He saw Mars but he felt Neptune,
he had hoped to feel a certain strong emotion but this is all they had to say:
"I was the son of a man, and so we came together and we shook hands."
"We shook hands."
He often wondered what a million people would look like scattered randomly
across a moonless sky, and how unlikely it would be that they would all just say the
obvious thing:
"You may call me brother now."
"Yes, brother, I know."

He is forty two,
five-feet-eight-inches tall,
normally wears his curly hair long.
He has a ruddy complexion, broad shoulders and is barrel-chested,
is unusually strong.
He frequently wears a full beard and sometimes glasses.
He is a college graduate, a talented artist, and sculptor.
Now, Maps is a soft-spoken loner, who resents society and all organizations.
Maps fancies himself a ladies' man.
He is an avid chess player, smokes cigarettes, and a pipe.
He is a beer drinker and loves to eat.
Maps is a man of widespread interests, who might very well be living abroad.

He felt lost but he felt pretty intensely good,
and he woke up screaming having dreamed of a color he had never seen before:
"I went to bed and to sleep, it was so unexpected, it really was frightening, and I saw
pretty much
the same thing embedded in my pillow."
He had no trouble recognizing patterns in the most delicate arrays of tangled lines,
but he had a strange fixation on partaking in nefarious things:
"Stealing, lying, cheating, gambling, fornicate..."

He saw red, but he thought five.
He was pleased to find his road trip was enhanced by number-color synesthesia:
"My trusty Rosinante bounds along the road very well, leaving the friendly aroma of donuts and
chicken tenders hanging in the desert air."

He willed away the miles while quixotically attempting to reclaim his inner child,
he was embrangled and enmeshed in something far too loud to comprehend:
"I want all of the American people to understand that it is
understandable that the American
people cannot possibly understand."

Lyrics submitted by toadtws

An Animated Description of Mr. Maps. song meanings
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  • +2
    General CommentThis has some awfully brilliant lines, it's one of a few just absolutely stand-out songs on this album. The bit about the "color he had never seen before" is brilliant, and so's the part about synesthesia. And the distinctiveness of maps's character is remarkable; the sheer variety of unusual attributes and experiences in maps's life compels an instant fascination. I'm really curious where that clip comes from.
    If that line's a reference to bio-diesal, I doubt it's a good idea to consider that fact over the fact that, well, his car smells like donuts and chicken fingers, and that that's a "friendly aroma" (ugh, imagine smelling that combination on a full stomach). The strangeness of the olfactory image is the emphasis, not the possibility that it's WVO.
    When it comes to meaning, at first I was thrown off by the the first (I never knew what it was until now). Going from there, I think I now have a pretty good understanding of the song and of Maps's character. Since there's another bit there about the sky, I'm going with the idea that it's the planets and not the Classical gods. This song is full of unusual sensory imagery: the line about the planets, the line about the new color, the number-color synesthesia; they are key to all of the verses besides the newscast-style one.
    I'm trying to be careful about 'the newscast verse' because I'm not sure we can trust its narrator to know all these things about Maps. It speaks about him from far away -- but it seems to speak from personal experience, what with the "now," interjection. However, the narrator the rest of the time is omniscient. Still, I consider the description of maps in the second verse at least possible, probably at least part-true, and possibly completely true.
    As I was saying, the imagery in most verses plays with strange associative connections and the implications of the connections between senses, thoughts, and feelings. Two of these images are more easily identifiable as such (number-color synesthesia is an association and interchangability of sight (color and/or number) and concept (color and/or number), and the sight of Mars feeling like Neptune is an association between sight and (awfully specific) gut feeling. There is another in the idea of a dreamed new color being terrifying makes up one (an association between sight and emotion -- not just any sight, either, but one strange and amazing. and not just any small twinge of fear, to boot, but screaming, waking terror.
    It is in these multiplicities of experience and thought processes that Maps elevates, or, at the very least, elevate his perception of himself, above all of his fellow man -- who if all millions were put up in one place to float together, they would probably not get along. But it'd be a sight to see, thinks Maps.
    The playful passage of hours on the road by trying to reclaim his "inner child" is not about associative connections, but it does put a cap on Maps's character and the way he looks at things. An "inner child" is a strange thing for the Books to reference; it's a vague term of popular psychology used for lots of things by the general public; it's not like there's really a child version of the self locked away in some corner of the mind -- the goal of reclaiming a literal inner child is ludicrous. People attempt to therapeutically "heal" their inner child while recovering from addiction. While Maps may have a compulsion for "nefarious things," I'm convinced that he's being deliberately ironic, as the song does say, in order to pass the time. This is because his extensive contemplation of matters of the self doesn't seem like the kind to lead him to pursue something impossible like that (the inner child is a concept that other people came up with as a culture, and Maps considers his understanding of things to be superior to most other people's and doesn't value cultural perception). He seems like the kind of person who wouldn't consider such a step, even if possible, necessary in recovering from addiction -- his philosophy, I think, would be to get over addiction with the sheer clarity of thought -- that such consciously added steps unnecessarily complicate things and muddle minds, and already muddle most other people's minds. He would do something like this for kicks, in self-humoring parody of his own contemplativeness and to pass the time -- which would be quixotic, both deliberately and not deliberately, actually, and that's what this line is saying. The line probably doesn't contain one of those associative images, though I originally supposed it must. It is very fleeting and subtle way of polishing the finish on his character. This perhaps leads the listener not to expect the directness of the second part of that verse, which says that because of the way he views his clarity of thought and concept as superior, he is at all times trapped in the "loud" truth that, understandably, no matter how much he wants other people to understand him, they never can. In fact, it's so loud, that nobody can comprehend it. This could explain why he's perceived to resent society and all organizations -- he does mistrust these things and tend not to agree with them, but he knows he can't blame people for not understanding the way he senses, thinks, and feels. He can't blame them for their inability to understand what he wants them to understand. So it's about conscious thought and perception.
    Salty Kevinon September 06, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThe percussion is absolutely out of control. I love it. The last audio clip is great.
    tdamcbigityon May 02, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI have number-color synesthesia. It's sweet.
    WereAllMatteron March 10, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Comment1. The news story bit sounds very much like a description of the Unabomber, though the announcer plainly calls the man "Maps" several times.

    2. Rosinante is the name of Don Quixote's horse, though Cervantes obviously never spoke of donuts and chicken tenders.
    toadtwson December 27, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentPersonally, it sounds to me as if they are trying to give a general description of all of humanity. And the intense drums in the beginning just make me think of the id in human beings, uncontrollable and obscene.
    Sadexon September 09, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General Commentgreat. so captivating.
    Luckypenny821on September 12, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThe remark about the donuts and chicken tenders is almost certainly a reference to a diesel car using Waste Vegetable Oil (WVO) as fuel - also known as a greasecar and other names. If you're not familiar with the process, I very highly recommend checking it out - doing the simple and inexpensive conversion to use veggie oil fuel can easily mean that you never need to pay for gas again - in fact, many businesses will PAY YOU to take their used veggie oil away.
    bugoffon January 06, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Commentand your exhaust smells like french fries when you run bio-diesel or WVO
    myhotelyearon May 21, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentSalty Kevin, you got it man...
    I've always felt a great connection with this song, and while reading your take on it, I felt like I was alomost reading about myself...Bravo
    cubinsynapseon January 27, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General Commentbugoff, that sample is another reference to synesthesia, if you are interested in synesthesia read The Man Who Tasted Shapes, it is awesome
    HandrewTandwhichon March 30, 2008   Link

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