Bottle Living



Single?
Yes, released October 27, 2003 (UK) and November 4, 2003 (USA)


"Bottle Living" was released as a double A-side single along with "Hold On" and is the fourth track on Paper Monsters.

Lyrics

He's like a king without a crown
He wears it like a clown
Watch him disappear
I wish he would come down
So call before you drown
I won' t always be around
Living for the bottle
He's living for the bottle
He's a ship without a sail
He's not listening when you speak
Living for the bottle
He'll be sitting there all week
So call before you drown
I won't always be around
Living for the bottle
He's living for the bottle
Yeah
There's no light on in his eyes
How heavy are the lies
Just jump right out his skin
He'll take you for a ride
Living for the bottle
He's living for the bottle
So call before you drown
I won't always be around
A dog without a bite
Still looking for a fight
All in black
He won't be home tonight
Yeah
There's no light on in his eyes
How heavy are the lies
Just jump right out his skin
He'll take you for a ride
Living for the bottle
He's living for the bottle
I won't always be around
So call before you drown


My Take

It's Dave's debut...on the harmonica! Well, okay, not really. He's been seen jamming out on the harmonica as early as the Music For the Masses days. In fact, he can be seen playing it in the video below at the 3:41 mark:

He's also been filmed playing it in 101 and also here with Primal Scream at the Reading Festival in 1994:

My takeaway from all of that? Okay, so he's not really a virtuoso on it, but he really doesn't need to be. Anyway, he does play harmonica on "Bottle Living" but again, it's his vocals and surrounding instrumentation here that take the spotlight. This is a very bluesy-sounding song, and the theme is very similar to "Dirty Sticky Floors" (i.e., he's poking fun at the alcoholic again). But whereas in the former song, he uses the first person to describe the follies of an addict, here he uses the second and third person to describe them, which does make me wonder if he really is talking about himself in this song or not. Some out there have speculated that he may have been referring to Martin Gore (after all, Martin also struggled with alcoholism), but really, Dave could be referring to anyone- his former self or anyone that he knew who struggled with alcohol addiction. The point is that when you "live for the bottle" (i.e., get addicted to alcohol), you end up making a fool of yourself among other things.

One final thought is that I'm curious why this song wasn't called "Living for the Bottle," instead? It sounds catchier and is actually the words that are sung. I'm just asking.



Music Video

The video opens with a typical city scene. There are buildings, store fronts, and a few people walking around. Then, it zooms in on a person; it appears to be a man sleeping on the sidewalk. He is turned away from the camera, but as the camera zooms closer, a tattoo of a spider is visible on the back of his neck. The spider then seems to come alive and multiply, and we are then treated with somewhat of a psychedelic-looking montage (but without the wild colors) of a shirtless Dave and his band performing with the images of various tattoos swirling around them. There are spiders, scorpions, butterflies, fish, snakes...it's like an acid trip, but in grayscale. We are also taken through forests and walled mazes done up in black tattoo art. After this tattoo-art acid trip is over, the camera zooms back on the lone spider tattoo on the man and then zooms out onto the street where he is lying. He then simply vanishes into thin air.

My Take

The man sleeping on the sidewalk has most likely passed out from drunkenness as it fits the theme of the song. Showing his tattoo and taking the viewer through a visual journey of scary-looking tattoo art and showcasing the band doesn't seem to carry any extra meaning, unless perhaps it is an allusion to the drunken hallucinations the man had prior to passing out or is currently having in a dream or something? Anyway, it seems fairly significant that he just fades away at the end ("watch him disappear"). Did he die? Did he get picked up by someone? Or did he eventually wake up and walk away unnoticed? No one will ever know.