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The Meaning of Mac DeMarco’s “Ode to Viceroy”

Anyone who has dabbled in the wonders and difficulties of nicotine addiction knows all too well the love-hate relationship that develops between yourself and your precious cigarettes, or vape.

Early in his career, Canadian songwriter and indie darling Mac DeMarco himself was an avid smoker and self-proclaimed cigarette connoisseur, made official by his release of the fan-favorite tune, “Ode to Viceroy”.

Appearing on Mac’s 2012 album, 2, the song is quite literally a love song about cigarettes. Specifically, his love for the Viceroy brand of cigarettes. It chronicles his daily life during his love affair with these cigarettes, presenting them in a lighthearted manner that totally downplays the negative health effects.

Of course, DeMarco himself has since quit smoking, so despite seeming to be totally committed to his relationship with the Viceroy brand of cigarettes, Mac ultimately chose his health over his beloved darts.

“Ode to Viceroy” Lyrics Meaning

DeMarco’s talent comes in his ability to write simple, whimsical songs that have a certain cleverness to them. This makes them not only playful but relatable in their own way, ultimately crafting a persona of himself as someone who goes through life without a care in the world, but sometimes also experiences deep emotions.

Perhaps this is an unrealistic perspective, but it is part of what has made Mac DeMarco famous, and it is certainly an appealing concept to many young people. Hence his status as an internationally-acclaimed musician, helping to launch an entire genre of indie bedroom pop that remains popular today.

“Ode to Viceroy”, as one of his earliest fan-favorite tracks, is a prime example of this talent. Let’s take a closer look at these lyrics and see how he accomplishes this, in a love song about cigarettes, of all things, starting with the first verse:

Early in the morning
Just trying to let the sun in
And open up my eyes
As it’s getting later
Heading for the corner
Already running dry

First verse to “Ode to Viceroy” by Mac Demarco.

Here, DeMarco says that he smokes his first Viceroy early in the morning, as a way of helping him wake up. This is a habit that he continues throughout the day, smoking what we can only assume is an ungodly amount of cigarettes.

As the morning turns to afternoon, he finds that he is already running dry, so he heads to the corner store to pick up a fresh pack.

In the chorus, he takes a step further, addressing his cigarettes as his lover:

And oh, don’t let me see you crying
‘Cause oh, honey, I’ll smoke you ’til I’m dying

Chorus to “Ode to Viceroy” by Mac Demarco.

DeMarco suggests that the cigarettes are worried that he will leave them. In his response, he expresses his lifelong devotion, claiming that he will smoke Viceroy cigarettes until the day he dies.

Another verse follows, with DeMarco again expressing the extent of his devotion to the Viceroy brand:

Don’t take me for a fool now
I’m only trying to calm down
Just trying to keep it cool
As it’s getting later
Heading for the corner
I’m leaving it to you

Second verse to “Ode to Viceroy” by Mac Demarco.

The lyrics here lean on a very common reason cited by smokers for smoking, which is using them to calm down and keep their cool.

However, there is an undercurrent here due to his statement “Don’t take me for a fool now”, that suggests a strain in the relationship. Perhaps the Viceroys are demanding more of him than he is willing to give.

Nevertheless, he begins to run low again as the afternoon turns to night, and he heads to the corner store yet again for another pack. This is nearly a two-pack a day habit, we’re looking at here.

Another drag of the chorus follows, with an outro that features DeMarco declaring “There really is nothing quite like it,” before flicking his lighter, taking a puff, and coughing.

Listen to “Ode to Viceroy” by Mac DeMarco below, and click through to Youtube to watch the “age-restricted” video.

Mac DeMarco – “Ode to Viceroy”

Mac DeMarco – “Ode to Viceroy” (Official Video)