This isn't your song, this isn't your music
How can there be wrong, when by committee they choose it all
They choose it all

You're gonna grow old, you're gonna grow cold
Bearing signs on the avenues, for your own personal Waterloo
You're bearing signs on the avenue, for your own personal Waterloo, now

We'll fight, we'll fight
We'll fight for your music halls and dying cities
They'll fight, they'll fight
They'll fight for your neural walls and plasticities
And precious territory
And precious territory
And precious territory

This isn't our song, this isn't even a musical
Think life is too long, to be a whale in a cubicle
Nails under your cuticle

You're gonna grow old, you're gonna to grow cold
Before the sun can deliver you
You're bearing signs on the avenue
You're bearing signs for your own personal Waterloo, now

We'll fight, we'll fight
We'll fight for your music halls and dying cities
They'll fight, they'll fight
They'll fight for your neural walls and plasticities
And precious territory
And precious territory
And precious territory


Lyrics submitted by levittome

Plasticities song meanings
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28 Comments

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  • +4
    General CommentI think it's about the music industry, and how it kills originality and creativity and passion and all the beautiful things about music. The music industry (the committee, who chooses what constitutes music) is fighting to imprint its music on you (your neural walls and your plasticities=memories); independent musicians are fighting to keep music accessible and personal. I'd imagine some people protested the closing of CBGB in New York; they were pretty much destined to lose (waterloo), but independent artists will still keep making art, and creating things of beauty (the "precious territory" could be the concept of art, or beauty). No idea what's going on with the whale, though. Maybe we fat Americans sit in our cubicles, biting our nails about the future, when a little beauty would sooth our souls?
    moosescoopson July 27, 2007   Link
  • +2
    General CommentWe'll fight, we'll fight
    We'll fight for your music halls and dying cities

    Those who see the arts (in this case, music and composition) as important aspects of life to fight for.

    They'll fight, they'll fight
    They'll fight for your neural walls and plasticities

    Those who see control over your opinion, your mind, and it's malleability as important to fight for. Wonder why that is? Most likely corporations (which make money that help fund)-- the media (which supports) -- government officials (who run the show). Following the moneytrail is always beneficial.

    And precious territory
    And precious territory
    And precious territory

    Oh, yeah, they want territory too. Why would anyone want estate (capital) as well as controlled popular opinion? Gotta make money somehow I suppose. Money grants power, and power gives you decision making authority.

    We just wanna keep our music, our arts, our cultures, and our souls-- it doesn't matter if they produce a dollar or not.
    WTFnametoUSEon March 21, 2011   Link
  • +1
    General Commentpretty sure its about how society's mentality is evolving and there is a widening gap between the beliefs of the elder generations and the younger generations.

    the elder generations are fighting to retain the tradition and comfort with which they are familiar, and dont understand how there can be wrong in this country beneath a democratic government.

    the younger generation is too focused on plowing over morality and ethics and, at the expense of personal happiness (about which the elder generation believes life is too long to spend it trapped in a restrictive, emotionless environment), advancing technologically (fight for your neurons and plasticities is a reference to the stem-cell research debate). precious territories is in reference to the quickening rate at which available land is becoming obsolete because of our growing population.
    kismyashon March 22, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI'd say this continues the theme of The Individual vs. Media/Government/Society/WhatHaveYou. I like the wordplay of "neural walls and plasticities." I see it as both "walls and cities" and as a reference to neuroplasticity; it addresses both the individual brain/mind and the social/physical environment.
    Quisquillosoon March 27, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThe part about the whale in the cubicle is about being confined. The image is of a huge animal crammed in a tiny space. "Nails under your cuticles" is another image conveying the same idea of confinement. You normally think of fingernails as being exposed (free), but he is describing the part confined under the dead skin of the cuticles.

