"The Zookeeper's Boy" as written by and Johan Haslund Wohlert Silas Utke Graae Joergensen....
Are you my lady, are you?

If I don't make it back from the city
Then it is only because I am drawn away
For you see
Evidently there's a dark storm come
And the chain on my swing is squeeking like a mouse

So are you my lady, are you?
The rain, the rain, the rain is falling down
The cars remain

You're tall just like a giraffe
You have to climb to find its head
But if there's a glitch
You're an ostrich
You've got your head in the sand

In a submersible I can hardly breathe
As it takes me inside, so the light sings
Answer me truthfully
Do the clouds kiss you
With meringue-coloured hair
I know they cannot

So are you my lady, are you?
The rain, the rain, the rain is falling down
The cars remain

Santa Ana winds bring seasickness
Zookeeper hear me out
How dare you go?
Cold in the rain

Tall just like a giraffe
You have to climb to find its head
But if there's a glitch
You're an ostrich
You've got your head in the sand

Are you my lady, are you?
The rain, the rain, the rain is falling down
The cars remain
I could not be seen with you
Working half the time and looking fine
In cars re-made

Lyrics submitted by copilot, edited by LasseSand

"The Zookeeper's Boy" as written by Johan Haslund Wohlert Bo Rune Madsen

Lyrics © Fintage House Publishing

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The Zookeeper's Boy song meanings
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  • +2
    General CommentI just discovered Mew and this is the song that realed me in. It's too pretty for it's own good. I agree that the zookeeper's boy is a metaphor for a very sensitive, sweet and sort of simple guy who goes off into the city to find a girl he loves, but he's not used to being in the city. The city could be another metaphor for just the modern world as we know it today. He might be a hopeless romantic stuck in the cruel uncaring world and he must think this girl is perfect for him, too perfect because he's just a simple guy hence the "I could not be seen with you" line (which gets me everytime). Hope that made sense to you all!
    rckandorrollon September 20, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI kind of agree with you Tack-o-Rama, but I don't think it's necessarily that obvious that it really is about an actual zookeeper. I just get the feeling that's a metaphore for someone who's given in totally to all these ways of expressing emotion, instincts much like the ones animals have (fear or surprise makes an ostrich hide it's head for example). I haven't yet decided if I think this person, the zookeeper's boy, always has been this sensitive and if he hasn't had to encounter the superficial modern life before and now when he does (to look for this love you're talkong about) he's shocked by how industral people have become, they don't pause to wait out the rain (don't allow themselves to rest, grieve or feel at all because everything has to be so effective), or if he actually is one of all those people and the animal instincts inside of him was brought to life when he fell so deeply in love, and now he sees what world he's been a part of before he opened his heart and eyes.
    It kind of makes me think of the Junglebook where Mowgli has to face his own species to get close to the girl he falls in love with. Does anyone agree?

    Love this song. The video isn't that great though, sure It's beautiful and the camera work is wonderful but my favourite Mew video is She came home for Christmas. Still, Jonas is so sweet in this one. I love the weird thing he does with his hand, as if he's leaning against something that isn't there and sometimes it's this "Oh, behave!"-gesture.

    I hope I made some sense, I'm tired and hungry. Aw.

    Peace and love, everyone.
    Felison August 18, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General CommentWho says he is still looking for a girl in the city? Perhaps he already found her. He's uncertain, and wants to know if this girl really loves him too, and if she adores him as much as he adores her. For all I know, this is about an uncertain boy having met a somewhat mysterious girl he totally fell in love with...
    And the "In a submersible I can hardly breathe
    As it takes me inside, so the light sings" part is definitely about sex (or maybe it's just me associating everything with sex).
    martijnon October 18, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI think the zookeeper is the girl he is questioning, and he is her boy...

    he's gone away to the city and he cant make it back to her because the "storm" = complications, whatever they may be, as well as the "cars" in his way cause people carry on like any other day.

    Also, "the chain on my swing is squeeking like a mouse" = fear, and that the chain between them maybe in danger of beng cut off...permanently, so it sounds like he's asking her urgently will she be his.

