official lyrics from The Milk-Eyed Mender

If you want to come on down,
down with your bones so white,
watch the freight trains pound
into the wild, wild night

How I would love to gnaw,
to gnaw on your bones so white,
and watch as the freight trains paw,
paw at the wild, wild night.

All these ghost towns, wreathed in old loam
(Assateague knee-deep in seafoam) —
Ho Swansea! Buttonwillow!
Lagunitas! Ho Calico!

And all these beastly bungalows
stare, distend, like endless toads —
endlessly hop down the road.
Borne by wind, we southward blow.

While yonder, wild and blue,
the wild blue yonder looms.
'Till we are wracked with rheum,
by roads, by songs entombed.

And all we want to do
is chew, and chew, and chew!
Dear one, drive on,
when all we want to do
was chew, and chew, and chew.

And if you want to come on down (...)


Swansea is a dusty California ghost town dating from the gold rush. In this song, it seems to represent mankind's inordinate ambition and how little can come of it. Driving from Joanna Newsom's hometown of Nevada City, California to, say, Death Valley, one would pass by Swansea and might see signs for Calico and Buttonwillow.

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