"Elephant" as written by and Damien George Rice....
Well. this has got to die
I said, this has got to stop
This has got to lie down
With someone else on top

You can keep me pinned
'Cause it's easier to tease
But you can't paint an elephant
Quite as good as she

And she may cry like a baby
And she may drive me crazy
'Cause I am lately
Lonely

So why'd you have to lie?
I take it I'm your crutch
The pillow in your pillow case
Is easier to touch

When you think you've sinned
Do you fall upon your knees?
Or just sit within your picture
You still forget the breeze

And she may rise
If I sing you down
And she may wisely
Cling to the ground

'Cause I am lately
Horny
So why would she take me horny?

What's the point of this song?
Or even singing?
You've already gone
Why am I clinging?

Well I could throw it out
And I could live without
And I could do it all for you
I could be strong

Tell me, do you want me to lie?
Because this has got to die
'Cause this has got to stop
This has got to lie down, down
With someone else on top

You can both keep me pinned
'Cause it's easier to tease
But you can't make me happy
Quite as good as me...
(you know that's a lie)


Lyrics submitted by dreamer

"Elephant" as written by Damien George Rice

Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.

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Elephant song meanings
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  • +5
    General CommentTo be honest I think those who have posted are looking at this song to closely. To get he meaning of this song you need to look at the two previous songs on the album.

    9 Crimes is about having an affair, thinking you love the person you're having the affair with, and then feeling guilty about it.

    The Animals Were Gone is about coming home to his wife the next day and something happens that changes the dynamic of their relationship. Maybe she learned she was pregnant or something like that. I think he was going to come home and break up with his wife but starts to realize that he was the source of a lot of their problems and that he is actually in love with his wife. he loves all of her flaws. loves everything about her. she he decides to stay.

    then we get to this song. This song he goes back to his mistress. Tells her the affair has to stop. When he says "you don't paint an elephant as good as she." maybe his wife is an artist and literally hs mistress doesn't paint an elephant as good as his wife but I think above all that he's trying to say "you're not her." He then goes on to explain how the affair was not based on love. it was based on lust. it was purely sexual. there is no future in it. "well i could throw her out and i could live without and i could do it all for you i could be true tell me if you want me to lie 'cause this has got to die" (which as I am listening to the song now are the correct lyrics.) he is telling the other woman that yeah I could leave my wife for you but whatever it is that we have is all going to be based on a lie because I realize I don't love you. Then the last 5 lines are basically him taking responsibility for his actions.

    Then Rootless Tree is about when his wife finds out damien was been cheating on her....
    tehjacobsenon October 13, 2009   Link
  • +2
    General CommentI lyrics are a bit off. For "9" Damien changed the song a bit and add a little extra. The song goes like this:

    This has got to die
    This has got to stop
    This has got to lie down
    Someone else on top

    You can keep me pinned
    It's easier to tease
    But you can't paint an elephant
    Quite as good as she

    And she may cry like a baby
    And she may drive me Crazy
    'Cause I am lately lonely

    So why d'you have to lie?
    I take it I'm your crutch
    The pillow in your pillow case
    It's easier to touch

    And when you think you've sinned
    Do you fall upon your knees?
    And do you sit within your picture?
    Do you still forget the breeze?

    And she may rise, if I sing you down
    And she may wisely cling to the ground
    Cause I am lately horny
    So why would she take me horny?

    What's the point of this song? Or even singing?
    You've already gone, why am I clinging?
    Well I could throw it out, and I could live without
    And I could do it all for you
    I could be strong
    Tell me if you want me to lie
    'Cause this has got to die

    This has got to stop
    This has got to lie down, down
    With someone else on top

    You can both keep me pinned
    'Cause it's easier to tease
    But you can't make me happy
    Quite as good as me

    Well you know that's a lie
    Bluestarson November 03, 2006   Link
  • +2
    General Commentoh and i like your 'elephant in the room' interpretation. it goes perfectly with how i see the song
    fattyjoanon December 19, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General CommentHOOOoooOOooRRNNYYY!! i feel ya Damien, im horny too. haha, good song.
    Eskate85on November 05, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThere's something cool about Damien Rice screaming horny.

    Amazing song.
    shrodeson November 09, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General Commentrandom thoughts:

    someone defined the "you" and the "she" in the song, but i don't think it's clear cut - it seems like maybe it goes back and forth, at different times the ex is "you" and vice versa, but... i may be way off.

    the reason i think this is because of this line:

    "Do you still forget the breeze?"

    which echoes 'the blower's daughter'
    "and so it is just like you said it should be
    we both forget the breeze.... most of the time"

    i think "the breeze" is his way of describing how they(he and his "ex" {as we're calling her}) feel for each other.

    the "elephant" is, to me, about being unforgetable - irreplaceable. like the "elephant in the room", and how "an elephant never forgets". there have been many bad break-ups/losses where i've felt like the absence of that person is like a big elephant following me around... i can ignore it most of the time (like the breeze...huh) but it's there when i'm falling asleep at night and when i first wake up in the morning - let's me know that, nope, i'm still not over that.

    what i want to see someone explain (or make an argument for an explanation for) is the line
    "And she may rise, if I sing you down
    And she may wisely cling to the ground"

    next?
    getlostbeccaon December 16, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI don't think I'm going to be very popular here but I think Elephant is an anti love song about human weakness, guilt and uncontrallable desire.

