I think this song is about a believer "going to be with The Lord" and the loved ones they leave behind....
What a beautiful piece of heartache
This has all turned out to be
Lord knows we've learned the hard way
All about healthy apathy

I use these words pretty loosely
There's so much more to life than words

There is a me you would not recognize, dear
Call it the shadow of myself
And if the music starts before I get there
Dance without me, you dance so gracefully
I really think I'll be okay
They've taken a toll, these latter days

Nothing like sleeping on a bed of nails
Nothing much here but our broken dream
Oh, but baby, if all else fails
Nothing is ever quite what it seems

And I'm dying inside to leave you
With more than just cliches

There is a me you would not recognize, dear
Call it the shadow of myself
And if the music starts before I get there
Dance without me, you dance so gracefully
I really think I'll be okay
They've taken their toll, these latter days
They've taken their toll, these latter days

Tell them it's real
Tell them it's really real
I just don't have much left to say
They've taken their toll, these latter days
They've taken their toll, these latter days


Lyrics submitted by minttown1

"Latter Days" as written by Linford Jerome Detweiler

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

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Latter Days song meanings
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7 Comments

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  • 0
    General CommentWhat? No one has commented on Over The Rhine yet?? There ought to be a law...

    Anyway, this song is on of my favorites of theirs..Karen at the piano singing a song about a relationship. In 5 minutes, they put a lifetime of experience to sound. It's beautiful.
    JoyElectricon July 26, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis one is on the list of all time favorites. A haunting piano with powerful lyrics. A good one for those "tougher" times. I would love to know the inspiration behind it.
    Jackdata1128on July 28, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis is such a beautiful song. It inspired a 10000 word story that I wrote over the summer...

    I don't know what it's about, exactly. I've related it to so much in my own life.
    minttown1on September 22, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General Commentoften my feelings when I don't confess sin, or when the party to whom I've confessed doesn't understand. felicity did a take on this song...
    felicitytunes.com/oddsandends/…
    sequence#3on November 10, 2004   Link
  • 0
    My InterpretationTo me, this song is about a break up, although it's unclear whether it's a break up between human beings or a break up between a woman and her faith, or possibly both. The song starts off talking about heartache, and then moves on to "Lord knows we've learned the hard way all about healthy apathy." That line seems to represent apathy in a relationship where both people just let things go, but also apathy towards God (hence the Lord knows part). She's using the words loosely because possibly the song could go either way (towards a physical relationship or a spiritual relationship). The line "there's so much more to life than words" is possibly an acknowledgment to God or simply to the beautiful things in a relationship that are unspoken. When she sings "There is a me you would not recognize, dear" it suggests that maybe she is a different person and she's been hiding that from the person she's with, but possibly it suggests that she's been hiding her belief in God or that somehow religion has caused a split between the two. "And if the music starts before I get there, dance without me," can be both literal, and also a metaphor for Heaven/dying (maybe she's rejecting her faith, whereas the other person does not), hence "You always danced so gracefully." But, it is also represents that she is OK with the music starting without her, leaving the other person behind, but there's no bitterness there. The line "I really think I'll be O.K. They've taken their toll these latter days," it could mean that she is OK with the breakup and that other people have either been talking her into leaving or the "they" could also represent doubts causing her to leave. This is also consistent with the metaphor of leaving her faith. Her doubts could have been taking their toll on her, so she's separating from God, but thinks she'll be OK. "They" could also represent skeptics that have been convincing her against her faith.

    The next part of the song focuses on the pain she experiences during and/or after leaving the person/God. "Nothing like sleeping on a bed of nails" represents the pain of a sacrifice (i.e. Jesus) or just an uncomfortable situation and tenseness with a partner. "Nothin much here but our broken dreams" could be saying that she's leaving God because her faith has become a "broken dream", same with the relationship, it's not going anywhere, but just a futile hope. "Nothing is quite what it seems" represents the duality of her personality, also the duality of the song itself. Interestingly, this whole stanza repeats "Nothing" in almost every line. If this is about cutting religious ties, the nothingness suggests the absence of God and also nihilism. The last line of the stanza is a reference to death "I'm dyin inside to leave you", she wants to leave (God or the person or both) but it's killing her inside to do it. The pause in between the line accentuates the leaving part; the "with more than just cliche's" line is a reference to her reasons for leaving (either God or a person). She wants more than just cliches to base her actions upon. This could also refer to cliches/reasons about not having faith.

    The last stanza where she says "Tell them it's real. Tell them its really real," suggests that she wants everyone to accept that her relationship with this person or with God has ended (could also suggest that she wants to tell her doubts "they" that God is real and that her faith is real, but she can't because she "has nothing left to say"). The "nothing left to say part" could also mean that she has nothing left to say to all the people who keep harassing her about her relationship with God or this person. She ends it with "They've taken their toll on me these latter days." Possibly it's a regret that she's listened to everyone, or listened to her doubts, and given up this person or God or both.

    I have no idea if this is the correct interpretation, however, I do want to point out that I'm not a religious nut before people start thinking I'm trying to impose my views on anyone through a song.

    Also, just another thought in reference to this song, the phrase "latter days" could also be a play on words to refer to latter day saints. Possibly, the latter day saints (maybe she's associated with them) have swayed her from her faith, thus they've "taken their toll" on her. The "toll" part could also be a representation of a church contribution, and perhaps she sees corruption in that. This last part is really iffy, just something else to think about.
    asSTARSfallxon July 12, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General Commentthis is most definitely one of my favorite songs from them. just beautiful.
    HELLOIMJVOon January 28, 2010   Link
  • 0
    Song MeaningFrom having seen them in concert, they set the scene for this—they had just come home from a long tour, in which they had been hugely successful, but grown apart. The house was empty, and silent, and Linford sat down at the piano and wrote this.

    I think this is immediately after the Ohio tour, which they canceled halfway through to stop what they were doing and repair their marriage. Each night, they'd open a bottle of wine, and talk through the entire bottle. So there's the unfamiliarity of one's own house, one's own spouse, and the swirl of memories coming back all at once in a realize that not all is as it should be.
    andy597255on August 27, 2014   Link

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