Paperback Bible

Album: Damaged (2006)
Play Video


  • This song was originally commissioned by Long Haul Productions for one of a series of radio documentaries on Chicago Public Radio about life in Middle America. They sent some excerpts of a North West Tennessee radio program called Swap Shop, where in a radio version of the classified ads, people can sell anything from tractors to appliances to a 10-acre farm. Lambchop's songwriter Kurt Wagner wrote "Paperback Bible" in response, taking the lyrics directly from the show, listing a patchwork of verbatim calls in which people are trying to barter various mundane items ("An old birdbath, a kitchen sink, a rocking chair"). >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Edward Pearce - Ashford, Kent, England
  • Wagner explained his day-to-day writing process to Pitchfork Media: "I've tried over the years all kinds of ways of going about writing and even just thinking about the idea of writing. There was a time when I decided to try to write a song each day. Whether it was good or bad wasn't important. The objective was just to get better at this part of my life by working at it in such a devout manner. There have been lots of different ways that I've gone about writing - maybe I'll just choose quotes from the television that's playing in the background. These odd little phrases come up that way. Or it might be a piece based strictly on radio conversations. [For "Paperback Bible"] I was asked to write a song about 'Swap Shop', and I chose to work strictly from the quotes that were going to be occurring in the radio piece. Or maybe I'll be reading the dictionary, collecting usages for words, and seeing if I can assemble them in a way that makes sense. It adds to the spontaneity."


Be the first to comment...

Editor's Picks

Dino Cazares of Fear Factory

Dino Cazares of Fear FactorySongwriter Interviews

The guitarist/songwriter explains how he came up with his signature sound, and deconstructs some classic Fear Factory songs.

Susanna Hoffs - "Eternal Flame"

Susanna Hoffs - "Eternal Flame"They're Playing My Song

The Prince-penned "Manic Monday" was the first song The Bangles heard coming from a car radio, but "Eternal Flame" is closest to Susanna's heart, perhaps because she sang it in "various states of undress."

Oliver Leiber

Oliver LeiberSongwriter Interviews

Oliver Leiber talks about writing and producing hits for Paula Abdul, and explains his complicated relationship with his father, the songwriter Jerry Leiber.

Ian Anderson: "The delight in making music is that you don't have a formula"

Ian Anderson: "The delight in making music is that you don't have a formula"Songwriter Interviews

Ian talks about his 3 or 4 blatant attempts to write a pop song, and also the ones he most connected with, including "Locomotive Breath."

Linda Perry

Linda PerrySongwriter Interviews

Songwriting Hall of Famer Linda Perry talks about her songs "What's Up" and "Beautiful," her songwriting process, and her move into film music.

Mac Powell of Third Day

Mac Powell of Third DaySongwriter Interviews

The Third Day frontman talks about some of the classic songs he wrote with the band, and what changed for his solo country album.