The Best (and Most Suspect) Advice From Belle and Sebastian Lyrics


Two decades into their career, Belle and Sebastian have become the closest thing indie-pop has to superstars. And it’s Stuart Murdoch’s lyrics, more than anything else, that have drawn fans to the band since the mid-’90s. Alternately humorous and darkly romantic, full of distinctive characters, and fond of such subjects as school, sex, and literature, Belle and Sebastian songs are short stories you can sing along to. They’re also frequently packed with bits of advice. Sometimes it’s sage, sometimes it’s disastrously unwise (remember, Murdoch is often writing in a voice that isn’t his own), but either way, it’s never boring. In honor of Belle and Sebastian’s new album, Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance, here’s Flavorwire’s own commonplace book, collecting nine albums’ and countless non-album tracks’ worth of wisdom.

“When will you realise that it never pays / To be smarter than teachers / Smarter than most boys?” — “Lord Anthony”

“If you are feeling sinister / Go off and see a minister / Chances are you’ll probably feel better / If you stayed and played with yourself.” — “If You’re Feeling Sinister”

“Do something pretty while you can.” — “We Rule the School”

“Think about a new destination / If you think you need inspiration / Roll out the map and mark it with a pin.” — “Asleep on a Sunbeam”

“Listen to the sound of life / Drink deep of the day / Wait for her, but don’t obsess / Or she’ll go the other way.” — “The Everlasting Muse”

“Colour my life with the chaos of trouble / Cause anything’s better than posh isolation.” — “The Boy With the Arab Strap”

“You’ve got permission, but you’ve got to make the bastard think he’s right.” — “Expectations”

“Now you’re a storyteller you might think you’re without responsibility / But in directions, actions and words / Cause and effect / You need consistency.” — “Storytelling”

“Make a new cult every day to suit your affairs.” — “The Stars of Track and Field”

“Save your pennies careful / Let both blues eye be watchful / It’s best to forget freedom / It’s best to be enslaved / Better still to love first / Harder still to love first.” — “Calculating Bimbo”

“If you think to yourself ‘What should I do now?’ / Then take the baton, girl, you better run with it / There is no point in standing in the past cause it’s over and done with.” — “If She Wants Me”

“Money makes the wheels and the world go round / Forget about it honey.” — “I Didn’t See It Coming”

“Keep your friends close / Your enemies at your side / Always keep your green eyes open wide.” — “The Power of Three”

“And you can’t understand why all the other boys are going for the / New, tall, elegant rich kids / I’ll admit it is a bitch, kid / But if they don’t see the quality then it is apparent that / You’re going to have to change / Or you’re going to have to go with girls / You might be better off / At least they know what they’re doing” — “Seeing Other People”

“If you gotta grow up sometime / You’ve to do it on your own.” — “Act of the Apostle Part 2”

“If they follow you / It’s not your money that they’re after, boy, it’s you.” — “Like Dylan at the Movies”

“If you work for much very longer / You’ll be known as the boy who’s always working / If you dance for much very longer / You’ll be known as the boy who’s always dancing.” — “Electric Renaissance”

“Being a rebel’s fine / But you go all the way to being brutal.” — “Lazy Line Painter Jane”

“I know a trick / Forget that you are sick / Write about love / It can be in any form.” — “Write About Love”

“But if there’s one thing that I learned when I was still a child / It’s to take a hiding / Yeah, if there’s one thing that I learned when I was still at school / It’s to be alone.” — “I Don’t Love Anyone”