Innocence, it don't come easy - in a sense it never will
Accidents mean no one's guilty; ignorance means someone's killed
So I asked our Mr. Mellor how to get to where one's going
And he points to his survival, and he points me down the road
As I go on
Wondering if I've got a soul and
Counting down the hours 'til it goes
On a dark wet night in April, on a street in Jersey where
I went looking for some writing that I knew would not be there
And a punter from the Pelhams and the police, in the rain
Were concerned more with a car than with the fact the light had changed
But after listening all morning, as I drove down 95
To a story of detainees who were barely kept alive
I could deal with trying to process pigeons acting like they're doves

But not with interference from the power lines above
As I go on
Wondering if I've got a soul and
Counting down the hours 'til it goes
And oh, precautions, yes precautions
But if you're playing with a gun, you could kill someone
And in the dark it's hard to know a friend
But I'm not angry, I won't be forever angry
As I'm walking toward tomorrow with a rifle in my hand
And I'm thinking about New England, and I'm missing old Japan
And a mountain in California where a spring runs hot and cold
And if I told you I felt ageless, would you tell me I'm not old?
As I go on
Wondering if I've got a soul and
Counting down the hours 'till it goes


Lyrics submitted by a scar in the sky

"Counting Down the Hours" as written by Theodore F Leo

Lyrics © SONGS MUSIC PUBLISHING

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Counting Down The Hours song meanings
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29 Comments

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  • +1
    General CommentThis is just one of many protest songs Ted Leo has written. Below is my interpretation of it.


    "Innocence, it don't come easy, in a sense it never will. Accidents means no ones guilty, ignorance means someone's killed"

    This represents the Bush administration's refusal to take blame for entering into a war we shouldn't have begun in the first place. This lays the premise for the rest of the verse.


    "So I asked our Mr. Mellor how one gets to where one's going
    And he points to his survival, and he points me down the road"

    This is, in fact, a reference to Joe Strummer. Ted Leo identifies with Joe Strummer as both a musician and activist. Ted, finding it difficult to rise above his feelings of despair resulting from the war, finds inspiration in Joe Strummer overcoming the same personal obstacles.


    "On a dark wet night in April, on a street in Jersey where
    I went looking for some writing that I knew would not be there"

    April 2003 saw the climax of the War in Iraq with the fall of Baghdad and Saddam's regime. I believe the writing that Ted is talking about is a report on finding Weapons of Mass Destruction, which many people didn't believe existed, however if they did they were expected to be found around this time. This also gives relevance to the next lines...


    "And a punter from the Pelhams and the police, in the rain,
    Were concerned more with a car than with the fact the light had"

    The car represents the war in Iraq and the light represents the reasons for going to war. With the lack of Weapons of Mass Destruction, the light had changed from green to red. A punter is a gambler who bets against the house(used metaphorically in this sense to represent his opposition to who he's arguing) and the police is also metaphorical, representing an individual or organization that supports the government. The Pelhams is a middle class suburban area just outside of New York City. Both are arguing about the war but neglecting the fact that the very reasons used to go to war are now invalid.


    "But after listening all morning, as I drove down 95
    To a story of detainees who were barely kept alive
    I could deal with trying to process pigeons acting like they're doves
    But not with interference from the power lines above"

    The first 2 lines are pretty self explanatory. I believe the pigeons acting like they're doves is trying to illustrate hypocrisy, perhaps on several levels. The hypocrisy of those who were outraged at the torture scandal but aren't outraged at the war in general and perhaps the hypocrisy of the people have become involved in the anti war movement because it's a popular movement yet ignore other social justice issues throughout the world. I believe that the interference is partisan political commentary that clouds core issues with personal opinions and the power lines are the media.


    "And oh, precautions, yes precaution
    But if you're playing with a gun, you could kill someone
    And in the dark it's hard to know a friend"

    I believe the above poster, liondanslepres, is spot on with his interpretation of these lines.


