Gordon Downie: Beta Introvert -- LSI-Se (Creative subtype) [LSI-IEE], or IEI; or SLE-Ti?
“ . . . Don't tell me what the poets are doing / Don't tell me that they're talkin' tough / Don't tell me that they're antisocial / Somehow not antisocial enough, all right // And porn speaks to its splintered legions . . . While aiming at the archetypal father / He said with such broad and tentative swipes, ‘Why do you even bother?’ / Don't tell me what the poets are doing / Those Himalayas of the mind / Don't tell me what the poets been doing/In the long grasses over time // Don't tell me what the poets are doing/On the street and the epitome of vague / Don't tell me how the universe is altered when you find out how he gets paid, all right . . .”
- Robert Christgau:
Music @ Work [Sire, 2000]
Blame Canada, which gulls citizens into subsidizing local culture with the lure of universal health care. Fifteen years on, that northern nation's favorite rock band--led by deep thinker Gordon Downie, who ungratefully notes, "If I do believe in a country, it's the country of me"--has progressed from a passable "blues-based" literacy (imbued, of course, with the natural sense of rhythm for which Canadians are renowned) to candidly ornate and obscure art-rock. "Why haven't The Hip sold millions in the States?" demands one loyal fan. His first hypothesis: "Lyrics don't translate into ebonics." So let's set Big Daddy Kane on this quatrain: "I loaded the variables like masterpieces from under the germ-led advance/I saw your compass on a sea of frayed cable and aspects of vision afloat/in a glance/and outside the train overnight floodlights on the inexorable sights." C
- ThatGirlHasAPoint: "Superfarmer" is a reference to Agricultural Business, it was a buzz term around the time of the albums release to depict big Agro-Biz as more "human" rather than corporate. Large farms designed to mass produce for the masses. Global warming was just becoming an issue and was listed as a possible cause for droughts that were affecting Agro-businesses' profit margin, cleverly Downie says "lava flowing in Superfarmer's direction". Global warming here is cleverly depicted as a slow moving lava flow (heat from the earth-global warming inverted) moving towards "Superfarmer".
Poets are generally seen as reflections of their time, I think in this song though Gordon is poking fun at the media, or the reflections of our time. "those Himalayas of the mind" or the high-minded, "the epitome of vague" in that the words they write are so removed from any real meaning so as not to offend readers or corporate sponsors and advertisers. The "porn speaks to it's splintered legions" is both commenting on "fringe" news or news outlets with a strong bias, it being like porn for those who seek it to satiate their viewpoint. Think Fox News for example, today.
"The universe is altered" for many when they find out their heroes have "sold out" because we like to believe they do it for the enjoyment or the art or the love etc.... It's really just a comment on this phenomena and a mocking of that behavior of naïveté.
The last verse refers to a law passed in Ontario just before this album came out allowing women to go topless. Many news reports for some reason featured file footage of women cutting grass bare-breasted, I suppose because they were hot from the exertion and because you don't want to show women just lying bare-breasted on the beach, that'd be gratuitous Anyway the summer came and went and nary a bare-breasted woman was to be seen. But in the build up to that summer, for many men and boys it seemed like there was "more that you need now". But the beach bleached women kept their towels within reach