"Come on Up to the House" as written by and Tom Waits....
Well the moon is broken
And the sky is cracked
Come on up to the house
The only things that you can see
Is all that you lack
Come on up to the house

All your cryin don't do no good
Come on up to the house
Come down off the cross
We can use the wood
Come on up to the house

Come on up to the house
Come on up to the house
The world is not my home
I'm just a passin thru
Come on up to the house

There's no light in the tunnel
No irons in the fire
Come on up to the house
And your singin lead soprano
In a junkman's choir
You gotta come on up to the house

Does life seem nasty, brutish and short
Come on up to the house
The seas are stormy
And you can't find no port
Come on up to the house
There's nothin in the world

there's nothin in the world
that you can do
you gotta come on up to the house
and you been whipped by the forces
that are inside you
come on up to the house
well you're high on top
of your mountain of woe
come on up to the house
well you know you should surrender
but you can't let go
you gotta come on up to the house

Lyrics submitted by jawbrokenrhymes, edited by Mellow_Harsher

Come on Up to the House song meanings
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  • +9
    General CommentIn the 17th Century, English Philosopher, Thomas Hobbes wrote of a world that would find itself in a conflict described as a “war of all against all.” Hobbes described the lives of those involved in the conflict as “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.” Over three and a half centuries later another Thomas would pose a more than similar question, asking “does life seem nasty, brutish and short?” However in this situation, artist and modern day luminary, Thomas Alan Waits follows up this question with an invitation, Waits encourages us to “come on up to the house.”

    In 1999 Tom Waits concluded an album entitled “Mule Variations” with this request, “Come On Up To The House.” An orthodox gospel song in which Waits is perfectly cast in the part of the visionary theologian of bad news. With a growl that could only come out of the middle of the earth, we’re described an existence that is made up of swirling chaos, madness, and despair. “There’s no light in the tunnel, no irons in the fire,” and your only option is, “you gotta come on up to the house.” In this house, I imagine a safe haven for all of us that identify with the thought that, “the world is not my home, I’m just a passin’ thru.” If the artistry of Tom Waits is an insight as to what you will find inside the house, certainly it will be filled with all the “street sweepers and all the night watchmen flame keepers.” Every “Black Market Baby,” “Eyeball Kid,” and “Gin Soaked Boy” can find rest in this place.
    As an artist, I can’t help but be affected by the images described and the truth that can be found in this work. It is the horse’s mouth, the secret language of the innovator.

    Throughout the piece you are taken on a private tour of the storyteller’s scars and, like all good art, you slowly realize that these scars, in some way, mirror your own. My longing for artistry is a direct result of my feelings of displacement in this world I’m to call my home. “The seas are stormy” and I too “can’t find the port.” So I have begun my ascent to the “house.” This is a house of workmanship, imagination, originality and style without number. I find myself on a road that stretches me and causes me to expand as a creator. And when if I begin to relate too closely to the lyric, “you been whipped by the forces that are inside of you,” I look to the house of beauty and brilliance to which I aspire and I progress.

    The song ends with an impassioned howl and a fiery piano pounding of a high chord. It seems that Waits was bound to the will of this composition, even to the very end, an artistic inclination that everyone should share.
    yoursfortherevolutionon September 15, 2010   Link
  • +4
    General CommentLike a warm wave of sympathy, leave your self pity aside and come back home...
    omer_sharavon April 08, 2005   Link
  • +3
    General CommentI just listened to "Mule Variations" for the first time the other day. I thought "Take It With Me" was the most beautiful closer to an album I'd heard in a while. Then I realised it wasn't the last song and I was a little disappointed because I didn't think the album could surpass that.. but this song is just brilliant. The music feels like the end of something - and Waits' lyrics aren't patronising, they're delivered from experience, from a man who's put himself on the cross before... in that sense, it is a very cathartic song - the album, whilst varied, is emotionally charged and this is a touching denouement.
    grazbosson August 25, 2010   Link
  • +2
    General CommentOne of my favorite waits songs. When I hear this I get such a warm feeling inside that I don't get from any other song.

