"Here I Dreamt I Was an Architect" as written by and Colin Meloy....
And here I dreamt I was a soldier
And I marched the streets of Birkenau
And I recall in spring
The perfume that the air would bring
To the indolent town
Where the barkers call the moon down
The carnival was ringing loudly now
And just to lay with you
There's nothing that I wouldn't do
Save lay my rifle down

And try one, and try two
Guess it always comes down to
Alright, it's okay
Guess it's better to turn this way
Hey, hey, hey, hey, hey
Hey, hey, hey, hey

And I am nothing of a builder
But here I dream I was an architect
And I built this balustrade
To keep you home, to keep you safe
From the outside world
But the angles and the corners
Even though my work is unparalelled
They never seemed to meet
This structure fell about our feet
And we were free to go

And try one, and try two
Guess it always comes down to
Alright, it's okay
Guess it's better to turn this way
Hey, hey, hey, hey, hey
Hey, hey, hey, hey

And here in Spain I am a Spaniard
I will be buried with my marionettes
Countess and courtesan
Have fallen 'neath my tender hand
When their husbands were not around
But you, my soiled teenage girlfriend
Oh how you furrow like a lioness
And we are vagabonds
We travel without seat belts on
To live this close to death

And try one, and try two
Guess it always comes down to
Alright, it's okay
Guess it's better to turn this
But I won, so you lose
Guess it always comes down to
Alright, it's okay
Guess it's better to turn this way
Hey, hey, hey, hey, hey
Hey, hey, hey, hey


Lyrics submitted by sarahsavedlatin

"Here I Dreamt I Was an Architect" as written by Colin Meloy

Lyrics © BMG RIGHTS MANAGEMENT US, LLC

Lyrics powered by LyricFind

Here I Dreamt I Was an Architect song meanings
Add your thoughts

69 Comments

sort form View by:
  • +5
    General Comment[the deconstruction...

    the subject seems to be describing relationships in three separate instances. the third appears to be the subject's final, though it would seem the other two did not last.

    birkenau, a satellite concentration camp of auschwitz, was certainly not a place of indolence. this would make the subject a soldier of the german army during wwii, the heer. the polish town of brzezinka was annexed for the purpose of building the camp (birkenau = german pronunciation of brzezinka), though the town was once one of festivals, joyful living, and I'm sure -- indolence. perhaps the barkers are the remaining celebrators, after the moon has gone down, likely to be boisterous. here the subject feels obligated to serve in the war, that he would do anything to be with his love interest except put aside his duties as a soldier. i presume the subject was indeed dreaming, and perhaps questioning his actions in reflection of why his relationship failed. here he was ever-so-close, with just the chasm of duty keeping him from happiness. the subject was selfish in this instance. then again, what love isn't selfish?

    a balustrade is more commonly referred to as the structure composed of handrails and pickets, which accompany stairs for stability (called banisters, usually). in a more general sense, a balustrade is any structure made from vertical supports or pillars, across the tops of which is a conjoining rail. the balustrade being referred to here is as a balcony with a parapet. much like one might picture on a sizeable mansion, attached to a bedroom antechamber. the subject here, too, is dreaming, but in a different sense. the dreaming here is that of overconfidence, where he believes he is something greater than he truly is. his believes his skills as a lover are unparalleled, though try as he may to build a relationship (an open one, at that), it eventually collapsed -- nothing meshed properly. the subject believed he was creating a construct to keep them together, but in its collapse they realize that they are able to rejoice in their freedom from one another. in this instance, the subject was overprotective.

    the subject dreams of his future: himself in spain, presumably ready to die, recounting his many encounters with women throughout his years. by his marionettes, i assume he is referring to the women he remembers as puppets, manipulated by his tender hand, whose memories will be buried along with him. returning to reality, it seems that he is explaining his dreams to the girlfriend. i believe that he and his girlfriend are running away as vagabonds because they have been scorned by elders. she may be with child, in which case, he is referring to her sarcastically as being soiled. or they are running as criminals, where she is soiled for becoming involved. her hands are dirty. despite her young age, her experience may have put her in a condition of elevated responsibility, having to grow older sooner than necessary. this may be where her furrows come from, an allusion to the wrinkles of old age. perhaps she is wise. regardless, their situation is not so severe; they are living as close to death as driving without seatbelts. or it this a touch of irony?
    odhinn178on June 12, 2004   Link
  • +2
    General CommentA love (loss) story, "Here I Dreamt I Was an Architect" is told through the protagonist's three dreams, each a sort of reincarnation of his past relationships.


    The first, reminiscing about a past life as a guard at the internment camp of Auschwizt II, known as Burkenau or Birkenau, our protagonist recalls how desirable the town was before the war- a time of lavish festivals and the rich rustling of the throng of the crowd. The soldier proclaims his allegiance to the war by remarking to his partner that he would rather recline with her than anything else- aside from relinquishing his firearm.


