostalgic memory of the sender.

  7. I will forever consider BT to be my favorite band of my lifetime. The right songs as the right times. I echo Paul's commentary. For me, Sleepy Eyed (though I love them all) will remain in my top 5 until my final days. Every moment, even the saddest ones, make me smile…and sometimes cry.

    Thanks Bill.

  8. Christopher in DC

    Absolutely tremendous. Bill – are you a fan of the (recently reunited) Feelies? Along with BT my two favorite bands growing up, forgive me if you have already written about them in your blog. They stole the show at the REM tribute at Carnegie Hall (Darius Rucker was their only peer) here's the youtube clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ROglSuXAEso

  9. Hey kids, thanks for all the great feedback. I read it all, but I don't always get to reply to each one, so forgive me. But it means a lot to me. It is why I am doing this (all of this) – the personal connection.

  10. Some people listen to music for the words and some of us for the experience of the song. I couldn't tell you what the words are if you gave me a crisp hundred dollar bill but this song hits me deeply because it makes me think of my son wearing his happy striped shirts.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Scroll to Top