Oh sister, don't be afraid of me
I won't be nailing you down in the nursery
Just like the rest of them did
With those watery, wandering fingers of spit
That were supposed to be glorious and fine

Oh sister, won't you believe in me
I only wanted to be hard on the family
Here with you now in this silly infirmary
Your mother makes frantic and drunk calls
From Germany all of the time

And oh sister, sweet brown and beulahery
Milk from your blisters on your grandmother's jewelry
There in the parlor all naked in front of me
Watching the lights from the cracks
Making archery animal designs

Rose Wallace Goldaline just moves her mouth over anything
That's fleshy free and flowering like oranges out in the open
But don't you waste your sins again
She don't need you or won't fuck your friends
And you, you're American, self-important boiling over
To prove that she must still exist
She moves herself about her fist
And won't ever, never give a shit
About all those words you're wasting again
Some pretty bright and bubbly wondrous dream
You'd like to kill and claim
And claim her as your own
But don't you worry
All those dainty and dirty emotions
Just go away and fade out on their own
Sister, now that you're leaving
Our fingers will falter
Our lungs will be leaking
All over each other and without even speaking
We'll know that it's over and smile and go greeting
Whatever comes next

And oh sister
You're getting married to some angry twister
That you'll have to carry home
Drunk every evening from the cemetery
And if he makes it back half alive you can
Bury him under your sheets
And oh sister
Now that you're grieving
I cannot imagine there is any meaning
Forgetting you ever could once
Had the feeling that made you keep on
And pretend you were breathing of all of this world
And in an age of empty rings
I don't want to feel a thing
I don't even want to know
Rose Wallace Goldaline
Don't you ever die on me
Don't you woe the way you go


Lyrics submitted by mrtrout, edited by andrew5500

Oh Sister song meanings
Add your thoughts

26 Comments

sort form View by:
  • +4
    General CommentGoldaline refers to a story of two twins who were stranded in Siberia. I don't know if it's a true story or just something Jeff made up. I can't really find anything more.
    All_almoston January 11, 2005   Link
  • +2
    General CommentGodaline refers to a story where two Siamese twins are stranded in Siberia and find a large ravenous creature, possibly a bear. Knowing they could never make it out, they willingly surrender to the creature and are willingly consumed.
    TheKingOfCarrotFlowerson February 05, 2010   Link
  • +2
    General CommentI once heard in an interview with Jeff Mangum that most of the songs on "In the Aeroplane Over the Sea" were based loosely on the Book "The Sound and the Fury" by William Faulkner. That being said, I try to imagine most of the songs as if they were sung by the main character Benjy, who has a very close relationship with his older sister Caddy. If you've ever read the book and tried to view this song from the same perspective, the meaning is easy enough to see. But I'll leave that up to you.
    dylanophoidon March 13, 2012   Link
  • +1
    General Commentin one version that i have, this verse appears between the 2nd and 3rd verses:


    Oh sister, sweet brown and comely,
    I will be milking with you making fun of me
    Now that my moods are not what they used to be
    There has been no one alive laying next to me
    For such a long time
    nichieon March 31, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General Commentdoes anybody know what "beulahery" means?
    skyballson June 17, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General CommentBeulah is the land of Israel in the Bible. According to dictionary.com, it's also the land of peace in Pilgrim's Progress and it can mean to be married. Finally, Beulah is also a band that's part of the Elephant 6 collective.

