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Verse Chorus Verse: Barenaked Ladies – “Bank Job”

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I suppose it was inevitable I'd have an appreciation for Barenaked Ladies.  Smartass tunes with good harmonies- what's not to like?

I was not impressed with "Bank Job" the first time I heard it.  It is now a favorite.  Should the lyrics to "Bank Job" be taken at face value?  Is this really the tale of a botched robbery with quirky inside jokes, whereupon our thieves encounter a bank full of nuns as their preparing to make their big heist?  After all, they do make a great use of guitar creating a brief siren sound near the end of the song when the robbers are being carted off by the police.  I could imagine Quentin Tarantino reworking the bank robbery scene in Reservoir Dogs for this video.  The song works on that level; the story makes sense to the extent it's supposed to make any sense at all.  It could be that simple. 

It could also be a metaphor for something more, and Jack Nicholson's character in As Good As It Gets tells what to think of people who speak in metaphor.  I am almost always wrong when I try to do song interpretation and most people who try wind up making asses of themselves.  I am not going down with them. 

Still, in the midst of the narrative stuck between the wisecracks are some poignant lines ("It's not what you're sure of/ it's what you don't know") and as the song progresses it feels less a smartass tale and becomes more personal. 

That's one of BNL's great tricks.  Many critics have dismissed them as being a novelty act, smart asses, and lightweights, which completely misses the point.  When did it become a law one has to be serious to be taken seriously?  When did being taken seriously become the objective, anyway?  Moreover, BNL have long had a skill of hiding depth and consequence in the (wise)cracks.  If you miss that, it's your loss not theirs.  As the song says, "I'm all for compassion, just not on my dime."

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About Josh Hathaway

  • Jordan Richardson

    As a Canadian, we’re pretty much hammered over the head with these guys and “If I Had a Million Dollars.”

    Still, they can write good pop tunes and aren’t half bad overall. Now that they’re down to another lead singer, it’ll be interesting to see what happens next. I’ve heard their new album, due out this year, is supposed to be darker and more along the lines of the songs they’ve “always wanted to write.”

    Could be okay.

  • Josh Hathaway

    I remember hearing them say a few years ago they’d pretty much worn Canada out.

    I’ll be interested to hear the new album in March. Steven tended to write the darker material and that’s who has left, but we’ll see what it sounds like. I’ll definitely check it out.