"Ultimatum" as written by and John Roderick....
Student why do you dream of me
When you dream of your acre of trees
It was agreed
I came to burn leaves
It's all I ever claimed to do
A plow man I'll never grow into

My arms miss you
My hands miss you
The stars sing
I've got this song in my head
Oh

Blue in the broad light of day
Your claws are snagged on my face
Say it, I wish we were naked and
I wish that I could take it
When you turn on me

My arms miss you
My hands miss you
The stars sing
I've got this song in my head
Oh I don't want my words twisted
I don't want you to listen too closely
Or wait for me impatiently
And I hope that I can keep seeing you
As long as you don't say you're falling in love

Crave translates into slave
No one can harness the rain
And I can make myself into rain
You'll feel me on your cheek
And on your sleeve

My arms miss you
My hands miss you
The stars sing
I've got this song in my head
Oh I don't want my words twisted
I don't want you to listen too closely
Or wait for me impatiently
And I hope I can keep seeing you
As long as you don't say you're falling in love
But I can feel you about to forget
Yes I can feel you about to forget


Lyrics submitted by gyroscope, edited by Salvar

Ultimatum song meanings
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10 Comments

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  • +1
    General CommentI can not say how much I prefer the version on the 'Ultimatum' Ep to the version on the album. Gorgeous song.
    sethbrownon September 12, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General CommentBurning leaves only prepares the soil to accept a new seed, but being a ploughman actually plants the seed. I think he's saying he's not willing to put in the hard work to create a lasting relationship. He's only looking for the intense fire that will surely die quickly, but he said that's all he ever claimed to want.
    MizzKittyon January 10, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThe "burn leaves"/"ploughman" line may mean "I can't make you an honest woman." A guy who comes to burn leaves is a manual laborer, basically, who comes and then leaves. A ploughman makes a commitment to the land, plants there and lives off of it and can't move for a while without the investment being wasted.

    "Oh, I don't want my words twisted
    I don't want you to listen to close
    Or wait for me impatiently
    And I hope I can keep seeing you
    As long as you don't say you're falling in love"

    Suggests strongly that there's some kind of affair going on but he doesn't want her to get too emotionally involved--that the relationship is more a vacation than moving permanently to a new place.

    I think this song is great because of how it's at once a love song and a song about avoiding or wanting to avoid love. Beautiful instrumentation helps it, as well.
    evizaeron January 28, 2011   Link
  • +1
    My InterpretationI'm surprised no one has mentioned the very first word of the song... 'student'. I think much of what has been written here is accurate, but I think it has to be weighed against that first word that sets the context for the rest of the song. I imagine he is a teacher. There's no indication of age, by the way, so there's no need to assume she's underage... he could just as easily be a professor. Either way, the age difference and his position makes it inappropriate.

    > Student why do you dream of me
    > When you dream of your acre of trees

    She has become infatuated with him, so much that she imagines their life together. Her 'acre of trees' refers to the life she wants, how people have a dream home, etc. She's fantasizing about spending the rest of her life with him.

    > It was agreed
    > I came to burn leaves
    > It's all I ever claimed to do

    Teachers break down (or burn?) old ideas and opinions, preparing the students to receive new information. More simply, a teacher is just a laborer, essentially hired to do a temporary job, and that's all.

    > A plow man I'll never grow into

    He was hired for a short time period. It was never supposed to be a life-long commitment.

    > My arms miss you
    > My hands miss you
    > The stars sing
    > I've got this song in my head

    Maybe there was some impropriety here. Perhaps he was tempted by her advances and fell into a physical relationship before he had really thought it through. Regardless, he is heavily infatuated (stars singing, song in his head) and he misses the physical contact they had. He wants it, even if he knows it's wrong.

    But then he seems to snap back to reality...

    > Blue in the broad light of day
    > Your claws are snagged on my face

    He's sad because of the feelings he has, most likely conflict, so he's 'blue' even though it's the middle of the day and he should be happy. Her claws are snagged on his face, meaning he can't keep his eyes off of her... he looks at her constantly, even though he may be trying to stop.

    > Oh I don't want my words twisted
    > I don't want you to listen too closely

    In spite of the physical attraction, he realizes it's wrong and he shouldn't pursue her. But like any infatuation, he realizes that just a sentence might be heard and twisted to mean something else. Perhaps he's watching his words, even in the middle of class, so that she won't take something he says to have a double meaning.

    > Or wait for me impatiently

    An indication that he's the only one she cares about. She just wants to see him NOW. If he sees this behavior, it just means she's falling harder, and that idea scares him.

    > And I hope that I can keep seeing you
    > As long you as you don't say you're falling in love

    He knows they shouldn't be together, but he wants it to continue. This conflict is horrible, but he doesn't want it to stop. He tells himself that as long as she isn't falling in love, they can continue their relationship. The end of the song implies that they even talked about it and he said, "don't fall in love with me." She promises she won't, and their emotional affair continues.

    > Crave translates into slave
    > No one can harness the rain

    His craving has made him into a slave for her. Despite resisting, he is seeing it happen before his eyes. No one can harness the rain... In the same way rain makes things grow, their constant attention to each other is causing their feelings to grow.

    > And I can make myself into rain
    > You'll feel me on your cheek
    > And on your sleeve

    He's telling her that if they decided to have a full relationship, he could 'water her', causing her feelings to grow even more. In other words, he would treat her like a princess.

    The fact that this is directly followed by the chorus, where he repeats that he misses her physically, it indicates that he is starting to think seriously about committing to her.

    > As long as you don't say you're falling in love
    > But I can feel you about to forget
    > Yes I can feel you about to forget

    She pacified him before and say she wouldn't fall in love, but her feelings couldn't be stopped. Of course, his can't either. He can feel her growing more and more in love with him, and he feels it too.

    Since I like to look on the bright side, I imagine a 'they lived happily ever after' scenario. One can dream, right? :)

    I would love to know if anyone sees it the same way as me!
    slytwistyon June 03, 2015   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI'd say this is relatively self-explanatory. And also one of the most beautiful songs I have ever experienced.
    choirvandalon January 24, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentGreat sound to this song.
    In my opinion its basicly a noncommited love song, about someone who is in love, but is truely scared of commitments to their other, who seems to be in an on again/off again relationship with the commitment impaired.
    Mehrtenon January 30, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentYa'kno, I can't help but wonder what the "burn leaves" agreement is in reference to. Part of me wants to assume (rather blatantly) that it's about smoking marijuana. However, I believe that with the ploughman part that maybe it has to do with tilling soil? I was never a 4H member, so I really don't know much about such things.

    Any ideas, anyone?
    orionziteon September 14, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentMy thought was that this took place in a previous time, like... non-modern. He's a worker on some sort of farm where he was hired to burn leaves. I also think the plowman line is a double entendre (a sex joke?).
    Mostly, I agree with Mehrten, except maybe instead of the fear of commitment, he believes that if they commit that something bad will happen?
    ThePythonon October 17, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI think the singer adores this person, but refuses to commit. The "ultimatum" of the title is presumably "marry me or we're through".

    "It was agreed I came to burn leaves
    It's all I ever claimed to do
    A ploughman i'll never grow into"

    He's saying that he has never been the marrying type and has made no pretenses that he was. So why is she expecting to do something he never meant to, to be something he isn't.

    That's my take on it.
    sethbrownon October 25, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General Commentevery time i listen to what you wrote as
    Say it, I wish we would make it
    And I wish that I could take it

    it sounds like
    Say it, I wish that we were naked
    lujkon February 09, 2010   Link

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