When I worked down at the liquor store
Guy with a shotgun came raging through the place
Muscled his way behind the counter
I shot him in the face

This morning I went down to the Catholic Church
'Cause something just came over me
Forty-five minutes in the pews
Praying the rosary
When the last days come
We shall see visions
More vivid than sunsets
Brighter than stars
We will recognize each other
And see ourselves for the first time
The way we really are

Decorative grating on my window
Gets a little rustier every year
I don't know how the metal gets rusty
When it never rains here

A year or so ago I worked at a liquor store
And a guy came in
Tried to kill me so I shot him in the face
I would do it again
I would do it again
When the last days come
We shall see visions
More vivid than sunsets
Brighter than stars
We will recognize each other
And see ourselves for the first time
The way we really are


Lyrics submitted by I'm a Pirate

Against Pollution song meanings
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15 Comments

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  • +3
    General CommentHaving a near death experience, and taking a long, hard look at your life, seeing what your true circumstances are; an epiphany.
    toeboneon October 23, 2009   Link
  • +3
    General CommentI've always seen him shooting the guy, and particularly him saying he would do it again, as being very life-affirming. He wants to live his life enough that's he's willing to take the steps he needs to in order to protect it.
    INotIon May 10, 2011   Link
  • +3
    My InterpretationAfter listening to the whole album, which I understand is about a meth addiction, I think John or John's character is telling us in "Against Pollution" what finally made him "snap out" of his self destructive behavior and attitude.

    All through this album he doesn't care what happens to him. Nobody can make him change. Friends can die or become ill, some, maybe even himself, may get arrested-nothing will change his basic wish to die until it actually almost happens at the end of a gun! But he stops it, and shoots the guy instead. He is amazed! And he realizes he would do it again if he had to! Suddenly he wants to live. He goes to the church to ask forgiveness and to think about the something that just came over him. The decoration in the window represents all the things we look at everyday but don't really see or understand. And the part about "when the last days come and we shall see visions etc... and recognize each other and see ourselves for the first time as we really are- well, he just saw himself. He thought he didn't care but in one moment he found out that he did care and he wanted to live! This song is the redemption after all the pain he's been through. He killed that man in the liquor store because that man was going to kill him. He never thought he would care enough to save himself.
    washesdisheson June 09, 2011   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI just listened to this song for the hundredth time and had a potential revelation - I always wondered about the "decorative grating on my window" and I was thinking it was a connection between the church and the liquor store - the screen in the confessional booth has decorative metalwork on it usually, I think, and liquor stores have those metal grates over the windows when they're closed...?
    Just a thought, still don't understand the rust part
    darneeon March 29, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General Comment"In 2004 The Mountain Goats released We Shall All Be Healed. The album marked a couple of changes for The Mountain Goats. It was the first time Darnielle worked with producer John Vanderslice and the first album of directly autobiographical material. We Shall All Be Healed chronicles Darnielle's life with a group of friends and acquaintances addicted to Methamphetamine in Portland, Oregon, though the album is set in Pomona, California."

    If this song isn't autobiographical, I'd like to know who exactly it's about.
    He's said that he wrote that album to show people he wasn't the clean-cut bookworm he comes off as in his songs, and to reveal his history with addiction and all that jazz.
    death_list5on August 12, 2006   Link
  • +1
    My InterpretationMay I differ?

    Joel Chapter 2, verse 28 "And it shall come to pass afterward that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy; your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions"

    Acts, 2:17 "In the last days, God says, I will pour out my spirit on all people.Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams"

    I think he was on meth while working there and had a paranoid hallucination (something quite common when on meth.. you see people trying to kill you, to invade and shit). The I-lyric might have shot nothing or even an innocent person. He is thunderstruck by it, by such a strength this hallucination had that it had him shooting in despair.
    And then (with the ironic subtle bible-referenced humour from the songwriter) he absurdly sees it as a sign from God (taking reference from the verses cited above) and it make him fear the lord again and the end of the days that is why he goes to the church and prays and prays.
    He is then connected to the faith again and starts to pray at his window (yep, this is a thing) constantly, maybe everyday. Humidity is the only thing in the world that can cause rust and as we know he does not live in a humid place so it must come from the breath of his murmurs due to the constant praying at the window. (he does not know that but you, reader, do).

    I know it's an odd interpretation and might be wrong but it is just how I saw the song since the first time I listened.
    vinníciuson April 12, 2016   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis is a great song. And like a lot of great writing, it first makes you laugh... and then the laughter dies, slowly at the bottom of your throat, making you gag, as you realize the true tragedy behind the words.
    mmikkelon January 29, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis song is not autobiographical. Thankfully.
    mindsaleon June 21, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General Commentthanks to darnee, i think i can figure this song out. actually i think i have two interpretations. the first is based on darnees revelation, the second is my own thoughts upon a reread.

    decorative windows is both the bars over windows in liquor stores and stained glass windows in churches. its about the connection between the two. and how his life at the liquor store and his murders make everything grow a little darker for him (the it never rains here line).

    or, i have maybe a more clear interpretation based on the stanza about the rusting windows.

    the way i see that is, hes kinda floating right now. he works in the liquour store and as part of his job he kills people. considering part of his job, he knows he needs to keep doing it being that in a lot of situations itll be his life or theirs. but he still sometimes attends church and confesses, and its the only thing that really keeps him stable when he thinks about all the comforting religous lessons he's known all his life. still he lives mainly in a darkness and hence the rust grows on bars in the liquour store. and he has to stay there and live with the fact that in that location he has killed people. the rust though it doesn often rain means it could maybe be fucking with his head. so he just sees things that way these days.

    i actually just realized that its when i used to so maybe he quit. im seeing another interpretation as a continuation of the last, right after what the song sings about. he possibly decides to quit (or rather, does decide to quit). the church probably helped. im thinking he may have remembered what religion used to mean to him, but the id do it again says that he will never be the man he used to.

    its a song about living with your past, even if its bad. its also about living with making negative choices, even if they're the right choices. thatd be negative meaning killing and right as in surviving at the same time.
    Cyrus_and_Jeffon July 23, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General Commentso against pollution of the body then? I thought that maybe the metal rusts because of pollution and the guy who tried to kill him was pollution of the earth.
    moeyoldboldon September 15, 2006   Link

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