"Marble House" as written by Karin Elizabeth Dreijer Andersson, Olof Bjorn Dreijer and Jay Jay Johansson....
I cut your nails
And comb your hair
I carry you
Down the stairs

I wanted to see right through
From the other side
I wanted to walk a trip
With no end in sight

The moment we believe that we have never met
Another kind of love, it's easy to forget
When we are all alone and waiting for some treat
We have a thing in common, this was meant to be

You close my eyes
And soothe my ears
You heal my wounds
And dry my tears

On the inside of this marble house
I grow
And the seeds I slow
Grow persistent too

The moment we believe that we have never met
Another kind of love, it's easy to forget
When we are all alone and waiting for some treat
We have a thing in common, this was meant to be

That as we shoulder our
What is it's name
What's your sin
Say it again

As the ghost pass by
Can you still follow me?
It must be sane
When it's on TV

I raise my hands to heaven for curiosity
I don't know what to ask for
What has it got for me?
The eyes see how hideous this marble house can be
Somethings I do for money somethings I do for free


Lyrics submitted by dolcecars, edited by Sansa5, marindie, ronald1029, echolot

"Marble House" as written by Karin Elizabeth Dreijer Andersson Jay Jay Johansson

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

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Marble House song meanings
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  • +6
    Memorywhen i really listened to the lyrics of this song for the first time, i was stunned. thankfully too stunned to start sobbing on the bus i was on. these lyrics are an almost perfect expression of what it is like to care for a parent with alzheimer's. they forget you, yet they retain a shadow of recognition as if they know they are *supposed* to love you, but can't remember why. you care for them knowing the odds that you will likely share their fate one day. they are lost in another plane of reality, and the path you walk together seems interminable.

    touching the shoulder is a common method of comforting a person with alzheimer's. so is television. my grandmother believed the people on television were her real family.

    i am a gerontologist by trade, but that, i did for free.

    this song devastates me.
    duckfeatheron September 09, 2009   Link
  • +4
    General CommentMy husband and I had our first dance as a married couple to this song. The old folks looked a bit confused, but our mothers cried. The Knife is one of our favorites.. It was the most perfect moment.
    confusiousayon July 14, 2007   Link
  • +3
    General CommentI like to think of it as love and Marriage, and how it can be beautiful, but it can also feel like a trap, it can intimidate, become abusive and ultimately collapse.

    I'm gonna start with the title, "Marble House"
    A "House" is where we live, learn, grow. It's also in some situations where you'd move or hope to be in Marriage, a material foundation that can hold a family, the product of love. Marble is concrete, and often polished very intricate in appearance. "Marble House" seems take take the properties of the stone and apply it to the house. So now we have a hard, beautiful, sheening dwelling of which the inhabitance are originally love. Permanent, unbreakable walls though can also have a reverse effect. Rock can be cold, and unforgiving. Something so thick and protective sounding can also protect things from leaving. Prison walls are made of rock.

    "I wanted to see right through from the other side
    I wanted to walk a trail with no end in sight"
    The "Other side" could be viewed as the afterlife. Wanting to "See through from the other side" means looking back, being reminiscent of the course of life, and the near storybook love that was there. "Walk a trail with no end in sight" is the hope of being together forever, that the love and passion would never run dry. Marriage can be assumed here. Though all of that may seem positive, it's being sung in past tense, which suggest this was what was suppose to happen, but may not have.

    "The moment we believe that we have never met
    Another kind of love it's easy to forget"
    This was said perfectly by duncanmostest above.

    "When we are all alone then we do both agree
    We have a thing in common this was meant to be"
    This to me is what runs through your head when you look into your partners eyes after a length of time and it hits you again... "This is why I love you." The common ground spoken of here is the marriage, and remembering that you got married out of love.. And that must mean it has to last right? After being together for so long it's easy to lose some of the properties of a loving relationship, to lose the "Spark", but when alone it's easy to remember again, remember the love that brought you this far. This is in relative present tense.

    "You close my eyes and soothe my ears
    You heal my wounds and dry my tears"
    Basically, comforting, making things better. But better from what? It could be partner A soothing partner B after partner B scraped their knees. Or, It could be partner A soothing partner B after partner A does something to cause the grief. We don't know.

    "On the inside of this marble house I grow
    And the seeds I sow will grow up prisoners too"
    What do you do when you settle in a house? Well, what happens when you plant a seed? It grows. It connects to and becomes it's surroundings, feeding off and relying on them. Depending on the soil, the crops could prosper or fail and wither.

    This is getting lengthy so I'm gonna skip to my favorite part of the song:

    "I raise my hands to heaven of curiosity
    I don't know what to ask for
    What has it got for me?"
    Here, "Curiosity" is the key word. I think it could imply that the marriage under God's name, the love that was seen as fate has or is failing.. And that if holy union is failing.. What to do? Times of great despair and confusion.. What can the future hold?

    "The others say we're hiding
    It's as forward as can be"
    It's noticeable to others that love here has or is dying, and it's completely obvious.

