They got to the part with the cattle and the creeping things
Said "I'm pretty sure we've heard this one before"
Cattle And The Creeping Things by The Hold Steady

Genesis 1:24 “Then God said, "Let the earth bring forth living creatures after their kind: cattle and creeping things and beasts of the earth after their kind”; and it was so."

The joke is that they read the entire bible up until that point and only then go “Oh, yeah, I’ve come into contact with this story before now.”

Not very biblically literate, but they know the gist of the story in a weird, instinctive way typical of Finn’s characters—they have charismatic, visionary religion that latches on to odd bits of scripture (Like Gen. 1:24, possibly the least recognizable verse up until that point for most people)

Holly, the main character of Separation Sunday, is from a Christian background, so this line shows us that she has at least mild familiarity with Biblical ideas.

It also shows us how she’s sorta dismissive of the Biblical teachings, and she thinks she’s learned everything she can from the Bible.

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And almost died up by Edina High Hornets! Hornets! by The Hold Steady

Edina High is a public high school in the Minneapolis suburb of Edina. The school mascot is the Hornets; hence the title of the song.

They nearly killed themselves after making it to the next town over.

(http://holdsteady.wikia.com/wiki/Edina_high)

Additionally, Craig Finn is from Edina, MN and his parents still reside there.

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Drove the wrong way down 169 Hornets! Hornets! by The Hold Steady

Route 169 runs from Tulsa, Oklahoma to Virginia, Minnesota, and passes through the western suburbs of the album’s main location, Minneapolis.

The narrator and the roommates were obviously intoxicated and drove up the wrong side of the highway.

(http://holdsteady.wikia.com/wiki/169)

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With three skaters and some hoodrat chick Hornets! Hornets! by The Hold Steady

The narrator has moved in with “some hoodrat chick” (The nickname often used to refer to Holly due to her promiscuity), and some other young men on the outskirts of society.

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We were living up at Nicollet and 66th Hornets! Hornets! by The Hold Steady

Nicollet Avenue is a major street in Minneapolis. 66th is a cross-street which intersects roughly at the level of the Minneapolis-St Paul airport in Richfield, a suburb of Minneapolis. An interesting observation is that the intersection of 66th and Nicollet would be very hard to live at, seeing as it is home to a shopping center. However, also at Nicollet and 66th is the Academy of Holy Angels and St. Peter’s Catholic Church.

(http://holdsteady.wikia.com/wiki/Nicollet_and_66th)

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I guess the heavy stuff ain't quite at its heaviest
By the time it gets out to suburban Minneapolis
Hornets! Hornets! by The Hold Steady

By the time drugs get to the smaller cities and the outskirts, they’ve been cut many times compared to in the inner city.

The line can also be interpreted as a statement about how culture filters out from places such as New York and Los Angeles. That things that were a big deal are somewhat over by the time they get to the shopping malls of St. Paul.

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I like the crowds at the really big shows
People touching people that they don't even know, yo
Hornets! Hornets! by The Hold Steady

The Hold Steady’s lyrics partly come from personal experiences of lead singer Craig Finn in the Midwest hardcore scene of the 1980s. This talks about the unity felt at a large show, where people who have never met can dance and come together while packed together.

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And he never heard that song before, but he still got the metaphor
Yea, he knew some people that switched places before
Hornets! Hornets! by The Hold Steady

The narrator of the album seems to be one of the few people that seem to understand Holly’s point of view, having seen people’s lives change drastically.

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And I have to really try so hard not to fall in love
I have to concentrate when we kiss
Hornets! Hornets! by The Hold Steady

As a young teen forced into the cold world, she’s inexperienced with love and sex. She has to force herself to remember that her clients have no affection for her, lest she fall in love with one of them.

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She said "I won't be much for all this Humbert Humbert stuff"
"I've never really done that much of this"
Hornets! Hornets! by The Hold Steady

Humbert Humbert is the narrator and main character in Vladimir Nabokov’s novel Lolita in which the protagonist becomes sexually obsessed with a twelve year old girl.

Holly is only about 17 in the songs about her youth, and is clearly messing around with older men—but she might still be saving herself for the scene, since she’s never really done too much of the HH stuff.
(http://holdsteady.wikia.com/wiki/Humbert_humbert)

Although Finn probably didn’t intend the reference to reveal anything more than the relatively may/december nature of the potential relationship, it’s interesting to note that many Hold Steady songs have wordplay similar to the stuff that Nabokov’s fond of.

Look, for example, at the brilliant and famous first sentence of Lolita:

“Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins.”

and compare it to some of the lines from Hornets, Hornets, for example:

“that song got scratched into her soul”

Alliteration!

They’re also both very fond of referencing their own work (Nabokov shouts out Pale Fire about a million times in Lolita, and the above quotation is obviously from Certain Songs), as well as shouting out other works of fiction—Finn references Nabokov, and Nabokov loves to reference, among others, Proust.

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