"Even Less" as written by Richard Barbieri, Steven John Wilson, Colin Edwin Balch and Christopher James Maitland....
A body is washed up on a Norfolk beach
He was a friend that I could not reach
He thought I was cold but I understand
But for the grace of God goes another man

And I may just waste away from doing nothing
But you're a martyr for even less

A choirboy is buried on the moors
Where we used to go dreaming when we were bored
So some kids are best left to fend for themselves
And others were born to stack shelves

And I may just waste away from doing nothing
But you're a martyr for even less


Lyrics submitted by Ministry

"Even Less" as written by Colin Edwin Balch Christopher James Maitland

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

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Even Less song meanings
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21 Comments

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  • +4
    General CommentThe entire album of Stupid Dream seems to be riddled with Steven's angst over finding meaning in life. In Piano Lessons, he refers to becoming a rock star as a 'stupid dream'. In this song, he seems to be reflecting on how different his life is from his childhood friends. They may have parted over ideas of religion/atheism, or some such difference in ideology.

    In the full version of the song, one of the last lines he sings is:

    I had a stupid dream that I could change things
    But I'm a martyr for even less.

    And that line hits like a ton of bricks. Its as though he himself is realizing that whatever ideological differences separated him from his now dead friend are basically meaningless in light of the fact they are powerless to change anything. The entire song up until this point has been Steven telling his friend that he chose the wrong path (religion, etc). But this final confession shows just how empty his own path feels.
    caedcall11on April 13, 2012   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI've considered this song (in its full version) as an anthem for atheism. It sounds like he's cynically saying that religious people have no more knowledge than those without religion. I love it.
    Anilandon November 01, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General CommentPretty sure this is about Steven being disillusioned by the lie of fame and rock and roll myth, and questioning his place in life.
    sonicskullon September 07, 2011   Link
  • +1
    My InterpretationThis is just my interpretation - and it may well be different from other perspectives.

    The 'body washed up' on a Norfolk beach seems to be about the death of someone cared for or loved. He was a friend who appeared to be troubled and could not be reached.

    Someone tried to help but could not reach him. Efforts to help in terms of guidance or advice was probably taken as uncaring, and the helper was seen in that light or thought perhaps he would have been seen in that way.

    For the grace of God, means that we all carry our burdens around in our heads. It's about 'slippery slopes' into oblivion. A martyr for even less, probably means that he died for a cause that was not worth much - a senseless death, possibly suicide - or possibly after falling off a cliff and drowning.

    His burial triggers memories of the past. The deceased appeared troubled as a youngster in those memories. There was a dilemma as to whether he should have been allowed to deal with life alone as it came at him - or more help offered. He probably had some average jobs common to an impoverished life and did not amount to much. But what he amounted to was not the point. He was loved.

    He was probably consumed by the existential vacuum and sadly died. The song writer wrote this from the heart I sense. If it was a suicide or accidental loss of life, then there is a hopelessness about how some people seem to be constrained to certain paths and meaningless early ends.

    The numbers that repeat at the end of the song are intriguing. They are reminiscent of a coded messages sent in the Cold War. Of course there could be other explanations. Whatever it is about, it makes us think. It made me think that sometimes when people are in need of help they send some coded messages - that are not in words - but in the ways they behave. The code may not be understood.

    This song has made me think deeply. People are often in trouble. How much can we or should we attempt to help. What happens within us after they die? How do we deal with it?

    Sometimes just sitting with a friend or colleague is enough. Words sometimes have less effect or influence. Do we have time for people in need? It's a busy world - isn't it? Very sad indeed.
    captainwalkeron November 26, 2016   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI think this song is about two boys who grow up together. One becomes a complete burnout, and the other looks upon him with a feeling of helplessness, not wanting to see their best friend like that. It seems that the other friend dies even, because of the first stanza.
    totaldeathon March 29, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThe correct lyrics are "But you're a martyr for even less" not "I'm a martyr".

    I can't help but think of Stupid Dream like Lord of the Flies. The choir boy references here...but that really doesn't have any grounding so whatever. Great song though. Stupid Dream is one of the best Porcupine Tree releases by far.
    atomsplitteron December 06, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General Commentactually i think steven mixes it up a bit live and sings both You're a martyr, and I'm a martyr. But you're right the album version is just You're a martyr.

    anyway! i love this song. the extended version is quite nice :)
    WeepingMoonon July 12, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentIn Arriving Somewhere, the DVD, he sings 'But I'm a martyr to even less', and I think they were the original lyrics prior to the album.
    Amazing song though. Beautiful. Flawless.
    demon_of_the_fallon March 07, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentUpon reading the lyrics to the Even Less demo version, I think SW is comparing himself to Jesus. He's saying that he's wasting away from doing nothing, but Jesus did barely anything himself, and he's a martyr because he died.
    im_a_pirateon May 22, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentIt's about suicide, and how little you achieve doing so, possibly you might think you're dying nobly, but in truth "I may just waste away from doing nothing. But you're a martyr for even less"
    woscafrenchon September 06, 2007   Link

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