    "But I'm not angry, I won't be forever angry
    As I'm walking toward tomorrow with a rifle in my hand"

    I believe here Ted Leo has resolves the feelings he had earlier in the song (see my interpretation of Mr Mellor). Walking toward the future with his rifle (his music, or more specifically how he uses his music to confront social and political issues).


    "And I'm thinking about New England, and I'm missing old Japan"

    He's thinking about the effects of imperialism on the world (the name New England is itself a remnant of the British Empire's imperialist aspirations) and he's longing for a time or place where imperialist ideals didn't exist or were intensely opposed.


    "And a mountain in California where a spring runs hot and cold"

    I'm not sure exactly if he means a specific place here or if he's just missing a place where he could be at peace in general.

    This is what I believe the song to mean.
    negatyveon December 11, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General Comment"Accidents mean no one's guilty, ignorance means someone's killed"
    This could mean that in labeling things we have given a pass for people to get away with doing atrocious things.
    "So I asked our Mr. Mellor how one gets to where one's going
    And he points to his survival, and he points me down the road"
    This refers to how most people want someone to guide them through their lives but that there is no proven way to get through the maze of life. Instead they must go about obtaining an answer on their own.
    "Were concerned more with a car than with the fact the light had changed"
    This reveals that society spends so much time labeling a person that it doesn't take into account the fact that all of the circumstances surrounding that person have changed.

    This may just be a load of crap but I needed to add my two cents lol
    EfortheTon February 17, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI love this song! the line "We're concerned more with a car than with the fact the light had changed" is so great.
    whatslifelikeon December 19, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General CommentHoly crap... why isn't everyone listening to this song??? Ted Leo rocks!
    SuperStickon January 14, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General Comment"But after listening all morning, as I drove down 95
    To a story of detainees who were barely kept alive"

    This is about the prisoners at Abu Graib who were tortured.

    "I could deal with trying to process pigeons acting like they're doves
    But not with interference from the power lines above "

    This means that pigeons on the powerlines were messing up the signal, so the driver couldn't listen to the report of Abu Graib.

    "And if I told you I felt ageless, would you tell me I'm not old? "

    Telling someone that they aren't old when they say they feel ageless is a sure-fire sign that you haven't been listening to what they said. This means that the person feels misunderstood.
    Fionar2001on January 22, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI think the line, "I could deal with trying to process pigeons acting like they're doves
    But not with interference from the power lines above" means that there are a lot of people who claim they are pacifists and they are against military action etc. (doves), yet they do nothing about it (pigeons). Also, by interference from power lines above, I think he means that no one really takes information into consideration and forms their own opinion, they are simply taking a stance based on pop culture and are perpetuating their existence as pigeons.

    If you listen to the whole album, it deals a lot with activism and doing something about how you feel. The song "Shake the Streets" displays this.

    This however is the song that turned me on to Ted Leo and it is still one of my favorites.
    uideltbushon March 22, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI just heard this song for the first time today and it might sound harsh but I don't care what it's about because I think that it's amazing and really made me turn and see what song it was on my Launchcast.
    teamcrunkedon March 29, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General Comment"I could deal with trying to process pigeons acting like they're doves
    But not with interference from the power lines above"

    I'd say that uideltbush is pretty dead on about the first line although I'd guess "but not with interference from the power lines above" is in reference to government interference.
    scarletstarleton April 04, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General Commentyeah the lyrics are awesome, but the thing that strikes me as the most amazing thing about this song is how easily ted leo and the band switch between styles of music. Theres some heavy rock, some acid rock in there, some reggae at the end. it blows my mind how easy they make it seem.
    allofmylove68on January 09, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General Commentwhile i can see the political meaning behind this song, i'm kind of shocked no one noticed the religious symbolism behind the line

    i could deal with trying to process pigeons acting like they're doves/but not with interference from the power lines above.

    well, most people who act they are "religious" really are truly pond scum (pigeons acting like they're doves), and i know from experience (catholic school does that to you). and, if you know your christianity, it states only god can determine who is truly faithful (the power lines above). it has to be one the best use of religious symbolism i've ever heard.
    musicjunkie87on February 10, 2006   Link

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