Green Day Insomniac
Rating: 4.5/5. From 13 votes. Show votes.
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Release Date: October 10, 1995
Length: 32:49
Studio: Hyde Street Studios
Label: Reprise Records
Producers: Rob Cavallo & Green Day
Notes: Recorded over the winter of ’95 after a long year of touring ‘Dookie’, Green Day’s follow up was a much darker album compared to their previous releases. While the album wouldn’t be a runaway success like its predecessor it did sell over 2 million copies in the US and is a fan favorite. Billie has said the original album title was to be ‘Jesus Christ Supermarket’ and regrets that they changed it.

Tracklist:

  1. Armatage Shanks
  2. Brat
  3. Stuck With Me
  4. Geek Stink Breath
  5. No Pride
  6. Bab’s Uvula Who?
  7. 86
  8. Panic Song
  9. Stuart And The Ave.
  10. Brain Stew
  11. Jaded
  12. Westbound Sign
  13. Tight Wad Hill
  14. Walking Contradiction

SONG INFO

1. Armatage Shanks

Rating: 3.9/5. From 8 votes. Show votes.
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“Armatage Shanks was first recorded at the BBC in 1994. We were doing a BBC session and I went to the bathroom and noticed the toilet brand. ‘Hey, that looks like a good title for a song!’ I felt like I was getting pissed on at the time.”

– Billie Joe Armstrong

In Armatage Shanks the narrator is saying that he doesn’t trust anyone, let alone himself and calls himself a “loner in a claustrophobic mind”. He expresses his distrust and irritation by saying “I must insist on being a pessimist”. There’s no one to trust, nothing makes sense, so being pessimistic is not just a current state of mind – it becomes an ideology.

There is an interesting theory about the name of the song. Armitage Shanks is a British brand of toilets, and it is quite possible that the author took that for a name of the song with a “life going down the drain” implication. In this case, the word “Armitage” would be purposefully misspelled to avoid using the trademark. There is a legend that Armstrong read the name of the brand in a London toilet and then decided to use it as a song title. Of course, this is only a legend; however, this kind of similarity of names is not very likely to be just a coincidence.

– song meaning courtesy of GreekStinkBreath.net

Stranded…lost inside myself
My own worst friend
My own closest enemy
Branded…maladjusted
Never trusted anyone
Let alone myself

I must insist
On being a pessimist
I’m a loner in a catastrophic mind

Elected, the rejected
I perfect the science of the idiot
No meaning…no healing
Self-loathing freak and introverted deviate

I must insist
On being a pessimist
I’m a loner in a catastrophic mind

2. Brat

Rating: 3.3/5. From 7 votes. Show votes.
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Obviously, the narrator of the song is a brat that’s waiting for his parents to die so he gets all their money. He feels no shame about expecting his parents’ death with pleasure and excitement – he’s bored and all he wants is all the money he doesn’t have to work for. By playing a part of this horrible spoiled child, the author of the song is expressing his opinion about some of the people who were born with a silver spoon and never had to work for all the luxuries they get. They don’t have to have a job, don’t have to struggle and work day and night to pay their rent – their parents give them a free ride to a rich life. Now, of course, not all kids with rich parents end up like the narrator of Brat, but those who actually do are out there waiting with an anxious smile – “Mom and Dad don’t look so hot these days, and my future’s looking good”.
– song meaning courtesy of GreekStinkBreath.net

Mom and Dad don’t look so hot these days
They’re getting over the hill
Death is closing in and catching up
As far as I can tell

Got a plan of action and cold blood
And it smells of defiance
I’ll just wait for Mom and Dad to die
And got my inheritance

Now I want more
Cause I’m getting bored
And I’m going nowhere fast
I was once filled with doubt
Now it’s all figured out
Nothing good can last

Crows feet and rot are setting in
And time is running out
My parent’s income interest rate
Is gaining higher clout

I’m a snot-nosed slob
Without a job
And I know I damn well should
Mom and Dad don’t look so hot these days
But my future’s looking good

Now I want more
Cause I’m getting bored
And I’m going nowhere fast
I was once filled with doubt
Now it’s all figured out
Nothing good can last

3. Stuck With Me

Rating: 4.1/5. From 7 votes. Show votes.
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There are two most common theories about the meaning of this song. The first one says that the narrator simply states that he’s a loser, the world is bringing him down and nothing will ever change that – “I know I’m not alright”. He admits that he doesn’t have enough will or talent to fight the problems that life makes him face, and so he ends up “giving up the fight”.

