A cold and wet November dawn
And there are no barking sparrows
Just emptiness to dwell upon
I fell into a winter slide
And ended up the kind of kid
Who goes down chutes too narrow
Just eking out my measly pipes
But I learned fast how to keep my head up
'Cause I know there is this side of me
That wants to grab the yoke from the pilot
And just fly the whole mess into the sea
Another slow train to the coast
Some brand new gory art from way on high
I sink and then I swim all night
I watch the ice melt on the glass
While the eloquent young pilgrims pass
And leave behind their trail
Imploring us all not to fail
Of course I was raised to gather courage
From those lofty tales so tried and true
But if you're able, I'd suggest it
'Cause this modern thought can get the best of you
This rather simple epitaph
Can save your hide, your falling mind
Fate isn't what we're up against
There's no design, no flaws to find
There's no design, no flaws to find
But I learned fast how to keep my head up
'Cause I know I've got this side of me
That wants to grab the yoke from the pilot
And just fly the whole mess into the sea


Lyrics submitted by doobeydoobeydude, edited by smallwonderrobot

Young Pilgrims song meanings
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57 Comments

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  • +4
    General CommentAccording to James Mercer this song is about being optimistic and not overanalyzing. Look at this interview:
    gigwise.com/…

    "The album title is taken from the fourth track, ‘Young Pilgrims’, James explains that the underlying theme of this record is about, “how your own thought processes can needlessly get you down when you should just learn techniques to fucking get over it"
    TJS4on June 04, 2005   Link
  • +4
    General CommentI really love this song because I completely understand the concept of a "winter slide," it happens to me every year, most poignantly last year. I can really relate to "this side of me that wants to grab the yoke from the pilot and just fly the whole mess into the sea." Sometimes I am scared by a dangerous, harmful part of myself, too.
    luckyme8675309on November 06, 2006   Link
  • +2
    General Commentbut i learned fast how to keep my head up
    cause i know there is this side of me
    that wants to grab the yoke from the pilot
    and just fly the whole mess into the sea


    brilliance.
    girlmontagon July 19, 2007   Link
  • +2
    General CommentSo I was reading through these comments, and my interpretation is sort of a medium between Jimmifrisbee and dantealighieri1234.

    I think the beginning might be a reference to the way in which one becomes seduced by these thoughts; a cold and wet November dawn, etc. Being alone or just pondering and actually wondering in general can often lead you down these paths, or down this "Winterslide" that sort of makes you realize how meaningless everything really is. "Chutes Too Narrow" I feel is stating that when you think these sort of existentialist thoughts, you end up sometimes either A) being depressed/down or discouraged by these thoughts (falling short of potential) or B) you often do things knowing the bad or undesirable consequences, but do them anyways because you realize the lack of meaning in life.

    He learned fast how to keep his head up... Just saying the same thing as before. Sometimes he just wants to destroy everything, but he has learned to control these thoughts.

    The middle part is probably the best part; young pilgrims is a reference to the way they have been teaching children forever to gain their "courage" and positive outlooks from fake stories like Thanksgiving and God. If there is any diversion on my part, it is the stress on religion; I feel that this song wasn't really intended to be a complete reference to religion. I think it's just about society in general INCLUDING religion.

    Obviously, he suggests this latter view because it's easier and won't make you fall into a "winter-slide." A simple epitaph.

    In reality, there are no flaws, no design. We have been taught this "design" forever, but in reality it's not really there.

    Truly a song that can help ANYONE through times of identity struggles, questioning struggles, or simply the dreariness of the "winters" of your life. :D
    whited08on August 19, 2008   Link
  • +2
    Song MeaningThe song is about overcoming negative thinking and learning to live in present rather than worry about what is at the end(Fate), but more importantly it is about religion. It explains the difference between one who has believed and applied religion(Lofty Tales)in their life and one who has chosen a different path or way of thinking(Chutes too Narrow). It implies that choosing the latter of two(Modern Thought)makes life more difficult yet is inevitable for some.
    magunduson August 23, 2011   Link
  • +1
    General Commentthis song to me has to do with the paths which you one can go on. optimistic thought will bring you a sense of fullfillment and happiness, while modern pescimism will lead to your own downfall. Everyone battle's between life decisions and sometimes wonder why. "chutes too narrow" he sells himself short of his potential on occasion. In our society that is meaningless to the grand scheme we all must find our justification for living. and learn fast how to keep our heads up. It is an american tradition to teach of historically inaccurate tales like thanksgiving with the pilgrims. this encourages everyone to support our great cause as americans and eventually we find out the false nature of these tales that we've been raised to gather courage from. modern thought is a slippery slope with the thought of how meaningless we really are to the world and how if we all died the world would be a better place. to cope in our society, we must be blind to our own positive hipocracy within our s ocialization. Bob Dylan says "it's life and life only" this quote represents the pescimistic approach to this idea . Bob Dylan doesnt keep his head up, he crashes.
    There is no design
    One of my favorite songs of all time. It kept me from hard times
    dantealighieri1234on March 19, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThe title reminds me of Nathaniel Hawthorne's "Young Goodman Brown."
    goforgustoon March 13, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentIf you're able
    I'd suggest it cuz this
    Modern thought can get the best of you
    This rather simple epitaph
    Can save your hide from your falling mind
    Fate isn't what you're up against
    There's no design
    No flaws to find
    But I learned fast how to
    Keep my head up cause I
    Know I've got this side of me that
    Wants to grab the
    Yoke from the pilot
    And fly the whole mess into the sea

    by far the best part of the song. and this song is oh so awesome.
    rockisgroovyon September 21, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI do so love this song! Probably my favorite on the album. It's so catchy and fun and lovely. I can't tell you what it's about though...maybe just thinking about how everything seems so nice all the time but you sometimes want to crash the plane you're on and just end it all.
    fireplaceon September 29, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General CommentTo me, it's about being different. James Mercer isn't someone who applies himself to the textbook "lofty tales", he doesn't want to live the normal life. The song is about taking life in your own hands, and not taking the other ways. Sometimes it might take you down Chutes too Narrow, but that's the inherent risk in life, is it not? Beautiful, Catchy song.
    myeh_manon November 01, 2004   Link

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