Open-ended, parting on a note
it never rang and barely ever spoke to
anyone baring the slightest peace of mind,
cause if it did, there'd be no fingerprints to find
or forget. dont' have the money and you know it'd be well spent,
keeping tabs on whichever family tree, ready to furnish an identity
because

Relative is relative,
relative's not relevant in my case
and my case is
not closed and open to interpretation or a point of view
you can guess you can't know
that foreign stays foreign till found

mother, what's in a name? more than that,
why can't mine be found?

i'm sick of home, it's just a contest now,
where how can i top or put you down in your place
because
Relative is relative and relative's not relevant in my case
and my case is
not closed and open to
interpretation or a point of view
you can guess, you can't know
that foreign stays foreign till found.

and if all else fails, i can take that flight to the town i was born, where you still might be staying
laying low and saving face.
think it goes without saying, this goes without saying
at least, i tried.


Lyrics submitted by anelectricslave

Relative is Relative song meanings
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4 Comments

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  • 0
    General CommentThe best song on their album, sounds like it could be a single. The chorus is so catchy. The lyrics are very thoughtful...and make you think. The meaning has got to relate somehow to not knowing something, or not knowing if something will work out ("If all else fails..."). I love this song. Can't believe I'm the first to comment.
    flashspeed1992on December 08, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis song is really excellent. What a story! Sorry this comment is so long, but I got carried away. :-)

    At the beginning of the song, we find out that the narrator's mother and his biological father are not together. It seems likely that they had a fling and broke up when she got pregnant. The separation was messy, and his mother doesn't have any fond memories of it. They hadn't known each other for very long; she knows nothing about his family.

    He would love to research his family and know more about his father. He wants peace of mind and the satisfaction of knowing about half of who he is. His mother's excuse for not doing so is that she doesn't have the money for it.

    I love the wordplay in the chorus. "Relative is relative," meaning that when one talks about his presumed sibling(s) and father as "relatives," that's less true for him than is is for them, since they're only his half-siblings and his step-father. As he clarifies, "relative's not relevant in my case." (I don't know if this song is autobiographical, but if it is, he mentions that he has a sister in "Stories and Charts.")

    Then we have the beautiful wordplay on "open" and "shut":

    "and my case is
    not closed and open to interpretation or a point of view"

    Great repetition of "my case," and this time he's using a different idiom, "open and closed case," a term usually used in police work meaning that everything is clearly understood and there's nothing to investigate.

    But he inverts the idiom, reinforcing that his situation is the opposite of open and closed. Finally, he chains on another cliché, "open to interpretation." And this is true, he, his biological father and his mother all feel different things about the situation as it stands and the choices that were made many years ago.

    Finally, the last sentence of the chorus is great. It keeps the repetition theme going. His father will stay foreign (unknown) until he's found and the narrator can finally learn something about him.

    The second verse starts out with him letting us know he doesn't even know his father's last name. That's going to make finding him nearly impossible.

    Instead of feeling warm affection toward his mother, he feels frustrated. Not knowing about his father has ruined his relationship with her, because he blames her for not keeping in touch with him.

    The last verse is his fantasy about how he can get closure by finding his father. But the last sentence is bitter: he is mad that he's the only one of the three of them (him, father, mother) that seems to want to reconnect. The "you" in this verse is directed at his father. It brings the father into the picture, which has mostly been a dispute between the mother and her son, just in time to let him share the blame for losing touch.

    This song reminds me a whole lot of "Sucker Punch" by The Pale Pacific. (Another really great song that you should go find right now.) They touch on similar themes, though that song is a bit more enigmatic. But they both end with a frustrated lack of understanding: how could a father not want to know about his children?
    toadtwson February 11, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentFrom what ive heard from my sister is that its about the narrator being adopted and such, and she should know since shes the cellist in the band. :)
    gramster95on October 05, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThey're looking for a new cellist! :-O
    Rockkstarron November 05, 2008   Link

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