Odalisque Lyrics - The Decemberists

Review The Song (21)

they've come to find you odalisque
as the light dies horribly
on a fire escape you walk
all rare and resolved to drop

and when they find you odalisque
they will rend you terribly
stitch from stitch til all
your linen and limbs will fall

lazy lady had a baby girl
and a sweet sound it made
raised on praties, peanut shells and dirt
in the railroad culdesac

and what do we with 10 baby shoes
a kit bag full of marbles
and a broken billiard cue? what do we do?
what do we do?

fifteen stitches will mend those britches right
and then rip them down again
sapling switches will rend those rags alright
what a sweet sound it makes

and what do we do with 10 dirty jews
a thirty-ought full of rock salt
and a warm afternoon? what do we do?
what do we do?

lay your belly under mine
you're naked under me, under me
such a filthy dimming shine
the way you kick and scream, kick and scream

and what do we do with ten baby shoes
a kit bag full of marbles
and a broken billiard cue? what do we do?
what do we do?

lazy lady had a baby girl, and a sweet sound it made

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Seriously... | Reviewer: Danny | 5/1/11

You guys think he's being racist against Jews? A few of you got it right with the song being about a slave under owned by a muslim. It's really a song about how terrible and disgusting they are in how they treat people. Stop getting offended that he's using a lyrical term, realize the true meaning behind this song feckwads.

Dirty Jew?? | Reviewer: As a Jew I feel... | 12/14/10

I think that Colin and The Decemberists made one mistake. It isn't clear who the speaker is. It is not clear that they are not speaking out AGAINST anti-semitism. For instance, by making it be a villain that says "ten dirty jews".

Intentions could be the best here and this is a great band, but let's not defend something because we are defensive and not objective.

"Dirty Jew" is something they have called us for ages. It's not okay to put it in a song where the context is not clear. Yes it is anti-semitic to put that in a song and not explain it and to assume it's not going to hurt people. Fans. It's not okay. I feel betrayed.

What if the lyrics were not about jews but about "zambos" for example or "beaners" I think you guys would be a lot more upset. The mistake is made when gentiles make it normal for people to be hateful or simply mean to jews and never call each other out on it.

Every gentile I ever spoke to is so outraged by what the Holocaust but when they get the opportunity to rectify targeting jews, even in a small way, they justify anti-semitism.

Whatever. Stand up for something. Cowards.

Haha | Reviewer: Julia | 3/11/10

this is a prevoius post that people should see..I didn't write it but it makes sense to me.
Research | Reviewer: chaim | 10/22/07

After looking up the word Odalisque, I found this: "The French term odalisque derives from the Turkish-Ottoman word odalik, which refers to a female slave owned by a Muslim male as his legal concubine," but I've also seen that an odalisque had a status even lower than a concubine, and could only rise to the concubine status by being skilled in a number of "arts." Apparently, this position still exists and women are frequently trafficked to the Middle East and North Africa from Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Nepal, where they are drugged and abused and have a life span of about two years after being sold. Although I can't find any mention as to whether Jews have been used in this position in the past, I very much doubt that Colin Meloy just put that reference into the song for kicks, especially knowing his knowledge of obscure history. My best guess is that he heard of a specific case in history when Jewish women were enslaved and abused and decided to write a song about it, which is not at all unlike him. I'm going to have to say this is not anti-Semitism. Simply storytelling.

About the rock salt. | Reviewer: Anonymous | 10/12/09

The 30-ought rock salt comment IS referring to a weapon. People, mostly back in the day, used to fill shotguns with rock salt. One, it will still puncture your skin. Two, it will burn like crazy because it is in fact salt. It's a very malicious thing to do.

Hey guys, | Reviewer: Anonymous | 4/6/09

Anyone who claims Colin is antisemitic is taking it too literally. While the actions described herein are, that does not make him one or a supporter. He has a song about getting eaten by a whale, a song about killing ones children, and a song about finding a crane in the woods, nursing it back to health, and it became a woman. Obviously, he has a grasp on, and actively uses simile and metaphor. He's also a fan of historical and literature based songs.

Nah | Reviewer: Jake | 1/30/09

I doubt this song is anti-semetic, seeing as how Colin has stated he writes the songs from perspectives of other people.

As a sidenote, I do find it interesting how people can shape a songwriter's intentions to fit what they'd like to believe about him.

Anything with anti-semetic overtones is OBVIOUSLY not literal, but if the same guy were to write badly about Christianity or some other mainstream school of thought, then people take it as an anthem speaking out against his Christian upbringing or the government or whatever it's kitsch to be against these days.

not anti sememtic | Reviewer: andy | 12/28/08

Ridiculous to say he is anti semetic... a good song tells a story and often from different points of view. He is trying to get a story across. If you said every author was racist if they wrote something racist (from a racists man or woman's view) in their story huge amounts of authors would be marked as racists. It's the same for songwriters especially a writer like colin who is very descriptive and often puts pictures in yours minds through his lyrics. Coheed and cambira have a lyrics "saying pull the trigger and the nightmare stops" in one of there songs, and in the lyric book it says "do not take literally it is only a story" under the lyric. They might be different lyrics and bands but what im getting at has the same meaning.

definitely not anti semetic

Not anti-Semitic | Reviewer: TDG | 11/30/08

I honestly don't think Colin Meloy is Anti-Semitic. If he was I'm sure there would be more evidence than just one line in one song. Also Colin Meloy is certainly capable of subtly and I doubt he would just put it that bluntly if he actually felt that way.

No offense. | Reviewer: RetroWarbird | 11/24/08

The song seems to me to be from the point of view of Nazi soldiers.

I take "as the light dies horribly" to mean as the city of Paris falls. Paris is the city of light, I'm sure the Nazis taking it was horrible.

Now granted, the history of the Nazis and their treatment of Jews, their treatment of France, hell, everything except their sharp uniforms was offensive. But about it is meant to evoke that old offense.

And even if it's not Nazi-specific, most of Europe's highly Christian denizens treated Jews terribly over the years. And that's offensive as well, historically.

You're supposed to be offended. At how callous whoever the hell is doing the raping can be.

30-ought full of rock salt? | Reviewer: Artifex | 2/4/08

Maybe I'm missing something obvious, but that line seems to be a firearms reference. "30-ought" is commonly short for 30-ought-6, a popular rifle caliber. But "full of rock salt" suggests a shotgun shell loaded with rock salt, which I've heard of before as a non-lethal shotgun load (although mostly as a historical curiosity).

Now, I've never heard of a "30-ought" shotgun, but The Decembrists probably just thought it sounded good that way, or they were making a reference to fellow Portland band Thirty-Ought-Six.

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