bnl faq
(that's barenaked ladies frequently asked questions)

If you've got a question about Barenaked Ladies, you've come to the right place. If the answer you're looking for isn't listed here, post a message to the Barenaked Chatter and somebody there may be able to answer it. Read this first, though. If you question is listed here and you ask on the chatter, they will flame you. Should they yell at you and it's really not here, just tell them to kiss your ass.

I'm going to list the questions with general "Barenaked Ladies" questions first and then album/song/lyric references in album order.

If you think we've left out any questions, email them to us at [email protected]. Be sure to include the question, answer, and a reference so we can verify it. We don't guarantee we'll ever get around to it, but hey, you can try.

On to the FAQ...

General Barenaked Information
Maybe You Should Drive
Born on a Pirate Ship
Rock Spectacle
Disc One
Everything to Everyone
Barenaked for the Holidays

General Info

  1. Isn't 'Barenaked Ladies' a sexist name?
    The name is meant to convey a "child-like innocence." There is nothing sexist about it.
  2. I saw Steve and Ed kiss. Are they gay?
    Both Steve and Ed are married (no, not to each other--to women).
  3. Does Steve smoke?
    Not sure if he still does or not, but does it matter anyway?
  4. Is Steve related to Canadian reggae artist Snow?
    Yes. Steve is Snow's second cousin, and he feels a strong connection to this extended family member: "If it wasn't for Informer, One Week would have never been a hit."
  5. What is the Shoebox E.P?
    The Shoebox E.P was released in anticipation for Born on a Pirate Ship. It has tons of computer multimedia videos including music videos and random clips of the ladies goofing around. You should be able to find it right along with the other BNL CDs. The track listing is

    Trust Me- recorded for Born on a Pirate Ship, but cut from the album
    If I had a Million Dollars- yellow tape version (It was going to be a recording from a radio station session, KBCO Studio C, but that was scrapped at the last minute.)
    Shoebox (radio remix)

  6. What is Barenaked in America? Where can I get it?
    Barenaked in America is a documentary about the ladies' Stunt tour. It was directed by Jason Priestly, and about two years later, it was released in a few major markets in the US (It was also shown at the Toronto Film Festival and Slamdance.) The movie was then released to Blockbuster for rental (and purchase in the "pre-viewed" section). However, Shooting Gallery distributed the film, but since the company went under, the film hasn't been officially released for sale. A DVD and VHS release is expected *sometime*. Folks, don't spend $100 for it on eBay. That's just dumb.
  7. They have a book?
    Yep - Public Stunts and Private Stories by Paul Myers (yes, Mike Myers brother). It was published in 2001 so it has biographical information up until the beginning of the Maroon era. It has some fun stories, road stories, and unique details (plus pictures). The ladies have said that they have wished that they had more input in it. Although there are some annoying, silly typos, overall it's a fun and easy read. You can purchase the book in Canada, at a live show, or via werkshop.com.
  8. I heard "One Week" in a Mitsubishi car commercial, and I saw people sing "If I had a Million Dollars" in a New York Lotto commercial. Why did the ladies let them do that?
  9. What are the naked songs?
    While recording Gordon, producer MPW suggested the ladies loosen up a bit by recording the next track naked. He started a tradition, and the ladies now record a song on every album naked.

    Gordon - "King of Bedside Manor"
    MYSD - "Intermittently"
    BOAPS - "Back" (Cut from album - on the Brian Wilson 2000 single)
    Stunt - "Alcohol"
    Maroon - "Humor of the Situation"
    ETE - "Sign Me Up" (cut from album)

    There is some fan speculation that "Wizard of Magicland" was recorded naked, but there has been no "official" word.