    I agree, that being she is the zookeeper, he compares her to the giraffe and ostrich tall and confident with her head in the clouds but as soon as trouble comes she hides her head.

    i think he IS talking about being "submersible" if you will in her...haha...talking about how being submersed in her is great actually..and he's asking with her head in the clouds do they kiss her like he does, nd' he answers for her he thinks they dont.

    so again he asks is she his lady?

    apparently, she is leaving to...or fleeing if you will...from what? oh i dunno mayhaps him, her feelings, fear in general? or moving away or has dreams of big things of which may or may not be including our dear boy.

    so he's telling her how dare you, and she's got her head in the clouds nd' head in the sand scared.

    so in the end verse...he is basiclly asking her one last time will she be his lady and him her boy, the complications keep falling like the rain and time grows wider nd' keeps moving like the cars and people in them, he cant be seen with her maybe meaning he cant go with her or they seem like an oddly pair?
    "working half the time and looking fine in cars re-made"
    they will both be busy people moving on with new lives going in different directions like these people in those cars that keep going.

    there's an urgency when he says "are you my lady? are you?" he is basicly asking the zookeeper if she'll keep him. if she'll accept her feelings and his before its too late.

    maybe? i dunno, im in a situation where this song is exactly that to a T, so it makes sence to me that way.

    Unfortunately for both of us, He's moved to The City- Literally and I? i'm goin' to a different country. So i guess the answer is no.
    maverick no.1on November 09, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI think Zookeeper's Boy and White Lips Kissed are about the same girl and the same relationship (and I think our boy is Jonas; poor guy, he seems so sweet).

    Background: I know that Mew recorded ATGHK in LA and I also read in an interview a while back where Jonas said that he was involved with someone but his relationship ended after he got home from LA. He also said that that WLK was not written or recorded in LA, but was added in DK after his breakup and put on the album because he needed it to be on there.

    So here goes (I apologize for being so verbose but sometimes I go on and on when analyzing poetry or verse – and Mew is always really good stuff to think about) …

    -The city could very well be LA, as in verse or song (or whatever); people in LA are often not thought of as humans but as cars. Also, the Santa Ana winds and the rain definitely represent LA in the fall. In the context of this song I think the Santa Anas represent a delay in the schedule and the rain and the cars represent the outside influences that keep them apart: his job, his fans, the tour, the record, her job, her pain, being apart, whatever … he obviously knows there are many obstacles that are keeping them apart AND that the absence is not good for the relationship.

    -The relationships in both songs are fragile and the boy seems to be completely unsure of his status in both relationships. (the “Are you my lady?” mantra in Z and “Our love is a fickle love […] Our love is a tricky love […]) in WLK). Z came first, so I think he is telling his love that he knows she may be distrusting and he tries to assure her that his intentions are pure (“If I don’t make it back from the city it is ONLY because I am drawn away”). Also, “How dare you go cold in the rain?” means to me that he feels that she should stay by his side even though he is delayed and the “submersible” represents the boy himself – he’s drowning because he knows she’s growing more and more distant and there is nothing he can do about it. She may be asking to join him but he can’t accommodate that, “I can’t be seen with you, working half the time and looking fine” perhaps he just wants to get his job done and go home. In WLK he is asking her after the fact “Why did you not include me on your list?” Has he already been dumped? It is clear here that at the very least she does not care about his feelings and/or is not keen on seeing him.

    -In both songs, the woman seems to be kind of flaky about her emotions: the zookeeper is emotionally strong, tall as a giraffe one minute but then – snap! – she’s lost it and turns around and buries her head in the sand. The woman in WLK may be a bit unstable, “worrying is the breathing that [she needs]” and “things that are s’posed to mean lots leave [her] cold and with a malady of the soul.” Both songs talk about her head being in the clouds – perhaps she is a dreamer or just doesn’t have a good grasp on reality or doesn’t realize how much he cares for her.

    -In Z he is hoping the relationship will continue and he keeps pleading with her not to give up on him despite the delays (“Zookeeper hear me out; How dare you go cold in the rain?) and again, he keeps asking her if she is still his lady.

    Meanwhile …

    In WLK he knows it’s over and he is in a great deal of pain over it. “Wake me up only nightmares take me in, through these walls the winter bites, a draft on both sides.” Typically in verse and in dreams, a house represents one’s self, and so a winter biting through walls symbolizes to me that he himself is chilled to the bone and cannot get warm or comfortable. To me the nightmares symbolize his lack of control over the situation and that his entire being is consumed by this whole thing (ONLY nightmares take me in! Wake me up! I can’t get out of my head!). The draft symbolizes the cold reception he got from her upon returning home – he was hoping for a warm welcome but instead he was coldly shut out.

