Lump by The Presidents of the USA: Lyrics Meaning and Interpretation

Image Source

Lump is a song by the American band the Presidents of the United States of America. It was released as a single off the band’s 1995 self-titled debut album. The song experiments with the genres of alternative rock and grunge music. Commercially, the song performed well and reached the number one spot on the Billboard’s Modern Rock Tracks chart. Lump has also been featured in video games like Rock Band 2, Band Hero, Saints Row IV and Just Dance.

The band’s original members include Chris Ballew (Vocalist and Bassist), Jason Finn (Drummer) and Dave Dederer (Guitarist). In their decades-long career, the band released 6 studio albums. In 2015, the Presidents of the United States of America were disbanded. They made the news official a year later.

The Title – What does it mean?

The song title Lump is inspired by Chris Ballew’s benign brain tumor. He also had a vision of a woman sitting by the swamp in his mind. So he mixed the two ideas and created the song.

Ballew was cleaning his room while listening to mini-cassette tapes of different ideas he had come up with. In one of the tapes, he heard himself saying “Is this Lump out of my head? I think so”. Ballew could not recall saying anything of that sort. Later, the line made it to the final cut of the song as the outro.

Verse 1 – What does it mean?

Lump sat alone in a boggy marsh

Totally emotionless except for her heart

The girl named (or nicknamed) “Lump” is all alone in a swamp. An onlooker might think she is devoid of emotions. But inside, Lump has many feelings.

“Boggy marsh” could be a commentary on the modern world which is akin to a lifeless swamp. Although many creatures live in swamps, it is not an ideal environment for human beings. Lump, with goodness in her heart, seems out of place in this selfish, cruel world.

Mud flowed up into lump’s pajamas

She totally confused all the passing piranhas

A harsh environment like a swamp would require its inhabitants to compete with one another for survival. And the impact of this competitiveness (“Mud”) would also impact someone as good-natured as Lump.

But it does not. Lump is immune to competition and does not want to step over others to flourish in life. “Passing Piranhas” may refer to people fighting to rise above each other (like the competition in a corporate setup). These “piranhas” are confused by Lump’s nonchalance towards struggling.

Chorus – What does it mean?

She’s lump, she’s lump

She’s in my head

She’s lump, she’s lump, she’s lump

She might be dead

The chorus celebrates Lump, as the woman who turned against the tide. The singer remembers Lump in his memories (“She’s in my head”). But he also considers the fact that in the present Lump could be dead. It also implies that the swamp swallowed up Lump. She could not survive in this world of cut-throat competition.

Verse 2 – What does it mean?

Lump lingered last in line for brains

And the one she got was sorta rotten and insane

Perhaps the reason why Lump did not compete in the world was her inability to do so. It was not a conscious decision. Lump was probably retarded, or mentally incapable to understand complex issues. That could explain why she was sitting by the swamp.

It is also important to note that “Lump” also refers to the benign tumor inside songwriter’s Chris Ballew’s head. Referring to it as “sorta rotten and insane” is an attempt at mocking the self. Ballew wonders why he got a tumor at all.

Small things so sad that birds could land

Is lump fast asleep or rockin’ out with the band?

The size of the tumor may have been small. But the news deeply saddened Ballew, until it was revealed that the tumor is benign. “birds could land” exaggerates the gravity of the situation. Had the tumor been malign Ballew would not have been able to continue making music and “rockin’ out with the band”.

In the literal context, Lump is just one woman against the world (“small things”). Right now she is in a swamp, not saying anything. Is she with the band and the listeners grooving to the song? Or, is she losing consciousness and fading away?

Verse 3 – What does it mean?


Image Source


Ba baw

Ba ba banana

Ba baw

Ba ba banana

Ba baw

Ba ba banana

Ba baw

Lump was limp and lonely and needed a shove

Lump slipped on a kiss and tumbled into love

In the first verse, Lump is described as emotionless, with hidden feelings. These lines describe the consequence of that personality trait. Sitting in the swamp, Lump is alone and lacking motivation. She may not want to compete with the world to achieve her dreams. But she still needs and desires companionship, someone to motivate her to live life (“a shove”).

As Lump is innocent and limited in her intelligence, she gives into simple shows of affection. A simple kiss can make her fall in love. This also describes her gullibility.

Symbolically, Ballew talks about his state of mind when he was diagnosed with the tumor. He needed people’s love and sympathy. He was sad and needed a push from loved ones to get on with life.

She spent her twenties between the sheets

Life limped along at sub-sonic speeds

Lump wasted away her youth (“spent her twenties”) doing nothing. The phrase “between the sheets” could also refer to sex, implying that Lump took to prostitution to earn a living. For a person lacking intelligence, there aren’t many avenues to make money. Lump did what she could to live.

Meanwhile, life passed Lump by at “sub-sonic speeds”, which is neither too fast nor too slow. This implies Lump felt the time slipping by, perhaps even suffered the consequences.

Ballew could have met the same fate. His tumor could have rendered him sick and bed-ridden (“between the sheets”). If that was the case, his only option would have been to watch his life painfully pass by.

Outro – What does it mean?

Is this lump outta my head?

I think so

Is this lump outta my head?

I think so

Is this lump outta my head?

I think so

Is this lump outta my head?

But Ballew survived the tumor. He is experiencing disbelief at the miracle. The feeling is similar to when you narrowly escape an accident and cannot believe it actually happened. He keeps asking in bewilderment “Is this Lump outta my head? I think so”


This song is one of the most popular songs by The Presidents of the USA. It is a pretty short song with a runtime of fewer than 2 and half minutes. Personifying the tumor in his head as “Lump”, songwriter Chris Ballew constructs a story to narrate what went inside his mind during that time.

Wynona’s Big Brown Beaver by Primus: Lyrics Meaning and Interpretation

Gentle On My Mind by Glen Campbell: Lyrics and Interpretation