I'll lay down my glasses,
I'll lay down in houses,
if things come alive.

I'll subtract pain by ounces,
Yeah, I will start painting houses,
if things come alive

I promise to commit no acts of violence,
Be it physical or otherwise,
If things come alive

I'll say it now
I'll say it now
I'll say it now
Oh, I'll say it now
Cuz I want it now

When personality is scarred tissue,
We travel South with disuse
I'm subtle like a lion's cage
Such a cautious display

Remember take hold of your time here
Give some meanings to the means
To your end.
Not even jail.


We marshal in the days of longing,
We tremble like anyone's children,
And wink towards the fire.

I'm erring on the side of caution,
Betraying no other symptom,
But girl, you shake it right.

I will bounce you on the lap of silence,
We will free love to the beats of science,
And girl, you shake it right

I'll say it now

Oh, but hold it still, darling, your hair so pretty
Can't you feel the warmth of my sincerity?
You make motion when you cry

You're making people's lives feel less private.
Don't take time away
You make motion when you cry

we all hold hands,
can't we all hold hands,
When we make new plans?

I pretend like no one else
To try and control myself.
I'm subtle like a lion's cage.
Such a cautious display.

Remember take hold of your time here,
Give some meanings to the means
To your end
Not even jail


Lyrics submitted by Interpolnyc, edited by defilord

Not Even Jail song meanings
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67 Comments

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  • +5
    General CommentI would interpret the line "not even jail" a little bit different. To me, the whole song deals with a very strange, maybe also psychologically disordered man, who suffers from a lot of bad habits and complexes. This man meets a person, probably a woman, who gives his life a completely new direction and he would do everything to start a relationship with her, he would change his whole life for her. But in my opinion, the lines
    "we all hold hands/can´t we all hold hands/when we make new friends" and
    "But holding still Darling/and yout hair so free/can´t you feel the warms of my sincerity/"
    mean, that it didn´t work out, she refused him, maybe because she doesn´t think he could become a different person for her. So he says goodbye to her, knowing that he´ll might never see her again. So he´s alone again, alone with his own problems and fears and he realises that his whole life is just a fake and empty without her, it´s actually worse than jail, it´s "not even jail" and he can only hope, that he will get a second chance one day. I don´t know, but this comes to my mind, when I listen to the lyrics and especially to the longingly way, in which Paul sings. But I think the best thing about Interpols songs and lyrics is, that everyone can identify with them according to his personal experiences, so everyone can think different about their songs and still be right.
    Hunter155on July 28, 2009   Link
  • +4
    General Comment"I'll lay down my glasses, I'll lay down in houses, if things come alive."
    I'm attacking this in two ways. By "lay[ing] down [his] glasses" he either means he'll stop scrutinizing everything she does or kick his drinking habit. The "houses" part means he's willing to settle down, that is, if the relationship comes out of its dead end.

    "I'll subtract pain by ounces, yeah, I will start painting houses,
    if things come alive."
    This means he'll slowly become a better person, so she'll stop hurting over him. And "painting houses" could mean he'll get a steady job or he'll be ready for a family. You know, painting a new home they've bought together.

    "I promise to commit no acts of violence, be it physical or otherwise, if things come alive."
    He's saying he'll be sweet to her. He won't hit her or emotionally abuse her.

    "I'll say it now...'cause I want it now."
    He's just anxious for things to happen so they can get out of this rut.

    "When personality is scar tissue, it travels south with disuse."
    Just like when someone has surgery and the scar tissue becomes deeper and deeper with time and eventually unnoticed until the area is cut into again, someone's hidden emotions remain out of sight until something cuts into them.

    "I'm subtle like a lion's cage; such a cautious display."
    Outside, he's calm and harmless, but inside, he's raging with emotion.

    "Remember take hold of your time here, give some meanings to the means to your end. Not even jail."
    He's telling her to make sure she doesn't waste time over meaningless issues, that she pays attention to herself and figures her own life out. "Not even jail" could confine her as much as she is confining herself.

    "We marshal in the days of longing, we tremble like anyone's children, and wink towards the fire."
    The relationship is tumbling and they're afraid; "like anyone's children" means "anybody." Everyone is somebody's child. They see it coming but they can't turn away from it.

    "I'm erring on the side of caution, betraying no other symptom,
    but girl, you shake it right."
    He's trying to be careful about the situation, even though what he's telling her is like walking on eggshells with their already delicate relationship. He's being outwardly stoic, but she seems to keep asking just the right questions to get the real feelings out of him.

    "I will bounce you on the lap of silence, we will free love to the beats of science. And girl, you shake it right."
    Apparently, they're having amazing make-up sex right about now.

    "I'll say it now."

    "Oh, but hold it still, darling, your hair so pretty. Can't you feel the warmth of my sincerity?"
    She's starting to tremble because she's crying, and he's reassuring her by telling her how pretty she is, trying to make her feel better. He's promising that he's not trying to hurt her, he's just being honest.

    "You make motion when you cry. You're making people's lives feel less private. Oh hey, don't take time away. You make motion when you cry."
    She's now sobbing. She's kind of embarrassing people because she's displaying the emotion everyone feels but can't show in public. She has proposed to take a break from the relationship but it's not what he wants.

    "We all hold hands, can't we all hold hands, when we make new plans?"
    He wants her full input on their tomorrow. He's almost begging her to take part in the relationship.

