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One for the Cutters is the third track from the fourth The Hold Steady album Stay Positive, coming after Sequestered in Memphis and before Navy Sheets.


When there weren't any parties she'd park by the quarry. Walk into the woods until she came to a clearing. Where townies would gather and drink until black out. Smoke cigs until they're sick. Pack bowls and then pass out. Windows wide open to let the hard rock in. Theirs was a rage that didn't need much convincing. The girls gave her glares but the boys were quite pleasant. To be totally honest, they didn't seem that much different.

When there weren't any parties sometimes she partied with townies.

Out on the parkways. After the parties. It was always arousing when they'd rev up their engines. It was hard to describe so she kept it a secret. The girls that she lived with knew nothing about it. The night with the fight and the butterfly knife Was the first night that she spent with that one guy she liked She gave him a ride to some kid's house in Cleveland. He stayed there for two weeks. The cops finally found him.

He didn't seem that different except for the blood on his jacket. He didn't seem that different except for maybe his haircut. He didn't seem much different. They didn't seem that different up until this one little incident. They didn't seem much different.

Now the cops want to question everyone present. They parade every townie in town through the station. But no one says nothing and they can't find the weapon. The girl takes the stand and she swears she was with him. Her father's lawyers do most of the talking.

She's sick of the questions. Sick of the concept of justice and fairness. Who the hell cares who gets caught in the middle? She smokes and she ponders this riddle.

When one townie falls in the forest can anyone hear it? When one townie falls. When one townie falls in the forest does anyone notice?

One drop of blood on immaculate Keds. Mom, do you know where your girl is? A sophomore accomplice in a turtleneck sweater. Dad, do you know where your kids are? Sniffling at crystal in cute little cars. Getting nailed against dumpsters behind townie bars. It's a cute little town with boutiques and cafes. Her friends all seemed nice. She was getting good grades. But when she came home for Christmas. She just seemed distant and different.


In the movie "Breaking Away", the Cutters are a bicycle team that compete in the Little 500 race in Bloomington, Indiana at Indiana University. They are comprised of four young men raised in the town of Bloomington who did not go to the university after high school. The name The Cutters comes from the fact that an important employer in Bloomington was the local quarry who hired stone cutters. The boys are also known not-so-fondly as "townies."

A fairly straight-forward narrative song.

It describes a girl who goes away to Indiana University and, after finding some local kids to party with, ends up helping a boy leave town after a fight ends up with one local boy dead, killed with a butterfly knife.

The witnesses all refuse to tell the police what happened. The boy who escaped is eventually caught; at the trial the girl provides a false alibi for him, stating that neither of them were at the quarry when the stabbing happened.

It's implied, but not confirmed, that the boy who fled was in fact the killer. "When they'd rev up their engines" and have the "windows wide open" no doubt refers to the engines and windows of the muscle cars the townies favor.

At a show in Bloomington in 2008, Craig said that this song was written about Bloomington because one of his friends was from there, but he really didn't know much about the town.

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