Dirty Sticky Floors

Yes, released May 2003

"Dirty Sticky Floors" was the lead single for Paper Monsters and was also the first track on the album.


Waiting for the last time
For my friend to change my mind
Waiting for the last drop
Seems like a long, long time
Maybe I should go back home
I'll sit and wait right by the phone
Praying over the porcelain throne
On my dirty sticky floor
Ask me what I want
Easy, that's just more
How long will I wait for you?
Twice as long as I did before
Standing in the freezing snow
Maybe you left I just don't know
I'll soon be lying on my own
On some dirty sticky floor
I hope no one can see me
The Tin Man says I'm doing fine
That Lion ain't going to get me
See that gun right there - it's mine
I've painted a face where I burnt the floor
Now the face has become my devil's door
Laying in the back-room
On my dirty sticky floor
My dirty sticky

Dave's Take

"'Dirty Sticky Floors' is the whole lifestyle that I was drawn into, that whole kind of rock star cliché. It was a lot of fun for some time, and then it wasn't any more. So out of the ashes of that came 'Dirty Sticky Floors,' which was a piss take of myself and the whole glamorous side. It's not really glamorous, but there's that whole culture of the rock 'n' roll star that gets drunk, gets high, falls on his face and usually ends up on some dirty, sticky floor — be it your own or somebody else's. I wanted to put some fun into that — not just to be a song about the pain of addiction, as painful as it is. If you are lucky enough to come out the other side like I have, and get enough perspective on it and some space from it, you can see how ridiculous it is. Especially if you choose to, and I definitely chose to."1

My Take

This is the very first Dave Gahan solo song that I heard, so it essentially served as my first impression of Dave's solo work. The instrumentation is what immediately grabs me at first, rather than the vocals. With the distorted rock guitars and initial falsetto vocal refrains of "Ooooh-ooh," this is unlike any Depeche Mode song I have ever heard. But as soon as the first verse comes along, I immediately recognize the Depeche Mode lead singer.

The line, "praying over the porcelain throne," cracks me up because it is so sacrilegious. Of course, it's alluding to being hunched over a toilet, vomiting one's guts out due to having too much alcohol to drink, and who knows? Maybe there is some actual praying going on- praying for the overwhelming nausea to go away, perhaps? Anyway, alcohol addiction is no joke, and Dave doesn't intend to make light of the matter here; rather, he is only poking fun at the person who made the decision to overindulge, and it is obvious that he is talking about himself. The references to the Tin Man and (Cowardly) Lion are of course, about the Wizard of Oz characters, but they are unique to his experience. Dave once owned life-sized Tin Man and Cowardly Lion dolls and he was convinced that they could speak to him. He was also consumed with paranoia and carried a gun wherever he went, including when just going out to check the mail.2

Music Video

The majority of the scenes in this video take place on a beach and alternate between "Good Dave" (dressed in blue denim) and "Evil Dave" (dressed in all white and wearing eyeliner). There are two additional sets of scenes thrown in- that of the "real" Dave singing on a microphone and that of a woman wearing sparkly red underwear singing on a microphone. The video opens with Evil Dave walking along a beach, carrying a suitcase. Meanwhile, Good Dave seems to take great interest in what Evil Dave is doing, and watches him. Evil Dave is seen approaching a boat near the water. He throws his suitcase into the boat, which seems to be full of other random things in it, and then proceeds to pull the boat into the water. But it is stuck; perhaps it is too heavy and full of stuff for him to pull by himself? Good Dave continues to watch this scene unfold before him before coming towards Evil Dave still struggling with the boat. Evil Dave seems to pay no attention to his doppelganger and neither of them actually interact with each other- perhaps Good Dave is not actually a real person but a spirit or angel of some kind? Anyway, Good Dave just watches with a sort of mild pity as Evil Dave outfits the boat with some rope and tries to pull it into the water, all to no avail. Finally giving up, Evil Dave drops the rope and heads back to shore. Exhausted, he climbs into the boat and lies down in it. Good Dave gives him one last look before turning away and walking off into the sunset.

My Take

I have no idea what the connection this video is to the theme of the song, but that's usually the way it is with songs and their respective music videos. It's better to treat the video as an entity of itself, so that's how I will approach this review. I find it interesting that they chose all white clothes for Evil Dave, as white is typically the color of "good" in movie tropes; maybe it is throw people off? I'm also not sure what the symbolism behind having the alternating scenes between Dave singing and the woman singing, but it does add a level of sexiness and levity to an otherwise, metaphor-rich video about a seemingly heavy subject matter. Anyway, the main significance seems to lie in the scenes with Evil Dave struggling with the boat that supposedly contains possessions of his. Evil Dave seems adamant on making some kind of getaway in the boat and the freedom of the open ocean is just mere inches away. But for whatever reason, he cannot move that boat that short distance required to make a clean escape and this frustrates him. It doesn't seem to be through lack of strength, though, but rather because the boat is too weighed down with random junk. Evil Dave's struggle with the boat is a powerful image on its own, but it's taken to a whole, new level with the second "person" watching- that is, Good Dave. And the fact that Good Dave doesn't help Evil Dave push the boat into the water seems to indicate that he either doesn't want Evil Dave to do it or that he is unable to do it (perhaps because he is a non-corporeal entity as I hinted at in the Synopsis). This isn't really a simple matter of the classic battle between good and evil simply because Good Dave and Evil Dave don't ever really interact with each other, but rather a struggle with one's self. The boat could represent any obstacle or burden in one's life.


  1. "New Life New Life", 9 to 5/MW (June 2, 2003)
  2. "The Uncut Questionnaire: Dave Gahan", Uncut (July, 2003)