But the sarcasm and anger in this song give birth to another theory: the narrator doesn’t actually consider himself a loser, but states that the world makes him believe that he’s a loser, while he might have the potential to be a success. The song doesn’t describe problems of just one person – the narrator in this song is only an example. “Class structure waving colors, bleeding from my throat” – he says that he doesn’t want to be a part of someone’s elite, doesn’t want to fit into the system or be subjugated, he just wants to have his own individuality and just be who he is. However, the world doesn’t allow him that luxury. “Throw me back into the gutter” – he’s sarcastically describing how life keeps making him more and more miserable and worthless, while he really could have been a lot more successful if not for the messed up world and society that we live in. And, of course, the narrator is not the only person that experiences those difficulties – there are many more undervalued people out there.

– song meaning courtesy of GreekStinkBreath.net

I’m not part of your elite
I’m just alright
Class structure waving colors
Bleeding from my throat

Not subservient to you
I’m just alright
Down classed by the powers that be
Give me loss of hope

Cast out, buried in a hole
Struck down, forcing me to fall
Destroyed, giving up the fight
Well, I know I’m not alright

What’s my price and will you pay it if it’s alright?
Take it from my dignity
Waste it until it’s dead

Throw me back into the gutter
‘Cause it’s alright
Find another pleasure fucker
Drag them down to hell

Cast out, buried in a hole
Struck down, forcing me to fall
Destroyed, giving up the fight
Well, I know I’m not alright

4. Geek Stink Breath

Rating: 4.0/5. From 8 votes. Show votes.
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“It’s not really for (speed), and it’s not really against it. It just describes a state of mind and the destructiveness it had on me personally. I liked speed because I wanted some rocket fuel. I wanted to think. That’s the difference between us and the grunge scene, we wanted to go faster.”

– Billie Joe Armstrong

The author is not making a secret out of what the song is about – “I’m blowing off steam with methamphetamine”. Geek Stink Breath is about drug abuse and its consequences. “Geek” is one of the slang words for methamphetamine, and combined with the fact that using meth makes your mouth dry and gives you a bad breath, it gives the unhealthy combination of geek stink breath. The narrator is giving the listeners a detailed description of what is happening to him as he walks “the path of self-destruction” – his teeth are rotting out, his heart is not working properly, his blood is “turning sour”. The line “I’m picking scabs off my face” could be about hallucinating, since it’s been described by meth users that the intoxication gives you hallucinations of scabs on your face, along with an unbearable desire to tear them all off. So, the narrator admits that drugs are messing him up, and yet he states that it’s all that he’s got and he’s not planning to change anything.

Even though the author claims that the song doesn’t express any particular opinion about the use of meth (“It’s not really for it, and it’s not really against it. It just describes a state of mind, and the destructiveness it had on me personally.” – Armstrong), it’s obvious that Geek Stink Breath describes the negative part of drug abuse. And to add to the grossness of the lyrics, the video to the song contains graphic scenes of tooth extraction. It is, in fact, so disgusting that it wasn’t even played on MTV in daytime (“MTV won’t play it during the day anymore. It’s a little graphic” – Armstrong). So, maybe there is no actual “meth is bad” message in this song, but the vivid description of what the use of it will lead to makes it pretty clear that this song is not about the fun of doing drugs, but about the aftermath of the destructive addiction.

