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Eleanor by Vigilantes of Love

Vigilantes of Love Killing Floor

Vigilantes of Love took their name from the New Order song ‘Love Vigilantes’. The band hailed from Athens, Georgia, a city with rich pop music heritage; in all honesty they’d probably struggle to break onto a list of greatest musical acts of that city, when bands like R.E.M., The B-52s, and Neutral Milk Hotel have enjoyed more mainstream success or more devoted cult followings. Vigilantes of Love were largely a vehicle for Bill Mallonee, and his thoughtful alt-country songs.


Like myself, Mallonee has a degree in history, and in the song ‘Eleanor’ from 1992’s Killing Floor, he examines the life of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, the neglected wife of Franklin D. Roosevelt. With a driving acoustic guitar and accompanied by pretty trumpet lines, Mallonee tells the story of a woman who couldn’t hold her husband’s attention but earned the adulation of her nation (“The credit it fell back on you/You pinned her to your chest”).

As much as I like Bill Mallonee’s work, I’ve always been intimidated by his vast discography, and have only examined a couple of albums, but ‘Eleanor’ is an all time favourite, an affectionate portrait of an underappreciated historical figure.

i think she wanted your affections
well at least that’s what i’ve read
God knows the world is a cruel place
when beauty don’t grace your head
when your two legs withered
she offered her caress
her love deeper than warm springs
but lucy got your best
yes eleanor taking what she could get

surely love must have an object
when refused so many times
she gave hers to the orphans
the weak the starving sick and blind
ah but the credit it fell back on you
you pinned her to your chest
her love deeper than warm springs
but lucy got your best
yes eleanor taking what she could get

she knew about those seedy little business trips
but she became your welcome mat
and i bet she could’ve used something from you
something more than a fireside chat
hey history’s flesh and blood it seems
there’re no more heroes waiting in the wings
franklin she never loved you any less
eleanor taking what she could get

now to those who wield great power
popularity vulgarity and the sword
you know those little molders of public opinion
create the stuff of graffiti legend and folklore
we remember your profile and cigarette
she’s just a footnote in your text
her love deep as the ocean
ah but lucy got your best
yes eleanor taking what she could get



3 thoughts on “Eleanor by Vigilantes of Love Leave a comment

  1. Now you’re talking! Goodness knows why this band aren’t more widely recognized. I’m a fan of this album because musically it’s a little bit more fleshed out than the earlier records. Having said that I think Peter Buck coming in to help makes a difference. Have you heard “Audible Sigh”? That’s a good one too…more Americana than but definitely worth a shot.

    Liked by 1 person

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