Loosen the wire, your time has expired
The only word left is goodbye
In my new dream the light's shining on me
little needles of sodium unstitch the seams of the sky

Hold your head higher, the heavenly choir
Is settling in for the night
And where I had friends, I am left with loose ends
Four hours of vision exchanged for four hours of fright

But enough of "the fight"
Enough "you and I"
Enough of "prevail" or "walk in the light"
While the angels stand by I get high as a kite
I'm too tired to smile
Or know that I'm right
Am I right?

And all our best-laid plans, well, they crumbled in our hands
Our flags fell where they'd fanned
You held in your breath long after projections of death
You sat in the waiting rasping and gasped on dry land

But the audience is tired, we've had enough fire
We're entereing the age now of ice
And I, feeling older, pull off to the shoulder
And wonder, with my head in my hands, should I call my wife?

And say "Enough 'you and I'
Enough of 'the fight'
Enough of 'prevail' or 'walk in the light'
While the angels stand by I get high as a kite
I'm too tired to smile
Or know that I'm right"

Enough "you and I"
Enough of "the fight"
Enough of "prevail" or "walk in the light"

And when the spacecraft came down
I was left on the ground
Will you keep me around
Will you help me survive
After my time?

Lyrics submitted by PLANES

The Velocity of Saul at the Time of His Conversion song meanings
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  • +3
    General CommentTo me, this song has very strong Biblical connotations. Saul was the name of the Christian Apostle Paul before his conversion to Christianity. Saul was an intense persecutor of the early Christians that follewed "The Way", or the teachings of Jesus. However, according to the Biblical account at Acts chapter 9, Saul was walking on a road toward Damascus when the following events occured:

    "...suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. 4He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?"

    5"Who are you, Lord?" Saul asked.

    "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting," he replied. 6"Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do." "

    [New International Version]

    The account goes on to describe the conversion of Saul to a Christian and one who no longer persecuted Christians but paved the way for their teachings to become more widespread. Incidentally his name was also changed to Paul soon thereafter.

    Now, on to Okkervil River... The name of this song itself obviously ties it to this specific account in the Scriptures. It's meaning, in my opinion, mirrors the Biblical tale. The writer feels as if he is traveling along incredibly fast, things happening that he can't control anymore. This song is the account of his "wake up call", so to speak - the time when he comes to realize the steps that he needs to take.

    I particularly like the title, which in my opinion sums it up better than any explanation could: Saul's "velocity" before this heavenly vision was indeed intense. He was persecuting and performing acts of oppression at an incredible level. He was well renowned by the scholarly and educated of the time, and himself was an extremely educated individual. He was "at the top of his game", so to speak, extremely successful in his endeavors. However, they were unfilfilling because of their nature - they were morally corrupt and spiritually wrong.

    So Saul is going along full-throttle when BAM, he is hit by this vision and the Lord speaks to him, causing him to turn his life around. The title of this song highlights that exact moment - the velocity of Saul at the time of his conversion.

    For some more detail, consider these lines:

    "In my new dream the light's shining on me": A "light", just as in Saul's vision, represents a change in the direction of his life. This vision or omen is representative of the bad condition of his situation and the time to take responsibility.

    "While the angels stand by I get high as a kite": I think this shows that he is regretful or bitter over his addictions and sins. Just as the angels and Jesus witnessed Saul's acts of violence and oppression, he feels that his own sins have not gone unnoticed.

    "And I, feeling older, pull off to the shoulder and wonder, with my head in my hands, 'Should I call my wife?'": This is possibly my favorite OkRiv line. To me it means that he is exhausted and sick and tired of the life that he's leading and the choices he's made, and he's ready to repent and straighten things out. Regret fills his heart, he just wants things to be normal and good again... Also, the reference to pulling off the shoulder slightly corresponds to the account of Saul in the Bible, since he was walking an a road and fell off to the side when the vision of Light appeared that caused his change in direction.

    "And when the spacecraft came down, I was left on the ground": This seems to me to also correspond to the vision of Light coming down from the heavens and leaving Saul on the ground in awe.

