Why are you here?
Couldn't you tell him?
Were you afraid he'd hear?
You should have been thankful to be alone

You took off your shoes
Said anything further
Would be bad news
'Cause you'd already started to disappear

And he couldn't complain
Just looked at your lyric
And crossed over to play
A record of quiet instrumentals

Said I like what you wrote
This a record
full of sour notes
Should have been thankful to be alone

Said I like what you wrote
But don't say you mean it
When you know you don't

You should have been thankful to be alone, you know (x2)

You should have been thankful to be alone

Lyrics submitted by Da_Goat

Antonio Carlos Jobim song meanings
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  • 0
    General CommentI don't quite get why solo Elliott Smith songs have mountains of comments but Heatmiser songs, even the ones by him, barely have any except for some of the ones he played again later solo. What? Oh, right, the actual song.

    I think it might be about disagreeing with the other members in a band, one of whom the song is directly addressed to ("but don't say you mean it/when you know you don't") and the other who doesn't seem to be there, but also doesn't agree. (and he couldn't complain/just looked at your lyric/etc.) If someone looked at lyrics and then proceeded to play instrumentals, that could mean they didn't like the lyrics.
    1017998808on December 08, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI don't like the majority of Heatmiser stuff because it's so generic but there's at least an album full of good songs and this is one of them.
    Cavauroon July 08, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI have noticed that a lot of times in Elliott's writing, "you" and "I" both refer to himself, and "he or she" refer to others. He seems to switch back and forth between referring to himself as "you" as if he's talking to himself, or "I" for effect.

    So my take on this song is that Elliott has gone to visit someone he never expected himself to visit, to show them his lyrics and get their response to his music. I think this person features heavily in his lyrics, that that by writing the songs he was able to "tell him" something that he was unable to say otherwise [Why are you here?; Couldn't you tell him?; Were you afraid he'd hear?]. He takes off his shoes, but not his coat, or anything else because that "Would be bad news" (because he was leaving soon [disappearing] anyway?) So the man looks at his lyrics, "couldn't complain" and went and put on a different record, importantly a record without lyrics, a record "of quiet instrumentals" (presumably by Antonios Carlos Jobim). The man lies and tells him he liked his lyrics, his music, his collection of sour notes (painfull moments?). Elliott knows it's a lie, the man knows it's a lie.

    Knowing a little about Elliott's history, it's easy to think this is about him showing Roman Candle to his step-father, who did feature heavily in the lyrics of that album and it's B-sides. But who knows, and unlike the songs which actually mention his step-father by name (Some Song, No Confidence Man, Flowers for Charlie), I don't want to make too many assumptions in this case, but it makes sense to me.

    My one question: Who should have been thankful to be alone, the man or Elliott?

    frejaon June 13, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General Commentpretty much agree with cavauro. elliotts my favourite thing in the world and there are probably 9 or 10 great heatmiser tunes but theres also a lot of crap and a lot of the production on the albums sounds like shit. they made great songs into pretty average material.
    which is why i reckon people dont comment on them much.

    as for the meaning, not a clue im afraid
    kthxbion October 12, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI think it is about a friend who's visiting him. She used to be alone but now she is a guy and this person is intensely jealous. So now she can't really visit anyone and she's even afraid to take of her shoes because her boyfriend could take it the wrong way. And Elliott thinks that she would be better off alone. I think the instrumentals part is a metaphor.

    Okay so this interpretation isnt perfect but that's what i always think when i hear this song.
    Chrys0poeiaon April 16, 2011   Link

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