"Late" as written by and Benjamin Scott Folds....
Under some dirty words on a dirty wall
Eating takeout by myself
I played the shows
Got back in the van and put the Walkman on
And you were playing

In some other dive a thousand miles away
I played a thousand times before
And like pathetic stars, the truck stops and the rock club walls
I always knew
You saw them too
But you never will again

It's too late
Don't you know
It's been too late
For a long time

Elliott, man, you played a fine guitar
And some dirty basketball
The songs you wrote
Got me through a lot
Just want to tell you that

But it's too late
It's too late
No, don't you know
it's been too late
for a long time

Oh no
Things were looking up
Least that's what I heard
Oh no
Someone came and washed away your hard-earned
Peace of mind

When desperate static beats the silence up
A quiet truth to calm you down
The songs you wrote
Got me through a lot
Just want to tell you that

But it's too late
It's too late
No, don't you know
It's been too late
For a long time
It's too late
It's too late
No, don't you know
It's been too late
For a long time


Lyrics submitted by ninjacow7

"Late" as written by Benjamin Scott Folds Ben Folds

Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc., BMG RIGHTS MANAGEMENT US, LLC

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Late song meanings
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52 Comments

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  • +3
    General CommentBlinkmini: Smith's "Tomorrow Tomorrow" has a line that goes "I've got static in my head/The reflected sound of everything/Tried to go to where it led/But it didn't lead to anything." I think static is kind of the random and undirected thoughts that arise out of your observations of the things around you, which for Elliott were desperate.

    "A quiet truth" could have two meanings (or more, I'm not Ben Folds): it's either the simple and beautiful lines that Elliott sang, that kind of sum up something for the listener. Or it could be the description of heroin use from "Needle in the Hay" where Elliott says "I'm taking the cure/So I can be quiet whenever I want." I think he saw drugs and the "quiet truth" they provided as a good thing.

    Anyways thats my take.
    postnatalon July 29, 2005   Link
  • +3
    General CommentI miss Elliott.
    OneOmazinKidon December 09, 2005   Link
  • +2
    General CommentThis is a great tribute to Elliott Smith. A wonderful musician who

    I think many people can relate to the lyrics, Elliott's music has got me through a lot of hard times too.

    "Things were looking up, least that's what I heard."

    It makes me so sad that he's gone.
    Dvelon May 25, 2005   Link
  • +2
    General CommentI wish I could discover Elliott Smith over and over.
    shut up hannah.on August 21, 2007   Link
  • +2
    General Commentbeing a huge fan of both ben folds and elliott smith, there were a several lines that seemed to be references to elliott songs.

    "desperate static"... elliott had several songs that used the word static in the lyrics, probably most notably tomarrow tomarrow, but there are others.

    "hard earned peace of mind" is possibly a reference to the song bled white, where elliott says "dont you dare disturb me, dont you complicate my peace of mind"

    the part about "things were looking up, at least thats what i heard" is simply enough about elliott's drug addiction and depression. Prior to his death, it seemed to those around him and to fans that he had cleaned up a lot and was "in a better place" than previous years.

    to me, the song almost seems like an apology at times. In the beginning he describes being at a show/preformence with smith and turning on his walkmen during smiths se.

    the chorus seems to me almost like hes apologizing for it, like "it may not have been clear at the time.... but, i DO really appreciate and care about everything youve done, its gotten me through a lot." etc.

    and even if it isnt an apology, it seems clear he has regrets about how he spent some of his time with elliott, as many people do after someone they love dies.

    to me (naturally i have no way of knowing this for sure...) the song seems partly about bens regrets about how he handled his relationship with smith and party as a simple tribute.

    either way, its a beautiful, timeless song. well done ben. rip elliott. the songs you wrote got me through a lot too.
    ghettostarchildon August 01, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General CommentBeautiful song, I heard him play it live. Its a tribute to Elliot Smith.
    ninjacow7on June 08, 2004   Link
  • +1
    General Commenti love that line that lets you know that Ben and Elliott were good mates
    "And some dirty basketball"
    :) its nice. sad.
    smashing_meon June 20, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General Commentalright kids, i just thought i would clear it up for anybody who thought these two guys were the best of buds.

    folds states on the bonus DVD for this album that he really didn't know the guy that much, and he heard secondhand that smith played dirty basketball. im sure they met a few times and folds really does enjoy his music, however, that was the extent of their relationship. at any rate, nice song.
    whiggleson January 13, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI'm no Ben Folds fan, but I'm glad that he decided to write a tribute to Elliott. There will never be anyone quite like Elliott Smith and his music has helped so many people out that were/are battling with depression.

    Rest in peace Elliott
    The_Bendson March 21, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General CommentA few comments about what I have read:

    I think when fans of Elliott Smith see his name mispelled as "Elliot" they get angry because this is the way his name was spelt in the "suicide" note. Leading many to believe that his girlfriend actually killed him, and wrote a suicide note, and in the process, mispelled his name. It irks me to see it spelled that way because it brings up the emotion that he possibly was murdered, and was taken from earth with many more songs to write and lives to touch. The mispelling is a reminder of what could have been, or what was still to come. Anyway, on to the actual song.

    "No, no
    Things were looking up
    Least that's what I heard
    No, no
    Someone came and washed away your hard-earned
    Piece of mind"

    I don't own the CD, so I don't know if this is in the booklet, but shouldn't it be "peace of mind"?

    To me this stanza is a statement pointing blame at Elliott's live in girlfriend who was there the day he died. She washed away his peace of mind by either killing him, or by fighting with him that day, causing him to eventually become so enraged to take his own life. Whatever that means, and if Ben didnt actually know Elliott doesn't mean anything, the song is simply a tribute to the fantastic music that Elliott made. The songs helped Ben get through tough times in his life, along with thousands of other people that are lucky enough to discover him. Shut Up Hannah, I feel the same way, I remember the day I "discovered" Elliott, I was watching Good Will Hunting and realized that all the good songs in the movie were Elliott, downloaded about 30 songs that day because I couldnt get enough of him, then did some research and found out he had died just a few months before, pretty heartbreaking.
    JohnWalkerRedon November 14, 2007   Link

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