    The second, in a fit of metaphor, the protagonist likens his intimacy with that of an architecturally inept balcony. The line "The structure fell about our feet" signifies the literal razing of the relationship. "And we were free to go," implies that each felt stifled in the relationship and was joyous in their liberation.


    The third, taking place in Spain, imagines the protagonist nearing death (most likely because he is on the run) and recollecting his past womanizing ways. He explains how both married and unmarried "fell" to him. It is safe to say the character in question is wealthy, considering he uses the term "courtesan" when talking about those he serenaded- not prostitute or whore. Back in the present, he has taken up a "soiled" young girl and is traveling to an unknown location, possibly because he is wanted for some crime, which is accordant with the last lines of the stanza: "we live this close to death."



    taken from
    stylusmagazine.com/…
    knowthyselfon July 05, 2004   Link
  • +1
    General Comment"where the barkers call the moon down
    the carnival was ringing loudly now"

    I have seen 1 or 2 posters interpret the meaning of "BARKER" in this song.

    the song is referring to a Carnival Barker.

    A barker is a person who attempts to attract patrons to entertainment events, such as a carnival, by exhorting passing public, describing attractions of show and emphasizing variety, novelty, beauty, or some other feature believed to incite listeners to attend entertainment. A barker may conduct a brief free show, introducing performers and describing acts to be given at the feature performance.


    Of course, in the song it may have a duel meaning because dogs are known to bark at the moon.
    JeffKaos71on January 21, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General CommentNot about meaning, but just a little story to share about this song.

    There was this boy that died in high school, and everybody was just so horribly saddened (we had a small student body and he was a really popular guy who was into community service.) He died at his own fault by driving drunk and without a seatbelt and answering his cell phone while on the highway and flew out his windshield. (I'd hate to be the girl that called him) Anyway, we all just came back from his funeral (which was held during the school day, we all field tripped to the chruch and back) and we were in art class, where I was the one who usually brought the music for the day. I love Decemberists so I decided to put them on because they were pretty mellow and quiet, and I put on Castaways and Cutouts and just let it run. I didn't really think twice about the content, because when this song came on and the lyrics went:

    "And we are vagabonds
    We travel without seatbelts on
    We live this close to death "

    everyone froze and we were all just kinda looking around like I can't believe we just played this song. Ugh. I can't listen to this song without feeling bad about that now. *sigh*
    rupeeloveon February 18, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThere's a lot of ways to look at the song.

    I see it being about relationships. The first verse is about a man who is in love but can't stop fighting. It's a common relationship problem, the man is jealous or can't stop himself from defending his girlfriend.

    In the second I see it as being a relationship where they try to put up too many rules and limits. He tries to keep his girlfriend/wife safe by keeping her away from everything, and seeing it never work, their love crumbles and they go their separate ways.

    The third is how he is currently. He stops dreaming. He's a womanizer, his relationships mean very little and he has a pregnant teenage girlfriend. The line "And we are vagabonds/we travel without seat belts on/we live this close to death" means, to me, that their relationship is on the edge.

    Then again, it's such a mysterious song which is what I really love about it. This is just how I like to look at it.
    Tarvoson July 20, 2010   Link
  • +1
    My InterpretationTo me, this song is about how he can just never love anyone fully and foremost. His more of a violent pleasure seeker (And just to lay with you there's nothing I wouldn't do, save lay my rifle down).

    The line about building a balustrade makes me think that he was finally in a committed relationship. However, his possessiveness and imperfections made it impossible, so they were "freed" from their relationship (But the angles and the corners.. never seemed to meet, the structure crumbled at our feet, and we were free to go).

    As for the Spain stanza, it obviously shows his promiscuity (I agree with another post saying that marionettes are all the girls he has slept with or used). I'm not so sure how to interpret the teenage girlfriend, but the line about being vagabonds shows that she is the one that he'll actually take risks for? The one who's just as violent as him (furrows like a lioness) so the one he finds ideal?

    tl;dr gorgeous song, my favorite by the Decemberists.
    namedloveron July 10, 2012   Link
  • 0
    General Commentthis song amazes me. it's one of my very favorite.
    spasticsuperherogirlon April 22, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General Commentthis song should amaze everyone. colin is amazing.

    "and here in spain i am a spaniard..."
    my favorite line...
    knowthyselfon April 29, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General CommentExcellent song, but what the fuck is it about?
    stickboy20on May 01, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General Commenti think its about.....wow i really dont know...at the beginning i thought that he was just saying that even though he wasn't a 'insert whatever' he tried to be one as best as he could....but that really doesnt tie into the rest of the song...so..yeah
    Abex22on May 09, 2004   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