A few days ago, my son's band were in my basement playing this song and I went downstairs, thinking how nice they sounded. They all stopped and looked a little sheepish. They obviously felt funny about playing a song "about drugs" (all <16 yo, btw). Ever intrepid, I inquired, "hey, you guys know what this song might be about?", seeking to diffuse the tension by striking at the source.

Well, um, yeah Mr. O, it's about drugs. Yes, it definitely is. But who is talking, and to whom does he speak, that is the real question. They all gave me a quizzical look, and settled in a little bit for my story. Here are the offending lyrics, for your review:

I need to be myself
I can't be no one else
I'm feeling supersonic
Give me gin and tonic
You can have it all
But how much do you want it?

You make me laugh
Give me your autograph
Can I ride with you in your BMW?
You can sail with me
In my yellow submarine

You need to find out
No one's gonna tell you what I'm all about
You need to find a way for what you want to say
But before tomorrow

'Cause my friend said he'd take you home
He sits in a corner all alone
He lives under a waterfall
Nobody can see him
Nobody can ever hear him call
Nobody can ever hear him call

You need to be yourself
You can't be no one else
I know a girl called Elsa
She's into Alka Seltzer
She sniffs it through
A cane on a supersonic train

And she makes me laugh
I got her autograph
She done it with a doctor
On a helicopter
She's sniffin' in her tissue
Sellin' the big issue

When she finds out
No one's gonna tell her what I'm on about
You need to find the way for what she wants to say
But before tomorrow

'Cause my friend said he'd take you home
He sits in a corner all alone
He lives under a waterfall
Nobody can see him
Nobody can ever hear him call
Nobody can ever hear him call


This song is not about a description of the feeling of omnipotence by a drug user, it is the confession of the agent of addiction itself. It is like the confession of the devil in Sympathy (Jagger/Richards). "After all, it was you and me"

He collects autographs (self portraits) of people who have traded fantasy lives for companionship, and whose worth is measured by material objects, conspicuous consumption and moral ambivalence. His friend who will take her home tomorrow unless she finds out what it is that Liam's really on about, is a heroin addiction, the next phase up- and the one from which no one will ever hear her call for help.

The second verse, (which I can sympathize- sometimes a great song is too short for the media's taste, and the artist has to "pad") is really about Elsa, the doberman who was in the studio farting up a green cloud during the rough cut sessions. Liam speculated that the dog had eaten alka seltzer. With a Doctor, in a helicopter, etc, are poetic filler that have perfect alliteration and percussive qualities to drive the song again towards it's monster chorus. I'm not judging, I do it all the time. The worst is when you write one really good sentence in 5 minutes: and spend two months trying to develop it into something longer, that your audience might want.

It doesn't matter about Elsa, I explained to the kids.
A) it's about drugs, but not the way it looks.
B) the key to beginning to understand poetry or lyrics is to identify the speaker, who he is speaking to, and why.
C) When you have a strong enough "voice" and "message" in your song (what you're really trying to say: in this case, "Girl, if you keep hanging with Pete D, you're going to end up dead or in an asylum), any real elements of the "story" dissolve. You can freely substitute meaningless elements, that will then acquire meaning because this "voice" is saying them. It gives the whole song it's context and everything this voice says is now "about" that.

And so Supersonic is about the confession and misgivings about a Smack Joe Black written in the first person, to a female friend of Noel's.

And Noel's very clearly telling you kids to stay away from the hard stuff. Get it? Who lives under bridges? Trolls, bums, outcasts. Who lives under the opposite: a waterfall? Symbolically, one who has inverted the natural world for a cell, where they see images filtered opaquely and distorted by refraction, who's senses and voice can only echo around this false place in a suicidal feedback loop, and where in reality, nobody can live- at least for very long.

Here was the point at which all agreed that 5 had been taken, and it was back to work, so I left, and resumed spying from upstairs.