A Red Shoes Collection

LH's comments on songs

2.2c. - "Big Stripey Lie"

Back to the Moments 2.2. Table of Contents

" 'Big Stripey Lie' is now
universally acknowledged
as the single greatest musical work
of the twentieth century." (IED)

From: mas@csa.bu.edu (Mark A. Semich)
Date: 9 Sep 93 16:55:53
Subject: Big Stripey Lie Lyrics

During my first listen to Big Stripey Lie, I realized that the song was pure genius. I have endevoured to discern it's divine lyrics, and following is my attempt at decipherment. There are many words that I am unsure of, so please comment, correct as I wish to achieve enlightenment.

[see Lyrics Section]


Date: Mon, 13 Sep 93 13:02:40 EDT
From: Andrew B Marvick <abm4@columbia.EDU>
Subject: KontempT tempered by eKsTacy

IED is compelled to point out that Kate's new music -- all of it -- is fascinating and blindingly brilliant. All of the negative criticism that IED has read in this forum of late is laughably ignorant and careless; all of the positive comments are intelligent and cogently argued, and amply demonstrate their authors' unfailing musical acuity. These, of course, are not opinions, but self-evident faKTs.

One other thing. "Big Stripey Lie" is now universally acknowledged as the single greatest musical work of the twentieth century. IED is pleased to add that there is no question whatever of the truth of this judgment, which is unanimous, absolute and irrevocable.

-- andrew bolTon marvicK (IED), deafeningly blowing Kate's trumpets -- and sure enough, the walls of Jericho are tumbling down this very day...

P.S.: the Kandle is brighT


Date: Tue, 5 Oct 1993 13:08:24 +119304328 (ADT)
From: Fiona McQuarrie <fmcquarr@upei.ca>
Subject: Big Stripey WHAT???

Happy happy joy joy, I got the Rubberband Girl single in the mail today. (You might be interested to know that Canada Post considers 11 working days, i.e. two weeks, standard delivery time from Toronto to PEI....you can fly it in about 2 1/2 hours...)

I've already raved about RBG, but whoa! Big Stripey Lie? What the hell is this song? It's f890ing weird! But it's great! Whoever described it as a mud wrestling match between Nigel Kennedy and Neil Young was right on. Again this shows how talented Kate B. is, that she can do a girly pop song and something as off the wall as this *on the same record*.

The album should be *real* interesting.

Cheers, Fiona


Date: Tue, 19 Oct 1993 01:17:35 -0400 (EDT)
From: Peter Byrne Manchester <PMANCHESTER@ccmail.sunysb.edu>
Subject: BSL US and UK

Thanks to David Koehler for emailing:

>Regarding the bass on the new Kate singles, I've notice a large difference between the BSL on the U.K. RBG single and the BSL on the U.S. ETM single. BSL on the UK single has the bass extended much deeper than the US single. At first the difference seemed slight, since I was listening on headphones, but when put it on the speakers I noticed that the U.K. BSL was vibrating the room in a way the U.S. version never did. I hope this is not an indication of the over all level of care put into the album!

Dead right: there is no comparison--except that unfortunately, there is. It is very clear that the US release has been equalized for the <supposed> market. It is not carelessness, but deliberate and unacceptable manipulation of the artist's work. BSL on EtM is missing a whole octave of bottom bass, and along with that has been goosed about 2-4db. in overall level as shown on fast electronic level indicaters. But it shows nearly the same on meters with true VU ballistics. This is an eq tailored for the kinds of FM stations that play on the speakers in your gym. It'll put out on the rack systems in the mall, too.

BSL on Sony/Columbia has been doctored in quite a different way than "Ne T'Enfuis Pas" in its second release. An attentive listen to the track on TWW shows that neither the balance nor the extension of the bass has been altered, only the vocal level raised. Since I tend to set my volume so that the voice level sounds right, that mix seemed bass-light compared to the first release (B-side of TGaT).

In the circumstances I must suspend, if not withdraw, my characterization of the bass sound on EtM itself. We won't know what Kate expected it to sound like until we get a release that reflects her own production judgment.


