I never heard it put quite that way

I recently received a tip off from Colin B Morton about an item on PJ Harvey’s message board which features an unusual interpretation of a tune from Trout Mask Replica which is, apparently, racist. Any idea which song on TMR features prejudiced beliefs that one race is superior to others?

Have a look at the posts from “pollyfan” on the PJ Harvey message board to find out. I think someone is a little confused…

[sadly, “pollyfan” has since removed the text of all his / her posts but you can still get a gist of sorts from the responses]


  1. Some people should really use their ears and brain first, rather than their keyboard

  2. It took me a while to actually figure out what could even be mistaken as racist. As far as i ever understood, it was about a china piggybank. Some people are strange…

  3. amazing what some people can do with an atrophied brain stem. Apparently the fact that there are Cantonese/Chinese varieties of pigs that could easily have been raised in an agrarian environment or even in FFA/4-H style projects by Don or his acquaintances eludes these masters of musical ethics. What a laugh riot. Makes me feel altogether better about some of the stupid things Ive put on the internets.

  4. just so its clear, that incredibly cool blues tune is exactly about raising a pig, intelligent animals that they are, and eating it. I stuck a fork in his back. Boy do I want to take some musical tips from those clowns!

  5. The song is about a piggy bank.

  6. the hell it is. Thats a playful twist. Its not about a piggybank.

  7. If it isn’t about a piggy bank / poverty then I can’t imagine what it is about. A playful twist on what?

    The China Pig lyrics are online if anyone has any other interpretations.

  8. I’ve always thaught it to be about Don’s fondness for animals. I’ve always interpreted it as the material ‘china’, such as china tea cups.
    He is unable to kill his china pig…

    Racist? Huh?

  9. I am sure it is about a china (ceramic) pig. China pigs were pig moneyboxes, which children used to store their money (duh!), they were glazed and had a slot in the back, BUT, originally, they had no other hole from removing the money, you had to smash the pig, thus “killing” it, to remove the money. So if I can quote the first few lines:

    I don’t wanna kill my china pig
    No I don’t
    Uh man’s gotta live
    Uh man’s gotta eat
    Uh man’s gotta have shoes t’ walk out on the street

    He doesnt want to kill (smash) his china pig, but he needs the money (from inside of it)to live/eat/buy items (shoes in this case).

    If anyone is unsure that it is a ceramic pig that is written about, then explain these lines:

    It’s glazed
    He’s got uh slot in his back

    Although, this could be a play on words, I am pretty certain that it is a china (as in ceramic) pig which is spoken of.

  10. Uh man’s gotta live
    Uh man’s gotta eat
    Uh man’s gotta have shoes to walk down on the street
    I fed the neghborhood
    It was uh a big neighborhood
    Uh lot uh people liked my pig
    one little girl used to put her fingers in his snout
    I put a fork in his back

    its funny how evocative a few lines can be. He is clearly talking about slaughtering a pig
    not busting open a piggy bank. the piggy bank allusions are to be expected but they dont comprise a very large fraction of the lyrics. Even back in those days a piggy bank wouldnt feed “uh big neighborhood”
    I think peoples lack of familiarity with pig varieties in comparison to their familiarity with piggy banks misleads them here.

  11. another reason I feel so certain about this dissection is the broader context of Beefheart’s lexicon. He is constantly singing of mankind’s inhumanity to, or simply paeans to nature, not financial woes. There is just no context for the interpretation of a piggy bank being smashed.

  12. Well Beefheart lyrics are quite often juxtaposed, so he could be talking about smashing a piggy bank open AND slaughtering a pig.
    But then I think that the vocals for this were improvised in the first place, it’s just him having fun with words

  13. Anyone who grew up in the 40’s,50’s, 60’s, either had or knew someone who had a china pig. Once you put your change in the slot in it’s back, that was it. The only practical way to get your money out was to wait until you filled it up and couldn’t insert any more coins, then smash it and take the money down to the local bank where your mom and dad would help you open up a junior savings account. Actually, you could talk your parents into letting you use the money for a cool crystal radio kit or the like. A friend of mine used to take a regular butter knife and then lay the pig on it’s side, then carefully insert the knife into the slot and slide it slowly out with a coin or two on it. [remember that these were the days when a coke from a vending machine was a nickel]. Don was a kid during those times and wrote the song about the struggle with having to “Kill” the china pig [in order to get the money he needed].

  14. Its about a real pig and a china pig (money box) both fattened up then slaughtered for gain. its called juxtaposition. glazed can be pork or china clay. in the song he loves both types of pig and he doesn’t want to kill em. Or maybe a metaphor for war there’s a lot of war on this album.

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