I dreamed you were a cosmonaut
of the space between our chairs
And I was a cartographer
of the tangles in your hair

I sang the song that silence sings
It's the one that everybody knows, everybody knows
The song that silence sings
And this is how it goes

These looms that weave apocrypha
they're hanging from a strand
The dark and empty rooms were full
of incandescent hands

The awkward pause
The fatal flaw
Time, it's a crooked bow
Time is a crooked bow

In time you need to learn, to love
The ebb just like the flow
Grab hold of your bootstraps, and pull like hell
until gravity feels sorry for you, and lets you go
As if you lack the proper chemicals to know
the way it felt the last time you let yourself fall this low

Time's a crooked bow
Time's a crooked bow
Time, it's a crooked bow

Fifty-five and three-eighths years later
At the bottom of a gigantic crater
An armchair calls to you
Yeah, and armchair calls to you
It says, someday, we'll get back at them all
With epoxy and a pair of pliers
As ancient sea slugs begin to crawl
through the ragweed and barbed wire

You didn't write
You didn't call
It didn't cross your mind at all
Through the waves
waves of hay and straw
You couldn't feel a thing at all
Fifty-five and three-eighths
Time
Fifty-five and three-eighths
Time
Time


Lyrics submitted by bobwronski

Armchairs song meanings
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75 Comments

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  • +2
    General Commenthere's my thinking on "time is a crooked bow"

    there's a lot of different symbolism involved there, but here's the one that comes most often to my mind. i think of it as in reference to a bow and arrow, and a crooked bow is one that is taught, pulled, ready to be let go of in order to fire. if time's a crooked bow, perhaps the more time given, the more the bow is bent, and in that, the inevitable becomes even more so until it eventually has to be released and fired.

    but the idea of time as a structure that can be bent, rather than a purely linear construction presents its own fascinating possibilities as well.
    eiseyon March 18, 2007   Link
  • +2
    General CommentSome thoughts, in case anyone finds them useful:

    "armchair something" - eg, an armchair quarterback - refers to someone removed from the actual action. Webster's puts it really well: "remote from direct dealing with problems." There's a lot of passivity/inaction in this song.

    "a cosmonaut of the space between our chairs" conjures up not simply the great distance between them, but a cosmonaut is also free of gravity (more on gravity below). Cartographers not only deal with distances, but they deal with them at an analytic/conceptual remove (ie, maps are only representations of what they represent).

    No one's mentioned it and it may be obvious, but looms, weaving, and cut strands are classic references to the Greek Fates. Even if the "incandescent hands" are the hands of a clock, they also tie in the to the weaving, which amazes me.

    When he talks about pulling yourself up until "gravity...lets you go," it could refer to simply pulling yourself out of an armchair, out of a depression, or, if you link it to the cosmonaut idea, pulling yourself out of yourself and towards someone else. Gravity here could also imply a grave mood, an overseriousness. In this respect, the song reminds me as well of Weather Systems, as mentioned above.

    "You didn't write/You didn't call...You didn't feel a thing at all" could be the speaker yelling at himself for not having done anything, for his own "awkward pause/fatal flaw," and then for sitting through an emotional storm (waves, squall) in a state of numbness/inaction. More armchair passivity, and regret.

    I love the above thoughts on time as a tensed and dangerous bow (and also the implication of a single shot, a single chance). It's also occurred to me that the mathematical/scientific symbol for infinity resembles a crooked bow, but I don't think the idea of infinity adds much here, unless you want to invoke time just dragging on.

    I think that's all for now, except to add that I am greatly amused by the fact of Google ads for actual armchairs appearing to the right of these lyrics.
    Quisquillosoon April 13, 2007   Link
  • +2
    General Commentabzechi - the interesting thing about the violin bow idea is that when playing the violin you're essentially running strings across strings at a right angle, which is what you do when weaving. And physicists often speak of the 'fabric' of space-time. I assume a crooked bow is undesirable and leads to bad pitch or something of the sort, but I really have no idea. I doubt that this was actually intended as part of the song, but it often amazes me how densely interwoven (forgive the pun) Mr Bird's imagery can be.
    Quisquillosoon April 26, 2007   Link
  • +2
    General CommentI just think it's about the human condition as a whole, after all, we are all constantly missing oppertunities to speak up, to act, to do something to alter the course of history, and the life of the induvidual. I think Mr bird is saying (very poetically, with many a referances that i wont go into) that as humans, we shape our own futures, we "bend our bow" at one angle, one angle out of a dizzying array of possibilities.
    but i'm probably way off...
    drstringzon May 27, 2007   Link
  • +2
    General CommentThis is the first time in a while that I've read comments where people weren't tearing each others' heads off for not interpreting the song in exactly the same way. Nice job everyone! Humanity: +1 point! :P
    PS This song is the shit.
    penfiendon October 25, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General CommentIn time you need to learn, to love
    The ebb just like the flow
    Grab hold of your bootstraps, and pull like hell
    until gravity feels sorry for you, and lets you go
    As if you lack the proper chemicals to know
    the way it felt the last time you let yourself fall this low

    wow, this part is my favorite. i agree with bobwronski, this song is quite an epic.

    i think it's about the (imminent?) crumbling of a relationship. in the first stanza, he seems to be conveying the emotional distance between two people, even though they're only a chair apart.

    i don't know how the verse beginning with "Fifty-five and three-eighths years later" would correspond with that. what exactly does time's a crooked bow mean?
    jadedgypsyon February 19, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General Commentits just a guess, but:
    theres a theory (actually its almost become a figure of speech) that says that time, because of its linear properties (meaning it changes at a constant rate), can be warped or bent. This is usually used to explain time travel in science fiction novels and such, but can also be used in a far more figurative sense. I've taken this line almost as, "Things tend to come back to bite you later."
    blame_monsteron March 07, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI agree that his lyrics tend to avoid the specific, but I can't help thinking that "Time's arrow" is a famous reference to entropy.
    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/…
    Quisquillosoon March 22, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentSounds so much like Jeff Buckley
    spmulliganon March 26, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI think abzechi nailed this one. Let's not forget that the Bird is a life-long violinist. Also, I think harmonious found the right imagery that he was going with on it. "it makes the phrase "time's a crooked bow" sound to me like time passes by quickly, and sometimes you don't realize it until you have a sign, like you notice that your bow has become crooked."

    Also, don't forget the very first two words "I dreamed," much of this song (going in and out of past and present tense) goes in and out of dream and reflection. I think the idea that Bird is expressing a long regretted missed opportunity is also right on. He "sang the song that silence sings." (Musically, after saying that "this is how [the song of silence] goes" there is a pause of silence.) I think his missed opportunity is not to some girl he never acted on, but rather to a close loved one that he's watched for 55 3/8 years degrade into whatever it is he's not mentioned and after all this time he's looked at his "crooked bow" and regrets not expressing the apocryphal (or discording ideas) thoughts he's always wished to.
    I dunno, maybe old Bird reads all these and laughs like hell at how far off we all are. Just my thoughts. I think Darkmatter is still my favorite song, but this is a close second on the album.
    Flea84on January 14, 2008   Link

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