    I think he is singing about an affair. "She" is his partner and "you" is his lover. his lover has a partner too.

    Verse by verse I think he is saying:-

    This affair has got to stop and I need to put my partner first.

    You can keep me hanging on but there is no future with you and there is with her (you can't paint an elephant as good as she)

    And she has her faults. And I can see them more because I'm alone in this guilt and confusion.

    So why do you lie/cheat. Cos I give you what you don't get elsewhere or an easy lay (crutch or pillow).

    Does it bother you cheating (and when you've sinned do you fall upon your knees). Do you pretend everything is ok with your partner (sit within your picture) and forget our passion (the breeze).

    And if I put you down she might become my passion. Or she might wisely keep her distance (cling to the ground) because I'm still horny for you and why should she take me when I'm horny for you and unfaithful.

    What's the point anyway because you're already with someone else so why am I still bothering you. I could get rid of you and forget it or be with you and lie. But i need to stop (I think the music changes here because he is angry and frustrated because he knows what he should do but can't give up his lover)

    It's got to stop and we have to put our partners first.

    You could both keep me pinned - trapped by my confusion and feelings but I have to make myself happy and only i can do that. But I don't believe that either because i can't choose.

    - so in the end he is defeated by his confusion, guilt, desire etc..

    Sorry to be so bleak
    AlexaGon April 07, 2008   Link
  • +1
    My InterpretationI agree with someone who commented earlier that the "she" is perhaps the ex and the "you" is perhaps the girlfriend. He wants the feelings he has for the old love to die.

    My take on the whole "you can't paint an elephant quite as good as she" is that maybe it's referring to the whole "elephant in the room" metaphor...maybe the other girl was better at ignoring the problems they had that were so obvious but neither of them wanted to confront? Perhaps by "painting" the elephant she was making it blend in, disguising it, making it easier to ignore?

    It's possible, I guess...
    songofthedeafgirlon December 01, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI got it! I think i know what the "cant paint an elephant quite as good as she bit" could mean. Well elephants never forget; well they symbolise a memory....like a moment so special that it's memorable. He's saying that his new gf can't make moments so good that it paints a memory in his head that he CANNOT forget. So to paint an elephant is to make a moment so special that it is unforgetable. -sorry if this is confusing, it's hard to explain what i mean =[

    The title of the song could mean "unforgetable" cos elephants dont forget.

    Okay, there is this different meaning of the song that hasnt been said yet and im quite surprised no one has mentioned it yet. There are a lot of sexual innuendoes in this song. Take the last bit for example:

    "but you can't make me happy
    quite as good as me..
    well,
    you know that's a lie"

    He's sort of saying "so what if you leave me u can't sexually satisfy me better than i can satisfy myself (in a sexual way) then he says well "u know that's a lie" - so she satisfies him better obv.

    "and she may rise if i sing you down
    and she may wisely cling to the ground"
    ^This bit here could be describing a sexual act, I won't explain it, but if u think about it, you'll eventually get there.

    and this bit
    "u can keep me pinned
    cos it's easier to tease"
    ^sexual act again, whereby girl on top.....and 'teasing' it.....i'll leave u to think about that bit
    Top Caton December 07, 2008   Link
  • +1
    My InterpretationOk first of all I don't understand why people get so excited over his use of the word horny. I'm guessing those responses were made by 15 yr olds. Many people see this as a song about a current lover and an ex. When I hear this song I hear him singing about his mistress and his wife (or girlfriend).

    If you listen to the songs in order on the album the first song "9 crimes" is obviously about two people having an affair and then the next song "the animals were gone" seems to be about his wife leaving him because of his indiscretions and neglect, and him realizing how much he loves her and wants her back; then this song seems to be him saying the affair needs to end because he doesn't think it's going anywhere and he wants his wife back.

    He's saying this affair has to die, it has to stop. The mistress can keep him pinned because it's easier to tease. "But you can't paint an elephant quite as good as she", the mistress can't handle the deeper issues as well as his wife, the so-called elephant-in-the-room. And yeah he may complain about her crying and driving him crazy, but it's not because of her it's because of him.

    And the mistress also is cheating on her husband and that's the references to him being her crutch and about her sinning. His comments about her lying and the pillow case being easier for her to touch make me think that he's expressing his frustration and insecurity that she hasn't left her husband, which could be the reason why he is also thinking the affair needs to stop. The line about forgetting the breeze seems to indicate that the mistress is the same girl that he is singing about in the blower's daughter.

    She may rise if I sing you down (she may take him back if he talks down the mistress and apologizes)
    She may wisely cling to the ground (she may be smart enough to not believe him)
    Cause I am lately horny (because she knows that he misses her touch)
    So why would she take me horny? (and why should she take him back when he's just horny and nothing has really changed)

    I think the change in the music is because he then starts to speak to his wife saying he doesn't know why he's even singing the song because she already left him, but he'd leave the mistress and lie about his feelings for her if the wife wants him to because he thinks that he should end the affair and be with her.

    They can both keep him pinned but they can't make him happy quite as well as he can is referring to the fact that he knows that he is using them and the sexual and emotional gratification to make himself feel better, but he knows the whole mess and all the problems are because he's lonely and unhappy with himself.
    missdanion February 01, 2009   Link

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