Song for Dan Treacy by MGMT Lyrics Meaning – Decoding the Ode to an Indie Icon

You can view the lyrics, alternate interprations and sheet music for MGMT's Song for Dan Treacy at
Article Contents:
  1. Music Video
  2. Lyrics
  3. Song Meaning


He spends his time
Or maybe half of his time
Or part of the time wandering
‘Round the creeks and cobble stones of hackney lanes

With a tear in his eye
As the children walk by, he’s thinking of a song
Then stops to paint a picture of a frown
Walking around

Dan Treacy’s smile
Leaves you trying to decide who’s the victim, what’s the crime?
No rest for the mind
That’s seen it all before

And I don’t know where he lives
But he’s a myth of a man
And Texas Bob the cameraman
Is off to fix his seat before the show

Yeah, but where did he go?
To know when your time’s up
You flip the glass and watch the hours quickening
Oh oh oh oh oh

In the back of the station
Fluorescent lights about to quit their flickering
Well he speaks his mind
He says “What is crime?”

Dan Treacy’s eyes
In the middle of the park
When the underground is dark,
He’s a poet he’s a lark

He starts thinking about a place that no one knows
And when the creeks run dry
He stays frozen in time
Strange lights in the sky

Start blinking
I can see the car outside but he’s listening
He’s listening
And he’s making up his mind

He made his mind up
To get things done and overcome
He made his mind up
Yeah he’s gonna let it go

He made his mind up
In the park and at the station
He made his mind up
Yeah, he’s gonna get it done

He made his mind up
Ooh yeah he’s gonna get it done
He made his mind up
Yeah, he’s gonna let it go

No matter the time
Oh oh
When the creeps run by
Oh no

He’s making his mind up
Oh oh oh oh
Yeah he’s gonna get it done whoa
Oh yeah, when the creeks run dry whoa oh

Yeah, he’s gonna listen to his soul,
Yeah, when the creeps walk
“Come here boy, look me in the eye”
Bow to the heart, back to the beat of
Dan Treacy

Full Lyrics

MGMT’s ‘Song for Dan Treacy’ is not just a track; it’s a tapestry woven with threads of homage, an independent spirit, and the enigmatic essence of a revered indie icon. Through the corridors of their psychedelic sound, MGMT guides us on a journey that is as introspective as it is celebratory, shining a light on a figure who embodies the ethos of their own musical adventures.

Literary allusions and philosophical musings line the streets of this sonic town, where Dan Treacy – frontman of the Television Personalities – resides as its unsung hero. His influence on MGMT and the indie music scene as a whole draws fans and music scholars alike into the alleys of lyrical interpretation, seeking the true essence of this musical accolade.

A Portrait of the Artist as an Indie Man

The song opens with vignettes of Treacy’s day-to-day life, ‘wandering ’round the creeks and cobble stones of Hackney lanes.’ These scenes depict a man entrenched in his environment, an artist who reflects the world around him into his work. Treacy’s Hackney is a living, breathing character in itself – it’s London’s haven for the artistic maverick, the place where bohemian souls and concrete realities collide.

MGMT’s lyrics paint Treacy as a dreamer caught in contemplation, suggesting a figure both of inspiration and pathos. The ballad transcends mere observation by merging the artist with his surroundings, casting him as a vigilant custodian of the streets, with a frown that captures the weight of creative responsibility.

Who’s the Victim, What’s the Crime?

Within the haunting questions raised by Dan Treacy’s enigmatic smile, MGMT delves into the existential battle that artists face. What can be seen as a philosophical enquiry also stands as a metaphor for the misunderstood artist, one who smiles in the face of adversity, misfortune, and obscurity.

The refrain ‘who’s the victim, what’s the crime?’ lingers in the air like a challenge to the listener, prompting an inward turn to contemplate the societal norms that might be incarcerating our own creativity. The ‘crime’ could well be the sacrifice of one’s true visionary gifts at the altar of mainstream conformity.

Through the Looking Glass: The Hidden Meaning

The reference to flipping the glass and watching hours quickening is a poignant reminder of the ceaseless march of time, which is a universal force against which even the most spirited creative minds must race. It suggests an awareness of mortality and the ephemeral nature of existence, which is a recurring theme in the artistry of the indie scene.

But as Treacy, and symbolically any true artist, stares down the ‘fluorescent lights about to quit their flickering,’ he transforms flickering into a steadfast glow of defiance. His questioning of ‘What is crime?’ is a repudiation of societal constraints, thus the song’s heart beats with the rhythm of rebellion and self-acceptance.

Making Up His Mind – The Turning Point

Treacy becomes a beacon for decisive action in the latter part of the song. The repetition of ‘He made his mind up’ hammers home the notion of critical resolve, perhaps capturing the moment where an artist rises from doubt and decides to create unabashedly.

The lines weave a narrative of transformation, with Treacy making peace with his internal and external worlds, ‘gonna let it go.’ It is this chorus of conviction that resonates with listeners, serving as an anthemic encouragement to pursue one’s passions without restraint or regret.

Memorable Lines That Echo In The Mind

Amidst the cosmic frequencies of MGMT’s tune, certain lines anchor the abstract to the poignant. ‘Come here boy, look me in the eye / Bow to the heart, back to the beat of Dan Treacy’ – serves not only as a culmination of MGMT’s respect but also as a summons for every listener to acknowledge the enduring heart of independent art.

It is a command that transcends the song, symbolizing a universal challenge to face our true selves and march to the beat of our individualistic drums. MGMT’s ‘Song for Dan Treacy’ thus metamorphoses into an anthem for the unapologetic pursuit of self-expression, with Dan Treacy’s legacy standing as a northern star for wandering indie souls.

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