It starts with you
on a mattress in your parents' old room,
clipping your toenails into the room
like the room will fade
and you will move
onto other rooms
and you will go
to other places.
Then the wedding,
Then the woman passed out
in the driver's seat
at the order board at White Castle.
We woke her up and she went
'round to the pick up window
like she knew exactly where she was.
Then I wept
with my face in your night shirt,
trying hard as hell to say
"until death separates us,"
loosening the skin on your breastbone,
I painted your nails
and you sleep
while I write all this down.

There was a moth caught in the soapdish
laminated in lye
Will you still remember me well
If I don't get to two-o-o-five?
my dead line Gemini

When we're on different sides of the globe
I thought we'd keep our veins tangled
like a pair of mic cables,
And if there ain't enough slack to reach
that we'd solder them together
and across oceans they'd stretch.
Our faces reflected in separate windshields
and all our body hair pricked up
an elephant eyelash.
Should we be tempted by thief or saint
it seems I leave and you stay
to crawl the cage and curse.
But don't regret the done dirt,
there is no life plan set,
you just swallow the cold
and follow your breath until death.
Now even if the will to sleep persists
I can't 'cause a harsh cloth, it grazes my blisters.

There was a moth caught in the soapdish
laminated in lye
Will you still remember me well
If I don't get to two-o-o-five?
My dead line Gemini.

Today I fell asleep in a bath of hair.
Hair that once sprouted from my own
white wet chalk follicles.
I swallow a coal
and follow my breath
and I did it with the grapefruit soap
thinking of you.
Bathed, shaved, and oiled,
your legs are two skinny dolphins swimming
between the mattress and the layers of bedding
turning in your drug dry sleep.
When I ask you to kiss my pulse
you offer to start the shower.
I want a verb and you give me a noun.
What do you dream up while I tongue you down?

There was a moth caught in the soapdish
laminated in lye
Will you still remember me well
If I don't get to two-o-o-five?
My dead line Gemini.

You know my build.
You know my size.
The degree to which my eyes
are astigmatic.


Lyrics submitted by walkintothec

Gemini (Birthday Song) song meanings
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37 Comments

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  • +5
    General Commentand this interview was interesting also:

    Loose Record: All the songs on Elephant Eyelash have what feel like are personal touches tucked away inside a lot of surrealist imagery. Which song do you feel is most personal, like you might have bared too much?

    Yoni Wolf: Gemini (Birthday Song), probably. She’s coming tonight. (Pauses) Shit.

    Loose Record: Really? I always think about that, when you have these deeply confessional songs and there’s one person out there, staring at the radio pissed.

    Yoni Wolf: She loves it.

    Loose Record: She loves it?

    (Yoni nods)
    misscaseyfaceon September 28, 2010   Link
  • +4
    General CommentSoooo.....
    I'm not going to analyze this too much because I think we will never be able to decipher each and every lyrics and that is kind of the beauty of it, each person can interpret it in the way they want. However, I do want to share the general idea I get from it.
    I thinks it is just illustrating one relationship that haunts him throughout a lifetime, one where he feels much more for this girl than she does for him. From the first verse I get that she is just that kind of girl, the one who acts like she doesn't really care about anything and it is all just a stepping stone to the next place she's going. He loves her very much, and is just recalling memories. I think he might subconciously realize it won't last.
    Then, they part, and he fools himself into thinking that it meant enough to both of them to last, though it doesn't.
    He grows old and still recalls their relationship. He's sees now that she never really cared. I think that
    "I asked you to kiss my pulse. you offer to start the shower.
    I want a verb and you give me a noun."
    Is just showing that she is never really giving him what he asked for, especially when that thing is something really intimate that will involve emotion beyond just enjoying sex.
    "What do you dream up while I tongue you down?"
    While they're being intimate, her mind is somewhere else.
    And then the very, very last stanza shows that they were together so much that she knows him very well, yet still doesn't love him.

    poetrylikemagicon March 13, 2011   Link
  • +3
    General Comment"Today I fell asleep in a bath of hair.
    Hair that once sprouted from my own
    white wet chalk follicles."

    yoni makes a lot of references to hair falling out. also, one of his albums is titled alopecia which is a medical condition in which your hair falls out. that's just something i noticed..hmmm
    bethanypwnson August 27, 2011   Link
  • +2
    General CommentFirstly...this song is great. lovely song to chill out to around a fire....yeah!

    anyways....

    in my opinion (n i've worked on this) this is a love song. Why? is singing this to a girl who he is madly in love with, whilst also knowing that someday the two of them will grow apart and move away. This sets the melancholy mood for the song, but also explaining the lovely lyrics:

    "It starts with you
    on a mattress in your parents' old room,
    clipping your toenails into the room
    like the room will fade"

    This is his first memory of them together, just a small thing (but they're often the ones you remember best)


    "and you will move
    onto other rooms
    and you will go
    to other places"

    But he's saying he knows that it's not going to last forever, even though he loves her so much


    "Then the wedding,
    Then the woman passed out
    in the driver's seat
    at the order board at White Castle.
    We woke her up and she went
    'round to the pick up window
    like she knew exactly where she was."

    now he's just thinking of memorable times that the were together. Then....


