He cut your strings so that he could float
- lit by lights, lifted by alcohol
- over acres of loving coast,
far away from your lonely ghost.
Now he’s cool and all,
floating anchorless. Ports of call:
where it’s fabulous, after all
of this watching himself just crawl.

Think you see him?
He’s not there,
that’s just light
that’s not yet dead.
Wait two hours
and watch what’ll be there instead.

Was he small and cold,
like a ring you call up from home,
held so tightly his limbs went numb,
worn away between your finger and thumb?
Well, now he’s bought and sold.
Cry his call number down the phone,
he can’t hear you – he’s on his float,
waving down to the folks at home.

Think you see him?
He’s not there,
that’s just light
that’s not yet dead.
Wait two hours
and watch what’ll be there instead.

As the cameras love all of his faces,
they hide all the traces of you in his heart.
Stand in line to hold forth on his grace,
but you won’t even get a head-start.

As his close-up comes
cascading down from above,
the eyes of a nation in love
are looking on all of their hopes
held up.
And the words that some
screenwriter counted and chose,
and then set in their sequence and froze,
unfreeze on his tongue as he speaks
for all of us
but one.
And honey, he’s gone.
And baby, he’s everyone’s.
In the dark sky tonight,
cast your eyes
on the dim light
that he will become.
You’re like everyone
who thinks they see him.
He’s not there,
that’s just light
that’s not yet dead.
Wait two hours
and watch what’ll be there instead.


Lyrics submitted by Totoro

Song About a Star song meanings
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9 Comments

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  • 0
    General CommentI think this is just about someone becoming famous, leaving their friends, but ultimately destined to burn out.

    He is, literally, "light thats not yet dead" and if we were to "wait two hours" then he'd have burnt out.
    sad-violin-musicon August 30, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI agree with above poster, except to me it sounds more like an old girlfriend that's left behind rather than old friends.

    Anyway, I think the whole "think you see him" part is meant quite literally. This star is on TV so he appears to be in the room but he's really not. Two hours later there'll be some other show on the telly.
    mcthomon September 01, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General Commentsuch a good song....I haven't given it enough time to pass judgement on its meaning, however.
    timetraveler85on October 15, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General Commentand there's actually the whole scientific metaphor- the time it takes light to travel from a star to our eyes is a certain amount of time depending on the distance, therefore a star we see in the sky could actually have already burned out, yet it still gives off the perception of being alive (wait two hours..)
    rossismadon December 16, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General Commentyeah.. stars are just old light.. not really there.
    this is probably my favorite okkervil river song.
    blacksheepgirlon January 16, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Commentyeah.. stars are just old light.. not really there.
    this is probably my favorite okkervil river song.
    blacksheepgirlon January 16, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Commentyeah, i agree with everyone above. this is an awesome song! (in fact, the whole album is awesome) but i cant help drawing comparisons between the lines

    Think you see him?
    He’s not there,
    that’s just light
    that’s not yet dead.
    Wait two hours
    and watch what’ll be there instead.

    and the lyrics written by Bright Eyes in the song 'We Are Nowhere And It's Now' when he sings:

    Stars that clear, have been dead for years, but the idea, just lives on.

    i dont know why, it just pops up in my head everytime i hear thie okkervil river song!
    Samason February 01, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentUser "Gita" posted this in the comments for Okkervil River's song "Black," but you can see the story comes from her fourth-hand, but I agree with the commenter who speculated that she was confused. Sounds like a good explanation for this song:

    Gita posted:


    "I pretty much signed up so I could say this.

    I was talking to a friend (she played this song for me, I had never heard of the band before) and she was telling me about how she (or perhaps a friend of hers) went to see Okkervil River, and they played this song and explained it a little bit. For the sake of making this easy to follow, I've given the following people names. A friend of the band (Mike) and his girlfriend (Christine) were watching the news, and the Christine's ex-longtime boyfriend (Case) was on it, promoting a book or something, and he was talking about how much he loved his wife and new kids and how much they helped him and how he'd never be the guy he was without him, and he never once mentioned Christine. Apparently, at one point, Case broke Christine's heart. She's really upset, and Mike has no idea how to deal with it, because Case was her first love, and she can't really hate him the way he does, she's too busy trying to forget and/or not be heartbroken. Simultaneously, Mike is trying to get her to love him as much as she loved Case, but he knows that isn't possible. He trying to be there for her, but that also hurts him, because by acknowloedging how much she loved Case, it puts a wall (or door!) between them.
    Take in mind that a) I heard this through a couple friends and b) I TOTALLY JUST PULLED THOSE NAMES OUT OF MY ASS, I HAVE NO IDEA IF THIS IS TRUE OR NOT.

    When I heard this song, I never heard molestation in it at all, and while that's a valid interpretation, I saw it as more along the lines of like, you love somebody so much you'd kill someone that fucked their life up and broke their heart, even if they don't want it. I guess that applies to the molestation interpretation as well, but that meaning seems really specific to me. Like, I can see how everyone got that, but I don't feel it was explicitely written in the song. Or maybe I always just take the more general meaning of the song rather than the super specific one. Who knows!"
    Butterfly Edgeon August 02, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThe last time the band came to Chicago, they stopped in the middle of the song and Will talks about the characters in the song.

    Thankfully someone put it on YouTube:

    youtube.com/…
    JeremyB1on August 09, 2007   Link

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