Date: Tue, 19 Oct 93 12:56:56 PDT
From: jdrukman%dlsun87@us.oracle.com (Jon Drukman)
Subject: Re: BSL US and UK

Peter Manchester writes:

>In the circumstances I must suspend, if not withdraw, my characterization of the bass sound on EtM itself. We won't know what Kate expected it to sound like until we get a release that reflects her own production judgment.

And I'm afraid you'll never know *that* until you get the chance to go sit in kate's studio and have her play the original master tape at you. it's a fact of the industry that there will be tweaks between the time the tape leaves Kate's grubby palms and the time you put the CD in your player and hit the button.

It's called mastering, and it's inevitable.


From: dbk@ltpsun.gsfc.nasa.gov (Dan Kozak)
Date: 21 Oct 1993 18:51:09 GMT
Subject: Re: BSL US and UK

Jon Drukman writes:

> it's a fact of the industry that there will be tweaks between the time the tape leaves kate's grubby palms and the time you put the CD in your player and hit the button.

> it's called mastering, and it's inevitable.

Do we know for a fact that Kate doesn't supervise the mastering herself? Many artists do.

In the case of digitally mixed program, it's not necessary that the mastering process involve making any artistic or corrective changes at all--it's simply a format/media transfer. You can even do the mastering yourself with a CD recorder. In any case, it is not a "fact of the industry," nor "inevitable" the way it was in the days of vinyl.

Dan Kozak


From: sleuth@panix.com (Reuben Radding)
Date: 25 Oct 1993 22:50:59 -0400
Subject: Re: BSL US and UK

Actually, as many recent interviews and reviews I've read indicate, despite the fact that your comments are essentially true , changes DO often occur during the mastering proccess to this day EVEN when they aren't nescessary. Mastering engineers left unsupervised often think that they're doing the artist or company a favor by altering the information slightly. Rudy VanGelder now refuses any recording project for his studio unless he is allowed to also do the mastering there too. This is to protect the integrity of the sound he initially recorded.

It may not be "inevitable" but it is a "fact" of the industry. It SHOULDN'T be (as Dan points out), but things happen.



Date: Thu, 28 Oct 93 11:45:12 MET
From: awphili@cs.vu.nl (Albert Philipsen)
Subject: Big Stripy Lie explained

This is a first attempt at giving an interpretation to Kate's new song "Big Stripy Lie". I'll first give a transcription of the lyrics. I hope this is mostly correct.

[see Lyrics Section]

My theory is that this song is about spiritual emergency. To understand what this is, you'll need to read the book The Stormy Search for the Self (Understanding and Living With Spiritual Emergency), by Christina Grof & Stanislav Grof, MD. Here is a little quote from the back cover of the book:

Many people are undergoing a profound personal transformation associated with spiritual opening. Under favourable circumstances, this process results in emotional healing, a radical shift in values, and a profound awareness of the mystical dimension of existence. For some, these changes are gradual and relatively smooth, but for others, they can be so rapid and dramatic that they interfere with effective everyday functioning. Unfortunately, many health professionals do not recognize the positive potential of these crises, but see them as manifestations of mental disease and treat them with suppressive medication.

I'll now go through the lyrics a few lines at a time, and try to explain the song in terms of spiritual emergency. There are three characters playing in this song, I think. The first is the person going through the spiritual emergency. He/she doesn't have any lyrics. The second person is a friend or relative of the first, and he/she sings the verses. The third person is the evil psychiatrist who sings the indented bits.

Oh big stripy lie moving like a wavy line
Coming up behind-ind-ind

My first impression was that "big stripy lie" could be a reference to the American flag, and more specifically a reference to the American materialistic value system.

All young gentle dreams drowning in life's grief
Can you hang on to me

A spiritual emergency is often triggered by a sudden loss, such as the death of a loved one or an unrequited love.

Don't wanna hurt you baby
Only wanna help you
I could be good for you

This is the psychiatrist talking, who thinks the first person is obviously going mad, and wants to "help" him/her using a standard treatment with suppressive medication.