    "Then I wept
    with my face in your night shirt,
    trying hard as hell to say
    "until death separates us,"

    This is the important bit, in the present (or at least, the present when he's singing her this song). He loves her very much you see...but he's sad because he doesn't think they'll be together forever (hence 'till death seperates us')

    "loosening the skin on your breastbone,
    I painted your nails
    and you sleep
    while I write all this down."

    This is just a nice little train-of-thought bit, describing when he wrote this down.


    "There was a moth caught in the soapdish
    laminated in lye"

    This bit i'm not sure on. Suggestions?? its probably just Why? being Why? - as you know, he has a penchant for oblique lyrics


    "Will you still remember me well
    If I don't get to two-o-o-five?"

    self-explanatory, although its cool the way the backing singers do the "two"


    "My Deadline Gemini"

    gemini because:
    a)they're spiritual twins
    b)her star sign is gemini


    "When we're on different sides of the globe
    I thought we'd keep our veins tangled
    like a pair of mic cables,
    And if there ain't enough slack to reach
    that we'd solder them together
    and across oceans they'd stretch."

    He's trying to stay positive dammit! although note the past tense "i thought": now he's realised


    "Our faces reflected in separate windshields
    and all our body hair pricked up
    an elephant eyelash."

    They so very far apart but still thinking of each other


    "Should we be tempted by thief or saint
    it seems I leave and you stay
    to crawl the cage and curse."

    Should they be tempted by other people, other loves, other lives. Also is this a hint that he's leaving town - maybe to...pursue his record career???


    "But don't regret the done dirt,
    there is no life plan set,
    you just swallow the cold
    and follow your breath until death.
    Now even if the will to sleep persists
    I can't 'cause a harsh cloth, it grazes my blisters."


    Now he's getting philosophical - maybe it was never meant to be? Maybe it was just a thing, nothing more than a young lovers romance? but...he can't sleep because he still thinks about her
    "Today I fell asleep in a bath of hair.
    Hair that once sprouted from my own
    white wet chalk follicles.”

    He’s now older so it’s later on in his life…not hair literally I think but more the sense of memories and past lives.


    ”I swallow a coal
    and follow my breath
    and I did it with the grapefruit soap
    thinking of you.”

    He swallows the soap?? Figuratively, meaning he’s still punishing himself for letting it slip away


    ”Bathed, shaved, and oiled,
    your legs are two skinny dolphins swimming
    between the mattress and the layers of bedding
    turning in your drug dry sleep.
    When I ask you to kiss my pulse
    you offer to start the shower.
    I want a verb and you give me a noun.
    What do you dream up while I tongue you down?”

    Ah…why? is focusing on the good things, the good memories…you have to stay positive after all. Better to have loved and lost, n’est pa?


    ”You know my build.
    You know my size.
    The degree to which my eyes
    are astigmatic.”

    A nice little coda, about how well she knows him. Although the song is melancholic, this ending is sweet…so you know…not to depressing or anything. And the use of “astigmatic” is clever. Either
    A) it means she just knows him really well
    B) Astigmatic is when you have one eye short-sighted and the other long-sighted….so she knows the degree to which he is looking at the here and now whilst also worrying about what is to come??



    A clever and lovely song
    yoshitexon April 19, 2006   Link
  • +2
    General CommentI sort of agree with you, yoshitex, but there's something that you're missing. This song isn't as happy and wistful as all that, I think. You missed the part where she doesn't love him back.

    The verse that demonstrates this best is "When I ask you to kiss my pulse
    you offer to start the shower.
    I want a verb and you give me a noun.
    What do you dream up while I tongue you down?"

    He's asked her to kiss him an affectionate, loving way, and she flat-out rejects him. He wants love from her, but she won't give it to him. And in the last line, he comments on the fact that she imagines somewhere and someone else while they're intimate.

    It's sad. She'll have sex with him, but she won't care for him the way he cares for her.

    The last few lines are depressing, to me, just like the rest of the song. She knows everything about him (or perhaps only trivial details?) and yet she doesn't love him. It's the ultimate rejection.

    Anyway, I just saw Why? live and it was amazing beyond amazing.
    proposalson April 28, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General Comment"I want a verb and you give me a noun.
    What do you dream up while I tongue you down?"

    anyone notice that the words "dream" and "tongue" are both verbs and nouns?
    probably no significance to that.
    tastemakeron September 10, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General Commentgenerally WHY? has some pretty random lyrics but there is some powerful shit in this badddddasssss song
    mhbalcoon January 23, 2010   Link
  • +1
    My OpinionThis song is my favorite anything, ever.
    nitramgniknilraon February 04, 2010   Link
  • +1
    My InterpretationThis song is so great.<3 I have trouble analyzing it, but one thing I noticed immediately with listening to the song was the line "I want a verb & you give me a noun." Not sure if anyone has said this already, but I understand it as he just wants to do physical things with her, while she wants love.
    memorizethemoonon March 13, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General Commenti love this song
    tremorchriston March 22, 2006   Link

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