Paperback Bible

Songfacts®:

  • 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."

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