Song Review: “Signs” by the Five Man Electrical Band

For the longest time, I’ve always liked this song. It came out in 1971, and according to Wikipedia, was a strong commentary about discrimination at the time. I didn’t really pick up on that until now, because I don’t pay attention to lyrics often. I’m more of a rhythm and sound guy. So it could’ve secretly been about Hitler eating babies and I still would’ve been oblivious to it.

If you don’t know what song I’m talking about, it’s this one. You probably heard it somewhere before.

I was driving home and singing along when, for the first time ever, I actually questioned the lyrics. And then I really wanted to kick this guy in the nuts. Let’s analyze this song for a moment, shall we?

And the sign said long haired freaky people need not apply
So I tucked my hair up under my hat and I went in to ask him why
He said you look like a fine upstanding young man, I think you’ll do

Hey! This job interview’s going along really well! And you’re proving that even long-haired freaky people can be upstanding young men.

So I took off my hat I said imagine that! huh, me working for you!

Wait – what? He gave you a job! You don’t need to tell him off! See, this is the reason he doesn’t like long-haired freaky people!

What else does this guy do?

And the sign said anybody caught trespassing would be shot on sight

What do you care? It’s not your house.

So I jumped on the fence and yelled at the house, Hey! what gives you the right

You’re yelling at people again!

“Daddy! There’s a long-haired freaky person yelling at me! I’m afraid to leave the house!”

To put up a fence to keep me out or to keep mother nature in

“Daddy! Now he’s stealing our trees!”

If God was here, he’d tell you to your face, man you’re some kinda sinner

God’s not here? What is this? The House of Satan?

Now, hey you Mister! can’t you read, you got to have a shirt and tie to get a seat

A complete nutcase who isn’t even wearing a shirt and yells at people. I saw one of those guys on Whyte Ave once. I pretended to be talking on a cell phone just to avoid eye contact.

You can’t even watch, no you can’t eat, you ain’t suppose to be here

Any place that requires you to wear a tie is probably way out of your price range anyway.

Sign said you got to have a membership card to get inside

Why does he want to go in there? As far as I can tell, this guy is the REASON you need a membership card to get inside.

I can understand the guy being angry – he walks around all day and people keep telling him off. And since he’s high on something, it probably amplifies the whole experience. But from the general public’s point of view, they’re just telling off some psychopath moocher who thinks the world owes him everything. These signs he’s complaining about are things even five year-olds can abide by. He wouldn’t have to write a song about it if he just cleaned up and put on a shirt.

Oh, wait – I’m talking about a hippy.

And the sign said everybody welcome, come in, kneel down and pray

Oh, no. Don’t let this guy in a church.

But when they passed around the plate at the end of it all,
I didn’t have a penny to pay

No kidding.

so I got me a pen and a paper and I made up my own little sign
I said thank you Lord for thinking about me, I’m alive and doing fine

Aw. What a nice sentiment.

Of course, they probably left out the aftermath of the song where the guy brings his shirtless, long-haired freaky buddies into the church after mass and the priest has to shoo them out because of the smell.

So, yeah – it’s not so much about discrimination as it is about people trying to protect themselves and their businesses from crazy lunatics who don’t shower.

Still a good song, though.

February 25 2009 11:56 am | Music

One Response to “Song Review: “Signs” by the Five Man Electrical Band”

  1. Melanie on 27 Feb 2009 at 1:11 am #

    Hahaha. Love it Chris! So very very true as well.

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