Sailin' on the sea
it's teal
your meal was alright
but not the captain's voice
it made me shake and squirm
Not in what you hear
but feel
surrealy thrust between
what accents mean
and what you think they should

And I'm not talkin' bout just bein' a mile up in the air
And I'm not talkin' down to people who are livin' there

But Stateside at the quay
you fear
the nearness of that auld familiar distance
between everything and you
The distance keeps us safe
from waves
of subcutaneous problems that our government
and our accents
and our parents
have us swimmin' in
all that sin
has soaked us through and through and through and through

And I'm not talkin' to the people who've been in jail
And I'm not talkin' 'bout just wanting to belong somewhere
And let's not talk about the colour of your eyes or your hair.
I'm talkin' 'bout talkin' 'bout the colour of the sea from way up there


Lyrics submitted by ma0sm

Stove By A Whale song meanings
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5 Comments

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  • 0
    General Commentthe double track vocals on this song are choice. esp when he's doing that 'haaaaaaaaaaair'. then the next line (ending with 'there') one track falls out way before the other. i love it.

    it's raw... at the beggining you can hear ted say 'play something' or 'it's this one' suggesting that he's talking to the band and the next measure is when the verse of the song begins. i like that little bit left in and i think it's important to alude to the interaction between him in the band especially live in the studio like that.
    deanohon July 05, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI agree that this song is intentionally lo-fi.
    The video of them performing this during the NYC blackout at South Street Seaport in '03 is amazing. It's on the "Dirty Old Town" DVD extras.
    "Stove By a Whale" is a book by Thomas Farel Heffernan about the first documented sinking of a ship by a whale.
    I think this song is about approaching and dealing with your fears.
    bocmaximaon September 28, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThe line "The distance keeps us safe/from waves/of subcutaneous problems" is important. Something that's subcuntaneous is underneath the skin. He might be saying (sarcastically) that geographical distance keeps us "safe" from that people that are different from us, or that dislike us becauseof something like our "governments/accents or parents." Then in the final chorus

    And I'm not talkin' to the people who've been in jail
    And I'm not talkin' 'bout just wanting to belong somewhere
    And let's not talk about the colour of your eyes or your hair.
    I'm talkin' 'bout talkin' 'bout the colour of the sea from way up there

    He's saying we shouldn't try to be something or try to fit in somehow. We should just all able to appreciate the beauty of life and that we all are alive. It's also interesting to think how this song relates to the title of the album "Tyranny of Distance."
    cmanon October 09, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentStone cold jam!
    sexmaniacon January 25, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI love how cman's explanation of the song, and sexmaniac's explanation can be so different from each other, and both be so dead on. There's not many musicians in this world that can blow you away lyrically like Ted can, let alone go on to just absolutely rock out the last three minutes of the song with just instruments, and no lyrics, and have it be equally powerful.
    R2kon March 06, 2007   Link

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