  10. I love Barenaked Ladies, but I really just want to carve their heads onto pumpkins.
    uh, Well, to each their own... Now you can
  11. I want to see them live! Are they ever coming to ____?
    no - we hate you
    -- Steve Page


  1. Who's Gordon?
    Well, nobody.
  2. What city is being referred to in "Hello City"?
    Halifax, Nova Scotia.

    Steve didn't exactly enjoy much of their first taste of Halifax, Nova Scotia. Much of his feelings were documented in the lyrics of "Hello City," a caustic, and cautionary tale that opens the band's 1992 debut release, Gordon.
         I think is harbour town is waist deep and sinking fast...
    "When we were in Halifax," Steven begins, "we played at this bar called The Lower Deck, where they had mostly Celtic music, being as there are mostly sailors in there, drinking."
         The sun didn't shine on Barrington Street...
    "We stayed at this place called The Carlton Hotel, on Barrington Street, which was upstairs from this metal bar called Rosa's. It's no longer there, but it was a total flophouse."
         The doom and gloom of the hotel room...
    "The room that Ed and I shared had four beds. One of them was up against the wall and another had a mattress falling through its frame. There was a bathtub with no shower. It was just gross."
         Climb down three flights to the streetlights and the bar fights, we're just taking in the sights...
    "Halifax on a weekend, you can't go anywhere without seeing somebody bleeding, somewhere. To get to the street from our terrible room, you had to walk down three or four flights of stairs and then step over some bleeding body. We were young, none of us were real drinkers, Ed didn't drink at all, and the whole drink culture of Halifax was just shocking to us."
         I wish this seaside beer hall would just sink into the bay...
    "So we were playing at The Lower Deck, this sailor's watering hole, and no one would pay attention. I remember taking a picture from the stage and when I got the pictures back, there was nobody looking at the camera."
         Hello city, you've found an enemy in me...
    "I remember thinking I hate this place, I hate this place."
         Maybe I caught you at a bad time, maybe I should call you back next week...
    "We've actually had great times there since, but that's because we learned the "when in Rome" axiom. You know the expression, 'do at the Romans do?' So 'when in Halifax,' we learned to 'do as the Haligonians do,' which in this case means drinking and bleeding."
         I hope tomorrow that I wake up in my own bed...

    (from Barenaked Ladies - Public Stunts Private Stories by Paul Myers. Pages 48-49)
  3. Some of the lyrics in "Hello City" sound familiar.
    The following lines were taken from the Housemartin's song "Happy Hour."

    What a good place to be,
    Don't believe them,
    'Cause they speak a different language
    And it's never been happy for me.
    It's Happy Hour again

  4. Who's Enid?
    Enid Leger was a waitress at Spanky's Pub in Moncton, NB. The ladies met her there and found it interesting that her name was "dine" when spelled backwards.
  5. Is Depeche Mode at the beginning of Enid?
    No, but it sounds like it, doesn't it? Actually, the intro to Enid was recorded to sound like Depeche Mode. Producer Michael-Phillip Wojewoda is on lyrics for that.
  6. What are the "hidden" lyrics in Enid?
    Right after I can do it all for you / But I don't want to Ed can be heard singing in the background. He's saying

    I could teach you how to dance, how to sing, how to knit how to make things that you've never ever made before
    Enid I could teach you how to use cookie cutters to make crazy things out of Play-doh.
    Little houses, little farms, little accessories for your Mom, for your Barbie set, for your friends, and your family.
    Enid I could teach you to snowmobile, cross-country ski, and snowshoe.
    But I don't want to.

    If you listen real closely you can hear someone (perhaps Andy) sing Drive you to dances, pay for your night school twice on top of the other lyrics.

    To better hear the "hidden" lyrics, only play the right speaker.

  7. Who's Brian Wilson?
    Are you serious? He's a Beach Boy.

  8. How does the song "Brian Wilson" have anything to do with Brian Wilson?
    It has everything to do with Brian Wilson.

    Fun, Fun, Fun is a Beach Boys song
    Smiley Smile is one of their albums
    Dr. Eugene Landy was Brian Wilson's psychatrist who took advantage of him. Read about it here
    About the sandbox and 300 pounds lyrics:

    Brian Wilson fell into drug addiction, psychosis and a terrifying descent that left him a great fat, 154kg, blubbering mess, paranoid and fighting the memories of childhood abuse, playing in the sandbox - built into his living room - of some unknown world only he inhabited. -- from
    The song is just crawling with Brian Wilson references (not all listed). Absolutely amazing song.
  9. Who is Yoko Ono?
    Once again, are you serious? She was John Lennon's wife. (You know, the Beatles guy).
  10. What's a hairshirt?
    n. A coarse haircloth garment worn next to the skin by religious ascetics as penance
    (thank you, dictionary.com)
  11. Why do people throw macaroni and cheese during "If I Had $1000000"?
    Because they're morons.

