After all these implements and texts designed by intellects
All vexed to find, evidently there's still so much that hides
And though the saints dub us divine in ancient feeding lines
Their sentiment is just as hard to pluck from the vine
I'll try hard not to pretend, allow myself no mock defense
Step into the night

Since I don't have time nor mind to figure out the nursery rhymes
That helped us out in making sense of our lives
The cruel, uneventful state of apathy releases me
I value them but I won't cry every time one's wiped out
I'll try hard not to give in, batten down to fare the wind
Rid my head of this pretense, allow myself no mock defense
Step into the night

Mercy's eyes are blue and when she places them in front of you
Nothing holds a Roman candle to the solemn warmth you feel inside
There's no measuring of it as nothing else is love

I'll try hard not to give in, batten down to fare the wind
Rid my head of this pretense, allow myself no mock defense
Step into the night

Mercy's eyes are blue when she places them in front of you
Nothing really holds a candle to the solemn warmth you feel inside you

Lyrics submitted by doobeydoobeydude, edited by smallwonderrobot, Portishead93

Saint Simon song meanings
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  • +10
    General CommentI interpreted this song to be about political and philosophical maturity rather than about growing up in general. Of course, before I even listened to the song I assumed it would contain a political message given that that it is named after one of the "fathers" of socialism.

    The first verse appears (to me) to be alluding to the enormity and complexity of past works and how authors have written whole volumes about the subtle differences between different schools of thought and that these views are much too intricate to just "pluck from the vine".

    I understood "I'll try hard to not pretend / allow myself no mock defense" to be about how easy it is to drop names like Saint-Simon or Thomas More (as in So Says I) and defend your views by impressing and bewildering people. In my eyes, at least, the writer seems to be promising intellectual honesty.

    Referring to these writings as "nursery rhymes" seems to be a combination of two factors. The first is irony in the way that society often dismisses the work of geniuses (such as Saint Simon) in his talking about Socialism because "communism doesn't work", without considering the amount of perception that is within a writer's wealth of ideas about the human condition and how to improve human life. The second factor in the use of the term "nursery rhyme" seems to be a confessional one - the writer is, as well as criticising society, endeavouring to belittle the works because "apathy releases" him from the responsibility to read them.

    This is then followed by "I'll try hard not to give in", which appears to refer to trying hard to resist the "wind" of society's political views as a whole and thinking individually, despite not reading ancient tomes.

    Finally, the part about "mercy" seems to be referring to the relief of being absolved and forgiven from neglecting to read all that one feels they should about humans and society. Interestingly, mercy is personified as a woman and the singer's relationship with her is referred to as "love". I'd like to end with the thought that what is being suggested is that true understanding of life, human nature and purpose can be understood more fully and truly than in any book when Love is found. What a hopeless romantic I am.

    Anyway, all just my interpretation of course.
    spamuellon June 26, 2004   Link
  • +8
    Song MeaningI think this song is about religion from an atheist point of view (don't worry about a rant, I'm not even a religious person). It's about the Bible (texts designed by intellects) and how it's merely a representation of a greater moral value standardization (evidently, there's so much that hides...)

    First off, Claude Henri de Rouvroy, also known as Saint Simon, exposed essays regarding a deep belief in cleaning out religion of its paranormal dogmas and focusing it on the moral values. (No one else seemed to mind the title of the song...)

    I think Mercer defines the bible stories as the "lullabies that helped us out in making sense of our lives"
    He "values them but won't cry everytime one is wiped out" because he realizes the importance of it's moral value (in making sense of life) but identifies them as stories nonetheless. This also explains the "I'll try hard not to pretend, allow myself no mock defense."

    About mercy's eyes: I believe he's referring to the comfort of Faith. Nothing holds a roman candle to the solemn warmth you feel inside when you believe you are safe, protected by (a) God. I think Mercer sometimes wishes he could feel that embrace of Mercy, opposed to what he calls a "cruel state of apathy", yet, that state "releases" him.

    What do you guys think?
    SufshinsStevenson March 21, 2011   Link
  • +5
    General Commentoh man. have you ever heard a song and had to replay it over & over until you've listened to it near 30 times? that was the case for me with this song.

