“Short Skirt/Long Jacket” by Cake

The lyrics of “Short Skirt/Long Jacket” get painfully specific in terms of delineating the type of woman the vocalist prefers as a romantic interest. As the title indicates, one of such preferences revolves around her dress style, which would be highlighted by “a short skirt” contrasted with “a long, long jacket”, which is an idea we will get to later. 

As far as the verses go, not only are they very detailed but also, to some degree, symbolic. But putting it all together, it would appear that the kind of lady John McCrea ‘wants’ is someone along the lines of the serious, business-people type.

Inspiration behind “Short Skirt/Long Jacket”

Speaking of McCrea, from his perspective this song isn’t as simple as being based on his infatuation with career-oriented ladies. For instance, yes, he was directly inspired by a woman rockin’ a short skirt coupled with a long jacket. But the way he interpreted that fashion statement is sort of like a yin-yang type of thing – or in his own words as if she ‘housed oppositional forces’. 

In another of his recorded explanations of this piece, he also went on to explain that this song is “about prosperity and depression”, which are, in a way, two opposites themselves.

And perhaps we can also say that there exists a duality between this song’s lyrics and the explanations offered by John, because in reality “Short Skirt/Long Jacket” doesn’t really read as deep as he has explained it. 

But yes, it can be said that some men do find a contradiction – for lack of a better word – in how certain women will dress provocatively, if you will, but in the process they also try to conceal themselves. It’s almost as if they want to be seen and not seen at the same time. 

But again, these lyrics don’t really take it there. Instead, they more simply come off as if the vocalist is fascinated by hardcore career/businesswomen types.

Cake, "Short Skirt/Long Jacket" Lyrics
John McCrea talks about "Short Skirt/Long Jacket"

Cake

Cake is a band of alt-rockers from the prominent Californian city of Sacramento who have been around since the early 1990s. 

This is one of those music acts which experienced more commercial success earlier in their discography, with critical recognition coming down the line. For instance, it wasn’t until their fifth studio album, 2011’s “Showroom of Compassion”, that Cake not only got around to breaking the top 10 of the Billboard 200 but proceeded to top the list. 

But to note, that outing also marks their most recent LP to date, as the band isn’t really into releasing new music these days.

“Short Skirt/Long Jacket”

Columbia Records issued “Short Skirt/Long Jacket” as the lead single from Cake’s fourth studio album, “Comfort Eagle”, on 14 August 2001. 

This song was written by John McCrea, who has served as the group’s lead singer since day one.

The entire Cake crew produced the track, which at that time also consisted of these musicians:

  • Vince DiFiore
  • Xan McCurdy
  • Todd Roper
  • Tyler Pope
  • Gabriel Nelson

It has been noted that this track boasts a number of official music videos, including a Canadian version as well as a Mexican one. The original, American take was nominated for 2002 MTV VMA in the category of Breakthrough Video (which ultimately went to The White Stripes’ “Fell in Love with a Girl”).

“Short Skirt/Long Jacket” has achieved RIAA platinum status (as of 2022) and upon initial release most notably broke the top 10 of Billboard’s Alternative Airplay chart.

Fans of Chuck, an NBC series that ran for five seasons beginning in the late aughts, will recognize the instrumental of Short Skirt/Long Jacket as the program’s opening theme song.

Short Skirt/Long Jacket

Accolades

The song made it to the 7th spot on US Alternative Airplay (Billboard). It was also certified Platinum in the US. It has sold over a million units to date.

Notable Covers

  • Australian musician Hugh Sheridan featured his cover of this track in his first album in 2009, “Speak Love”
  • Imagine Dragons covered this track at Hennessey’s bar in Las Vegas in 2011
  • US duo Larkin Poe released their cover on 7th June, 2017

Usage in Media

  • Season 8 Episode 3 of American medical drama TV series “ER”.
  • Soundtrack of 2007 American comedy-drama movie “Waitress”.
  • 2009 American comedy movie “All About Steve”. The song can be heard playing when Mary (Sandra Bullock) runs back upstairs to change into something better after she sees Steve (Bradley Cooper) and realizes he’s hot.
  • In 2010, Apple used this song for their advertisement of the 6th generation iPod Nano.
  • 2011 American fantasy rom-com movie “The Change-Up”.
  • “Short Skirt/Long Jacket” was part of “Rock Band 4”’s main soundtrack in 2015.
  • 2017’s music mixing game “DropMix” featured the song.

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