    How any of that relates... I am way too tired to even begin figuring out a Jeff Mangum song at the moment.
    SnareRushJunkieon July 02, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General CommentBeulah is also the name of a street in Athens, Ga, where Jeff wrote much of In the Aeroplane Over the Sea. The actual writing took place in a house on Grady St., but Beulah St. is near it I think.
    sanspaperon October 26, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General Commenti always got the impression that his sister had lived an awful life. whenever i heard the first stanza, i always thought that he was talking about his little sister being taken advantage of ("wandering fingers").

    like, his parents were supposed to be the ones taking care of her, and protecting her from evils ("supposed to be glorious and fine") when they were actually the ones causing the evil.

    and that's why he would want to be "hard on the family" (because they abused her)

    and now, because she's had a fucked up childhood, she gets married to a deadbeat drunkard, because she's never had a normal relationship.

    i dunno, maybe i'm reading into this wrong.
    kconheadyon April 07, 2008   Link
  • +1
    My InterpretationI have spent quite some time listening to all the songs i believe to relate to this one and analyzing what they mean, and i believe this to be the first of a large story arch which centrally focus on a prostitute who's name seems to be Naomi or rose depending on how you look at it. I believe her to be Naomi, the central focus of the song "Naomi", but i will get to that in a minute.

    This song is told from the prospective of a man who falls in love with a the main character "Naomi" who he grows up with befriended as a sister . The song begins with him wanting to take care of a girl who has been molested and neglected by her parents. She seem not to allow him to (which will continue as a theme throughout the story arch) instead choosing to cling to memories of better times depicted through a wedding ring given to her by he grand mother (which may contain an opal).

    The song cuts from a scene of him sort of watch over she will not allow him to help/comfort her to Naomi as a teenager in one of her early relationships (and in a way he is still watching over her as a friend). Her sense of both mental and physical needs in a romantic relationship being severely squed from the trauma of the event previously mentioned as well as a generally unhealthy, violent and neglectful relationship with her parents.

    In all of the songs when Goldaline is mentioned it refers to a story in which a set of Siamese twins who are lost in Siberia and essentially destined to die. They are confronted by a ravenous beast and instead of trying to escape choose to allow themselves to be consumed by the beast. They slowly die together in its belly. This is a medafore for accepting fate and alowing things to run their course.

    In this instance he is applying it as her name as to depict that even as a youth she had already accepted that her sexual appetite and distorted sense of pleasure/fulfillment with men(which are virtually one in the same) was very much a part of her.

    As this story is being told retrospectively (by a man who watches over her and comes to fall in love with her) he as a youth as well warns her boyfriend or partner at the time to be good to her as she is worth it, which he likely dose not.

    In the line "She moves herself about her fist" the song is making reference to another song "Communist Daughter" : This is a medafor for promiscuous woman as in communism everything is shared, so would be the case for a communists daughter. I believe this to suggest another transition in time for which she is well past the boy in the beginning of the second verse. The next few line imply that she has become a prostitute, which is bitter sweet as she both loves and is disgusted by (or hates) the things that she dose. Yet it is the only thing she finds fulfilling.

    She then has a brief encounter with the narrator where he is a "John" (Likely depicted in the song Naomi) something which both of them regret at the time. She never moves past it and over time ceases to speak to him as he falls in love with her and eventually come to stock her (depicted in this song as well as "Naomi" and the "April 8th", both songs narrated by the same person).

    Goes on to marry a drunk who like all of her other relationships mistreats her. This all breaks his heart and i believe leads him to confront her after which she no longer is able to him. A second time Mangum makes refferance to her as Goldaline this time i believe to be her acceptance that their relationship can no longer exist, this is done inside of a statment he is making which is directly the opposite path and leads into "April 8th" a song i believe to be about him stocking her after she is married.

    There is more to how these songs that i believe to relate to this story arch; such as "oh, comely" and "messages sent among others. For now i have to go but i will finish this up tomorrow. If would love some feedback, ideas, or questions about how/ why i came to these conclusions. Thanks for reading, i know its long.
    DirtyDannyon June 24, 2013   Link
  • 0
    General Commentwha! too many of the same. more goldeline. who is goldaline?
    ataraxia37on June 24, 2003   Link

Add your thoughts

Log in now to tell us what you think this song means.

Don’t have an account? Create an account with SongMeanings to post comments, submit lyrics, and more. It’s super easy, we promise!

Back to top
explain