Our Matinee Idol
I Don't Know What It Is
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I don't know what it is

But you got to do it

I don't know where to go

But you got to be there

I don't know where to fall

But I know that it's comfortable where

I don't know where it is

Putting all of my time in learning to care

And a bucket of rhymes I threw up somewhere

Want a locket of who made me lose

My perfunctory view of all that is around

And of all that I do

So I knock on the door, take a step that is new

Never been here before

Is there anyone else who's too

In love with beauty

Playing all of the games

And thinks three's company

Is there anyone else who has slightly mysterious bruises

I don't know what it is

Sick of looking around at friendly faces

All declaring a war on far off places

Is there anyone else who is through

With complaining about what's been done unto us

So I knock on the door

And I am on a train

Going god knows where to

To get me over, to get me over

Get me heaven or hell, Calais or Dover

I was hoping the train was my big number

Taking the Santa Fe and the Atchison Topeka

But we're chugging along, Dunaway by the crossing

And could be heading for Poland or limbo or Lower Manhattan

Find myself running around

I don't know what it is

To get me over 

When I first came up with the lines, I don't know what it is, but you got to do it/ I don't know where to go but you got to be there, I was at this party for The Strokes in New York. There was this prevailing sense of, "We're not quite sure what's happening or what is cool, but we know that it's somewhere around here, in this room." It was this vague confusion, with everybody kind of sniffing for blood. It wasn't that it was a bad party, or that I don't like The Strokes; I just think there's a lot of confusion right now in the music business. Then, later on, I realized the song was really personal. I didn't know where I was, and I didn't know I was actually lost. It wasn't about the party at all; it's about searching but not knowing what you're searching for. There's the train motif, being on this train heading for either oblivion or salvation and just holding on for dear life. That song came down from some mountain somewhere, because it was right after I wrote it that I sort of packed it in.