1880 Or So

Album: Television (1992)

Songfacts®:

  • Television frontman Tom Verlaine wrote the lyric, which was inspired by "bad 19th-century poetry. He got the idea after reading a magazine targeted to housewives that published poems submitted by their readers, which was predictably inept. "They were all kind of kitschy," Verlaine told The Bob in 1993. "But at the same time, the people who wrote them were obviously really serious and they were very well-intended. There was just something about the simplicity of this stuff."

    In writing the lyrics, Verlaine used a similar style, coming up with spectacularly hokey lines like:

    A face that glows in a golden hue
    No one in this world knows what they do
  • Like many Television songs, the title doesn't appear in the lyric. "1880 or so" represents the year when the song takes place.
  • It might not sound like it, but Television guitarist Richard Lloyd considers this some of his "angriest" playing. He explained to Songfacts: "The guitar never does what I want it to do. There's always a disconnect between what my hands are willing to perform on the guitar and what the guitar actually is allowing me to present through it. For instance, I may hit a wrong note that is out of the scale or out of the mode that I'm in. I will often then attack the guitar with a flurry of notes. It's like a man walking his dog, and the dog is held by a leash and the dog is unruly so he snaps at the leash. I do that to the guitar at times."
  • This is one of the more enduring songs from the third Television album, which ended up being their last. The group rose to acclaim (if not fame) as the house band at the New York hotspot CBGB in the mid-'70s, but after just two albums, they broke up in 1978. In 1992 they got back together and released album number three, but they broke up a year later. Subsequent revivals of the band did not produce any new music.

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