Hurled to the center of the Earth again,
The place where it's hot, love,
You know, it hurts to breathe in,
And the watershed you balance on is begging it,
Well did he ever know,
Will he ever know?

The trees in the moonshine are a dark lattice,
So you catalog in the angle you notice,
In a vacuum you recharge to record this,
So you won't make it easy on me.

And I can't go into this no more,
It puts too many thorns on my mind,
And the necessary balloon lies a corpse on the floor,
We've pissed on far too many sprites,
And they're all standing up for their rights.

Born on a desert floor, you've the deepest thirst,
And you came to my sweet shore to indulge it,
With the wan and drilling eyes of an orphan,
But there was not enough,
There is not enough.

Out of a gunnysack fall red rabbits,
Into the crucible to be rendered an emulsion,
And we can't allow a chance they'd restore themselves,
So we can't make it easy on you.

Undaunted, you bathed in hollow cries,
The boys with swollen, sunburnt eyes,
A reward for letting nothing under their skin,
So help me, I don't know, I might,
Just give the old dark side a try.

Don't cast your whirling eyes on the shore,
Did we even the score?
I still owe you for the hole in the floor,
And the ghost in the hall,
Who decides who paddles over the falls?
Yeah, who makes the call,
Who makes the call?

Well, I know there's an eventual
Release from every scale of crime,
But the necessary balloon lies a corpse on the floor,
We've pissed on far too many good intentions held by clever sprites,
And they're all standing up for their rights.


Lyrics submitted by heyheyhey111

Red Rabbits song meanings
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64 Comments

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  • +5
    General CommentI just have to say, if I ever make it big in this world, I'm going to write a song where I just throw a bunch of deep sounding verses together in a song and see what people interpret it all as. I mean, just look at how many radically different interpretations people have come to about ONE SONG. I think this alone is a testament to the lyrical genius of James Mercer. Most band's lyrical interpretations would stop at "it's about a relationship, and this is why..." but with the Shins it's different. They sing about everything, and have a paradoxical style that makes total sense, but only once you first comprehend the punch line. I just amazes me how brilliantly deep this whole band is, as well as how intelligent fans of the Shins are required to be in order to "get" the music they're listening to. I just want to formally pat everyone on the back who can come to ANY sort of conclusion by themselves. Most people come running to this site to enlighten themselves. If you read through this thread, though, you see a plethora of posts attempting to enlighten OTHERS. And that, my friends, is a testament to the brilliance of Shins fans.
    AQSheton July 04, 2007   Link
  • +3
    General Commentthis song is about mercer's degrading relationship with his mentor.

    before he met his mentor, life was peachy and beautiful ("trees in the moonshine"). but then, mercer meets his mentor that would end up changing his life. he mentor was "born on a desert floor" (religious allegory) and has great ambition ("deepest thirst"). he looks back and sees how susceptible he was to a larger influence ("drilling eyes of an orphan"). for a while, he followed his mentor.

    it didnt work out. communism brought upon the fear of the cold war ("necessary balloon"), but this fear of nuclear warfare (tthink 99 red balloons, same kind of reference) was the foundation of it; it was a necessary evil. he recognized that their beliefs upset other people ("we've pissed on far too many sprites, and they're all standing up for their rights.")

    so, mercer turns away from communism. and thus, he turns away from his mentor ("we can't allow a chance they'd restore themselves, so we can't make it easy on you"). this pretty much kills his relationship with the guy. not only does he reject his main ideas, but he's going outwardly against them. he recognizes that their beliefs upset other people ("we've pissed on far too many sprites, and they're all standing up for their rights."

    even tho mercer leaves, this mentor still produces an army of followers ("out of a gunnysack fall red rabbits") and they become victims of the witchhunt, like in Arthur Miller's play ("into the crucible to be rendered an emulsion"). these followers are all the same; they've lost their individuality and only exist for the sole purpose of pushing the mentor's ideas, hence, they become a generic emulsion.

