Lady Stilleto

Album: Night Lights (1975)

Songfacts®:

  • A stiletto, correctly spelled, is a short dagger or a woman's shoe with a long, high tapering heel.

    The "stilleto" in the song's title is intentionally misspelled to be an anagram for "St. Elliott," and thereby a play on the songwriter's own name ("Not that I'm a saint by any means," Murphy was quick to add in his Songfacts interview).

    The song wasn't only about himself, though. It was also about Patti Smith.
    Murphy watched Smith coming up on the music scene and always admired her performances and her writing. He offered to produce her first album, but she wasn't interested.

    "I have never really had any relationship with Patti Smith on a personal level," Murphy told Songfacts. "In fact, she never seems to acknowledge me when we are in the same room together. Not sure why."
  • In "Lady Stilleto," Murphy sings about "this little girl dressed in black" who is "spitting on the stage" and "leading the anarchist parade." He also sings that she "writes with a stiletto in mind," using here the correct spelling of the term. It's most likely referring to a dagger, but it could mean both the dagger and the shoe simultaneously, as stiletto heels are generally associated with tough, powerful women.
  • In the song Murphy mentions "Bonaparte," surely a reference to Napoleon Bonaparte.

    He also says she's "Jack the Ripper's kind," referring to the British serial killer from the late 1800s.
  • Murphy describes the song's subject's mind as being "raped by the Rolling Stones" and her body being kept thin by "fasting on Jim Morrison's bones."

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