"These Apples" as written by and Ed Robertson....
A friend brought me flowers, she said they were lilacs,
But I've never been good with plants.
Her next presentation, a new dictionary,
She circled the word "romance".

So enthusiastic, a little bit drastic,
I shaved her name in my head.
As she beheld it, she said I misspelled it;
Need more be said?

These apples are delicious!
"As a matter of fact they are," she said
Can all this fruit be free?

She wrote me a letter as big as a phone book,
I've never been big on mail.
I sent her a postcard from somewhere near Lethbridge,
And wondered if it still went by rail.

I've never been frightened of being enlightened,
But some things can go too far.
Though sometimes I stammer and mix up my grammar,
You get what my meanings are.

These apples are delicious!
"As a matter of fact they are," she said
Can all this fruit be free?

I'm not trying to sing a love song, I'm trying to sing in tune.
I know I am sometimes headstrong,
Falling in love, catching fire, I want to be consumed.
Wondering will I ever tire, will I ever tire?

These apples are delicious!
"As a matter of fact they are," she said
Can all this fruit be free?


Lyrics submitted by ojms

"These Apples" as written by Ed Robertson

Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.

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These Apples song meanings
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  • +2
    General CommentWhen I first came across the name of this board, I thought it was a forum to discuss the meaning of lyrics and not what they mean to me personally. So here's an interpretation of These apples I found (not mine!):

    The Adam-Eve connection to "These Apples" certainly adds a nice overtone
    to the lyrics. But a direct reading of the text is also very funny
    and very thought-provoking.

    Basically, you've got a relationship that's doomed from the start. Quite
    unlike the Adam and Eve story, where there's the exact opposite
    suggestion of complete compatibility - "at last! bone of my bone and flesh
    of my flesh" says Adam on beholding Eve - this couple is headed for
    disaster. Both parties are in love with *falling* in love, rather than
    committed to loving each other, to the point that they are clueless to
    the obvious incompatibilities. Here we go -

    She - brings flowers

    He - has never been good with plants.

    Clue 1 - this plant's gonna croak and she'll be miffed at his
    "disregard" for her gift. He will in turn resent her disappointment in
    his performance as a horticulturist.

    She - gives a dictionary with "romance" circled - BIG HINT that she's a
    sentimentalist. But even more important: notice that this is "the next
    presentation", not the next "present." So much is packed into this one
    little twist of phrase. First, "presenting" is what female animals do to
    indicate sexual availability. Second, one gets the sense that this guy
    really didn't want or need a new dictionary, just as he didn't want or
    need the lilacs. But she has "presented" him with a dictionary, and a
    loaded one to boot. Presentations are designed and intended largely to
    serve the interests and needs of the presenter. True presents are gifts
    to the recipient. Just think about the "presents" you've been given
    that had strings attached, that were intended to produce some result in
    you, that were actually forms of manipulation. You say "thanks"; maybe
    you even get off on the idea that the giver is pursuing you, but
    eventually you grow weary of presents that aren't really gifts.

    Clue 2 - the fundamental dynamic of giving and receiving, so essential
    to healthy love, is skewed from the get-go.

    He - "enthusiastic, a little bit drastic" (no kidding!) shaves her name in
    his head. Ignoring two big clues, he makes a big presentation of his
    own. Unfortunately,

    She - "as she beheld it, she said I'd misspelled it. Need more be said?"

    Clue 3 - Is there any doubt that this relationship is headed for the
    crapper? I mean, anyone ga-ga enough to shave a girl's name in his head
    and not even know how to spell it is begging for trouble.

    Now to the line in question

    He - "these apples are delicious" - commenting on their flavor

    She - "as a matter of fact they are" - commenting on their type:
    Delicious is a kind of apple, like MacIntosh or Granny Smith.

    Clue 4 - oh boy, they can't even understand each other in everyday
    speech. She's confirming something she *thought* he said, but it's not
    what he actually was saying. She's not contradicting or correcting him -
    don't worry, that will come later. But even now he should recognize that
    she doesn't get what he means. Anyone who's been in a bad relationship
    recognizes this symptom IMMEDIATELY and runs for the door!

    "can all this fruit be free?" Can all this giddy rush of falling in love
    last forever and cost nothing in terms of building relationship despite
    (indeed, because of) hard work and conflict? Answer - no way, kids!

    She - wrote a letter as big as a phone book

    He - never been big on mail

    He - sent her a postcard from somewhere near Lethbridge (I assume this
    is way rural, Canada), wondered if it went by rail (=slow).

    Clue 5 - he's gonna grow sick of reading these tomes; she's gonna be
    hacked off at the miniscule response, if she ever gets it at all. Soon
    she'll be complaining how he doesn't communicate his feelings and he'll
    be complaining that all she does is talk. Here we have the essence of
    Deborah Tannen's work (on men's and women's very different linguistic
    practices), distilled and set to a catchy riff.

    The remainder of the song is about the guy starting to catch the drift
    and struggling to communicate clearly, no longer content to be
    misinterpreted as long as the romance still burns hot.