– song meaning courtesy of GreekStinkBreath.net

I’m on a mission
I made my decision
To lead a path of self-destruction
A slow progression
Killing my complexion
And it’s rotting out my teeth

I’m on a roll
No self-control
I’m blowing off steam with methamphetamine
Don’t know what I want
That’s all that I’ve got
And I’m picking scabs off my face

Every hour my blood is turning sour
And my pulse is beating out of time
I found a treasure
filled with sick pleasure
And it sits on a thick white line

I’m on a roll
No self-control
I’m blowing off steam with methamphetamine
Don’t know what I want
That’s all that I’ve got
And I’m picking scabs off my face

I’m on a mission
I’ve got no decision
Like a cripple running the rat race
Wish in one hand shit in the other
And see which one gets filled first

I’m on a roll
No self-control
I’m blowing off steam with methamphetamine
Don’t know what I want
That’s all that I’ve got
And I’m picking scabs off my face

5. No Pride

Rating: 3.0/5. From 7 votes. Show votes.
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“No Pride was written in my basement in Berkeley. I felt like I had no nationality. Like a mutt.”

– Billie Joe Armstrong

Most people believe that this song is about a pathetic person with no self-esteem. But a closer look at the lyrics shows that this is very unlikely to be true. The song is full of anger, maybe was written as a result of some disappointing experience. It’s quite political and sarcastic to a certain extent. The main message in the song is that pride, dignity, values, cultural or religious beliefs all lead to conflicts, wars and destruction, while most of those religions and cultures have already lost their ideological content and are now based on out-dated traditions and hypocrisy, and are obviously not worth dying for.

So, the narrator says that only by giving up your pride and dignity can you survive in this world where people kill each other in the name of their worthless beliefs. He says he’s safe because he has no pride, he’s willing to beg for something as worthless as the “lost and founds of second-hand regrets” and advises everyone else to follow his example and swallow their pride before it gets them killed.

– song meaning courtesy of GreekStinkBreath.net

Well I’m just a mutt
And nowhere is my home
Where dignity’s a land mine
In the school of lost hope
I’ve panhandled for a life
Because I’m not afraid to beg
Hand me down your lost and founds
Of second-hand regret

You better swallow your pride
Or you’re gonna choke on it
You better digest your values
Because they turn to shit

Honor’s gonna knock you down
Before your chance to stand up and fight
I know I’m not the one
I got no pride

Sects of disconnection
And traditions of lost faith
No culture’s worth a stream of piss
Or a bullet in my face
To hell with unity
Separation’s gonna kill us all
Torn to shreds and disjointed
Before the final fall

You better swallow your pride
Or you’re gonna choke on it
You better digest your values
Because they turn to shit

Honor’s gonna knock you down
Before your chance to stand up and fight
I know I’m not the one
I got no pride

6. Bab's Uvula Who?

Rating: 2.9/5. From 7 votes. Show votes.
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“Jerry Finn came up with the title “Ban’s Uvula who” RIP Jerry. The title is from an old SNL skit.”

– Billie Joe Armstrong

“Spontaneous combustion panic attack” – in this song, the narrator is describing his hyperactivity, loss of control and rage bursts. All of that might have been caused by anxiety, intoxication or some deep emotions. Despite the variety of creative descriptions that the narrator uses to illustrate his state, the feeling he mentions most often is rage – “my fuse is short and my blood pressure is high”, “tension mounts and I fly off the wall”, “my temper snaps”. Most likely the song was inspired by too much stress and anger that were causing the author to get “all wound up”.

The title of the song is taken from a 1976 Saturday Night Live sketch called “Babs’ Uvula”, in which a uvula specialist (Chevy Chase) was playing the “Knock, knock, who’s there” joke with his patient Babs (Gilda Radner):

  • Knock, knock.

  • Who’s there?

  • Babs’ uvula.

  • Babs’ uvula who?

…which has pretty much nothing to do with the meaning of the song. The author probably picked this line for a song title simply because he watched the sketch right before writing the song, or because it was a part of the inspiration, or just for the hell of giving the song a title that would have no connection with the meaning.

