Venus stopped the train
While the brakeman lost his place
Satellites were spinning
In outer space
They televised her feelings
While the light
The light struck terror

I kept my distance
Because she fell in love with everyone
Smoking grass and taking Christmas trees
She fell in love with me
I was polite to her
A soft sadness had her much more than her loneliness

Her father warmed the benches
Vice President of southern branches
He reached out to her
When her mother slept
He would never forget
The light
The light
The light striking terror

I kept my distance
Because she fell in love with everyone
Smoking grass and taking Christmas trees
She fell in love with me
I was polite to her
A soft sadness had her much more than her loneliness

Satellites spinning
Satellites spin

The light
The light
The light
The light
The light
The light strikes terror
The light strikes terror

I keep my distance
Because she falls in love with everyone
Smoking grass and taking Christmas trees
She falls in love with me
I'm polite to her
A soft sadness had her much more than her ugliness

I keep my distance
Because she falls in love with everyone
Smoking grass and taking Christmas trees
She falls in love with me
I'm polite to her
I reached my soft hand out to her
I've known her for a very, very, long time


Lyrics submitted by Hunter

Venus Stopped the Train song meanings
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12 Comments

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  • 0
    General CommentThis is a bittersweet narrative about a many recalling an old lover who, while he could not have settled down with her, he truly enjoyed her companionship. She was a free spirit, the “whimsical” girlfriend, perhaps a hippie with a trust fund or perhaps the most beautiful or sexual girl he was ever with. However, the author shoulders a bit of guilt for not giving more of himself to her. But at the chorus he justifies “keeping his distance” because as she fell in love with him, “she falls in love with everyone.” Needless to say he reserved some degree of cynicism toward he entire demeanor.

    It’s not readily apparent as to why this man would feel bad about dumping a flake until the second and saddest verse. Here, to me, it sounds like he’s describing how this woman had been molested by her father as a girl. It sounds as if the father had once been in good standing as the “vice president of southern branches” but now he “warmed the benches” like an athlete in a slump. Anyway, “he reached out to her, while her mother slept, [s]he would never forget…”

    “The light strikes terror,” the light being that of a lit hallway as the door to a darkened bedroom is opened from outside. This explains how the author may have eventually learned about this sad story of his girlfriend’s past. Perhaps, she had a nightmare and explained it to him. Perhaps, he came in to their bedroom one night as she had been sleeping and startled her. Or perhaps, she explained this to him while they were stoned and buying a Christmas tree.

    That’s my 2¢
    Matty Dubson December 19, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentWTF happened to the 3 paragraphs I wrote about this song?
    Matty Dubson December 20, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General Commentsorry, there are two files for this song. MOD please delete as appropriate
    Matty Dubson December 21, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentWhen he says "warmed the benched" he in fact means "was in a political seat"; he was part of a parliamentary party, a govenor or somesuch. Although no doubt the song intends an American, the phrase refers to British politics where MPs do actually sit on benches in the House of Commons
    Molesworthon January 08, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentMole, there are no "benches" in US vernacular that refer to either the legislator or executive at either the state or federal level. The judiciary however does sit on a "bench" but there are no southern "branches" only circuits and occasionally districts. On the other hand, large businesses have branches.

    99.99% of the time, in American parlance "warming the bench" refers to mediocrity in sports. e.g. bad players are made to sit-out and keep the bench warm. I'm very sure it's a clever way of saying that he was a shitty, frustrated businessman.
    Matty Dubson January 08, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General Commentthe refernce of taking christmas trees refers to taking pills.....just putting that out there
    Curlequon April 27, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis is so intriguing—I haven’t heard this.
    So Venus stopped the train. I’ve heard the tale of Venus and her crazy brakeman and the spinning satellites that televised her feelings while the light struck terror. Everyone kept their distance as she orchestrated her love affair—smoking grass and being a Christmas spirit, she would take Christmas trees. I don’t recall her converging on Wilco but what do I know? It’s hard to say which had the tighter grip—her sadness or her loneliness. Her dad warmed the benches and reached out to swipe her. What a surprise. So accurate ...
    sillybunnyon August 16, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentDo a google search - there's nothing out there at all that equates the phrase "taking christmas trees" to taking pills.

    And I wish I could comment on the song itself, but I'm unsure what it means. It feels like it's missing a verse, honestly. In its current form, the relationship between the narrator and the girl sounds rather dysfunctional. The defining element of their interaction seems to center around marijuana, the theft of evergreens, and politeness...which does nothing to explain the light striking terror. Or, for that matter, why she would appear on television, broadcasting her feelings.

    This may be another one of Tweedy's strange channelings of 9-11 before it actually happened. I dunno, though...like I said, it almost feels like he left very crucial elements of the story out.
    thermo4on May 29, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI have always suspected that this song was about Tweedy's encounter with Winona Ryder during the Summer Teeth tour. I think she is being referred to as Venus. She stopped the train because her presence sent his life spinning. He was and still is a happily married man with 2 children but conflicted by all of the demands that brings which is all documented in the songs on Summer Teeth.

    The line "They televised her feelings, while the light, the light struck terror" I think refers to her appearance on Conan where she gushed over Tweedy publicly. I think the idea that she was speaking on national television about him scared the hell out of him and likely made it a little too obvious that something was going on between the two of them.

    "I kept my distance Because she fell in love with everyone" refers to Winona's well documented flings with many mid-west based musicians.

    "Smoking grass and taking Christmas trees" refers to, well smoking grass and taking drugs. This was during Tweedy's well known period of drug abuse.

    I don't know much about Winona Ryder so I won't speculate as to the "Her father warmed the benches" part.

    Lastly, many Wilco fans love this song but it has never been played live nor has it appeared on any of their albums. I think this may be because Tweedy is being respectful to his wife and thought it best to leave this song buried.

    agirlandamonkeyon December 14, 2010   Link
  • 0
    My OpinionResponding to agirlandamonkey, that is the most plausible explanation I've ever heard, and I am so glad you wrote it here. The only thing I know about Winona Ryder's parents is that they made Timothy Leary her Godfather and named her after the town in Minnesota where she was conceived, but hey, anything's possible. As for "Christmas trees," I have always assumed that it referred to blotter LSD -- it's usually a little picture of something.
    sharkycharmingon April 08, 2011   Link

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