Down by Okkervil River slow silent thick and black, I stared into the water, and the water it stared back. The night it fell from tangles of the branches on the shore as it had on Okkervil River before. Down by Okkervil River’s cigarettes and rusty tires, we made ourselves an altar, we lit our nightly fires. And the smoke lay thick and smothered all the skunk cabbage and vines where Gods were born and Gods lay down to die. With your hand inside my pocket, you whispered in my ear “We have come from ugliness to find some refuge here. With this bracken for a blanket, where these limbs stick out like bones, we have found a place where we can be alone.” And I tried to tell you, as I kissed your hard dry lips, all the things I dreamed about. I touched your bone white hips. Far away our parents slept in while we watched our fire burn. They dreamed of nothing and got nothing in return. And the water slipped on slowly past our bodies in the weeds, pulling plastic wrap and razors on its current through the reeds. Then I woke up one cold morning, felt an absence at my back, and I searched and stared but only the river stared back.

Lyrics submitted by PLANES

Okkervil River Song song meanings
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  • +3
    General CommentHe associates okkervil river with something special, even though it's a disgusting polluted river. he doesn't realize that haing someone there with him is what made the place so special, but when she's gone then all the worth of the river is gone. He feels the absence, looks to the river to find what's missing, but it's not in the river. it's gone.
    jaurlon April 29, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentABookOnAShelf - not hopefull, reminiscent. when i hear this song, it reminds me of good times past. It's wistfull, for a better time. and the reality of it, the words, are bleak now, but then, they were hope.
    and that nietzche quote... it seems right. because he says that spend too much time on slef-contemplation and doubt and it will swallow you. and this song is all about escape, escape into the abyss... and then they grow up,and they realise it was nothing... and no longer dream. at least... maybe that's what it means...maybe.
    ourrefugewasdecemberon July 16, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General Commentthe river totally swallowed up and took away his lover.

    but seriously. i think the song is about change, how even though situations and life change, okkervil river keeps on running its course and flowing on. or perhaps i'm entirely wrong and this is a song about suicide!

    either way, this song is beautiful and sdfjk.
    implodingpartson June 20, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI managed to dance/shake a tamborine/sing on stage with them during this song last month.
    JimDillonon January 03, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentWhenever I hear this song and the "I searched and stared but only the river stared back" line, I can't help but think that he's searching for himself. You know, how you look into the water and you see your own reflection? And he says that only the water stares back, maybe meaning he doesn't know who he is exactly. *shrugs* Probably completely wrong, it's just a sort of feeling I get when I hear that part.

    It's a beautiful song, either way.
    raconteuron May 21, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General Commenti thought the same about that line
    mopsklopson June 11, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI like how the river is described as dirty and polluted with litter everywhere. When singing about a river, it must be tempting to go with the stereotypical flowing, natural, pure blue river full of salmon.
    Way_AEon August 09, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentAs far as I can feel, it's about searching for some hope and meaning in emptiness. They say they have "came from ugliness to find some refuge here" but their refuge is still a polluted river and piles of trash.

    Their parents "dreamed of nothing and got nothing in return", and theses kids are looking for more than that, with bigger dreams and love, but in the end they just lose each other as well.

    So...if the basic premise of the song is so bleak, why does it still sound mostly hopeful?
    ABookOnAShelfon September 17, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General Comment"I stared into the water, and the water it stared back" bears a striking similarity to Nietzche's quote, "If you stare into the abyss, the abyss stares into you," or something like that.

    I feel the song does deal with a suicide, but a suicide on account of the river, or the "abyss," as an acknowledgment of the meaninglessness and hopelessness of life. But that doesn't seem to me what it is all about... Whatever,

    Will Sheff ladies and gentleman!

    coolpootieon July 21, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentFor some reason I get the impression that this is from a girl's perspective.

    "And I tried to tell you, as I kissed your hard dry lips, all the things I dreamed about. I touched your bone white hips. " Will Sheff can make anything sound profound... but this is one of the best lines ever, I think.

    This song is amazing... on of my favorites of theirs. It reminds me of my girlfriend whenever I hear it. :)
    tehfailon January 15, 2009   Link

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