– song meaning courtesy of GreekStinkBreath.net

I’ve got a knack for fucking everything up
My temper flies and I get myself all wound up

My fuse is short and my blood pressure is high
I lose control and I get myself all wound up

Tension mounts and I fly off the wall
I self-destruct and I get myself all wound up

Petulance and irritation set in
I throw a tantrum and I get myself all wound up

I lose myself and i’m all wound up
I lose control and i’m all wound up
I lose myself and i’m all wound up

Chip on my shoulder and a leech on my back
Stuck in a rut and I get myself all wound up

Killed my composure and it will never come back
Loss of control and I get myself all wound up

Blown out of proportion again
My temper snaps and I get myself all wound up

Spontaneous combustion
Panic attack
I slipped a gear and I get myself all wound up

I lose myself and i’m all wound up
I lose control and i’m all wound up
I lose myself and i’m all wound up

7. 86

Rating: 4.2/5. From 8 votes. Show votes.
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“It’s kind of about this conversation I had with someone when I went back to Gilman last December (’94), I ran into this old friend of mine and all he could say was, ‘Wow, what the fuck are you doing here?'”

– Billie Joe Armstrong

The term “86” in this song is referring to being banned from or thrown out of a place or social circle. The song was inspired by what happened between Green Day and Gilman Street after the band got big. After the release of Dookie Green Day were rejected by the punk community they had once been a part of because now they were apparently “sell-outs”. The lyrics, however, are not just about the people from Gilman Street. The narrator cynically repeats the words of a person they were once close with who now tells them to get out and never come back. That person accuses the narrator of losing his identity and thus being unworthy of their company, let alone friendship.

It’s interesting that the lyrics don’t actually say that that person is wrong. They merely describe what has been said leaving the decision about whether those words are just or not to the listener. However, the rage and regret that the song is filled with show how emotionally attached the musicians are to that song since it was inspired by their personal experience.”

– song meaning courtesy of GreekStinkBreath.net

What brings you around?
Did you lose something the last time you were here?
You’ll never find it now
It’s buried deep with your identity

So stand aside and let the next one pass
Don’t let the door kick you in the ass
There’s no return from 86
Don’t even try

Exit out the back
And never show your head around again
Purchase your ticket
And quickly take the last train out of town

So stand aside and let the next one pass
Don’t let the door kick you in the ass
There’s no return from 86
Don’t even try

8. Panic Song

Rating: 3.8/5. From 8 votes. Show votes.
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Most likely this song was inspired by feelings that overwhelm you during a panic attack. The devastating and ultimate fright that grabs your mind and body emphasizing all of your deepest and darkest fears, it tears you out of reality and destroys you from the inside; your body is under so much pressure that in the end it just goes limp, limp with hate.

In this song the narrator describes his disgust towards the “sick machine” that this world is, he says that there is so much shit in the world that it just keeps bringing more and more hatred, and in the end there’s so much of this hatred that it makes you empty and all you can do is just not care anymore. The song basically says “Stop the Earth, I wanna get off!”

– song meaning courtesy of GreekStinkBreath.net

Ready for a cheap escape
On the brink of self destruction
Widespread panic
Broken glass inside my head
Bleeding down these thoughts of
Anguish… mass confusion

The world is a sick machine
Breeding a mass of shit
With such a desolate conclusion
Fill the void with… I don’t care

There’s a plague inside of me
Eating at my disposition
Nothing’s left
Torn out of reality
Into a state of no opinion
Limp with hate

The world is a sick machine
Breeding a mass of shit
With such a desolate conclusion
Fill the void with… I don’t care

9. Stuart And The Ave.

Rating: 4.6/5. From 7 votes. Show votes.
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“Stuart And The Avenue= Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley. A bitter song.

– Billie Joe Armstrong

Stuart and the Ave is a breakup song, filled with bad feelings and resentment. He rips up a photograph of her, and says that “before it [the relationship] might have made some sense, but now it’s all fucked up.” Anyone who has been through a bad breakup knows this feeling. He sings that she is just a “blur of my dead past,” yet he is now standing “laughing on the corner of insignificance.” There is a bit of a duality, with him resenting her and resenting himself at the same time, as he calls himself a “two-faced clown,” “beat down and half brain dead,” and “the long lost king of fools.”

Stuart and the Ave refers to the intersection of Stuart Street and Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley, CA.