    "Some things I do for money
    Some things I do for free"
    Some things are done for a reward. Some things are done, and they're your own award.
    Kolon December 29, 2007   Link
  • +2
    General CommentIt really reminds me of the relationship between me and my grandmother as I was taking care of her while she was dying. In fact, its really close to my perspective of the whole ordeal. I would take care of her physically as the first stanza brings out and she would mend me to her best abilities. I would want to leave the whole ordeal behind me (trail with no end in sight), but then I would be with her and my love for her would never let me do that. I would pray in frustration but at times, I knew that it would be me alone to bring myself out of my depression.
    barney18on December 09, 2006   Link
  • +2
    General CommentI was just watching the live version of this song on The Knife's DVD, and realised the image they projected on the backdrop during the performance is of Marble Hill House, just down the road from me in Twickenham (technically Richmond), London.

    It may just be conjecture, but perhaps the song is inspired by the story of Marble Hill House
    (from timetravel-britain.com/articles/houses/…):

    "The birth of the villa came in 1723, when the Prince of Wales -- the future George II -- settled £11,500 (the equivalent of about $2.5 million today) in trust on Henrietta for the purpose of purchasing land and building a house and formal gardens. At the time, Henrietta had been the Prince's mistress for as long as five years. For almost twice that time, she had also served as Woman of the Bedchamber to the Princess of Wales, Princess Caroline. By all accounts, it was a comfortable trio. Princess Caroline, who was both fond of and unthreatened by Henrietta, is known to have encouraged the relationship "for fear of making room for a successor whom he [the Prince of Wales] might really love and that might get the better of him." It's a statement that speaks to Henrietta's lack of political ambition and disinclination for Court intrigue -- traits that clearly served her well."

    Perhaps the song explores the feelings of such a mistress, and the confused lines between being a "paid" mistress, and having genuine moments of intimacy (for the Prince/King)? Not to mention moments of intimacy with the Princess, too.

    There are many details in the history of Marble Hill House that suggest links to the song.. The fact that this house was the product of a "secret" affair, and yet was a rather famous and influential building (much admired and copied - see the link above)

    "The others say we're hiding
    It's as forward as can be"

    and particularly:

    "Some things I do for money
    Some things I do for free"

    Another part could perhaps be spoken from the mistress Henrietta to the Princess of Wales (who approved of the relationship), as she was not only her husband's mistress but the Princess's chambermaid, another intimate relationship.

    "The moment we believe that we have never met
    Another kind of love it's easy to forget
    When we are all alone then we do both agree
    We have a thing in common this was meant to be"

    Another interesting connection to Marble Hill House as the home of a later mistress is also described in the same history:

    "After Henrietta's death at the age of 79 in July 1767, the house, all of its contents and the surrounding estate passed to her nephew and eventually to her grand-niece, Henrietta Hotham. While Marble Hill was in the younger Henrietta's possession, it once again became the home of a Georgian royal mistress when it was rented in 1795 by Mrs. Maria Fitzherbert. Maria had not only been the mistress of another Prince of Wales, the future King George IV, but had actually secretly married him in 1785. Since Maria was a Catholic and permission for the marriage had not been obtained from King George III, the clandestine marriage was invalid according to the Royal Marriages Act and the Act of Settlement. In any case, the year of Maria's residence at Marble Hill House also coincided with the Prince of Wales' official marriage to Princess Caroline of Brunswick."

    The song even sees this future:

    "On the inside of this marble house I grow
    And the seeds I sow will grow up prisoners too"

    So right from its construction, Marble Hill House has a history of intertwined, confused sets of relations, the love-triangle of Husband/Wife/Mistress/Maid and ideas of ownership and imprisonment — and all seem echoed in The Knife’s song…

    Anyway, this may all just be coincidence, but maybe Karin visited the house once, or read a history and was inspired to write about it…
    atomicnuton July 25, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThe Knife themselves have said they are not sure about what the song means (!) but they suggest it is about a devote person, that dedicates his life to something as long as it helps to avoid loneliness.
    zitoon August 12, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI had a dream about this song not too long ago.
    I woke up bawling my eyes out.
    TempsPartielon March 31, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI cut your nails and comb your hair
    I carry you down the stairs
    I wanted to see right through from the other side
    I wanted to walk a trail with no end in sight


    (A parent taking care of the child physically. They, at times, want to have back the freedom from before children. They'd also like to see their child from a stranger's point of view- sometimes knowing every aspect of a person makes it harder to see how wonderful they are)

    The moment we believe that we have never met
    Another kind of love it's easy to forget
    When we are all alone then we do both agree
    We have a thing in common this was meant to be

    (As the child grows older, the relationship changes from that of a nurturing one to that of two adults. Sometimes, that relationship seems to have never been. Then, when the parent and child are alone together, they find the parent-child bond agian, and enjoy each other for who they are)

    You close my eyes and soothe my ears
    You heal my wounds and dry my tears
    On the inside of this marble house I grow
    And the seeds I sow will grow up prisoners too

    (The parent taking care of the child emotionally, which is what the children remember most vividly. The marble house is the relationship between the child and parent, beautiful at times, hard at others. It is crafted by the parent for the child. The seeds and the child being prisoners is the fact that whatever the child creates will be bound to the parent forever. A prisoner is someone who is held in their prison- the relationship with their parent in this case- without their having any choice. A prisoner, nor does a prison have to be bad.)

