"Paper" as written by and David Byrne....
Hold the paper up to the light
(some rays pass right through)
Expose yourself out there for a minute
(some rays pass right through)

Take a little rest when the rays pass through
Take a little time off when the rays pass through

Go ahead and mess it up...Go ahead and tie it up
In a long distance telephone call

Hold on to that paper
Hold on to that paper
Hold on because it's been taken care of
Hold on to that paper

See if you can fit it on the paper
See if you can get it on the paper
See if you can fit it on the paper
See if you can get it on the paper

Had a love affair but it was only paper
(some rays they pass right through)
Had a lot of fun, could have been a lot better
(some rays they pass right through)

Take a little consideration, take every combination
Take a few weeks off, make it tighter, tighter
But it was never, it was never written down
Still might be a chance that it might work out (if you)

Hold on to that paper
Hold on to that paper
Hold on because it'll be taken care of
Hold on to that paper

Don't think I can fit it on the paper
Don't think I can get it on the paper
Go ahead and rip up, rip up the paper
Go ahead and tear up, tear up the paper


Lyrics submitted by fearofmusic, edited by Starling772

"Paper" as written by David Byrne

Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.

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Paper song meanings
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7 Comments

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  • 0
    General CommentA fear of paper? Whatever it is, it's one of my favorite songs from Fear of Music. It has that great guitar part... man, I'm really digging that guitar part.
    majestikmoose9on June 20, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentChain of events that occured yesterday re: consumption of paper vs. use of PC for word proccessing, Internet, and email. Also: why I value making phone calls over writing snail mail:
    1) the amount of paper used to make a Sunday newpaper, which had copious ads & coupon flyers.
    2) the amt. of time and clipping it took to make sure I had all the neccessary coupons for the weekly shopping.
    pharmageekon September 11, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentChain of events that occured yesterday re: consumption of paper vs. use of PC for word proccessing, Internet, and email. Also: why I value making phone calls over writing snail mail:
    1) the amount of paper used to make a Sunday newpaper, which had copious ads & coupon flyers.
    2) the amt. of time and clipping it took to make sure I had all the neccessary coupons for the weekly shopping.
    3) Noticing how my handwriting has deteriated over the yrs. using my PC when jotting out a note on a postcard to snail mail.
    4) Remembering how much paper I could go through writing and re-editing notes, rough then final drafts of term papers and reports.
    5) How after I finished writing a document, then saving it using my Word program, needing to print at least one hard copy anyway.
    No wonder why I always pondered the merits of using paper copy over just reading web sites, writing email,and making phone calls after my PC wouldn't restart last night! LOL
    pharmageekon September 11, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General Commentcould be referring to paper money.
    loudenupnowon January 13, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General Commenti think this song is about being held up to scrutiny in front of people (in this case a lover). if you read it that way, it makes a lot of sense. keep hold of the paper, keep yourself distant, and you won't be exposed to such examination.
    grazbosson January 29, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI get the vibe that song is about writting poetry...it fits
    guertin11on December 30, 2011   Link
  • 0
    Song MeaningJust as sunlight passes through a sheet of paper, anything you write down "exposes yourself"--you should go for it. Write something. Try to "get it [your ideas/thoughts] onto the paper". Just like a "long distance telephone call," writing [and reading] is a communication between yourself and someone else.

    Readers often respond personally to things that are written, to the point of having "a love affair" with a character even though "it was only paper." Even popular published works are not perfect: "Had a lot of fun, could have been a lot better."

    When you write, take your time and consider your words closely. Don't worry if it doesn't come out good right away.And sometimes your ideas simply don't make it from your brain to the paper. Give it time anyway--don't throw away your work right away: "Take a little consideration, take every combination/
    Take a few weeks off, make it tighter, tighter/ But it was never, it was never written down/Still might be a chance that it might work out (if you)/ Hold on to that paper."

    Even if you never manage to get your thoughts/ideas onto the paper, who cares? The worst thing that happens is that you "rip up, rip up the paper."
    Starling772on March 30, 2016   Link

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