Binky The Doormat
March 18, 2008
The lyrics of “Binky The Doormat” read like a string of non sequiturs and inside jokes, but it nonetheless comes together as a fractured, impressionistic portrait of a man thrown into the deep end of sexual confusion and frustration. If I am to believe what I read on the internet, the title is lifted a cult film that I’ve never seen, and it comes from a sequence in which a depressed clown launches into a self-pitying, coke-fueled rant about his poor luck in relationships. That’s just the starting point, really — this isn’t necessarily a song about a clown, but rather a desperate person with low self-esteem who is willing to humiliate himself to gain approval and acceptance.
Basically, the character in the song is a passive, self-deprecating type who is doing everything he can to stand up for himself despite the nagging feeling that he deserves to be treated badly. The first verse finds the character playing it cool — there’s a hint of kink, but he’s owning up to feelings of distance and insecurity. In the second verse, he’s feeling a bit more confident and throws in a great little “I’m a grower, not a shower” gag, but he seems addled and confused. Then comes the third verse…yikes. It’s the most confrontational part of the song, but also the moment when we get a sense of his emasculation, and complicity with his own degradation. He manages to defend himself, but in a moment he’s backsliding, and telling his abuser how beautiful they are despite their cruelty. Depending how you read the context, this is either totally hot, or totally pathetic.
An organ note: This song has a brilliant organ part, but it’s buried beneath the guitar in the album mix. It is more audible and prominent in the version featured in Road Movie, but I think I prefer it to be hidden in the mix because it has a nice subliminal effect, and sort of sounds like this tiny bit of self-respect being drowned out by Peter Buck’s overwhelming wall of guitar fuzz. Similarly, I enjoy the way Mike Mills’ whiny shouts — “go away, go away!” — are made to sound tiny and weak.