    And then at the end of WLK, the depth of his feelings is revealed. “Of course you [care] there are diamond in demand, it’s a shame that as you know, the stain will not go.” “Diamonds in demand” alludes to real seriousness and depth – at least on the surface. Did he WANT to marry her or did she demand that he marry her? Not the same thing; either way, it seems that he was willing to do it because he is obviously heartbroken by the breakup. The stain represents that feeling you get about someone when you are completely “done.” You’d like to say you still care and want to be friends, but you just can’t.

    So in a nutshell I think Zookeeper’s Boy is about a guy who’s away from his girlfriend and is trying to save the relationship while White Lips Kissed is about a guy who realizes that his girlfriend has moved on and he’s sick about it.

    JeanneMeon July 22, 2007   Link
  • +1
    My InterpretationMaverick 01 and becky3306 are pretty right on.

    Squeaking like a mouse = He launched himself out of the swing (or stepped off) and now it's swinging empty.
    Cannot kiss you with = The clouds may kiss you, but I don't/They can't kiss you like I do. I think this also symbolizes the clouds as the kisses of ideal men she dreams of, but they can't give her a real kiss like he can.
    How dare you go? Cold in the rain = Pretty simply, How dare you leave me out cold in the rain? That she was the caretaker to his enslaved heart, and now she's gone, and she may have been unworthy of it in the first place.

    I'm not sure about the cars part. I think JeanneMe might be right about that, and quite a bit more.
    justrocon September 07, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General CommentWell.. I reckon the meaning is a bit obvious.. it's a zoo keeper (evidently from the countryside) on his way to find his love in the big city. So it's raining (but that doesn't stop all the cars) and he really needs her but he has to keep on finding her.

    And the whole 'tall just like a giraffe' thing is simple.. When things seem better, you're more confident and 'tall' but if things go wrong then you just want to hide like an ostrich does.

    Simple enough. Although I bet I'm wrong and it has a completely different meaning, haha.

    Anyway, I adore this song. I've listened to this song on repeat for the past week. Obsessive? No.
    Tack-o-Ramaon June 09, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI love this song it got me hooked on mew as well. It's just so good the whole metaphor of the zoo keeper's boy that could mean innocence and naivity of surroundings, society or love is just so interesting that it makes you listen to this song again and again.
    wolf cubon October 21, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis song is amazing, even if it's on repeat. Thank you this new sound.

    Anyhow, the meaning of this song is great. I think everyone has dated someone, or knows someone like this.

    His/her head is in the clouds, and they think they are too good for their significant other, or their friends. Whenever something goes wrong, they pretty much ignore it, and won't admit it's a big deal.
    This girl has had everything handed to her, and makes the "zookeeper's boy" feel like he's privileged to be seen with her in public.
    I think these lines are said sarcastically by the author:
    "I could not be seen with you, working half the time and looking fine."

    So, all in all, he wants to know if she's his lady, or not. can she be at his level, and treat him with the same respect she is treated.
    savestheday3785on December 21, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General Comment“If I don't make it back from the city
    Then it is only because I am drawn away”
    Perhaps this guy is finally starting to see that the woman he loves doesn’t love him the way he needs her to, and he’s thinking he needs to find something better for himself than this relationship that causes him so much heartache.

    “Evidently there's a dark storm come
    And the chain on my swing is squeaking like a mouse”
    Mice are often associated with fear and I think that “hearing this sqeaking” (a.k.a. seeing this problem in their relationship which is foreshadowing the end of relationship) brings out fear, both with the idea of a mouse nearby and the swing’s chain breaking.

    I think that when he’s talking about the rain coming down and the cars having to “remain”, which I assume means pulled over to the side of the road, he’s referring to when complications come into your life and you can’t find your way out of them so you freeze out of fear or confusion and wait for things to hopefully get better. The cars re-made at the end could mean that the storm/problem has cleared/been resolved and now you go on with life.

    I agree with the tall giraffe signifying confidence (or perhaps thinking she’s better than him, as seen in the line “I could not be seen with you/Working half the time”) and then being scared by actually being with him (the ostrich in the sand).

    “How dare you go?
    Cold in the rain”
    Maybe he’s thinking how can she leave me when I’m the one who has had to deal with not being good enough all the time? Thus he’s now heading to the city, meaning moving on to bigger and better things, hoping to “re-make” what he’s lost.
    becky3306on December 23, 2006   Link

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