"In Formaldehyde" as written by and Steven John Wilson....
Dust in the kitchen

Now we are coasting
Talking less
Breathing stress

Somewhere inside
I have died
So I will lie
In formaldehyde
People walk
Through my insides

When I get out of here
I get a plastic vase
And you get to keep the car

Or do you want me to stay ?
The things that I have to say
You've heard it all anyway

Send me to sleep
You always could

Tie up loose ends
Make it stop
Forget me not

And would you really mind
If I told you a millionth time
The story of my decline ?

You never seem to take
The time to contemplate
Before you annihilate

Lyrics submitted by Ministry

"In Formaldehyde" as written by Steven Wilson

Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc., Universal Music Publishing Group

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In Formaldehyde song meanings
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  • +1
    General CommentDon't know about euthanasia, but it's certainly about a person who knows he's going to die..tying up loose ends, she gets the car, he gets a jar. People walking through his insides (an autopsy?)

    The only reference I don't get is about Fatherhood. Maybe it's just an aside that he's also a dad.

    What about the microdot? It just seems so incongruent as everything else in the song seems to be about an average person who perhaps has a terminal illness. An average responsible guy, who is making arrangements for when he's gone, he lives in a normal home, drinks coffee but also trips on acid.

    Any ideas? BTW I really like the discussions PT fans have on this site. Some interpretations are off the wall, but they make you think and represent some original ideas. The PT fans are a good reflection of the band.
    snoogie59on April 18, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentOMG :O no one has commented on this song, practically one of my FAV PT tracks from their earlier work...here goes...

    This song is about euthanasia, i recon any hoo, (some where inside, i have died) about the way people are forced to waste away, unable to do anything (now we are coasting, talking less, breathing stress), and being kept alive, lying on a hospital bed, being concious and capable of a certain amount of thought but not really functioning (so I will lie, in formaldehyde) [formaldehyde is used as a really powerful presertive for preserving dead animals (for stuffing i thing etcetc)] the middle is talking about the hopelessness of his/her situation, and (or do you want me to stay?) kinda puts forward the whole arguement of why euthanasia is so difficult to imagine. But the guy is also asking his friends and family (fatherhood) - [hes a dad] to end his life for him (send me to sleep) (tie up loose ends, make it stop) The last stanza is the irony of the debate over euthanasia, that people are sent ot war and die, that people spent their entire lives damaging and hurting other people, but that they cannot end this one persons life who wants to die...
    Its so sad
    beautiful song, only Steven Wilson can make such a sad song so beautiful......
    Blernon November 03, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentOh yeah, and the (people walk through my insides is another reference to the only way he can be kept alive, 'preserved', like hes already died, by the drugs and doctors.
    Blernon November 03, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI think you are pretty much right on with that explanation. "Dust in the kitchen,Coffeepot," when you said that the person in the song was a dad, i immediatly thought of how my dad got up in the morning and made my mom coffee. Now that hes not there there is no one to make coffee. No idea if that was what SW was aiming at but thats what i got.
    [Service to busy]on April 11, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThe lyrics in the 4th stanza are actually

    'When I got out of here
    You get to keep the car
    And I get a plastic vase'

    Hopefully I don't just have a weird version of the song.
    Tarquin77on May 19, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI think this song is about a married couple breaking up.

    The lines "When I get out of here, you get the keys to the car and I get a plastic vase" say to me that his wife takes most of his possessions with her as part of the divorce

    And then,"Or do you want me to stay? The things that I have to say, you've heard it all anyway" is his vain hope for their relationship to stay together

    The last 3 lines, "You never seem to take the time to contemplate before your annihilate" supports that his wife is essentially a bitch who only thinks about herself.

    That's what I got out of it anyway.
    lellowrangeron October 14, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI always like to play "Drown With Me", an extra from the In Absentia sessions, right after this song. The tune is just so similar between the two songs, most of all when the electric guitar chimes in on Drown With Me.
    DivineOrangeson March 04, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI think this lyrics are more straightforward: my interpretation is that his relationship is dying.
    They lived together, and their house is a reflect of the sadness the couple is going through ("Dust in the kitchen / Coffeepot", it could describe something like a still life picture). I think this is clearly supported by the following verses: "Now we are coasting / Talking less / Breathing stress".

    He's feeling dead inside, so he describes his future life as "lying in formaldehide" (looking normal and "alive" from the outside, but really dead). I don%t really get the "People walk / Through my insides" part, maybe it could be about him doing some kind of psychological therapy.

    "When I get out of here / I get a plastic vase / And you get to keep the car": They're separating and she's keeping "the car" (the more important material stuff they bought together), while he keeps the more insignificant things.

    "Or do you want me to stay? / The things that I have to say / You've heard it all anyway": He's already expressed his feelings; however, love is gone and she doesn't want him to stay anymore.

    I'm not sure about the "Send me to sleep / You always could / Fatherhood" part. Sleeping could be seen as a state of peace and calmness; in former times she made him feel in that state. Now he's begging her to do it again, but in the sense of ending this pain so he can be peaceful again. Then, it continues: "Tie up loose ends / Make it stop / Forget me not". He sees the ending as unavoidable and wants it to end. But he wants her not to forget him and what they lived together.

    "And would you really mind / If I told you a millionth time / The story of my decline?": He feels that she doesn't listen to him anymore (or she never did). He explained himself many times, but she doesn't care, and her decision is made. This also makes me think that he could be a depressive person, and that this attitude of him damaged the relationship and made her tired, so she's leaving him. "You never seem to take / The time to contemplate / Before you annihilate": following the "depression" idea, this could mean that she didn't ever try to understand him and be by his side when he needed her support. She just got tired and decided to "annihilate" him (splitting up and hurting him even more).

    This lyrics were written at the time of Lighbulb Sun, an album that is almost completely about a failed relationship. So I think this is the closer interpretation, as it could fit perfectly in the context of that album (think of other lyrics of the same albun, such as She's Moved On, or Where We Would Be).
    NadWinterStormon July 02, 2016   Link

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