"Recessional" as written by and Vienna Teng....
"It's so beautiful here," she says,
"This moment now and this moment, now."
And I never thought I would find her here:
Flannel and satin, my four walls transformed.
But she's looking at me, straight to center,
No room at all for any other thought.

And I know I don't want this, oh, I swear I don't want this.
There's a reason not to want this but I forgot.

In the terminal she sleeps on my shoulder,
Hair falling forward, mouth all askew.
Fluorescent announcements beat their wings overhead:
"Passengers missing, we're looking for you."
And she dreams through the noise, her weight against me,
Face pressed into the corduroy grooves.

Maybe it means nothing, maybe it means nothing,
Maybe it means nothing, but I'm afraid to move.

And the words: they're everything and nothing.
I want to search for her in the offhand remarks.
Who are you, taking coffee, no sugar?
Who are you, echoing street signs?
Who are you, the stranger in the shell of a lover,
Dark curtains drawn by the passage of time?

Oh, words, like rain, how sweet the sound.
"Well anyway," she says, "I'll see you around..."


Lyrics submitted by Giffdud, edited by moonglo

"Recessional" as written by Vienna Teng

Lyrics © BMG RIGHTS MANAGEMENT US, LLC

Lyrics powered by LyricFind

Recessional song meanings
Add your thoughts

26 Comments

sort form View by:
  • +3
    General CommentI feel as though this is the strange feeling you get just before you're about to part with someone for a very long, or for an open-ended time, and you feel as though you know them more now than you've ever known them before. As if suddenly you're finally connecting, even though there's nothing real to say.
    So you can get frustrated with the casualness of the situation, or you can convince yourself of deeper meaning in everything that they do.

    and what's really better?
    LoveLarkon September 18, 2006   Link
  • +2
    General CommentThe secret to this song is in the one line: "Who are you, the stranger in the shell of a lover, dark curtains drawn by the passage of time?"

    She's met an ex-lover by accident somewhere. They've chatted, and the speaker has searched their soul for the person they knew and remember still. But this person is not that - they are a stranger, shrouded by time apart. They're a different person.

    And then parting again as quick as it came - see you around. A beautiful moment, so many thoughts and emotions, and then it was over.

    One of my favorite songs of all time. What raw emotion and perfect expression of this event. Beautiful.
    triswebon May 13, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI'm really surprised that nobody thought of this one.

    Disregarding the "love story in reverse" bit. I honestly thought of this as two people, meeting in an airport. Sitting together, one falling asleep on the other, one of them (possibly both of them) and then the other leaving.

    And just because it was sung by a woman, my friend and I felt some lesbianic undertones. Which made it more beautiful in our opinion.

    This is by far one of my favorites.
    fluffynellyon December 25, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentOkay, I just read up on it and my analysis is totally wrong...I think, but still, it's what I'm always going to think of when I hear it. That's what's cool about songs - everyone has their own interpretation. :-)
    dresdendollon November 24, 2008   Link
  • +1
    My InterpretationI adore this song so, so much. Because it's a "reverse strip tease", I tried rearranging some of the lines/verses (I took some lines in isolation, sometimes couplets, sometimes entire verses) with the ones at the end of the song put toward the beginning, and this is what I came up with which I think makes the most sense:

    "Well anyway," she says, "I'll see you around..."
    Oh words, like rain, how sweet the sound
    And the words, they're everything and nothing
    I want to search for her in the offhand remarks
    Who are you, taking coffee, no sugar?
    Who are you, echoing street signs?
    Who are you, the stranger in the shell of a lover, dark curtains drawn by the passage of time?
    In the terminal she sleeps on my shoulder, hair falling forward, mouth all askew
    Fluorescent announcements beat their wings overhead: passengers missing, we're looking for you
    And she dreams through the noise, her weight against me, face pressed into the corduroy grooves
    Maybe it means nothing
    Maybe it means nothing
    Maybe it means nothing, but I'm afraid to move
    And I know I don't want this
    Oh, I swear I don't want this
    There's a reason not to want this but I forgot
    But she's looking at me, straight to center
    No room at all for any other thought
    And I never thought I would find her here: flannel and satin, my four walls transformed
    "It's so beautiful here," she says, "this moment now,
    And this moment, now"

    ---

    For me, then, taking those set of rearranged lyrics, the story moves from a person meeting an ex-lover (or, in the context of the film she based the song off of, a lover who was wiped from his mind), and they strike up a conversation again, basically get to know each other anew. "Well anyway," she says, "I'll see you around" - so the relationship has a future. And then slowly they get closer, and he "searches for her", the "stranger in the shell of a lover" (the future lover, with the dark curtains to the lover she's going to be "drawn by the passage of time" - the time which hasn't *passed yet*).

    And then - now this is very much my loose interpretation, I'm not sure why exactly I think this, it's just the images the song conjures for me personally - she ends up sleeping over with him at his house/apartment. "Flannel and satin" = pajamas, "my four walls transformed" = the place he lives - the physical representation of his entire life - is transformed entirely by her presence. Because she says it's "so beautiful here"... and then the song "ends" with this wonderful feeling of how time, life, really is, a string of "now"s passing us by and we can never live in the future or in the past. Just "this moment now". I don't know. It's just such a gorgeous, brilliant song, the way the lyrics play with the idea of time and intimacy.

    ... yeah, I don't know. I ramble too much.
    aodthynon July 27, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI think this is about the parting of two people who are very close. The speaker is shattered by the parting but it is out of her hands. As the second person sleeps in the airport terminal the speaker can do nothing but stay awake thinking about the future, and eventually the inevitable happens and "she" has to leave.
    Giffdudon August 12, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentVienna has said that this song conveys "a love story told in reverse," and also that it was inspired by the movie Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, haha!

    I think the song made more sense to me personally before I started trying to piece it together backwards. I don't really understand -- if you reverse the verses, the story actually starts off with the couple feeling like they don't know one another anymore.

    Regardless, it's absolutely one of my favorite love songs ever.
    papiertigerson March 17, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Commenti think you sort of missed what she meant by a love story in reverse... a normal love story would be that they met in an airport, they sit together, he hesitates, blah blah, they end up in a beautiful moment together after their love for one another is realized. That's how i took it.
    chill 26on May 16, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI thought of it as two people who used to be in love, and after breaking up a while ago, the meet, and the speaker is wondering if they will reconnect. In the end of the song, she kind of pulls the rug out from under him, by going "Yeah, I guess I'll see you later or whatever", which shows she may not be interested in getting back into a relationship.

    I love this song, though. It's written very nicely.
    shouldve_knownon September 13, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentBeautiful imagery in this song, which is my favorite from her third album. Every word just seems perfectly placed.

    I'm actually afraid of looking too deeply into it, which is not something I usually experience with a song. There's something beautiful and intangible about the emotions expressed here that might hurt too much if I tried too hard. Maybe someday.

    In the meantime, bless you, Vienna (from a fellow Stanford CS grad).
    raffishtenant2on September 21, 2007   Link

Add your thoughts

Log in now to tell us what you think this song means.

Don’t have an account? Create an account with SongMeanings to post comments, submit lyrics, and more. It’s super easy, we promise!

Back to top
explain