There's a black tinted sunset with the prettiest of skies
lay back,lay back, rest your head on my thighs
There is some awful action that just breathes from my hand
just breaths from a deed so exquisetly grand

And you are always on my mind x4

Well, I would not have moved if I knew you were here
Its some special action with motives unclear
now you'll haunt me, you'll haunt me
till I've paid for what I've done
it's a payment which precludes the having of fun

And you are always on mind x4
but hello, I've got a new partner riding with me
I'v got a new partner, hello

Now the sun's fading faster, we're ready to go
there's a skirt in the bedroom that's pleasantly low
And the loons on the moor, the fish in the flow
And my friends, my friends still will whisper hello
We all know what we know, it's a hard swath to mow
when you think like a hermit you forget what you know

And you are always on my mind x4
I've got a new partner, riding with me x3
I've got a new partner now

Lyrics submitted by cultjam

new partner song meanings
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  • +1
    General CommentNoodly,

    I love your close reading of the song, very intelligent and thoughtful. It is the slide guitars. And for me it’s the way that Oldham’s quavering voice echoes/mimics those guitars. I love when voice and instrument can compliment each other in little subtle ways like that.

    I totally get your reading of the murder/molestation possibility. This is the beauty of close readings of songs, poetry, writing in general: that interpretations can go anywhere and if the case is made well, you're right. And in creating this read of the song, you’ve changed it for me, challenged me, and I like this a lot. I still prefer to think of a nice spring day where I watch my beautiful ex girlfriend slowly put on an exquisitely low skirt and head out into the sunshine, but that’s just where I’m at now.

    And you’re totally right that it’s a song about guilt. It’s oozing guilt and sadness and trying to find that place where, as you say, you can accept it. Nice.

    So to answer your question, yes it’s all three at the same time. To me it is about dealing with guilt from whatever place you’re at in your life (hopefully not murder/molestation!). My relationship was actually an amicable split, but I still feel guilty that I didn’t try harder to make it work, which when I think about it, fits into this song like a glove. In this read, can one almost see the song as a conversation? Will we ever know what Will was writing about?

    On another note, I’m a filmmaker and lover of movies and it’s interesting how differently you can respond to work depending on your short/long term moods, where you're at in your life. How something you hated when you first see it can become a totally different work when you see it later. I suppose this is true of songs?

    I’m sure you’ve heard it, but check out The Frames’ cover of the song. Beautiful version. Oh and I love how our discussion (or the song?) has driven the Google ad for “Teen Suicide Statistics.” Ha!

    It wasn’t that bad of a breakup.
    bobbybebadon February 28, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI've recently discovered this album. I had a mixed tape with a song on it from this album and for years tried to find it. Now I have. The song was Work hard/play hard, which is wonderful itself, but I can't stop listening to New Partner. I think it's the most beautiful song ever written or sung. That’s some strong words from someone who loves NMH, David Bowie, The Beatles, The Kinks, The Arcade Fire, the Who, The Stones, etc. etc.

    Will Oldham, in all of his permutations, is a profoundly wonderful song writer, but this, one of his earliest songs/albums, seems to me to be somehow more raw, true and beautiful than the rest of his wonderful oeuvre. Others will disagree and they’re probably right. But this song brings me to such a deep place and I fucking cry each time I hear it.

    Ok, I’m going through a breakup. I’ll admit it. But I’ve decided: This is the best break-up song. Ever. Written. There are all sorts of lists out there, and everyone has songs and music they turn to in times of sadness, but this song isn’t on it. It should be. Must be. I’m writing into a vacuum, I know, with this song and album, but I want to hear what others think. Listen deeply. “You’ll haunt me, you’ll haunt me till I’ve paid for what I’ve done.”
    bobbybebadon February 21, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentOne of my absolutely favorite songs as well. Viva Last Blues is an album that wavers between thudding strength and wavering fragility (not a bad thing in any respect - it's part of what makes it so unique a record), and this song obliterates the rest. It's those slide guitars.

    Yeah, I've always heard it as a breakup song to a certain degree, and that's the way that it most effectively registers with me on an emotional level. This song pulled me through a bad split as well. But I think it's important to note that there are two other main readings to the song, both of which deal with that "awful action that just breathes from my hand, just breaths from a deed so exquisitely grand". (Whoa...that line...)


    And the rest of the song is guilt, guilt that could just as easily support the reading that this deals with a breakup. All three at the same time?