    "Since I don't have time nor mind
    To figure out the nursery rhymes
    That helped us out in making sense of our lives."

    this clearly speaks of religion to me. the stories of the Bible are very much like nursery rhymes, comforting things to make us feel better, but their reality is doubted. I think this song is about leaving religion forever, letting go of our childish comforts and living life right without worrying about pleasing someone else. ha I don't know, just what I think.

    and what a wonderful song, really. my favorite shins song by far.
    lovely jordanon July 25, 2005   Link
  • +3
    General Commentif you read this interview with james mercer (…) , it's pretty evident that the underlining theme of most of the songs on this album is that people need to stop overanalyzing everything, and just live life, and stop worrying about the technical stuff. Also clear is that Mercer is a big fan of apathy.

    In this way, I think the song means that while there are all these philosophies (both religious and not) are out there to try and make sense of life, people should stop trying to make sense of things and just live. Although he admires these people for their interpretations of life, he acknowledges that he doesn't have the will or time to do it himself.

    He also says "I value them but I won't cry every time one's wiped out", meaning that he respects these people for their thoughts but that their theories don't rule his life. Life gets complicated when you interpret it too much.

    Mercer is very consistent in his beliefs. I like that.
    classact714on July 05, 2005   Link
  • +2
    General Commentas far as the "apathy" bit...Rebellion plays a central role in the shaping of identity. Babies must minimize parental bond to forge that first self, teenagers rebel against parents/authority, etc. etc.
    Intellectually, it is sometimes necessary to become indifferent to former belief systems to continue psychology.One is released only after they are trapped or held prisoner. The soul cannot breathe if its suffocated by Thought.
    loomingpanicon September 24, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General Commentcan anyone hear the influence of the beatles on this song? it's my favorite on the album... god it's so amazing.
    elodieon June 21, 2004   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI think this is an open rejection of religion by The Shins. I feel like the "texts" might be referring to scripture, and maybe even the "nursery rhymes" have two meanings. The way the song shifts moods makes me feel like he's saying that "Mercy" (or religion) can be very comforting and can make you feel warm, but he'd rather not give into that, so he has to step into the night (the dark) where answers aren't so evident or picture perfect. Could be wrong, but that's my take on it.
    Drew879on December 02, 2004   Link
  • +1
    General CommentOnce, when the "ancient lines" of the Bible were new, we declared ourselves divine among Earth's creatures, for we believed God made us in his image. Modern thought defines the world scientifically, with anything that can't be proven or experienced by the human senses to be fantasy. Science is worshipped liked any other religion, although it makes as little sense to someone unfamiliar with it as BIblical symbology does to the modern day reader attempting to make sense of Old Testament writings literally. But no matter how smug and all-knowing humans feel, no amount of math equations will figure out life. There will always be holes.
    I think he's reached the the point at the road to wisdom & maturity where he's beginning to realize that everyone has to define life in their own way, and while the words of others may help us, only life eperience offers Real Lessons. Once we get to this point, present and passing philosophies, religions and theories seem no more meaningful than simple Nusrsery Rhymes: In fact one may begin to see parallels between the two, and find that often it's the deceptively simple words that can teach us the most.
    loomingpanicon September 24, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThe Night Symbolizes the Unknown. It's mysterious, potentially dangerous. Knowledge can empower, but it can also limit, restricting us from forming our own ideas.
    Stepping into the night seems to be an analogy for entering the unknown, handing oneself over to Destiny. With this attitude even bad things could potentially bring good;all experience is valuable.
    Surviving tragedy, misfortune and pain without giving in & harboring dark emotions like blame, hatred or revenge, without judging or making excuses,enables us to truly enjoy life. Mercy, good fortune, love...Nothing "holds a candle" to how good life feels when we don't take it for granted.
    loomingpanicon September 24, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General Commentthis song is simply beautiful in melody . i adore it and can listen to it forever. but i dont even know what it means. its just so lovely and i really like the la da dum dum la la da da dum dum. its soo pretty.
    EndlessSummeron October 02, 2005   Link

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