    Okay, you know that line we wouldn't have to eat Kraft Dinner? (Kraft Dinner is Canadian for Kraft Macaroni and Cheese) Some people thought it would be cute to toss a box of Kraft Dinner on the stage during that line. It was, but then everyone started bringing the delicious treat to the shows and throwing it at the band. And the cheese packets. Opened. Ewww. Not only does uncooked macaroni hurt, it messes up the band's instruments. They don't like being hit with macaroni, I don't like being hit with macaroni, do you like being hit with macaroni?
    Those in the know don't throw.

Maybe You Should Drive

  1. Who's on the cover?
    That's Jim and Andy Creeggan in heavy makeup. Okay, it's just some hired actors.
  2. Who is Jane?
    A street. "Jane and St. Clair" is a street corner in Toronto.
  3. What does "No Juliana next to my Evan" mean?
    Reference to the relationship between singers Juliana Hatfield and Evan Dando, who maintain a close unclassifiable friendship which has been the topic of much industry gossip (Barenaked Vocab - Thanks emily!)

    Q: Do you have any celebrity crushes? If so, who? Do you ever include them in your songs?
    -Ally from Bellows Falls, Vt.

    Steven Page: I tried to work Juliana Hatfield into a song ("Jane"). I still haven't even met her, and no, I think I'd be too embarrassed anyway.
    -- Vh1 one to one

  4. Who is the girl in the "Alternative Girlfriend" video?
    Rumor says it's a drag queen named "Billy Beyond." I'm still going to believe it's Kevin Hearn in drag because that's more funny.

Born On A Pirate Ship

  1. Is that Jim on the cover?
    Surprisingly, no. He just happens to look like a young version of Jimmy C.
  2. Is "Straw Hat and Old Dirty Hank" about Anne Murray?
    It's not about her, per se. Rather, the song was based on her being stalked (and it's from his view). The following verse has some lines based on Anne Murray songs:

    You cried a tear, I wiped it dry
    I put you up upon a pedestal so high
    If you should waver, if you should sway
    I'd catch you, spread my tiny wings and fly away

    The lyrics I cried a tear, you wiped it dry and You put me high upon a pedistal are from the song You needed me and spread your tiny wings and fly away is from Snowbird.

  3. What's the Danforth?
    It's an area of Toronto.
  4. What are the "alternate lyrics" for "Break Your Heart"?
    And if I always seem distracted
    Like my mind is somewhere else,
    That's because it's true, yes it's true
    I like to dream that I'm alone, on my own and by myself
    That means without you, yeah without you.
    I've got this feeling I don't love you anymore
    And I'm not so sure that I ever did right from the start.
    I've got this feeling I shouldn't keep you informed
    I guess 'cause I wouldn't want to break your heart

    Pride is a sticky thing that makes me feel
    Like I have to follow through
    Even half-assedly, loving you
    And truth is a word that I'd rather not use
    'Cause it's always capitalised and it's only falsehood in disguise
    Why must I always speak in terms of cowardice?
    When I guess I should have just come out and told you right from the start
    Why must I always tell you all I want is this?
    I guess 'cause I wouldn't want to break your heart

  5. Who's singing that "hey ya hey ya hey ya hey yo" during "Spider in My Room"?
    That would be the Stoney Park people. It was recorded at Right Tracks Studio in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan (that's Canada, folks).
  6. What is the "Massey Hall" version of "Same Thing"?
    There was a show recorded at Massey Hall (pre-Born On A Pirate Ship) where the ladies played a faster version of "Same Thing" and the lyrics were a little different. The different lyrics are the following:

    I'm in a jewelery store
    Lookin' at a wedding ring the size of three or
    four paychecks and in walks the girl next door
    I say "I do!", It's funny how fast things change


    Now I'm in a general store
    Lookin' at a photograph of a smiling eight year old
    He's got a fist the size of his younger brother now,
    Tugging on his shirt saying "Let's go home!"