    The best line for me is the one that leads into the final go at the chorus: "When you think like a hermit, you forget what you know." Not only does it come out with such a wonderful climax, but it helps push him against the guilt to a place that wants to accept it. And that's the intent that I find in the song - to push past feelings of guilt, which often only engender isolation.
    noodly_detrituson February 25, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentYes, I meant "pleasantly low." Didn't re-read..
    bobbybebadon February 28, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentWhat is this ad?

    Hmm...I agree with your assessment of songs and movies and art in general, that appreciation takes time more than effort or immediacy (even if those facets have sway in their own right). I have a tendency - like many, I would guess but would hesitate to assert - to create attachments to certain works based on how much I relate to them at the moment I meet them. And that's rarely an accurate judge of how they'll affect me within a few months or years. Over time, the "art" behind a piece will stand out more than the initial puppy love. (For example, Garden State became a contender for my favorite movie when it first came out, but I saw it again recently and was left completely annoyed.)

    This is one of those songs that hit me right when I heard it and has stuck around, because the nuances have emerged in sharper detail, which in turn leads to fuzzier ambiguity as the option of multiple interpretations comes about. The Magnetic Fields write really good songs with similar results...

    And you're a filmmaker? I'm a dramatic arts major considering becoming a film student, as well. Hmmm...
    noodly_detrituson March 02, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General Comment"on the ferris wheel
    looking out on Coney island
    under more stars than
    there are prostitutes in Thailand
    our hair in the air
    our lips blue from cotton candy
    when we kiss it feels
    like a flying saucer landing."

    Sorry, Noodly, it was the first that came to mind. But I love the Magnetic Fields so so much as well (I live down the street from Steven M and always hope to see his grumpy self on the street). I saw them in Seattle play the 69 Love Songs back in 2000 or so (aging myself). But you're absolutely right that you can listen to Steven Merritt a million times and then at a million and 1 you slap your head and get a new insight into his genius. I love their new distortion album. It's heavy on my playlist.

    Sorry about the ad thing. I have a friend who works at google here in NY and he said that on sites like this if they see words like break up and other depressing sounding words, that will lead to "Feeling Depressed/Suicide ads" I suspected this, but figured I'd check it out for fun, but they change often which I do know but didn't think about in my post.

    If you want to talk further, drop me a line at my website. You're totally smart and I've enjoyed our brief conversation. If yr ever in NY, drop a line. Good luck with you dramatic arts.

    Scott. 590films dot org
    bobbybebadon March 25, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentOne of the sweetest, most beautiful ballads I've heard in some time. These lyrics are just great.
    A_Raging_Bullon June 14, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General Commentmaybe my interpretation of most things are always perverted but when i think about the first verse ...

    "lay back,lay back, rest your head on my thighs
    There is some awful action that just breathes from my hand, just breaths from a deed so exquisetly grand"

    .. i can't help but think he's initiating and receiving oral sex from a woman either during his relationship or soon after a heavy break up that was perhaps his own fault (with mention of haunts and guilts and the where the lyrics end up, i think it's during his relationship). And maybe or maybe not she ends up being his 'new partner'. I feel the guilt in this song.. He was so insecure and unsure, not knowing she(his main girl, the one always on his mind) WAS actually there(or "here"(..if i knew you were here)) and that his motives for cheating(moving, special action) were unclear and foggy. Yet he's haunted by guilt and still he doesn't understand why he's done it other than out of insecurity.

    and the third verse - more uncertainty yet a realization - "We all know what we know, it's a hard swath to mow, when you think like a hermit you forget what you know"
    He's become self-absorbed, introverted, disregarding of his woman and began shutting her out so he's become lost in himself, and forgotten what he's ALWAYS KNOWN - that he actually DOES and ALWAYS has loved his first woman dearly and she was with him just as strongly.

    i'm actually interpreting this from a personal experience of my own and it fits in my head this way. It's just that since i've heard this song, i've always heard it as the verse lines telling of his evening affair on a night that just felt right at the time. Kind of lost in the sunset and the prettiest of skies, where he simply forgot his about his real woman and by nightfall he and this chick were 'ready to go'.

    And of course the choruses being the strong and repetitious point of the song that he is haunted by his foolishness of what he's done but that she is forever on his mind, even as he's with whoever his 'new partner' that he's riding with now may be.
    windpuppyon October 17, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General Commentshit, new to this site and added my post as a reply to noodly + a comment. SORRY!
    windpuppyon October 17, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General CommentPlease stop comparing the genius of W. Oldham to the twee irritation that is the Magnetic Fields...
    caitsith01on September 30, 2013   Link

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