    The line "Come down off the cross/we can use the wood" is so beautiful. To me it means that all the energy you put into self-pity in an attempt to alienate yourself or rise above everyone else, could be put into building something worthwhile with everyone else in the same situation. GOD THIS SONG IS BEAUTIFUL.
    Fridayon April 15, 2005   Link
  • +2
    General Commentsometimes there's nothing in the world that you can do (moon is broken/sky is cracked), you fell useless and worthless ( you see all you lack), there's no light (no hope) no irons (your not acheiving anything), crying and worring makes no difference we're small and insignificant.

    the house is the place you need to go to realise you dont have power over anything thats worth anything. the house is when you surrender and say. fuck it. dont worry about work or money or success or whatever, just live.
    *jasper*on November 27, 2007   Link
  • +2
    My InterpretationWhile this is obviously a gospel song done in a traditional style, I think a lot of you folks are reading a bit too far into it, not that Waits doesn't fill his songs with symbolism layers of meaning. But I think it has less to do with Waits' religion and more to do with the fact that Waits likes to touch on just about every genre.

    The song seems to be about being down on your luck, feeling mentally and emotionally depleted, possibly even at rock bottom, and finding help, hope, and salvation at a church or at least something like it. And the "The world is not my home I'm just passing through" is a way of expressing the transitory nature of life.

    The reason I'm ready to dismiss the bible thumping that you folks seem to be accusing Waits of is so many of his other songs. Songs like "Chocolate Jesus" which is pretty tongue in cheek about Christianity, and "God's Away On Business", or "Heartattack and Vine" in which he says "Don't you know there ain't not devil, there's just god when he's drunk". This and the number of times he portrays himself as the devil, like the music video for "I Don't Wanna Grow Up", and the movie The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus.

    He's quoted as saying "With the God stuff I don't know. Everybody ponders it. I don't know what's out there any more than anyone else, cause no one's really come back to tell me. I don't know if I'm on a conveyer belt or if I'm on the tongue of a very angry animal about to be snapped back into his mouth. I think everyone believes in something; even people who don't believe in anything believe that." Which sounds like he's relatively ambivalent on the subject

    I think "The House" could be a number of things. The most direct line of symbolism is the church, but that's just the top layer. This can stand for anything that serves this same function, somewhere you can go for help and forgiveness from a power out of your hands. This could be a church, a temple, a mosque, the home of your family, rehab, a community outreach center. Somewhere you can go when your world is falling apart, when your outcry cannot be heard, and you have nowhere else to turn, you have to go to that place where they cannot turn you away.

    Tom Waits is many things, but I hate to see him painted as a bible thumping "devout christian" because that is one thing he is definitely not.
    Slightly_Shinobion September 11, 2012   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI agree that this is probably one of my favorite Tom Waits songs. However, I also think it's message is a little bit more twisted than the warm, fuzzy one I thought it had at first.

    I think it accurately describes the feeling a person has when he or she feels down and that "the moon is cracked and the sky is broken". Yet, what does it mean to "Come on up to the house"?

    In the last stanza he talks about "the forces that are inside you". Now, I could be reading too much of my own personal situation into this, but this speaks to me of someone struggling with some sort of ingrained emotional or psychological problem.

    Later on in the stanza, he says "Well you know you should surrender but you can't let go. You gotta come on up to the house." This seems like a fairly hopeless message: You keep wanting to struggle for survival, but 'There's nothing in this world that you can do'; just let go of the strife and 'Come on up to the house'.

    As much as I would like this to be an uplifting song, I feel like it is advocating the ultimate "surrender". He stresses that "The world is not my home. I'm just a passing through." While this might be a reference to some sort of detached, Eastern approach to life, the rest of the song doesn't really reference Taoist or Buddhist thought. Instead, I think it is suggesting that sometimes a struggle is just too hard, but not to worry because life is only transitory and somewhere there's a house where everyone is welcome.
    distopiandreamguyon February 16, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General Commentlove this song, i find it to be quite similar to a poem by sufi poet rumi that starts "Come, come, whoever you are" google it.
    Elliotton May 22, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General CommentSuch a heartfelt song. Makes me appreciate my life every time I hear it.
    gweepson November 30, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General CommentSounds to me like some kind of religious hymnal or a preacher preaching. Hes saying if your life's bad, you need to come to the house. The "house of the lord"?

    "The world is not my home
    I'm just a passin thru"
    Heaven is home.

    You could take it that hes being sarcastic and saying that the church is preying on the down and troubled for their own gain (money)
    ruarchitecton October 12, 2007   Link

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