– song meaning written by u/potlah on r/GreenDay

Standing on the corner of
Stuart and the Avenue
Ripping up my transfer
And a photograph of you
You’re a blur of my dead past and rotting existance
As I stand laughing on the corner of insignificance

Well, destiny is dead
In the hands of bad luck
Before it might have made some sense
But now it’s all fucked up

Seasons change as well as minds
And I’m a two-faced clown
You’re mommy’s little nightmare
Driving daddy’s car around

I’m beat down and half brain dead
The long lost king of fools
I may be dumb
But I’m not stupid enough to stay with you

Well, destiny is dead
In the hands of bad luck
Before it might have made some sense
But now it’s all fucked up

10. Brain Stew

Rating: 4.3/5. From 8 votes. Show votes.
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A song about insomnia (I’m having trouble trying to sleep). The whole first verse describes the author trying every method to fall asleep. (Counting sheep, Still I try, Crosstops). He is alone while everyone else is already asleep (on my own).

The next verse describes his state (eyes feel like they’re gonna bleed, dried up and bulging, mouth is dry, face is numb, fucked up and spun out in my room). How he’s ready to pry his eyes out from the pain and he’s doing random stuff like spinning to tire himself.

The author begins to go a little insane and begins hallucinating (mind is set on overdrive, clock is laughing in my face, senses dulled passed the point of delirium). He has tried everything and begins to give up.

– song meaning written by u/potlah on r/GreenDay

I’m having trouble trying to sleep
I’m counting sheep but running out
As time ticks by, still I try
No rest for crosstops in my mind
On my own, here we go

My eyes feel like they’re gonna bleed
Dried up and bulging out my skull
My mouth is dry
My face is numb
Fucked up and spun out in my room
On my own, here we go

My mind is set on overdrive
The clock is laughing in my face
A crooked spine
My sense is dulled
Passed the point of delirium
On my own, here we go

My eyes feel like they’re gonna bleed
Dried up and bulging out my skull
My mouth is dry
My face is numb
Fucked up and spun out in my room
On my own, here we go

11. Jaded

Rating: 4.0/5. From 8 votes. Show votes.
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The author gets so delirious he can’t stand straight anymore (keep my balance, falling off). He begins to loose his mind and starts acting like a child, crying and whining about everything (state of regression). He can feel himself dying slowly from insomnia (expiration date rapidly coming up) and how it is leaving him with an empty shell of his old self (leaving me behind to rank).

The line “Always move forward, going straight will get you nowhere” represents how the author has been trying to move towards recovery but has failed. He realizes he’s been moving straight into the wrong direction, hence there is no progress. His tries to fix himself ends up backlashing and making his insomnia even worst (evolution killed it all) and ends up in nowhere.

He tries to get out of his room to get some fresh air, but loses his balance and begins falling sideways. He holds on to his bed post and reaches for a crutch to help adjust his fucked up equilibrium. He counts his steps, and imagines them as a countdown to his death (countdown from 9 to 6, hooray we’re gonna die!) and feels himself fading away (blessed into our extinction).

– song meaning written by u/potlah on r/GreenDay

Somebody keep my balance
I think I’m falling off
Into a state of regression
The expiration date
Rapidly coming up
It’s leaving me behind to rank

Always move forward
Going straight will get you nowhere
There is no progress
Evolution killed it all
I found my place in nowhere

I’m taking one step sideways
Leading with my crutch
Got a fucked up equilibrium
Countdown from 9 to 5
Hooray! We’re gonna die
Blessed into our extinction

Always move forward
Going straight will get you nowhere
There is no progress
Evolution killed it all
I found my place in nowhere

12. Westbound Sign

Rating: 3.9/5. From 8 votes. Show votes.
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“Westbound Sign is about Adrienne moving to California from Minnesota.”

– Billie Joe Armstrong

This song describes a girl that made a very serious decision – to move far away from her home, family and friends to try and find a new happiness in the “California cement”. Everything’s ready for the move, she’s determined, yet scared and insecure. Will she be happy there? Is this the right thing to do? This was not an easy decision and it will not be an easy change. She’s not sure whether she’s moving because she wants to be where she’s going, or because she doesn’t want to be where she was (“Is it salvation, or an escape from discontent?”). It’s too late to doubt now, the decision is made – “she’s taking off”.
– song meaning courtesy of GreekStinkBreath.net

Boxed up, all of her favorite things
Sold the rest at a rainy yard sale
Big plans and leaving friends and a westbound sign
Weighed out, her choices on a scale
Prevailing nothing made sense
Just transportation and a blank decision

She’s taking off

No time and no copping out
She’s burning daylight and petrol
Blacked out the rearview mirror
Heading westward on

Strung out on confusion road
And ten-minute nervous breakdowns
Xanax, a beer for thought
And she’s determined

She’s taking off

Oh, is this salvation?
Or an escape from discontent?
Will she find her name
In the California cement?
Punched out of the grind
That punched her one too many times
Is tragedy 2000 miles away?

