"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.

    thoughts?
    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
  • +2
    General CommentThis is a long essay about what i think. Please be nice and dont make fun of my essay.

    Song Analysis
    Admirers of the late 1990’s Indie group Death Cab for Cutie (DCfC) have been growing since the band’s emersion from the pop-rock underground into the mainstream. Death Cab for Cutie gained wide success when they were recently featured on the soundtrack for the new movie Wicker Park. The band has recently left their old record company, Barsuk Records, to join media giant Atlantic Records. Lead singer Benjamin Gibbard is becoming a widely recognized songwriter. Although some of Gibbard’s and Death Cab for Cutie’s lyrics may seem comical, such as the improper naming of the glove compartment, many of their songs have deep meanings hidden in the electrical foray. Death Cab for Cutie’s “Transatlanticism” has the characteristics of a traditional poem as can be seen by examining the song’s diction, imagery, repetition, rhyme, and allegory.
    To begin, Death Cab for Cutie’s “Transatlanticism” resembles a traditional poem as can be seen by examining the song’s diction and the use of creative vocabulary. According to Infoplease.com, “diction” is the style created by “specific word choice.” The first line of the song uses the word “born” to describe the creation of the Atlantic Ocean (1). The choice of “born” describes the significant and sudden change of time such as the birth of a baby into a new family. Ben Gibbard uses the words “perforated sphere” to describe the surface of the earth before the Atlantic Ocean was made (3). The selections of the words “perforated” and “sphere” are an element of writing called alliteration. Alliteration is the repetition of similar sounds at the beginning of words. The use of alliteration in the case of “perforated” and “sphere” draws the listener’s attention by the slow articulation of both words. In line 6, Gibbard sings the line “Making islands where no islands should go.” The line indicates displeasure in the situation that arose during the course of time. In addition, “most people were overjoyed (8)” augments the feeling that not everyone was happy about the position of the “lake (9).”
    Second, DCfC’s “Transatlanticism” resembles a traditional poem as can be seen by examining the song’s descriptive imagery and enormous quantities. Gibbard starts off the poem by describing the conditions before the creation of the Atlantic Ocean. In line two, Gibbard describes the immense downpour of rain in the words “The clouds above opened up and let it out.” The antecedent of the pronoun it in the last line is the Atlantic Ocean flowing from the clouds and “the water” that “filled every hole (4).” The use of the grand images indicates there is a great change occurring as the character is “standing on the surface (3)” watching the events. Also, “thousands upon thousands” further implies the significant occurrences in the character’s world (5). In line nine, Gibbard and DCfC use the phrase “I thought it less like a lake and more like a moat.” The image supplies the listener with the idea that changes are taking place contrary to the wants of the character. In line ten, the phrase “the rhythm of my footsteps…have been silenced forevermore.” The image created by the phrase is of the character’s footsteps being washed away as time passes and changes occur. When Gibbard says in line eleven, “The distance is much too far for me to row,” the listener is given the image of the character in the song not being able to reach a desired position.
    Next, DCfC’s “Transatlanticism” resembles a traditional poem as can be seen by examining the song’s repetition. In lines seven and thirteen, Gibbard says the line “Oh no.” Gibbard’s use of the short statement reiterates the idea of the character of the song being displeased. “I need you so much closer,” in lines fourteen through twenty-five gives the listener the image of the character not being able to surpass a distance by himself. The distance could be physical or an imaginary distance the character cannot reach. In lines twenty-six through twenty-nine, Gibbard sings the lyrics, “So come on, come on.” The feeling expressed in the lyrics is the character finally giving in and requesting help from others.
    Next, DCfC’s “Transatlanticism” resembles a traditional poem as can be seen by examining the song’s rhyme. In the first and second lines, the song starts the rhyme pattern with the rhyme of “how” and “out”. The soft sound of these words contributes to the song’s gentle, yet slightly depressing demeanor. The rhyme of the words “go” and “no” creates a greater emphasis on the latter of the words, stressing the feelings of the character in the song (6, 7). In lines eight and nine, the words “boat” and “moat” are rhymed to create a songlike quality. The rhymes of lines ten through thirteen link together the phrases and ideas.
    Finally, DCfC’s “Transatlanticism” resembles a traditional poem as can be seen by examining the song’s use of allegory. According to Ted Nellen’s Literary Terms website, allegory is defined as a story in which people, things, and actions represent an idea or a generalization about life. In line one, Gibbard expresses his feelings about a great change that has been occurring in a relationship. The Atlantic was not merely born in one day but Gibbard says the phrase to display his emotions towards a girlfriend. In line three, Gibbard is standing with anticipation on a punctured mass representing his heart. Then, in line four, the water fills every hole in the earth. The lyrics are taken to mean the love of another person has filled the holes in Gibbard’s heart. But, as the song progresses, faults and problems begin to arise. In line six, Gibbard shows his displeasure about the fact “islands” are being created in the “ocean.” The islands are blockades in the way of Gibbard receiving the love of his companion. In line eight, more people arrive to take away some of the love Gibbard had been receiving. In line nine, Gibbard starts to see the “lake” of love as a bad thing more than a good thing. Gibbard is displeased because more and more people arrive and separate Gibbard from his girlfriend. The love of Gibbard’s girlfriend is enjoyed by everyone around her, but Gibbard becomes jealous of everyone else and does not wish to share the love of his lover. In line ten, Gibbard begins to feel his efforts and pains are being lost in the jumble of new arrivals to the scene. Gibbard does not care anymore about pleasing his girlfriend and does not wish to reestablish the bonds between Gibbard and his companion in life. The metaphorical distance between the two has increased exponentially. The distance increased so much Gibbard does not even begin to recognize the new detachment saying, “it seems farther than ever before (12).” In line ten, Gibbard insists that he cannot surmount the distance by himself but requires the combined effort of his girlfriend to destroy the space between them. The feeling is continued further in lines fourteen through twenty-five when Gibbard sings, “I need you so much closer.” Ben needs the help of others in order to reattach himself to his girlfriend. In between lines twenty-one and twenty-two, there is an instrumental break in the song. The break signifies a pause in Gibbard’s relationship. The lovers cannot be together during this time because the couple is separated in their hearts. In the final lines of the song, Gibbard offers a final plea for help in the lyrics, “so come on, come on (26-29).” Gibbard wants to reestablish ties with his girlfriend but she has given up on Ben and does not wish to return to his love.
    In conclusion, Death Cab for Cutie’s “Translatlanticism” resembles a traditional as can be seen by examining the song’s diction, imagery, repetition, rhyme, and allegory. Gibbard uses the song to express his love for a former girlfriend. Gibbard does not want to move on because his love for his girlfriend is too great. Gibbard begins to think he is crazy because he cannot let go of his girlfriend at any cost. Gibbard cannot settle his emotions to deal with the problems in the relationship. In the words of Hamlet, “who would bear…the pangs of despised love…when he himself might his quietus make with a bare bodkin?”
    paco feldmanon December 02, 2004   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

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