"Sleep the Clock Around" as written by and Martin/murdoch/colburn/cooke/geddes/jackson/campbe....
And the moment will come when composure returns
Put a face on the world, turn your back to the wall
And you walk twenty yards with your head in the air
Down the Liberty Hill, where the fashion brigade

Look with curious eyes on your raggedy way
And for once in your life you have nothing to say
And could this be the time when somebody will come
To say, "Look at yourself, you're not much use to anyone"

Take a walk in the park, take a valium pill
Read the letter you got from the memory girl
But it takes more than this to make sense of the day
Yeah it takes more than milk to get rid of the taste

And you trusted to this, and you trusted to that
And when you saw it all come, it was waving the flag
Of the United States of Calamity, hey!
After all that you've done boy, I'm sure you're going to pay

In the morning you come to the ladies salon
To get all fitted out for The Paperback Throne
But the people are living far away from the place
Where you wanted to help, it's a bit of a waste

And the puzzle will last till somebody will say
"There's a lot to be done while your head is still young"
If you put down your pen, leave your worries behind
Then the moment will come, and the memory will shine

Now the trouble is over, everybody got paid
Everybody is happy, they are glad that they came
Then you go to the place where you've finally found
You can look at yourself sleep the clock around


Lyrics submitted by ReActor

"Sleep the Clock Around" as written by Isobel Campbell Christopher Geddes

Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

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Sleep the Clock Around song meanings
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  • +6
    General Comment"And the moment will come when composure returns"
    here i think he means directly after the turbulence of adolescence, where your inner self is a little bit calmer/composed once again

    "Put a face on the world, turn your back to the wall"
    you put the face on that you have developed in highschool/at home, and which you have become comfortable showing (you think), and you turn your back from the safety of home in order to go exploring.

    "And you walk twenty yards with your head in the air/Down the Liberty Hill, where the fashion brigade"
    and you leave excited and proud (head in the air, not realising how how naive you still are) down liberty hill (your freedom/liberty from home, the first time you are somewhat independent). the fashion brigade is the superficial side of the real world. they are the many people who are already there in the new place and have much more experience and will be there to judge you as soon as you leave home, on how experienced you look, how you present yourself.

    "Look with curious eyes on your raggedy way"
    and they will easily see that you are still green. raggedy: you are still clumsy, what you do is not yet refined. you have not found your way of doing things, your strong opinions, your sense of dress, yourself. much of what you do is done awkwardly/not perfected from experience.

    "And for once in your life you've got nothing to say"
    people will throw things at you unexpectedly and since it is all quite new to you, you are not at home in familiar surroundings, you may not be ready for it (ready with an answer). You realize you're still green..therefore you are in no position/have no real authority to advise, state opinions (and expect others to respect them), etc

    "And could this be the time when somebody will come/To say, Look at yourself, you're not much used to anyone"
    You are useless. you just left home, perhaps still recovering from adolescence/still selfish, and without a skill that could really be useful to anyone-either emotionally (since you yourself are still quite naive/a bit of a child and not strong or experienced enough yet) or professionally, (you don't have a trade yet that could be of use to someone)


    "Take a walk in the park, take a valium pill"
    this paragraph is about the growth process. you have periods where you think a lot. perhaps taking long walks; perhaps you become depressed or anxious because you realize things for the first time or have a difficult time adjusting-perhaps some think something is wrong with them and go on meds, anti-anxiety pills etc

    "Read the letter you got from the memory girl"
    this is either old loves or just old memories in general. old friends, how you would spend time, how you used to have fun in your old life. what the humour was like with them. essentially your old identity in your old environment. perhaps you make attempts to hang on to it

    "But it takes more than this to make sense of the day/Yeah it takes more than milk to get rid of the taste"
    you can't make sense of the present by thinking of the past (where you had your identity/your place was more clear..and who you were helpful/useful to was more clear). your past is there, and you are now here. and this makes you bitter perhaps (people drink milk to take away a bitter taste), that your old friends are moving on and you are moving on in a different direction. no one needs or fits into each other's life like they used to. So where do you fit now without them to put you into perspective? What will give you your identity now that that's gone?

    "And you trusted to this, and you trusted to that"
    during your growth phase and on your own at first you tried many different things. you perhaps changed your mind about different beliefs, philosophies, styles, changed friends or attitudes. changing interests or idols. This was exaggerated if you moved away from home for uni or other reason. and every time you get trust this new philosophy or attitude, changed your group of friends, etc you would change your identity somewhat...even if every time at first you thought it was the one you were decided on. (our of naivete), but everyone during this phase continues to grow in different directions.

    "And when you saw it all come, it was waving the flag/Of the United States of Calamity, hey!"
    you are trying to make up your mind about things (find yourself). Some can lose themselves more than others, especially if you go through a lot of growth (those that undergo the most change and manage it without being hurt too much).But especially those that go through the most on their own lose their old foundations the most. it can cause an inner crisis (until they manage to build new ones)

    "After all that you've done, boy, I know you're going to pay"

    because you have maybe left home, you have taken a risk, you have tried new things, you have left some (or a lot) of your old identity behind, you will pay-the more you have risked and changed and left behind in fact, the more you will pay. pay for all of these new things you are trying and risks you are taking (as opposed to those friends/siblings who stayed at home where it is more safe). it is more difficult because of the readjustment, the loneliness, changing your trustbase. however this stress makes you grow more than those who stayed at home where it was safe.


