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He’s in your car
But he won’t start
Until you’re gone upstairs

And driving past
He’ll move his hat
To block out the glare

He’ll pull up to open the door
Independence day
Yeah, but he won’t come out before
Indenpendence day

So go back inside
Upstairs and hide
He’ll probably talk to himself about you

Til eyes are red
It’s all said
And he’ll just drive without you

He’ll pull up to open the door
Independence day
Yeah, but he won’t come out before
Independence day
Independence day


Lyrics submitted by blinxbcr, edited by Jate

Idler song meanings
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4 Comments

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  • 0
    General Commenti really like this song... in some ways i sorta get a seedy and edgy sorta feel from it
    giv_emhellkidon July 25, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General Commentno more comments on this song? it took my awhile to actually check out what anyone had posted on this song, kinda expected more... i really enjoy it, though a downer, its so well put together...as far as meaning, i get the feeling this guy has been trying to get away from somebody because its an unhealthy relationship. However, he cant help but wonder what that person is doing, even to the point of wanting to know where they are and what they're doing (he'll start the car, but he won't start, until you're gone upstairs) wants to make sure thats where they'll be. also the rephrasing of independence day, waiting for that day when he can just put it all behind him...
    bmill574on April 25, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThe later song "Independence Day" is a sequel to this song. The reason I say this is because I feel special when I make dumb generic connections between unrelated works of an artist. Please pucnh me extremely hard in the penis and balls.
    Cavauroon July 10, 2009   Link
  • 0
    My Interpretation(1) He’s in the car
    (2) But he won’t start
    (3) Until you’re gone upstairs

    I love how the opening lines of this song are a play on words so characteristic of Elliott. "Not starting" is obviously an attribute we would normally associate with a car itself. By giving that attribute a masculine pronoun in the second line, we are confronted with a role reversal of the two objects. The third line is somewhat more ambiguous, and requires significantly more liberal use of assumption of meaning on the part of the interpreter. If we are to assume from the title of the song that the male in the car is idling outside the house of the character indicated from a second person perspective, then going upstairs could be taken either literally (i.e. the second person perspective character actually goes the stairs of his/her house) or more figuratively (i.e. he/she goes up the stairs to reject the proposition being offered by the idler).

    (4) And driving past
    (5) He’ll move his hat
    (6) To block out the glare

    In the second stanza, we are again treated with wordplay characteristic of the songwriter. The idler, driving past the second character's house, is moving his hat both to block the glare of the sun - as is the most obvious and banal interpretation of this lyric - as well as the glare of the second character. This glare is the first clue given to suggest anger or division between the two chracters.

    (7) He’ll pull up to open the door
    (8) Independence day
    (9) Yeah, but he won’t come out before
    (10) Independence day

    Given the prior explication of the opening stanza, lines seven and nine seem to need little explanation in regards to the relationship between the idler and the second person perspective character. I am, however, tempted to withhold interpreting the meaning of Smith's use of the metaphor "Independence day" until the last stanza, as it confronts the interpreter with the most abstract idea thus covered in the song.

    (11) So go back inside
    (12) Upstairs and hide
    (13) He’ll probably talk to himself about you

    For the first time in the song, we are presented with evidence of the existence of the narrator, as seen when Elliott directs the second person perspective character to go upstairs and hide. It seems that, as in many of Smith's fictional character study songs, he can't help but get his fingers messy in his own lyrics. We are also presented, in line thirteen, with evidence of power being held by the second character in his/her relationship with the idler, as seen by the idler's (implicitly negative) fixation over the other.

    (14) Til eyes are red
    (15) It’s all said
    (16) And he’ll just drive without you

    While Elliott is often noted for his provocative lyrical use of drug imagery, I am tempted to attribute the red eyes in line fourteen to crying rather than drug abuse. There is also some ambiguity in regards to whose eyes are red, although I believe that the most obvious explanation is the idler (as suggested by the direction of interpersonal dominance suggested by line thirteen). Line fifteen offers a perception of the situation as seen by the characters themselves, in which (while no interaction has actually taken place) nothing else needs to be said between the two individuals. The phrasing of line sixteen further reinforces the idea that the second person perspective character holds power over the idler, as the idler drives away without the other, as opposed to the other being “left” by the idler.

    (17) He’ll pull up to open the door
    (18) Independence day
    (19) Yeah, but he won’t come out before
    (20) Independence day
    (21) Independence day

    Throughout the song, there is explicit suggestion of some division between the two individuals. While Smith intentionally leaves the situation completely devoid of specifics, so as to make the lyrics as subjectively relevant to as many listeners as possible, we can at least assume that a fight or argument has happened "offstage" between the two individuals (as referenced by the glare of the second character mentioned in the second stanza). Thus, when the idler pulls up to the second character's house to open the door and confront the second person perspective character about the division, the character goes upstairs and hides (lines eleven and twelve) and the idler is left crying (line fourteen) over the break in relationship instigated by the other. While I am tempted to conclude that this relationship was sexual rather than platonic, it is largely irrelevant to the meaning of the song.

    Smith sarcastically sings of the division between the two characters when he labels the situation as an “Independence day” for the idler (i.e. the break up between both characters is marked by an increase in independence). In the second half of the chorus, Smith again reverses the meaning of the “Independence day” metaphor, revealing yet another example of lyrical wordplay. The idler, wrecked by the breakup of his relationship with the other, finds no solace in his newfound “independence”, and refuses to “come out” (another lyrical ambiguity) until he actually becomes independent from the second person perspective character. Thus, Smith first uses “Independence day” to mockingly describe the breakup between the two characters, and then flips the metaphor on its head to reveal the actual day when the idler can become independent from his previous partner.
    seanmo63on April 02, 2012   Link

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