    "Will you keep me around, will you help me survive after my time?": No doubt Saul had wondered the same thing when he had realized how bad he had become and the terrible wrongs he had commited. He wanted forgiveness and felt the deepest sorrow for his actions; so much so that he spent the rest of his life in suffering for what he now believed was right, and helping others.

    To me some of these points are obvious, others are a stretch, but I definately think that's what this song is about. Life, choices, consequences, and Rebirth.
    blacksheepboyon December 30, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThere are a number of connotations relating to the use of LSD in this song, such as "four hours of vision exchanged for four hours of fright" which applies to an average acid high of eight hours and the mid-point when the drug turns on its user and horrific hallucinations set in. Also, obviously "while the angels stand by I get high as a kite" and the overtones of the song of a ruined life, possibly caused by a drug addiction. Just a thought.
    kezdumpon September 20, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThis song is about confusion and depression. The overall tone of it is high pitched, hurry, stressed, and anxious. It has nothing to do with love for god, it's about apprehension. Beautifully, I'll add. He is depressed that someone could accept the cold heartless ways of Christianity. It's why its the forced that caused Saul to convert. It's why the "audience" has had enough human connection, "fire," and is ready for the cold one sided love of god, "ice."
    It's why "And I, feeling older, pull off to the shoulder
    And wonder, with my head in my hands, should I call my wife?" to tell her it's over is a question. It's why "Enough 'you and I'Enough of 'the fight'Enough of 'prevail' or 'walk in the light?'" is a question.

    I think Will Sheff has some beef with god beyond the normal unnecessary questions like "does he exist?, why isn't he helping me, and is there a fucking heaven!?" I think he refuses to accept any god or religion because it detracts from human compassion and empathy.

    Favorite part of the song.

    And when the spacecraft came down
    I was left on the ground
    Will you keep me around
    Will you help me survive
    After my time?

    The spacecraft is obviously Jesus coming to claim those who will be allowed to be angels in his kingdom, but Will disassociates himself with Jesus, calling him a spacecraft (superstition held up by vague accounts by lunatics). After the disassociation, the questions are clearly not to Jesus. They're to another human being. After all, after the second coming, Jesus isn't coming again. Finally, he's allowed to hold on to the fire, the warm of human compassion. :)

    People are often confused about modern music about God. I mean they've been confused about religion for thousands of years, refusing to look at it through their perspective and constantly looking through the lens of who, ironically, praises them the most.
    jdubs6960on December 09, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentMy all-time favorite okkervil river song, and one of my favorite songs of all time. I always felt it was about a man whom god has blessed who's had too much of the whole "holy man" thing. With all the repetitions of "Enough of "the fright", enough "you and I", enough of "prevail" or "walk in the light", I got the inclination that he's grown tired of it all and wants to just live a normal life, as seen in the "I wonder with my head in my hands, should I call my wife?"
    Jyanon April 03, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentFor some reason I think that the speaker is realizing that hes tired of living life for God.. and that he just wants to live for himself and to live life to the fullest and just hope that God keeps him safe as he does so.
    MattisTreeson August 23, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General Commentwhomever submitted the lyrics got a small bit wrong, just correcting

    "And all our best laid plans; they crumbled in our hands.
    Our flags fell where they'd fanned.
    You held in your breath,
    Long after projections of death
    you sat in the waiting room gasping and rasped on dry land."
    sleepyglowon March 05, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Commentending an affair
    waspiEon January 30, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General Commentsleepyglow,

    those lyrics are different in an earlier version of the song (stars too small to use version). i didnt see this page before the change had been made but im guessing whoever posted the lyrics posted those.

    "And all our best-laid plans, well, they crumbled in our hands;
    the Progress of Man.
    You held in your breath long after projections of death,
    you sat in the waiting gasping and rasped for a fan"

    That being said i love this song, one of my fav OR songs. And i like the STSTU version better. You can hear the emotion Will Sheff puts into it alot more bc of the lower production value
    warhink07on December 14, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis is an allegorical tale of a marriage ending.
    Gator1967on March 23, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis reminds me of the short story "The Conversion" by Saul Bellow. The title is obvious, but the story too. It's about a kid in Hebrew school struggling with his beliefs and his oppressive rabbi. This is also a story that deals with confusion and depression, like jdubs brought up.
    reubencoon June 04, 2012   Link

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