"Transatlanticism" as written by Benjamin Gibbard and Christopher Walla....
The Atlantic was born today, and I'll tell you how
The clouds above opened up and let it out
I was standing on the surface of a perforated sphere
When the water filled every hole
And thousands upon thousands made an ocean
Making islands where no islands should go (oh no)

Most people were overjoyed; they took to their boats
I thought it less like a lake and more like a moat
The rhythm of my footsteps crossing flatlands to your
Door have been silenced forevermore
And the distance is quite simply much to far for me to row;
It seems farther than ever before (oh no)

I need you so much closer

So come on; come on

Lyrics submitted by heartattack

"Transatlanticism" as written by Benjamin Gibbard, Christopher Walla

Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

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Transatlanticism song meanings
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  • +13
    General CommentI think the song is about a metaphorical distance instead of a physical one. I think it's apparent because the body of water keeps changing. First it's an ocean, than a lake, then a moat. If it was literal the body of water would stay consistent. I love the line "i thought it less like a lake and more like a moat." It's saying that the distance between them is something most people see has a good thing. I'm assuming playfulness creating a lack of depth. Most everyone agrees lakes are beautiful things, but to the speaker it's a moat, with the soul puprose of keeping him distant. And to fully understand this song I think you must understand Tiny Vessels. Both songs are related in thought and situation because of how smoothly they flow into eachother. Even though they convey to opposite ideas, their are relations.
    Benjamminon May 02, 2004   Link
  • +6
    General Commentwhen i first heard this song, the subject matter was ironic to me; i was in the process of getting too close to a friend about to move to london for six months. we both knew we would have to strike the advance, lest we get more attached to one another. in a way, i felt that the opening line described it all -- i felt that before she moved there, i never gave thought to the ocean being such a vast expanse between myself and another part of the world. i took for granted the fact that there was more. if was truely as if the ocean had suddenly sprung out of nowhere. it was very upsetting because she was like a muse to me, inspirational; and i did need her closer.

    but stepping outside of that scenario, and attempting a more objective approach to the song, i felt that it was something completely different. i believe the ocean he speaks of is metaphorical, and the chronology of the song expands a much greater frame than the instant that it would seem. the first hint being the mention of the perforated sphere - the earth. perforated because there are so many gaps and holes between people living in different parts of the world. they are all isolated from one another, as if living on islands that shouldn't exist. at first people would be happy to live in their own lands, with their own cultures. they would feel free to live their lives the way that they choose: simple or fast-paced, isolated or closely-knit. but as a moat, the separation is keeping the rest of the world out, as a defense. he believes that attempts to extend friendship, or cross flooded lands, are becoming too difficult; that he as a solitary person, rowing his boat, cannot span that chasm.

    a part of me still believes that there is something more personal to the song, from the obvious "i need you so much closer..." but it is potentially a call to 'you' as in general.

    odhinn178on June 12, 2004   Link
  • +5
    General Commentthe line 'i need you so much closer' reminds me of of the line 'and the truth is, i miss you' in A Warning Song by Coldplay. Just because the lines are both so simple, but amazing.
    katiestonesuckson June 21, 2004   Link
  • +3
    General Commentbenjammin--blown away by your response.
    i just think that "i need you so much closer" is so simple but packs such a punch in the context of this song...sigh, gotta love this.
    xbrightalkalinexon May 05, 2004   Link
  • +3
    General CommentIt's amazing that this song is on the top 10 list; the lyrics are so easy to understand on the CD version =P I was lucky enough to see them in concert when they were promoting this, and then again on thier most recent tour, but I didn't get to hear this song....
    Anyways, on the the analysis:
    Benjammin, you're interperatation sounds very good, and I'm going to disagree just for the purpose of brainstorming; I think this song is about a physical seperation, rather than a figurative one, though many elements are figurative. I think something suddenly sprang up, which seperated him from someone he cares about, and the degree of seperation caused him to mentally compare it to the Atlantic, and so, he ceated this song to compare with some fictional people who were seperated when the Atlantic appeared. Of course, the sky never jsut opened up and let the Atlantic out, so the basis of this ficticious pair of seperated people is represented by a highly fantastic, almost biblical, story-line
    OMHO =)
    Kabukistaron May 07, 2004   Link
  • +3
    General CommentHe's just whining about his girlfriend being in Europe while he's back in the states. Probably some kind of study-abroad, long-distance relationship sob story. Kick her to the curb, bro. Let Jean-Michel comfort her. They've probably been sleeping together for months anyway.
    svenllamaon April 22, 2011   Link
  • +3
    My InterpretationTo me this song isn’t about a long distance relationship at all but rather a person who is in love with someone who doesn’t feel the same way. The beginning of the song is describing the way he felt when he realized he was in love with her. The line “making islands where no islands should go, oh no.” is saying to me that he knows she doesn’t feel the same way but he is using islands as a metaphor for hope. The repeated line “I need you so much closer” means to me that he wants their relationship to be closer, like how you can be sitting right next to a person and still feel so far away because you want your relationship to be so much more. And then “so come on” he is pleading to her, come on. Lets do this.
    randatronicon March 08, 2013   Link
  • +3
    General CommentThis song makes me want to cry. They can't be together because of a hard difficult distance. They both love each other but don't say it. They need each other so much closer.
    lolo2on April 25, 2013   Link
  • +1
    General Commentbasically this song is an updated and more beautiful version of "my bonnie lies over the ocean".
    rvgon April 24, 2004   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI saw them perform, and my God, it was amazing. This song was so awesome live... and how he does the distortion noises with the microphone.

    Really, really, cool
    punkrockntunaon May 06, 2004   Link

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