    still, the mentor moves on without mercer. the mentor has other followers who are, in his mind, stronger than mercer ("the boys with swollen, sunburnt eyes, a reward for letting nothing under their skin"), which contrasts against mercer's self-admitted weak convictions ("it puts too many thorns on my mind"). the mentor uses this as an argument for mercer to join back ("just give the old dark side a try").

    mercer reasons with the mentor. after all, he owes him for "the hole in the floor", which is just a metaphor for mercer's own self enlightenment. he left his "ghost in the hall," which is his former self. even though, mercer never believes in communism, the mentor opens up his eyes to other avenues in philosophy and politics and for that, he will always be grateful. but mercer ultimately argues back that communism will never work in reality because social and economic equality is impossible since some form of a leader must exist ("who decides who paddles over the falls" yea, who makes the call?").

    now, the cold war has ended but mercer knows that the seeds of communism havent been erased. its just an "eventual lull released from every scale of crime." mercer knows the movement will come back. he just wont be apart of it when it does.
    fly at tree levelon March 26, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI'm still struggling with this one, maybe it's about being the "other guy" in an adulterous affair?
    musiclover2223on November 05, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General Commentfwiw, mercer also talks about this same guy in 'mines a high horse' and 'turn on me.'
    fly at tree levelon March 26, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThis song is such a fun puzzle. Here are some reflections for now, though my experience of this song is majorly fluid.

    It's about the watershed event, which is the disclosure of their shared betrayal of her boyfriend and his best friend. The couple are dealing with the anxiety of disclosure, negotiation, disconnection and guilt.

    Since reading that Mercer said it's about broken relationships, I've been listening to the song from that perspective.

    (Ruttyx: James Mercer said in the Dutch magazine Oor, that Red Rabbits was about broken relationships and the nasty things that often happen when relationships are broken.)

    The man and woman are trading off as narrators, and then possibly sharing narration of the chorus. She seems to be "the shore" and him the "orphan". I wonder if the sprites even narrate parts ("we can't make it easy on you").

    The balloon is a broken condom (corpse), insinuating a pending abortion, which has ramped up the anxiety, guilt and evidence.

    The red rabbits are dieing life--symbolism for their relationship with each other, and the baby to be aborted.

    The sprites are used to explain the energy of their situation. Basically, the shit hit the fan and the sprites are going to make sure we know it.

    The lesson: don't pee on sprites!
    ComfortZoneon December 23, 2010   Link
  • +1
    My InterpretationWhen listen to this song and reflect it takes me to the theme of loss.

    "hurled to the center of the earth again..."

    -Another disappointment, divorce, affair, lost relationship

    "And i can't go into this no more, it puts too many thorns on my mind,"

    -reflecting and depressed about the bad event

    "we've pissed of far to many sprites, and they're all standing up for their rights."

    -seems to be he is on the bad side of this and not the victim but still a hurting emotion.
    -also karma / reap what you sow / everything comes to the light eventually

    My favorite lyrics of this song are the following:

    "Don't cast your whirling eyes on the shore, did we even the score?
    i still owe you for the hole in the floor, and the ghost in the hall,
    who decides who paddles over the falls? yeah, who makes the call, who makes the call?"

    WOW...this is a very painful memory to the detail of a hole on the floor and the memory of the ghost still living in that bad moment. like it is still happening..
    HoheyMoheyon September 28, 2017   Link
  • 0
    General CommentWhat the f---? Honestly, I have no idea what this song is about, but it makes me extremely happy all the same. Seriously, I laugh every time he mentions the sprites standing up for their rights. Hahah...
    heyheyhey111on October 21, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentIt sounds like a Belle & Sebastian song I can't put my finger on.
    theboyleastlikelytoon October 22, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentIt sounds like "you've the deepest thirst" to me.
    mrtscon October 23, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentIt sounds like "you've the deepest thirst" to me.
    mrtscon October 23, 2006   Link

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