Rock Spectacle

  1. Where was this recorded?
    Rock Spectacle was recorded in Montreal and Chicago in 1996.
  2. I tried to put the CD in my computer to play it and this weird box popped up on the screen. What should I do?
    Uhm, play it? Rock Spectacle is an enhanced CD (as is Born On A Pirate Ship). Use Quicktime to watch "BNL TV" from your Rock Spectacle CD.
  3. What's the "Bryant Street Theatre"?
    Technically it doesn't exist. Ed was "up near Clark and Belmont" in Chicago when a lady asked him where the Bryant Street Theatre is. He said he didn't know because he doesn't live in Chicago. The lady was probably talking about the "Briar Street Theatre" which some people think is part of the joke. I think it was just a funny misunderstanding with a rude old lady. (For anyone who might care, the Briar Street Theatre is on North Halsted--right by Clark and Belmont which is why that's what she was probably talking about.)
  4. What the hell are you talking about in that last question?
    Get out your Rock Spectacle CD. Listen to "If I Had $1000000." Wait, don't turn it off. Yes, the silence is supposed to be there. Keep listening....... get it?


  1. What is that thing on the cover?
    That's the Stuntman. He is made up of different body parts of the ladies.

    Steve: hands, mouth
    Jim: left eye, nose
    Kevin: right eye, body
    Tyler: head
    Ed: legs, feet, ear

  2. What's up with those extra lines in the liner notes for "One Week"?
    Ed wrote the song as just one big freestyle and "kept what was good." The extra lines were included because he thought the fans might want to read them.
  3. I don't understand the references in "One Week."
    Aquaman: DC Comics Superhero character
    Chalet Swiss: Resturant Chain found on the east coast of the United States and Canada. (Called Chalet Suisse in Quebec).
    Wasabi: Japanese horseradish. It's a really hot green spice that smells awful. (And for the record, it's "wasabi" not "wasabe." I've studied Japanese for the last five years. "Wasabe" is said differently. Trust me on this one.)
    Leann Rimes: Country artist.
    Bert Kaempfert: Musician. His song, "Swingin Safari" was the theme song to the game show called "Match Wits." (Bert Kaempfert’s got the mad hits / You try to match wits Get it?)
    Vertigo: Medical condition where everything appears to be spinning.
    Chickety China the Chinese Chicken: In 1997 a disease (the "Hong Kong Flu") was being spread through poultry in China. People who ate the infected chicked would become ill or die (You have a drumstick and your brain stops ticking).
    X-files: Television show.
    Dans la maison: french for "in the house."
    Smoking Man: reoccuring character on the X-Files.
    Harrison Ford: Actor
    Frantic: 1988 film starring Harrison Ford.
    Sting: Musician.
    Tantric: Powerful ritual acts of body, speech, and mind. Tantric love = Really good sex.
    Snickers: A wonderful wonderful candy bar. It really satisfies.
    Kurosawa: Japanese director.
    Sailor Moon: Japanese animated cartoon. Popular in USA as well as Japan.
    Anime: Japanese word for "animated cartoon."
  4. What's that in the middle of "It's All Been Done?"
    "We had Andy Creeggan's wife, Natacha, speak French over the telephone for us. I don't even know what's she's saying."
    -Steve, Disc One liner notes
  5. Where's that chant of "go go go go" during "Alcohol" from?
    According to the liner notes, JimmyC's birthday party.
  6. What's Sandinista?
    A triple album released in 1980 by the Clash.
  7. What are "She's On Time" and "Long Way Back Home"?
    There was a "Limited Edition" of the Stunt album released. This version looked identical to the original Stunt, but there were two extra songs on it ("She's On Time" and "Long Way Back Home"). The only way to tell the difference in the CDs without actually playing them is the numbers on the CD (standard: 9 46963-2 and limited edition: 9 47011-2).