    The chorus follows the same theme, where the "neural walls" I think represent figurative walls built to confine your mind. Plasticities is like plastic cities, the antithesis of the "dying cities" of culture described in the first part of the chorus, where everything is plastic, prepackaged, impersonal, and efficient. I think the song is mostly a statement about the confinement of the music industry, both on the art it produces and on the public in general as listeners, to whom it is easier to sell music that can be neatly classified and marketed, and that is simple enough to understand immediately. I think the song can also be applied to the culture as a whole, though.
    camberon September 03, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentLike moosescoops, I thought this was about the music industry. I saw Andrew Bird perform live a couple of days ago and he talked about this song before he performed it. If the intent of the songwriter matters, this is relevant. Sorry if I duplicate information in the other posts, which I only skimmed. At the performance, Bird said that some time ago he was traveling alone in rural France when he found himself in an old inn that reminded him, he said, of the "Cabinet of Dr. Caligari." The same few songs played over and over again in the dining room, where he was the only customer. He said that all of this reminded him of the plasticity of the human mind. So he wrote this song. Thought I would add this information, since I got it from Andrew Bird itself. Of course, it does not settle the question of what the song "means." But artists often say that creativity comes from the subconscious, and that they themselves do not always know what their work "means." What does the song mean to me? After hearing his description at the concert, when I listen to the song now I visualize him alone in that creepy inn in rural France, and so the song takes on a whole new meaning: these images in my head when I hear the song now. The same few songs being played over and over again in the dining room gives a new interpretation for me of "This isn't your song, this isn't your music. How can there be wrong, when by committee they choose it all." I imagine a committee at the inn choosing the short list of boring songs. Before hearing Bird talk about the origin of the song, I had associated it instead with the control of airplay in the music industry. I think it is a personal reminiscence more than a commentary on the music industry, as I now interpret it myself.
    jpcoleyon September 14, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI really think this is about the media, especially MTV. “This isn't your song, this isn't your music how can there be wrong, when by committee they choose it all” this is true. Songs on MTV only become popular once they are played on TRL 100000 times, there is no viewer control when it comes to TRL, or listen control when it comes to Viacom controlled radio stations. “Bearing signs on the avenue, for your own personal waterloo” Kids today are spending more time standing out side of TRL in New York screaming to get on TV then actually caring about real issues. “Precious Territory” culture, any sort of culture to MTV is something to conquer so they can make money off it. Then the part of “You’re gonna grow old, you’re going to grow cold” Youth is being wasted. Youth today is all about getting wasted and having expensive purses. MTV is teaching teenagers that such a shallow existence is normal, and acceptable. MTV isn’t evil, but if you let MTV live your youth, then you will be a very dull undeveloped adult. You wont have a personality or real interests. Lastly the lines “We’ll fight for your music halls and dying cities, and they’ll fight for your neural walls and plasticites.” Neural tube, being the tube in the womb that connects directly to the brain and plasticity means to model and form. So MTV will fight for its control over how we act, and I guess Andrew Bird will be fighting for the real culture that is slowly fading away. The question is why do we readily accept and go along with something like MTV when it will fight tooth and nail to control out habits? I’m glad that Andrew Bird is so reluctant to give into the “Man”. Culture comes from art, and art should be something that is purely between the artist(s) and the work. Sadly everything today is so manufactured and processed that rarely anything coming out of MTV is real art. Thus youth culture isn’t really culture anymore. Andrew Bird is amazing, I love this song. Not just for its lyrics, This song (Like every other Bird song) you could take out all the lyrics and the song as an instrumental would still be incredible. Flipping that his lyrics are poetic they easly could stand alone with out any instrumental.
    Legionnaire7on October 04, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General Commentthis is my favorite song on the album. It's funny how there are so many different interpretations of the song. But that's the way his songs are. Andrew Birds lyrics are so understated that they mean all things to all people. That's part of his genius apart from his incredible songwriting ability. I've latched on to this idea of "the death of the author" by Roland Barthes, because i never seem to understand poems or lyrics; it basically says that it doesn't matter what the authors intentions were because it's impossible to know exactly what the author intended for it to mean. Andrew Bird is a great example of this.
    But i still have my own interpretation. I think quisquilloso was closest to the meaning though his response was terse.
    The song is anti-media, anti-corporate and anti-political manipulation. Art vs. capitalism.
    Despite being abstract it is definitely a protest song.
    "Signs on the avenue" brings to mind protesting. But maybe it means those schmuks outside trl too.
    My opinion of this song vacillates after every listening. But i think it's a political protest song at heart. Maybe i just wish it was though. You know the whole idea of hearing what you want to hear.
    I think it throws you off because of the genius of the line
    "they'll fight for your neural walls and plasticities"
    In this world of media and entertainment, who isn't fighting for a place in the "precious territory" of your brain.
    Committees could mean the negative effects of group think that gives us political quagmires, but the music industry is lead by committees and group think as well.
    So i think everyone is right or everyone is wrong or everyone is kind of right and kind of wrong.
    kh991269on December 29, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General Commentwhat i really get from this song is a sense of desperation...the idea that you can grow old without fighting for what you believe in because many have resigned to the fact that we live in a world with boundaries set by government, society, and media-ingrained conformism.

    the lines "You're gonna grow old, you're gonna to grow cold Before the sun can deliver you" and "Think life is too long, to be a whale in a cubicle Nails under your cuticle" kind of remind me of pink floyd's "time." i get a carpe diem idea from some of bird's songs, notably "fiery crash," "armchairs," "tables and chairs."
    suclid003on October 22, 2008   Link
  • +1
    My InterpretationI agree that it represents a territorial battle of the brain. Your own personal Waterloo... as if your "self" can be compared to Napoleon battling over sections of your thoughts and what you hold important.
    And I thought it said "peel away in a cubicle" which makes a lot of sense.
    Bascially, life is too short to not grasp hold of your thoughts but that is nearly impossible since they are always contradicting one another, until we could possible end up mad on the street holding up signs.
    Our brains can drive us crazy.
    sheltonhon December 14, 2012   Link

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