    - "never been frightened of being enlightened, but some things can go
    too far": I suspect heretofore he has thought of falling in love and/or
    having sex as automatically equivalent to enlightenment. But now he's
    starting to question this - maybe infatuation is finally revealing
    itself to be just another cycle in a continuing pattern of self-delusion.

    - "Though sometimes I stammer and mix up my grammar, you get what my
    meanings are." Both are vaguely aware that this ersatz Eden is going to
    have its all-too-real Fall, that miscommunication, though it can fuel
    lust, cannot sustain love. You feel that he's about to push a tad harder
    to be understood when he says "these apples are delicious!"

    He is close to breaking through to the enlightenment he says he doesn't
    fear when he begins to see he's in love with falling/feeling in love and
    is likely to repeat such fiascos in the future unless he takes a new
    slant on life. And his satori will come when he really can practice what
    he claims: "I'm not trying to sing a lovesong, just trying to sing in
    tune."

    You can sense his struggle: "falling in love, catching fire, I want to
    be consummed, wondering if I'll ever tire [of this falling in love
    thang]". It's great to feel the rush of cathexis that accompanies one's
    ego boundaries going up in flames. But there's the nagging sense that to
    be consummed can't be all there is to Love, much less to Life. One also
    needs to be working on having a true Self, from which one can love the
    true Self of the Beloved. And one has to love well one's own true Self
    in order to receive love in return.

    _These Apples_ is one of my favorite songs on MYSD because it suggests
    clearly that there's more to real love than the rush of falling in love.
    Our hero is at the edge of realizing that the only way to make a
    relationship work is to quit trying to sing love songs (all the
    "romance" stuff, which does get you high, but won't keep you together)
    and start trying to sing in tune - to speak clearly from an honest,
    authentic, consistent Self, staying true to one's values and beliefs,
    etc.

    MYSD is a great album because what BNL say about various forms of
    dysfunctional, unrequited, and squandered relationship, in nearly every
    song, is so insightful and unsentimental, but still very sympathetic,
    humorous, gently ironic, and ultimately positive. Each protagonist is
    taking a step nearer to real insight into Love.

    Given most of the dreck passing for "love" these days, one can do a lot
    worse than cranking up MYSD and cracking open a copy of M.Scott Peck's
    "The Road Less Traveled". Both aim to put us finally in the drivers'
    seats of our own lives. So, maybe you oughta reach over and just grab
    that wheel, eh?


    Chris Thyberg (cat@cmu.edu)
    copyright 1995
    Hosimosion April 13, 2002   Link
  • +2
    General CommentI also found a reply by Barenaked Ladies' own Ed Robertson to this posting:

    Hi there, I think your name is andrew but I may have that wrong. I want to thank you for your in depth interpretation of "these apples". I really enjoyed reading it. It was cool for me to to read because most of what you said was EXACTLY what I meant to say in the song, although I'm sure my 1st year english prof would argue that even the author does not hold the correct interpretation of his or her work.

    So thanx very much for enjoying what I do enough to put that much time into it. After all the care and craftsmanship that goes into writing a song it's very nice to hear something other than " I like that song" or worse "I don't".

    Anyway, this letter isn't very well thought out. I just wanted to say thanx and let you know from the horse's mouth as it were, just how right you are.

    barenaked wishes
    ed robertson
    Hosimosion April 13, 2002   Link
  • +1
    My InterpretationIn response to the post by Hosimosi (which was awesome and exactly the kind of post this site needs but too often is sorely lacking) I don't disagree but I always thought this song was about a not-so-bright guy trying in vain to date an English teacher. She gives him a dictionary as a gift, she points out his misspellings, she writes long essay-like letters, the guy thinks she's trying to teach him too much--for instance, you get the sense she corrects his grammar. Finally, she receives apples as a gift--the stereotypical teacher gift. She seems really enthusiastic to get them.

    This is not to say anything written in the post by Hosimosi is wrong (obviously this relationship isn't going to work out) but I think, in addition, the woman in the song is clearly an English teacher.
    livelikeiton March 05, 2016   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI don't know... I love that interpretation, don't get me wrong, but I doubt that Ed Robertson *really* wrote that... do you think he would type "thanx"? That's so juvenile. It'd be nice, but I doubt he did, so sorry Hosimosi. Great interpretation find, though!
    dontlabelmeon June 02, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General CommentIf Jimmy sings this, is it a BNL song or Brothers Creegan?
    SilentWitnesson June 21, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General Commentwith how playful BNL songs are, it is not hard to believe that Ed Robertson would write "thanx".
    bdubon July 12, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General Commentwrong song, never mind.
    SilentWitnesson August 20, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General Commentdontlabelme, if you own the Stunt cd you should look at Ed's thank you's. He never writes Thanks, it's always Thanx.
    1967Impalaon August 24, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI absolutely adore the last verse of this song!

    "Falling in love, catching fire -- I wanna be consumed"

    Right now, for me, that resonates so much. I love gaining experience and then discovering these huge truths in songs that you've listened to with a cursory ear for years.
    awkward/innocenton March 05, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentIt's possible that 'These apples are delicious' is a response to the unasked question, 'How do you like them apples?'
    SamuraiMooseon June 30, 2010   Link

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