Some people wake up on Monday mornings
Barring maelstroms and red flare warnings
With no explosions and no surprises
Perform a series of exercises

Hold your fire
Take your place around an open fire

Before your neurons declare a crisis, be-
Fore your trace Serotonin rises, be-
Fore you're breeding your coffee grounds and be-
Fore a pundit can make a sound, be-
Fore you're reading your list of vices
Perform the simplest exercises

So here we are at the end, the war is over
There's nothing left to defend, no cliffs of Dover
So let us put down our pens and this concludes the test
Our minds are scattered about from hell to breakfast

Hold your fire
Take your place around an open fire

Before your neurons declare a crisis, be-
Fore your trace Serotonin rises, be-
Fore you're reading your list of vices
Perform the simplest exercises


Lyrics submitted by samwoah, edited by loughnessmonster

Simple X song meanings
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18 Comments

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  • +1
    General CommentI love new Andrew Bird fans that think his songs are fraught with deep meanings....it is obvious you have not heard him talk about his own songs and how they are made; He really is more into how lyrics sound than what they mean - not that they don't have *some* meaning, they are words after all, but don't try reading something into them that is not there, at least don't do it and say he meant it. Art is meant to be interpreted on a personal level, but for Bird a lot of lyrics are just nice sounds.

    For more accurate Andrew Bird lyrics and community commentary, etc. go check out:
    AndrewBird.org
    JasonBuntingon April 20, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General Commenti see your point, however i've also seen a lot of artists avoid meaning with that. some people don't want to explain what they've written, and i think you're right, it takes personal interpretation to truly "get" a song, but if you don't understand what's inside it, sometimes you can get caught up in that. or in this case, curiosity sparks interest in this genius, and you find that Bird, whether or not he intends it, writes from a place that is quite beautifully poignant.

    you see a very large movement in history, especially in the mid-1800's in France, with the symbolist movement headed by figures like Rimbaud (who's inspired his share of rock musicians). the interesting thing about these guys was that they turned from what was previously understood as poetry into very intense imagery. this is the first good representation of people writing from drugs, and also a thing called "synesthesia"--where all a person's senses collide into one interpretation of reality. i've never done LSD or pot, but from what I've heard, this is very easily attainable through those drugs. I would suppose opium would also contribute. a good idea of that sense would be hearing people talk about the smell of colors, or how people with perfect pitch hear notes with color.

    interestingly enough, Rimbaud thought of himself as a prophet. he called himself "le voyant" - the seer - and he thought it was his call to bring to the world a universal language. his thinking on this language was that in the very essence of language must be this understanding of the sounds we hear, in the way that certain words will sound beautiful before we even know meaning. he believed that a universal language could be attained where perhaps nothing of dictionary meaning was even said, but the sheer power of the sounds of the words would move the soul from somewhere far beyond the constructs of ascribed meaning. Rimbaud's sense of idealism and his mission were so incredibly strong however, that he eventually abandoned the field of poetry altogether. perhaps his ideas were synonymous with those of the most idealistic of revolutionary youth, as he began his career at age 15, delved heavily into experimenting with absinthe and opium with Paul Verlaine (his mentor, eventual lover, then bitter foe after a quarrel that ended in gunfire), and it's my opinion that he moved so fast with his ideas that he burnt out on the concept, and realized the impossibility of this task without utterly his own self. check out "The Drunken Boat" for one of the best example's of Rimbaud's poetry, and also a good idea of how the guy could've burnt out. he sort of predicts his own demise, realizing that, upon seeing the most incredible of things, a person simply can't not strive for them if they become unattainable, and he wishes he'd never seen them in the first place. he eventually has to abandon his dreams altogether as he has to battle reality harder and harder to achieve this "synesthetized" state in which this universal language comes together.

    all that dissertation to say, perhaps what is appealing so strongly about andrew bird is his innate understanding of the beauty of language. i don't believe we could truly achieve a universal language based on sounds alone, but i think some people are more gifted with a sense of aesthetics towards such things, and it would not surprise me if a. bird is one of those people, who the beauty of language comes naturally to. some people write b.s. lyrics and they sound like it, and then when have men who write in lyric in such a fashion as this, where there is something just beyond the surface that holds us captive, something in between the words themselves, and i don't believe that's anything anyone could ever work toward, but a beautiful innate gift of God that should be celebrated just in the way we're doing here. the interesting thing, is the words that bird chooses, even if only b.s.-ing, have such meaning attached to them as we're finding out when we start to tear into his work.

    what a peculiar thing this man's genius is.
    eiseyon April 30, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThe song is pretty straight forward imho It's a song about someone(s) with the bad case of the Monday's or any day for that matter. How people get caught up in the hustle-bustle of everyday life and make a bigger deal out of things that really do not deserve half the anxiety. Simplest exercises refers to "mind exercises" -I am personally reminded of a list of thought exercises I read in a book by the Dalai Lama but could be as simple as counting to ten.

    What I am curious about is the song name. I think X could be short for exercises but my first thought was X being the chromosome we all have in common. I picture some really resentful person getting all caught up in some minute thing for work, but when they stop to think about life, and really step back and zoom out, you realize the basic necessities of life(food, love, shelter, happiness) are the only things that matter and that we really are all the same.
    gjg13on November 17, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentSerotonin is the neuron that is the center of depression problems. I see this as song as about a person with mental problems, examining the problems they have to deal with.
    jirolicoon March 24, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThe thing I find odd about this song is that low levels of serotonin are associated with depression, so "before your trace serotonin rises" would seem to mean "before your mood is pleasant," which doesn't fit with the other lines. Am I missing something here?
    Quisquillosoon March 27, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentQuisquilloso, i think that line is meant as seen. i think he is describing a static feeling. but this song is so multifaceted in meaning. there's the war reference, mental disorder, a wanderer in life or something. but i like to look at it from a point of view of a day/morning after. I like after death, but sex/relationship works too. so does morning after... so many meanings. i think the song's title Simple X implies simple and you sign your name by the X. this song's meaning is what you make it to be. so in that sense the song is simple but good lord the song is so not simple. it's crazily insane.
    thumbsdownon March 28, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Commentand in that regard it is amazing.

    nice interpretation, thumbs.
    moreproductiveon April 02, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentFrom his interview with the Onion:

    AVC: Because that was originally one of Martin's songs, "Simple Exercises" from Pure Trash.

    AB: He would play that when he was opening for me. I was waiting to go onstage, and I'd be singing to myself backstage over that tune. That kind of division of labor is pretty foreign to me, but it was pretty satisfying to just go intuitively reflect: "What does this song want to happen?" And to just write a word for every keystroke. While we were in the studio in Minneapolis, I would get up and have breakfast at a café and write a few lines, and it was kind of my regimen, I'd write another couple lines for "Simple X." I guess that the song is a bit about breakfast, or that period of the day, being a possible key to world peace. [Laughs.]
    MeetMeinStLouison April 08, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentBefore he played this song live a couple of days ago (which was AMAZING, Dosh tore it up) he said it was just about breakfast. I'm pretty sure that was a massive understatement.
    TheBMon April 18, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentOkay, that was way rude of me to start off in the way I did above - forgive me. All I am saying is, don't get too hung up on the idea that Bird is trying to communicate things that are so deep as to escape most people. He's just a guy like the rest of us. Dylan hated when people attached too much to what he sang, and I bet Bird is the same way.
    JasonBuntingon April 24, 2007   Link

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