"Lightness" as written by and Benjamin Gibbard....
There's a tear in the fabric of your favorite dress
And I'm sneaking glances.
Looking for the patterns in static
They start to make sense the longer I'm at it.

Ivory lines lead

Your heart is a river that flows from your chest
Through every organ
Your brain is the dam
And I am the fish who can't reach the core.

Ivory lines lead

Oh, instincts are misleading
You shouldn't think what you're feeling
They don't tell you what you know you should want.

Ivory lines lead

Ivory lines lead

Oh, instincts are misleading
You shouldn't think what you're feeling
They don't tell you want you know you should want.

Ivory lines lead

Ivory lines lead


Lyrics submitted by heartattack

"Lightness" as written by Benjamin Gibbard

Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

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Lightness song meanings
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  • +3
    General Commentivory lines - bra straps!

    why not?

    anyway, this was the song that totally made me fall in love with DCFC.

    this song... i don't know... i kind of figured something out... it's about this guy...who wants to be with this girl...but this girl doesn't know if she wants to be with him... cause even though maybe she does like him...her mind is telling her she shouldn't...

    Oh, instincts are misleading
    You shouldn't think what you're feeling
    They don't tell you what
    You know you should want

    it's all about the difference between what your heart wants and what your mind thinks is the best for you...
    Desaparecidaon December 23, 2004   Link
  • +3
    General Commentok, i'm gonna go out on a limb here, but i'm going to say that the writer has read The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera.

    in the book, a major theme is "lightness": the idea that when we live in such a way that we have little affect on the world as we make decisions. example, if i have no friends, i'm not in a relationship, and i do not keep in good touch with my family, i am light. the decisions i make affect no one but myself. the book is about such a man, named tomas, who meets a woman, falls in love, and marries her. his addiction to women did not hurt anyone when he was single and had severed contact with his ex-wife, son and even his parents, but now that he is married, it hurt his wife. over the course of their marriage, he cheats on her probably hundreds of times and it tears her apart.

    the song would fit in well with that. it's about tomas, or someone like tomas, who is tempted to make a decision that will hurt someone. "oh, instincts are misleading
    you shouldn't think what you're feeling
    they don't tell you want you know you should want."

    i think my theory may be further proved by the song "soul meets body." soul and body were another theme in the book. several chapters were named "soul and body." that being the idea that body wants, even craves one thing, and soul knows better. lightness allows soul and body to be detatched, but heaviness creates conflict between them. when soul meets body is love. all else is meaningless.

    incredible book. even if you don't agree with my interpretation, go pick it up and read it. you won't regret it.
    duellynotedon March 16, 2006   Link
  • +2
    General CommentTo me, as someone with SPD.. This is an interesting view into how I know partners I've had in the past have felt about me, so it's even more heartbreaking for that fact. More info on SPD: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/… (tl;dr = there is a fundamental disconnect between the person I am to others, and the person I am to myself. Things don't really happen to me, they happen to my body, my shell, what have you).

    To me, the song is absolutely about romantic lust, but for someone who he just can't quite get to in a way that's satisfying to him. He's intently interested in this person that's horribly disconnected, and while he wants to connect, he's finding a 'dam'... a breakwater that he can't seem to get past.

    That's just what the song means to me. It's sad and lovely, and easily one of my favorites... Did I mention that nearly all audiophiles like myself are SPD? :)
    Abalonon August 20, 2011   Link
  • +1
    General Commentit is about lust. "ivory lines" are bra/panty straps
    music_man122on June 09, 2004   Link
  • +1
    General Commentthis song is ridiculously gorgeous. if you think about it, it is perverted: he's looking through the tears of her dress to see her body... but the way the sings it, it sounds sensual instead of gross. and "ivory lines lead" is one of the most provocative lines ever.
    ihavethesedreamson December 08, 2004   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThe song is kind of contradictory to me. I think (of course) that the hook is about lust. (I took 'ivory lines lead' to mean the skin exposed fromthe torn dress) . The second verse is the opposite however. Her heart wants to love him but she fights her feelings with her brain. And 'you shouldn't think what you are feeling' means that you should go with your heart.
    EatAtJoes121on January 18, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General Comment"I am the fish who can't reach the cord"
    meaning he can't reach the cord to release the dam so that he can get into her heart...her brain is the "dam" that is stopping her from loving him
    sparkling_pavementon February 25, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General CommentGod, I love this song. Everytime I hear it i just love it more. The last time I heard it was last night on my bed, I had just gotten home from an amazing weekend with the love of my life whom I probably won't see until August....I'm scared to listen to it anymore for fear of breaking down like that again.

    oh, instincts are misleading
    you shouldn't think what you're feeling
    they don't tell you what you know you should want

    That, to me, was like, "Whoa, I've found myself vulnerable and in love....in a place I never thought I would let myself be, feeding every feeling and emotion I could possibly have for someone and thoughts of him just won't SHUT UP!!!" And then everything turns into a run on sentence. Like that. ha.

    I love it.
    bowl_of_orangeson May 31, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General CommentHaha you know when you're learning about Shakespeare in high school and sometimes you have to "put your dirty mind on"?

    Well, dear Mr. Gibbard does some wonderfully intelligent wordplay with these lyrics:
    "your heart is a river that flows from your chest
    through every organ
    your brain is the dam
    and i am the fish who can't reach the core."

    Just put your dirty mind on. The fish = semen, the core = his/everyman's 'goal.' He can't get to his goal because 'her mind' keeps saying "No." Gibbard does this all with keeping in the metaphor of the verse.

    But the best thing about this is you can interpret it any way you want. It doesn't have to be about sex... it's certainly not sung that way. Although he does a good job of sliding these things in: if you're looking for them. Look at Company Calls Epilogue, or 405 (or even, more bluntly, at We Looked Like Giants). Sometimes you just have to 'put your dirty mind on' with Death Cab.
    musicforlife!on September 16, 2006   Link
  • +1
    My Interpretationi think i figured this one out guys!

    its about this guy who wants this girl really badly. but she's not sure weather or not to accept his offer.

    There's a tear in the fabric of your favorite dress
    And I'm sneaking glances
    Looking for the patterns in static
    They start to make sense
    The longer I'm at it

    these lines emphasize his obsession with her. he looks at her and sneaks glances at her rather...private areas. also he sits and stares at nothing. thinking about her and making sense of the situation.

    Ivory lines lead
    Oh wha-ho, oh wha-ho

    these lines seem to be causing some confusion. understandable! well i look at it like this. he's writing a song for her. IVORY is what piano keys are made from!

    Your heart is a river that flows from your chest
    Through every organ
    Your brain is the dam
    And I am the fish
    Who can't reach the core

    Dam's block rivers. so the proverbial "fish" can't reach the "core" or center. he is trying to get into her heart but her doubts about him are getting in the way. she is thinking to much! he just wants her to love him and not worry!

    Oh, instincts are misleading
    You shouldn't think what you're feeling

    once again, this reiterates the point of thinking too much!

    hope this helps guys!!

    DCFCguy123on October 18, 2010   Link

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