  1. What is the Maroon Infomercial?
    Well, it's exactly what it sounds like- an infomercial for Maroon. Harland Williams interviews the ladies from the "barenaked mansion" while they sell "Maroon footcream." It actually aired a few times right along with all the infomercials you love- "Nads" and "Knife Bonanza." It is also featured on the "Too Little Too Late" DVD single.
  2. In the liner notes, why is "Internet" in quotes in "Never Do Anything"?
    Because the Internet doesn't exist.
  3. What are they saying at the end of "Go Home?"
    fuck yeah! although in concert it sounds a little more like aw yeah!
  4. Why is "love" written "L1O1V4E1" in the liner notes for "Conventioneers?"
    The lyrics in question:
    Followed your perfume out away from all the rabble
    Right into your room for a drink and travel SCRABBLE
    You, stationed in the warm glow of the t.v.
    Too patient as I'm playing L1O1V4E1
    scrabble...get it?
  5. I heard that "Tonight is the Night I Fell Asleep At the Wheel" was a poem written a long time ago by Steve.
    True. Here is the poem as printed in the Mr. Rockin Tour Book from the Gordon tour:

    The same treacherous drive seemed shorter. I passed the same restaurants and I passed the same baseball diamonds. I sang with the radio and listened to the tiniest pieces of war that were left. Yesterday I shuffled past the protesters arguing about pornography, racist science, blue Smarties. Last night I woke up laughing. My dream had me face down smothering, making Carolyn think I was crying. Today, I woke up and my car was in flames. I rolled down a ditch and the radio couldn't tell me anything new. I was hungry and I had to go to the bathroom. Today, I woke up and my car was in flames. Today was like any other Sunday drive home, but today is the day I fell asleep at the wheel.

Disc One: All Their Greatest Hits (1991-2001)

  1. Fuckin' Sellouts! They made a Greatest Hits album. What about "Box Set," dammit?
    It was a part of their contract.
  2. Why is there a dying cow at the beginning of "Wizard of Magicland?"
    It's not a cow- it's a grunt. Read the lyrics to figure out why it's there.
  3. "Old Apartment" and "Shoebox" sound different from the versions on Born on a Pirate Ship.
    Those versions are the radio remixes. The radio remix of "Shoebox" is available on the Shoebox E.P, and "The Old Apartment" remix can be found on (ironically enough) "The Old Apartment" single (can't find the single in stores anymore, try eBay).
  4. I own every Barenaked Ladies album, and I have never heard of "Get in Line" or "Lovers in a Dangerous Time."
    That's because they were never on a Barenaked Ladies album silly. "Lovers in a Dangerous Time" is from the 1991 Bruce Cockburn tribute album, Kick at the Darkness. "Get in Line" is from the King of the Hill soundtrack (tv show).
  5. OMG, "Thanks that was fun," it's the last song on the album, and then I saw the video - they are breaking up!

    I've had a bunch of people ask me, 'Oh, hey, you've got this greatest hits and "thanks" out there…are you done? Like "Thanks that was Fun," like it's over?' And, no we just got so many records now, and we tour so much. That we thought it would be a good opportunity to put kinda of a retrospective out there.
    -- Ed Robertson (2001 MuchMoreMusic I&I)

Everything to Everyone

  1. Who painted the cover art?
    Chris Woods. On bnlblog, Ed said the cover was inspired by, "Vintage propaganda art, mixed with Alex Ross."
  2. Does the band actually have a problem with recieving postcards with primates on them?
    According to Ed, he once heard a story about someone's garden gnome getting stolen and the owner recieving pictures of the gnome from places all over the world. (This is also a sub-plot to the movie Amélie.) The story stuck with Ed: "Steve and I started writing this song a couple of years ago and we said, 'We can't write that song. That is too retarded!' And then we kinda looked at each other and we went, 'If we don't, then who will?'" (Ed's call to Boston's Mix 98.5 on 8/22/03).

Barenaked for the Holidays

  1. What were they thinking with that rendition of Jingle Bells?
    I have no idea.