    "I pretend like no one else to try to control myself. I'm subtle like a lion's cage, such a cautious display. Remember take hold of your time here; give some meanings to the means
    to your end. Not even jail."
    He is trying so hard to keep his stoic shell while still reminding her to take control of her own destiny.

    I love this song.
    a1ph4num3rikon March 16, 2006   Link
  • +4
    General CommentMy interpretation of the song is that the narrator is at a point in his life where he's become numb and wants to feel something again. He is ready to settle down "if things come alive." He may have issues with substance abuse or violence, but is honest and wants to change for the better.

    I'll lay down my glasses (he will stop looking at other women)
    I'll lay down in houses (he is ready to settle down)
    if things come alive.

    I'll subtract pain by ounces,
    Yeah, I will start painting houses,
    if things come alive

    I promise to commit no acts of violence,
    Be it physical or otherwise,
    If things come alive (he will be the best he can for her)

    I'll say it now
    I'll say it now
    I'll say it now
    Oh, I'll say it now
    Cuz I want it now (he is tired of not feeling alive or feeling loved and wants it NOW)

    When personality is scarred tissue,
    We travel South with disuse
    I'm subtle like a lion's cage
    Such a cautious display (talking about his personality/demeanor)

    Remember take hold of your time here
    Give some meanings to the means
    To your end.
    Not even jail. (he has fallen into a routine and wants to change his life)


    We marshal in the days of longing,
    We tremble like anyone's children,
    And wink towards the fire. (subtlety)

    I'm erring on the side of caution,
    Betraying no other symptom,
    But girl, you shake it right. (he tries to keep it to himself but wants her badly)

    I will bounce you on the lap of silence,
    We will free up to the beats of science,
    And girl, you shake it right (my favorite line!)

    I'll say it now

    Oh, but hold it still, darling, your hair so pretty (stay in this moment)
    Can't you feel the warmth of my sincerity?
    You make motion when you cry

    You're making people's lives feel less private.
    Had to take time away (she takes away his loneliness but he still needs time to himself)
    You make motion when you cry (she doesn't understand his behavior)

    we all hold hands,
    can't we all hold hands,
    When we make new plans? (self-explanatory)

    I pretend like no one else
    To try and control myself.
    I'm subtle like a lion's cage.
    Such a cautious display. (he keeps his emotions under control)

    Remember take hold of your time here,
    Give some meanings to the means
    To your end
    Not even jail
    amatterofgraceon November 20, 2009   Link
  • +2
    General CommentI agree, underrated and underappreciated.

    I think it's the best song on Antics.
    servitude_servedon December 13, 2004   Link
  • +2
    General CommentThis song sounds like it's about RAPE.

    Listen to the lyrics. It really does sound like it. It sounds like this girl is teasing him to the point that "NOT EVEN JAIL" is going to stop him from getting what he wants..

    "I promise to commit no acts of violencts/be it physical or otherwise.. If things come alive.."

    "I will bounce you on the lap of silence,
    We will free up to the beats of science,
    And girl, you shake it right"

    "Oh but hold it still darling your is so pretty can't you feel the warm of my sincerity you make motion when you cry"

    "I pretend like no one else
    To try to control myself."

    "Not even JAIL"
    shokuzinon August 31, 2005   Link
  • +2
    My OpinionI think this song speaks a lot to existentialism and Sartre specifically. One of the main facets of existentialism is to look at life from a subjective point of view, as opposed to an objective point of view that many philosophical doctrines encourage. Thus when looking for meaning you need to create it for yourself, anything could be your meaning of life if you so choose. I believe this is illustrated in the line "Give some meaning to the means". And if anyone is familiar with Sartre he said that it was only when he was in jail that he finally realized the freedom he held, as even stripped of his physical freedom he was free to think any which way he desired. Thus I think the title and lyrics "Not even jail" refer to the complete and utter freedom we have to choose how we feel and what gives our lives meaning. Not really sure if this makes sense in the grand context of the song but listening to it that's what immediately came to mind.
    Killercronon January 26, 2014   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI picked up the Joy Division Reference. Indeed, there is a song by Joy Division called "A means to an end".
    Catroaron December 19, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General Commentto me this is about an attraction to someone that doesn't go anywhere because he is too shy to make a bold move, and is trying to persuade himself to be brave and go for it!

    The first verse is him telling himself it will all be better if he goes for it and 'gets the girl', saying it'll help him kip the drugs/alcoholism/grumpiness (violence?)

    I'll say it now because i want it now is self explanitory, telling himself to say how he feels if he wants to get what he wants.

    Personality is scarred tissue i think means that his personality is a bit 'dead' and he needs to brighten up to get the girl.

    Subtle and catious describe his actions towards the girl, may go unnoticed so she doesn't know he likes her.

    Take hold of your time here, give meanings to the means is about taking a chance, don't want to leave emptyhanded.

    2nd verse, longing, erring, caution, silence, tremble all again suggest his shyness.

    warmth of my sincerity could be friendly jokes/flirting that the girl laughs off but he really means.

    can't we all hold hands - he wants to be part of her plans.

    anyway i may be off but alot of the lines seemed to fit and i'm sure most people have cursed their shyness around someone they like so it seems to make sense!
    smeisteron January 15, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThese lyrics are wrong.

    It's "scar tissue" not "scarred tissue"

    "Free love to the beats of science" not "free up"

    "Take all of your time" not "take hold"

    "Make new friends" not "make new plans"

    I'm pretty sure it's also "wait" not "wink"
    dadhaveron August 22, 2016   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis is my favorite song on "Antics".
    camoflaugeon October 19, 2004   Link

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