"Set the Fire to the Third Bar" as written by Gary Lightbody, Nathan Connolly, Jonathan Graham Quinn, Tom Simpson and Paul Wilson....
I find the map and draw a straight line
Over rivers, farms, and state lines
The distance from 'here' to where you'd be
It's only finger-lengths that I see
I touch the place where I'd find your face
My fingers in creases of distant dark places

I hang my coat up in the first bar
There is no peace that I've found so far
The laughter penetrates my silence
As drunken men find flaws in science

Their words mostly noises
Ghosts with just voices
Your words in my memory
Are like music to me

I'm miles from where you are
I lay down on the cold ground
And I pray that something picks me up
And sets me down in your warm arms

After I have traveled so far
We'd set the fire to the third bar
We'd share each other like an island
Until exhausted, close our eyelids
And dreaming, pick up from
The last place we left off
Your soft skin is weeping
A joy you can't keep in

I'm miles from where you are
I lay down on the cold ground
And I pray that something picks me up
And sets me down in your warm arms

I'm miles from where you are
I lay down on the cold ground
And I pray that something picks me up
And sets me down in your warm arms


Lyrics submitted by blinxbcr, edited by TokyoKitten

"Set the Fire to the Third Bar" as written by Gary Lightbody Nathan Connolly

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

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Set the Fire to the Third Bar song meanings
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194 Comments

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  • +6
    General CommentI love this track: it's so haunting, so desperate.

    For me, it's about trying to find a replacement for your true love. You go from bar to bar hoping to meet someone special, ultimately getting frustrated. And when you can't find that same warmth you once had, you try and force it by manufacturing a destructive fire. Subconsciously, you're pretending it's her that you're with. Secretly, your brain is trying to find a way back into her arms.

    The line, "until exhausted, close our eyelids" is telling about how he wishes he could go back to the naive fun of Shut Your Eyes. It's all very dream-like and surreal. Because it's times like these that the brain will do anything to not have to face the cold reality of being alone.
    davidecoyoteon May 18, 2006   Link
  • +3
    General CommentYeah i agree with Belish, i love the line
    "The distance from A to where you B"

    I think its about a long distance relationship. The two involved are so in love and long to be near each other but its not dat easy, but when they do see each other they're jus overwhelmed with the love they have 4 each other.
    I may b goin a bit deep but dats wat i hear. Dis song is amazin!!!
    SPruleon May 14, 2006   Link
  • +3
    General CommentWhen this song closes, I still sense a deep yearning so I don't believe that the two lovers are reunited. Everything makes sense as written until the second half.

    "After I have traveled so far"

    I agree that the lyrics are looking forward, the two lovers haven't been reunited yet.

    "We'd set the fire to the third bar"

    Is not a literal fire but is saying that nothing else would matter once they find each other. The search would be over. The fire as an image is important because the heat of a fire is in contrast to the cold he is enduring to reach his love.

    "We'd share each other like an island
    Until exhausted, close our eyelids
    And dreaming pick up from
    The last place we left off"

    This reinforces that nothing else in the world matters but reaching her and being with her. The island image is brilliant. Note that an island is another warm image.

    "Your soft skin is weeping
    A joy you can't keep it"

    This is where I'm lost... "skin is weeping" could mean sweating (which again suggests warmth) but I don't understand "a joy you can't keep it." I wonder if she's dead or otherwise gone to him forever and his journey to find her will never end. Either that, or even if they find one another they can't stay together and he will be forced to return home but I feel like it's the former.

    I watched a recording of a live performance of this and both Lightbody and Wainwright sing with such passion. Lightbody is shaking when he sings. So haunting and beautiful, tinged with desperation and yearning.

    * * *
    Not related to the meaning, but here is info from Snow Patrol's MySpace page: "Lightbody wrote the song towards the end of the album sessions and thought it would fit Wainwrights voice perfectly. By chance she was touring Ireland at the time. "Im not a great believer in fate." Says Lightbody. "But when someone called to say "Shes here, in this country and she wants to sing it, that was definitely "a moment."
    kidleoon September 05, 2006   Link
  • +3
    General CommentI think it's about being far from someone you love, in distance and thought. All you have left of them is memory.

    "I hang my coat up in the first bar
    There is no peace that I've found so far
    The laughter penetrates my silence
    As drunken men find flaws in science"
    ...
    "After I have traveled so far
    We'd set the fire to the third bar
    We'd share each other like an island
    Until exhausted, close our eyelids
    And dreaming, pick up from
    The last place we left off
    Your soft skin is weeping
    A joy you can't keeping"

    I think these two parts about the bar are saying it doesn't matter that other people are having a good time, because you are still "miles" from where you want to be -with the person you love. I think the whole "set the fire to the third bar" is because they were feeling so many emotions- happy, and mad, and sad that they just wanted to do something crazy.
    ashleym917on July 13, 2012   Link
  • +2
    General Commentquality, i love martha wainwright. the chorus is uplifting in a way reminiscient of "run". her voice reminds me of kate bush. great song.
    queenofquiet23on April 24, 2006   Link
  • +2
    General CommentThis song makes me think of someone very special. I was in a serious car accident a year ago. The first person to stop was a young guy and he stayed with me until the ambulance came, holding my hand and calming my nerves. Long story short, our paths crossed even more. We had mutual family friends; he went to school with some of my friends. I found him and we built a friendship. He moved to another state a few months ago. It feels so meant to be, and I think that's what this song conveys.
    mperryon September 08, 2006   Link
  • +2
    General CommentThis song is actually about the long distant relationshipo. They said that the songwriter's aunt would let them put the electric heater on to the third bar if they were very good. It's about them coming together and enjoying the warmth of being together in front of an electric heater
    HGHimeon October 28, 2012   Link
  • +1
    General CommentAwesome dude

    Awesome
    thomsmellson June 16, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI've listened to this song so many times since I got the album, this is my interpretation of what its about.

    The start of the song is quite simple, 2 people serperated by a great distance are thinking about each other. I love how the 2 voices sing exactly the same thing through the whole song. It shows how you can be far away from someone but still be connected emotionally.

    The person goes into a bar in order to try and stop feeling so lonely however it fails to work "Ghosts with just voices"

    He/she then starts to imagine what it would be like if they were to meet each other again. I love where it comes in the album, right after "Make this go on for ever" and how it is almost the antithesis of it emotionally.
    dcraigrosson June 27, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General CommentWith the map reference, definitely distance between two people.. I somehow hear Waiwright's voice more, maybe being female i can relate to what she is feeling more?
    She goes to bars but feels cold and lonely without him, and just wishes that she could be with him, in his arms.
    I think she is dreaming of meeting him - she imagines travelling far to be with him, and the passion will overcome her - when they say, we would set the fire to the third bar,' they are referring to this passion as a fire - it would be so 'hot' - like third degree burns, perhaps?

    Share each other like an island - i think they are referring to each others bodies / presence, when they will be together - that is all that will matter to them, with the wide sea (world) surrounding them.

    I think she then dreams of the last time they were together, physically. 'The joy you can't keep in' - could be sexual?

    Just my thoughts.
    Andiamo007on September 10, 2006   Link

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