    The moment we believe that we have never met
    Another kind of love it's easy to forget
    When we are all alone then we do both agree
    We have a thing in common this was meant to be

    (reiterating before, this time from the child's perspective. It is the same by coincidence, and is part of what they have in common)

    Now where's your shoulder
    What is it's name
    What's your scent
    Say it again
    If it goes faster can you still follow me
    It must be safe when it's on TV

    (The social relationship between parent and child. They know each other by touch and scent, names are sometimes irrelivant in a chemical relationship more powerful than lust.
    In stark contrast to this natural, intimate bond, the child goes off to have a career that the parent could hardly imagine. The parent would be worried for their safety while maybe not even knowing what they were doing.)

    I raise my hands to heaven of curiosity
    I don't know what to ask for
    What has it got for me?
    The others say we're hiding
    It's as forward as can be
    Some things I do for money
    Some things I do for free
    (these lines have no particular relationship, save the last two. The uncertainty for the future of the relationship, the child's often aimless desires and expectations of the parent.
    How other people think the intamacy of their bond is abusive and too nurturing at the same time,
    and how everything the parent does, wether directly to the child (for free) or indirectly to provide for them (for money) is about the child)

    That's my spin on it. To me, its about a relationship between parent and child that is such an extreme amount of well-directed detication, love and guidance that seems to not exist any more.
    Candleon August 09, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThis song reminds me somewhat of the 1879 play A Doll's House (Et Dukkehjem) by Norweigna author Henrik Ibsen. Thus i associate the message of the song, like the message of the play, as one with deep femenist undertones. Especially the lines 'And the seeds I sow will grop up prisoners too' which could be seen to suggest that women are trapped in marriage and or relationships in general by the dominearing patriacal society
    whquickon May 30, 2010   Link
  • +1
    General CommentFor me it's also about an abuse or rather co-dependend relationship between a couple. He holds her back and controls her. When she says:

    "I cut your nails and comb your hair
    I carry you down the stairs
    I wanted to see right through from the other side
    I wanted to walk a trail with no end in sight"

    She implies that she deeply cares for him but she also wants see that house they live in from another point of view, from outside, not only the inside where she kind of feels trapped but can't escape because of their strange love or what she thinks is love. "I wanted to walk a trail with no end in sight" -> she wants to leave that house and go on never-ending journey far away, to never come back there again and be able to escape from that "relationship" and from him.

    I totally agree about what konik says about the chorus. That's the point.

    "You close my eyes and soothe my ears
    You heal my wounds and dry my tears" -> He says that in order to "calm" her down and make her have a guilty conscience if she thinks about leaving him because she's the only person that can make him feel like this (or at least he pretends it's so, but maybe he needs someone "under" him, too, so he feels good)

    "On the inside of this marble house I grow" -> He's getting stronger through keeping her under his control

    "And the seeds I sow will grow up prisoners too" -> If there ever will be children, they'll become prisoners just like their mum, too. They'll be suppressed, too.

    "Now where's your shoulder
    What is it's name
    What's your scent
    Say it again
    If it goes faster can you still follow me
    It must be safe when it's on TV"

    This is the only phrase I don't quite get. Maybe she needs more and more of his conscience-calmin/-soothing phrases (-> "say it again") and actions so she "knows" why to actually stay with him or rather have an excuse for this. Like a junkie with drugs. But as time flies she can't remember why falling in love with him or why staying with him, she become more and more aware of their co-dependence (maybe this is why she prays in the next phrase).
    Anyway she thinks it's ok because she has seen relationships like their on TV, too. So it must be "save" or right. This is her own excuse.

    "I raise my hands to heaven of curiosity
    I don't know what to ask for
    What has it got for me?
    The others say we're hiding
    It's as forward as can be
    Some things I do for money
    Some things I do for free"

    She tries to pray to God because deep inside (maybe unconsciously, maybe not) she wants to change something but can't because of this co-dependend relationship, so she doesn't "know what to ask for". Perhaps she thinks no other love would be possible for her anyway. She thinks she's not worth loving, so this is the only kind of love she can practice. Or she doesn't know what she would do with her life anyway, if not everything was for him. There's no one and nothing else to go.
    Somethings he asks her to do are even too extreme/too humiliating for her but for money she is willing to do them. Maybe he even controls her trough money so she demeans herself to those things in order to be able to escape some day with the money she collected or this is the only thing she can have for herself but only after doing humiliating actions.

    The title "marble house" for me is some metaphoric paradoxon. On the one hand there is a house, which is always something warm & familial, where one can feels safe and secure and on the other hand it's made of marble, a cold and clean material where no warmth (and no true emotion of love and caress) can develop, more like a prison.



    Anyway a great song and I have to say that the melody somehow reminds me of "Send me an Angel" by Real Life, only darker. Anyone noticed that too??
    sihobanon August 18, 2010   Link

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