"Watermark" as written by and Jimmy Webb....
How delicate the tracery of her fine lines
Like the moonlight lacetops of the evening pines
Like a song half heard through a closed door
Like an old book when you cannot read the writing anymore

How innocent her visage as my child lover lies
Pressed against the rainswept windy windows of my eyes
Like an antique etching glass design
That somehow turned out wrong
I keep looking through old varnish
At my late lover's body
Caught on ancient canvas
And decaying...disappearing
Even as I sing this song

How secretly and silently my sorrow disappears
You can't see it with your eyes or hear it with your ears
It's like a Watermark that's never there and never really gone
I keep looking through old varnish
At my late lover's body
Caught on ancient canvas
And decaying...disappearing
Even as I sing this song
Even as I sing this song
Even as I sing this song


Lyrics submitted by jakkijelene

"Watermark" as written by Jimmy Webb

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

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Watermark song meanings
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6 Comments

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  • +1
    General CommentMy interpretation of this song has always been that it's about a man who lost a lover years ago and all that remains is a painting of her that is fading over time.
    jakkijeleneon December 21, 2007   Link
  • +1
    My InterpretationThis is just a nice poem about the fading memory of an old and lost love from childhood. It does not even need to a sexual encounter - just a love from childhood. He remembers her 'delicate - fine lines', the beauty in his memory, but this beauty is fading - it is a shadow (moonlight pines) - a half-heard conversation - a remembered story.

    The vision is innocent; the relationship did not go anywhere; it was a love without progress - a love unrequited or even unrecognized by the 'child lover'. Her visage (her image) is still pressed against his mind's eye, and he can remember the hurt of not being able to realize this youthful love - like a poor design - it did not pass to completion. But the pain ebbs as with all things in time - it is fading, diappearing under the varnish of life experience.

    So the sorrow of a lost love - silently disappears - unknown to all (but him). A Watermark on his life - everpresent - but unseen to all but him. Fading into his memory - but stil impacted by it's presence.

    Beautiful!
    JohnTatumon January 27, 2013   Link
  • 0
    General CommentProbably Jimmy Webb’s creepiest song, originally penned for Richard Harris’s second LP. Beyond Webb’s typically oblique and poetic imagery seems to be a rather chilling tale told from a man who has murdered his “child lover” and sits watching her body decay into nothingness. Art Garfunkel’s version is the definitive one, eerily sparse with his angelic voice making the lyrics all the more haunting.
    imperial.bedroomon December 03, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI think I'd have to agree with the last person. How he says pressed against the rain swept windy windows of my eyes, it shows hes thinking about his lost loved one from long ago. But at the same time her image is fading with his age. Jimmy Webb is a very underrated songwriter. Oh and Imperial Bedroom, do you like Elvis Costello? Or is that just a coincidence?
    TheBeavCTon December 23, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThe painting interpretation is likely the correct one. Glaringly obvious come to think about it. I just enjoyed the idea of Art Garfunkel singing something a touch more menacing than usual. Perhaps I was listening to too much Randy Newman when I wrote that. One of Webb's many classic songs about longing nonetheless.

    Oh and yeah, love Elvis. Probably my favorite songwriter.
    imperial.bedroomon April 08, 2008   Link
  • 0
    My OpinionPersonally, I think the painting aspect is simply a metaphor for how fixed but blurred memory becomes. To me, this is someone thinking about an old love, perhaps a first love, that is gone but has still left its mark on him. That mark is uncertain and rather unclear at this point, and is undoubtedly revised (like an antique etching glass design that somehow turned out wrong) and the narrator's awareness of the unreality of his memory makes it even worse, because he's ever more aware of the fallacy of his perspective, which helps make the memory fade and disappear even more.
    CompressedAireon December 22, 2015   Link

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