One of our submarines is missing tonight
Seems she ran aground on manoeuvres
One of our submarines

A hungry heart
To regulate their breathing
One more night
The Winter Boys are freezing in their spam tin
The Baltic moon
Along the northern seaboard
And down below
The Winter Boys are waiting for the storm

Bye-bye empire, empire bye-bye
Shallow water - channel and tide

And I can trace my history
Down one generation to my home
In one of our submarines
One of our submarines

The red lights flicker, sonar weak
Air valves hissing open
Half her pressure blown away
Flounder in the ocean
See the Winter Boys
Drinking heavy water from a stone

Bye-bye empire, empire bye-bye
Shallow water - channel and tide
Bye-bye empire, empire bye-bye
Tired illusion drown in the night

And I can trace my history
Down one generation to my home
In one of our submarines
One of our submarines
One of our submarines


Lyrics submitted by milkmiruku, edited by thecrossbone

One of our Submarines song meanings
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8 Comments

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  • +2
    General Commentas a squid who has spent half of his life studying the nav...she went down in the Baltic..."a hungry heart, to regulate there breathing"...a nuclear boat..."the winter boys"...most nuc boats are "blue" and "gold", meaning they have two seperate crews, they are at sea 12 months a year, each crew serves a six month cruise, so "the winter boys" would have been the winter crew..."bye bye Empire", self explanatory..."The red lights flicker, sonar weak
    Air valves hissing open
    Half her pressure blown away"...as part of USN Omaha Force I spent a (small) amount of time on subs doing security for nuclear weapons, this is the most chiling description of death at depth I have ever heard...no doubt the best song he ever did!!!!
    Ravenshurston October 24, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General Commentyeah...great stuff. thomas morgan dolby robertson once described himself as a frustrated novelist who stumbled into a musical career. the lyrics reflected his literary ambitions, which IMO were often justified. or, maybe he found the most suitable field for his talents after all, however accidentally. "tired illusion drowning in the night..."

    it's supposed to read "Spam tin," of course

    my father served on a not-quite-so-cramped but similarly insular naval vessel. lucky he made it through: for me anyhow, otherwise who'd be writing these words?
    foreverdroneon April 19, 2011   Link
  • +1
    General CommentHe speaks in this video about how his uncle was a submariner who died in basically the way described in the song, but it also refers to, or is at least emblematic of, the decline of the British Empire.

    youtu.be/…
    gandalfeon April 02, 2012   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI found this song while skipping through tracks (uh intentionally, not because there was a scratch) on a copy of Golden Age of Wireless I got on vinyl for 50 cents, and I fell right in love. This song could have easilly bypassed the popularity of Science if it had been allowed to.
    SpooktheHerdon April 09, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentYou'll be amazed how many others who also owned that album (myself included) felt the same way!
    pharmageekon October 06, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThe greatest song Thomas Dolby ever produced. I first heard this song in March of 1983 on an eighth grade school trip from Connecticut to Washington, DC. I bought the cassette and listened to this one track on my Walkman probably 500 times over the course of a five day trip. Now, 24 years later, this song is as captivating as ever!
    Campaigneron May 04, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentDoes anyone have any insight into the song?
    lindbergh27on February 13, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThe golden age of wireless is one of my all time favorites and I can't count the number of times I've bought it. I've come out of lurkdom to thank everyone here, for your way smarter than me take on this disc.
    One of our submarines has been one of my many earworms for months and now. I'd forgotten how much I scare myself meant to me many moons ago.
    pcgardenon June 12, 2013   Link

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