Been listening to some New York Dolls, the eponymous album only, in the last few days. Also been trying to figure out what’s going on in Frankenstein, since I can only understand about 50% of the words, and it drives me up the wall. Let’s see if I can follow along with the lyrics…
We start off in New York City. Something [bad] must have recently happened. All the kids are fucked up. Probably has something to do with Frankenstein.
The person to whom the speaker is singing used to be pretty cool, dancing, tripping, figuring out what was what. Behind that nonchalance, though, lurked the listener’s sense that Frankenstein would start controlling their life.
So now Frankenstein’s back, trying to run the listener’s life, telling them that everything they’re doing is wrong. The listener feels like shit because of Frankenstein’s treatment and takes it out on the local scene, trying to manipulate it in the way that Frankenstein manipulates them.
Is it wrong to fall in love with someone like Frankenstein? Maybe the listener could use a friend. Sure, Frankenstein might be misunderstood, but still — he makes the listener feel trapped in their own home.
The listener knows they’re not alone, right? Even though the role doesn’t quite fit, even though the listener’s gonna get it, the speaker can’t keep quiet. It’s time to scream this story in the streets.
The speaker concludes with a single serious question: Does the listener really think this is going anywhere?
Hmmm, okay, now I clearly understand what the song’s about. Looking at the lyrics, I read it as a description of an abusive relationship, as observed by the sympathetic singer. The singer contrasts the listener’s earlier, pre-Frankenstein happiness with their behavior since meeting the nasty Frankenstein. Desperate and control freaky, the listener seems to be using Frankenstein’s own tactics on their social circle. The speaker perceives that the listener feels some sort of attachment to Frankenstein, but also feels lonely and oppressed. The speaker says that it’s okay to have friends besides Frankenstein and foresees nasty events in the listener’s future. Even though they love Frankenstein, Frankenstein ain’t ever gonna love them back.
The Wikipedia article on the album offers interpretations of the song about Frankenstein as New York City itself, working a transformative number on naive young people who flock to it.