    "In the morning you come to the ladies' salon/To get all fitted out for The Paperback Throne"

    let's say you've about found yourself. it's not all so new anymore, you are more familiar with how things work and have established your opinions about things, have begun to develop a skill quite well. you're developing new foundations, learning to deal with pain, grown a lot. you have something to say now! (as opposed to the first paragraph where you realize you have nothing to say/you are in no position to say anything). so by "having something to say" = the paperback throne (the position of having some authority to put something on paper/write about something)

    "But the people are living far away from the place/Where you wanted to help, you're a bit of a waste"
    who are you going to show off to? the people that knew you in the past can't see who you are now. they continued in one direction and you continued in another, you're not a part of each others' lives anymore, you are not longer useful to one another to provide some sort of identity or to help (since everyone has learned to live without your help/support and you without theirs). You realize it's not really home any more! they are far away from a. you and b. the place where you left them last time, since they have been growing also and are no longer int he same position). and you are stronger now, you can really help people back home better than before. but, they have found their own ways of helping themselves as you were not there and you in turn have grown to function in a different environment. so even if you are stronger now and know yourself/identity/purpose better, you're still a waste...(in relation to them, your old environment).

    "And the puzzle will last till somebody will say/There's a lot to be done while your head is still young"
    you will realize you cannot look at the past to find your place, you have to keep moving forward. there are other people who could need your help, function with you in their lives, and there's still a lot to be done (aside from your old life).

    "If you put down your pen, leave your worries behind/Then the moment will come, and the memory will shine"
    Don't try to hang on to anything, and stop planning (put down your pen) and worrying about how you will use your life now. everything you have learned you did it for a reason-to experience new things, to gain a skill (that's the reason you left home in the first place). instead of worrying what you will do with all this new information and feeling that you were settled before but now you are just someone who knows more but still has no real settled life/future, you need to just relax and live. Keep moving forward and things will fit in to place, you will find your opportunity wehre everything you have learned will be useful ("then the moment will come"). and you will take that opportunity because you are ready for it (unlike before) and you will finally be useful and "the memory will shine": the "memory" (all of your gathered experiences) will come forward/be put to use. also that moment will be an important one.("will shine")

    "Now the trouble is over, everybody got paid"
    congratulations! you've more or less found yourself (this does not mean you will stop growing)

    "Everybody is happy, they are glad that they came"
    the people that have helped you become who you are are proud and they are happy to know you, the new people that enter your life see you as an independent mature individual who can stand on his own feet is strong enough to offer support if he has to. This applies to people from the past who can lean on you know (parents for example). "they are glad they came" (met you, have you in their life)..you are useful now

    "Then you go to the place where you've finally found/You can look at yourself sleep the clock around"
    you've finally got to this place. you can look at yourself in the mirror and feel comfortable. with yourself and who you are. you can relax (sleep the clock around)
    NaClon June 09, 2010   Link
  • +4
    General CommentI listen to this one with headphones on whilst I walk places, and it's like being conciously awake while sleep walking. Crazy.
    myfriendbrennon September 09, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General CommentAnd you're not a waste in relation to anything, you're just a waste. And of no use to anyone. Maybe the culmination of the song is being able to admit that, that you were wrong and have become a waste, despite all the posturing and pretense of your past self. But as far as the new you, living in the past and "sleeping the clock around"? Staying in bed all day, total disassociation, or a death metaphor? Valium makes sense.
    Not really good "walking music", though
    spero76on September 20, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General Commentman I love this one
    tigerlily83on November 23, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI love how the end flows perfectly into This Is Just A Modern Rock Song on the Fans Only DVD.
    ThisKidLovesLifeon December 09, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General Commentalmost every part of this song gets to me. it can fit a melancholy or very chipper mood. the song fits a lot of the early belle and sebastian formula, lyrically. starting off with a narrative of a character that is lonely and unable to relate to many people but kind of becomes more optimistic (without being sentimental) to finish it off. some of the new stuff is like that, but there is something about their early work that has that sort of magic. i mean the new stuff is finely crafted as well, and you cant just hope the band stays the same because they'll end up being boring.
    holysockson January 18, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General Commentmyfriendbrenn - Wow, me too!
    huddy_hippoon January 26, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General Commentnot to jump on the bandwagon - but this is an excellent song to walk to. or take the metro to. i think a lot of people could identify with that feeling of not quite fitting in, or not being able to find oneself.
    kitty84on March 04, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General Commentif i listened to this song whilst going for a walk, i'd probably start crying... i dunno, it's just an overwhelmingly sad song for some reason. sad, not depressing--- it's so clear and realistic, what's not so heart-wrenching about that?
    backwashmyhairon March 23, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General Commentthis is what I listen to when I feel down, when I feel like I'm not much use to anyone. it's probably not good to wallow in my own self pity... but this song always makes me feel better.

    "then the moment will come, and the memory will shine" that part especially is just sort of euphoric. it picks you up, gives you hope. what a fantastic song. I swear I'm on a permanent belle and sebastian kick, I just never get tired of them.
    sharkswithkniveson April 03, 2006   Link

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