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I am not the type of dog
That could keep you waiting
For no good reason
Run a carbon-black test on my jaw
And you will find it's all been said before

I can swing my megaphone and long arm the rest
It's easier and better
To just beat it from the chest
Of desire

I could walk into this room
And the waves of conversation are enough
To knock you down in the undertow
So alone so alone in my life
Feed me banks of light
And hang your hairshirt on the lowest rung
It's a beautiful life
And I can hang my hairshirt
Away up high in the attic of the wrong dog's life chest
Or bury it at sea
All my life I've searched for this

Here I am here I am in your life
It's a beautiful life
My life
It's a beautiful life
Your life

Lyrics submitted by rieve

Hairshirt song meanings
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  • +2
    General CommentHair shirts were scratchy woolen undergarments worn from the 13 century to about the 15th by religiously pentitant people. There were a form of self flagellation who used to believe that suffering brought you closer to God. I see a relationship in this song that is finally over. The singer is finally removing his Hair shirt, giving up on suffering in hopes of regaining his love.
    docthanatoson May 05, 2010   Link
  • +1
    General Commenta couple of years before spliting with my wife we shared the beauty of this track. I particularly love the line 'run a carbon black test on my jaw, and you will find its all been said before' Rather poignant at the time...
    TheDirgeon June 13, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General Commentwhenever I would feel guilty about something, my grandma would tell me not to wear a hair shirt...she said it meant not to be a martyr. I just saw this song and had to check it out. :)
    haxorchickon September 12, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentWhat a beautiful song. I like Stipe singing like this.. Can't believe the lack of comments on this one and on R.E.M. generally. They're the best :-)
    Hennebyon June 25, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Commentbeautiful song, reminds me of everything good ive ever experiences
    vietcongerikon September 05, 2007   Link
  • 0
    My InterpretationI think this song is about how a relationship with your partner is never in a constant parallel, but will always have it's ups and downs.

    Maybe a feeling he had after an argument? .... hanging your hairshirt, or hanging up your self punishment and getting over it and still feeling glad that your partner is still in your life, regardless how awkward things might get.

    "run a carbon black test on my jaw" this is a test they use to determine the life of a tree (could be wrong about that) or what kind of life the tree had.

    great song.
    rubberneckon May 18, 2009   Link

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