She’s taking off

13. Tight Wad Hill

Rating: 3.3/5. From 9 votes. Show votes.
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The lyrics of this song show that the author’s attitude towards the kind of activities that happened on Tight Wad Hill is now far from joy. Just like in most songs on Insomniac, his words are filled with sarcasm and bitter regret. “Begging for another fix”, “hating every minute of his existence” – the descriptions of Tight Wad Hill occupants don’t seem to be fun at all.

The song might also have a broader meaning – it might be expressing the author’s regret and confusion about the kind of life he used to lead when he was younger. He sees now that it wasn’t as much fun as it seemed. In fact, when you look at it, it is pathetic, takes away people’s dignity and leads nowhere. The junkies can boast as much as they want about the pleasure that drugs bring – their lifestyle still arouses nothing but pity, because their lives aren’t worth much – “living out a lie”.

– song meaning courtesy of GreekStinkBreath.net

Cheapskate on the hill
A thrill seeker making deals
Sugar city urchin wasting time
Town of lunatics
Begging for another fix
Turning tricks for speedballs
One more night

Making your rounds once again
Turning up empty handed
Bumming a ride
Burning daylight
Last up at dawn, tight wad hill

Drugstore hooligan
Another white trash mannequin
On display to rot up on the hill
Living out a lie
But having the time of his life
Hating every minute of his existence

Making your rounds once again
Turning up empty handed
Bumming a ride
Burning daylight
Last up at dawn, tight wad hill

14. Walking Contradiction

Rating: 3.9/5. From 8 votes. Show votes.
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The narrator of this song claims to be a walking contradiction and brings up examples of how he refutes and opposes himself – “I’m a smart ass, but I’m playing dumb”, “I have no belief, but I believe…” But aside from that he’s also mentioning the contradictions of life, and how “standards are set and broken all the time”. Indeed, it seems that the world is contradicting itself in so many ways. How often do we complain about the ever-present Murphy’s Law and Catch 22? “Losers winning big on the lottery, rehab reject still sniffing glue”. Life itself is a walking contradiction.

Certain parts of this song might have been inspired by the side effects of success. “I’m a victim of a Catch 22” – show-business is full of those catches. When your music is good, a lot of people start liking it – and then they say you sold out and start hating the exact same things they used to like about you before. And somehow by doing what you like, you turn into something that you hate. “My wallet’s fat and so is my head” – honest words about what might happen to you after you unexpectedly get rich and famous, not everyone can stand that test.

It is believed that there is no such thing as “a popular punk band”, yet that’s exactly what Green Day managed to become. A walking contradiction.

– song meaning courtesy of GreekStinkBreath.net

Do as I say, not as I do because
The shit’s so deep you can’t run away
I beg to differ on the contrary
I agree with every word that you say

Talk is cheap and lies are expensive
My wallet’s fat and so is my head
Hit and run and then I’ll hit you again
A smart ass but I’m playing dumb

Standards set and broken all the time
Control the chaos behind a gun
Call it as I see it even if
I was born deaf, blind and dumb

Losers winning big on the lottery
Rehab rejects still sniffing glue
Constant refutation with myself
I’m a victim of a catch-22

I have no belief
But I believe
I’m a walking contradiction
And I ain’t got no right

Do as I say not as I do because
The shit’s so deep you can’t run away
I beg to differ on the contrary
I agree with every word that you say

Talk is cheap and lies are expensive
My wallet’s fat and so is my head
Hit and run and then I’ll hit you again
A smart ass but I’m playing dumb

I have no belief
But I believe
I’m a walking contradiction
And I ain’t got no right

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