Your name is being called by sacred things
That are not addressed nor listened to

Such experiences are possible for someone going through spiritual emergency.

Sometimes they blow trumpets

Sometimes things get so intense that you crumble to dust, or completely break down.

Only wanna help you
Never wanna hurt you
I know I could be good for you

The psychiatrist is getting more desperate.

Oh my God it's a jungle in here
You've got wild animals loose in here

People going through spiritual emergency sometimes have experiences of encounters with wild animals, and dying as a result of it. This could be experiences from a previous life surfacing.

Wanna help you
Never hurt you
Good for you

The psychiatrist just keeps repeating the same old stuff.

Hey all you little waves run away
Hmm run away

This last bit is about the good results of the spiritual emergency. The old materialistic value system is rejected for something better. This is also reflected in the music at this point, which gets more gentle.



Date: Thu, 28 Oct 1993 11:41:59 -0500
From: scasterg@cd.columbus.oh.us (Stuart Castergine)
Subject: Kate on guitar?!

Can anyone categorically confirm or deny this? Where does this info come from? Liner notes? Kate on guitar! Cool! Way to go, Kate!


Date: Fri, 5 Nov 93 13:24:31 PST
From: Jon Drukman <jdrukman@us.oracle.com>
Subject: Big Stripy Interpretation

Hiya kids. albert philipsen and I have been debating the various interpretations of big stripy lie in email. I've decided to share my lengthy opinion on the subject with y'all because I'm sure it's accurate :)

Basically, imagine Person A who is in totally in love with Emotionally Damaged Person B. Person B suffers from the usual glut of dysfunctions: fear of committment, fear of intimacy, disbelief in the permanence of love, etc. Person B is likely to run away rather than get involved with someone even if they find that someone really wonderful. It's too painful to open yourself up and risk that sort of trauma again: "life is sad and so is love".

Person A is the narrator of Big Stripy Lie:

"big stripy lie moving like a wavy line coming up behind"

you're involved with someone, but always hanging in the distance is this threat that the person involved will succumb to his/her fear of committment and run away - the "big stripy lie" is something like "i love you, we'll be together forever" - it's bullshit, but you don't want to believe it, so this lie just hangs over the whole deal like a dark shadow.

"all young gentle dreams drowning in life's grief/can you hang on to me?"

well, when you're young they tell you that love is beautiful and lasts forever and solves all your problems. you grow up to find that that's a load of crap. hence the young gentle dreams drowning. the narrator (presumably the less dysfunctional member of the relationship) is saying "i see what's going on here, but can't you try to hang on to me? i'll keep you from drowning, really. believe in me. i know you've been hurt before, but this time will be different."

"don't want to hurt you baby/i only want to help you/i could be good for you"

sung in a different voice - the voice of reason has failed, so Person A, who is apparently very much in love with Dysfunctional Person B just screams at them - "don't want to hurt you", etc. you think you can overcome years of trauma just by yelling loud enough. it doesn't work.

"your name is being called by sacred things that are not addressed or listened to/sometimes they blow trumpets"

already gone over this - the sacred things are love, committment, etc. Person B is just ignoring it, despite the fact that they are clamoring for attention (blowing trumpets).

"only want to help you"

the screaming voice again, see above.

"oh my god it's a jungle in here/you've got wild animals loose in here"

Person A begins to realize that the psyche of Dysfunctional Person B is a mess. DP B might even recognize and admit this but still be unable to deal. Person A is shocked - can people *really* be so messed up?

"want to help you/never hurt you/good for you"

the screaming voice again - notice how it's getting more desperate? it's not even talking in complete sentences now, just fragments.

"hey all you little waves run away/mmm run away"

this one puzzles me - either Person A is telling the "little waves" to run away (ie: make the "water" that is drowning DPB recede) or they are learning to live with the fact that DPB will run away from again because the possibility of committment is just too scary. either way, it still fits with the overall interpretation.

There you have it. What do you think?

Jon Drukman

On to Moments 2.2d. - Moments of Pleasure

Written by Love-Hounds
compiled and edited
Wieland Willker
August 1995