You have a father
There is another
You have a sister
There are no brothers.

You have good friends
You have a lover
When friendships end
You will still love her
But it’s Teresa they love the best.

There was a flood
A world of water
The mason’s wife
Swam for her daughter.

One thousand people
Did what they could.
They found the steeple
And tore out the wood.

Five hundred pieces
Means five hundred float.
One thousand people means
Five hundred don’t.
And it’s Teresa they love the best.

I’ve said it before,
And I’ll say it again.
All fires have to burn alive.
All fires have to burn alive.

From near his heart,
He took a rib.
All fires have to burn alive to live.
From near his heart,
He took a rib.
All fires have to burn alive to live.
So it’s Teresa that I love the best.


Lyrics submitted by soupcans

All Fires song meanings
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29 Comments

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  • +3
    General CommentThere is a clear religious undertone going on in this song. I think Terressa is the name of the god that this community all loves so much, as it is reitterated over again. At first you get the idea that because this disaster is destroying these people, it is a message of religious faith being worthless, because your God won't stop such a terrible thing. But, if they never worshipped Teressa, they would not have built the steeple, and without the steeple, all would have parished in the flood instead of half. In the end though, it is the same message from "They took a vote." The natural cycle of life, that some things have to die so that others can live on. Humanity being compared to the life of a fire. A fire literally burns itself alive until it has used up all its fuel, and then ceases to exist, but if it does not burn it will never exist in the first place. "All fires have to burn alive to live."
    Chase Ellioton June 15, 2007   Link
  • +2
    General CommentI don't see why the biblical references, each of which worth parsing individually, have to add up to some explicitly religious theme or message. They each have their own reasons for being in the song, but I see no connecting pattern. Divine imagery is just a smart, easy way for Krug to add emotional weight and epic feel to the mythical narrative he is shaping (as if that guitar wasn't enough.)

    Though it yet remains turbid in my mind, I feel pretty sure that this song is, somewhere below all those layers of wailing prettiness, using gender to highlight the essential tragedy of humankind. Notice first that both the narrator and the addressed are male. Notice also that every mention of Theresa, the unattainable, unidentifiable maiden at the center of this cryptic ballad, is prompted by some catastrophe (heartbreak, mass drowning, partial dismemberment/perpetual immolation.) And the Mason's wife swims "for" her daughter, not "to" her, implying that the struggling mother fails to make it to the girl it in time. Given the chivalry of those times when towns had steeples, Masons, and no plans or tools to mollify a flood, the five hundred wood floats would have been given chiefly to women and their children. Every woman in this tale (excluding your sister, who, to you, isn't effectively a woman at all, because, well, she's your sister, although the syntax of the lines does almost seem to blame her for your lack of brothers...) has someone suffering for her sake. This isn't a sexist imprecation of the female, though. Women are doing the suffering too. And, because the purity and beauty of woman renders life itself both possible and worthwhile, people will die for her willingly, and still love her even after. So, though Eve will make him Fall, Adam gladly yanks out his rib. Man must endure incompleteness, death, heartche, lust, loneliness, just to keep his other half around. He never quite seems to get the girl, though. In fact, he's been burning for her for millennia. Love hurts, ya know?

    uburoion December 03, 2008   Link
  • +2
    General CommentAnybody who has read Kundera's "Unbearable Lightness of Being" should be able to make the connection to the "It's Teresa that you love the best" line.
    CoryOOreoon December 01, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General Comment++ sethbrown - such a brilliant line.

    That's a great verse, but the second to last line of the song is hands down the best - "All fires have to burn alive to live."
    msweron September 16, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General Commentbeautiful song.

    as far as the meaning goes,
    the singer is in a relationship with this wonderful girl (Teresa) that everyone adores. There is a disaster in the relationship (symbolized by the flood), and he knows that even if he tears apart everything sacred to him (church steeple), its not certain that things will work out (about a 50/50 chance).

    but hes saying that he must give it everything he has no matter what.
    all fires must burn alive to live
    universal remonsteron November 23, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General CommentKrug pulls a Destroyer in stealing from himself and re-using the line "all fires have to burn alive to live," almost verbatim; it originally appeared in "They Took a Vote and Said No" on "Shut Up I Am Dreaming." And he slyly precedes it with "I've said it before and I'll say it again," so clearly he knows what he's up to. I wonder if his working with Dan Bejar has anything to do with these shenanigans. ;)
    valruson December 07, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General Comment"You have good friends
    You have a lover
    When friendships end
    You will still love her"

    So, so beautiful. I cannot wait for this album.
    proposalson August 09, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General Comment"Five hundred pieces
    Means five hundred float.
    One thousand people means
    Five hundred don’t"

    i love this verse. this is a gorgeous song. i guess it's about a shipwreck.
    sethbrownon August 20, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General Comment"Five hundred pieces
    Means five hundred float.
    One thousand people means
    Five hundred don’t.
    And it’s Teresa they love the best."

    Definitely the best verse.
    Colin B.on September 17, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General Commentprobably one of the best songs on the album
    peechloveon September 24, 2006   Link

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