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Cataracts song meanings
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  • +2
    General CommentThere's some interesting stuff going on in the main verse:

    When our mouths are filled with uninvited tongues of others- this suggests a kind of intrusion, possibly an intrusion of ideas like discussed by others above

    And the strays are pining for their unrequited mothers- intro to the image of cats who, in a kind of antithesis to the above statement, are seeking some kind of connection or "intrusion"- they are inviting

    Milk that sours is promptly spat- we all know that cats are intimately connected with milk

    Light will fill our eyes like cats- perhaps the most interesting line since cats, unlike humans, see better in the dark and more clearly in the light

    Cataracts- thus the blurriness of a cataract is explained by the difficulty a cat has seeing when its eyes are "filled with light"

    this makes for an interesting simile between cat's vision and human vision- perhaps he is suggesting the more we know, the less we know?
    neilschmeilon May 12, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General Commenti just wanted to say the whistle solo here is amazing.
    jadedgypsyon March 25, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General Comment"light will fill our eyes like cats...cataracts"
    it symbolizes how we are not fully able to take in the light in that is presented to us. There is almost, a cloud over our eyes to filter what is really out there.
    aholden12592on March 27, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI find these words especially beautiful to the ear and evocative in imagery and feeling. Without being tied to any specific persons or events, I think they express some standard Bird themes.

    In the opening stanza, he evokes a fallen state where "we" have lost our voice to others, where we are isolated from loved ones, and where we are offered a false good. I love the "light-filled eye" image, and while it's beautiful in itself, it evokes a sense of grace or knowledge attained (presumably by rejecting the sour milk).

    In the second stanza, he conjures up what I think of as the "shadowy forces" he referred to somewhere when speaking about a vague narrative thread running through The Mysterious Production of Eggs. "They" are associated with stealth (entering from the back), violence (spears), power (secepters), and restraint/control (sacks). They're vague and not fully formed, and the "scribs and tangles" in their heads evoke confused or messed-up thinking.

    The third stanza evokes passage through shadowy, prickly growth into a fold. I can see this as either the above "they" leading the "us" of the first stanza into captivity; or I can also see it as the "us" passing through danger into safety (which I prefer).
    Quisquillosoon April 26, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentFirst of all, I would like to say that this song is beautiful. As peopledontdance said nicely "you want your music to be as sad as you are" is so true. Andy has always wrote very touching and interesting songs, but this, for some reason or another, hits the bottom of the listeners heart.
    I believe that this song, as a whole, is meant to portray one's life in this cruel word. he is trying to say that, as humans, we do not live particularly great lives, tahat we must understand that. We constantly have others telling us to do something or another, trying to manipulate us to believe whatever the other person does. The idea with the cat is that there is beauty in this world, all we have to do is search for it and hold on to it, keep it in ours eyes as long as we can.
    CheckMyTimeon April 06, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General CommentSo it took me a couple listens to realize that this wasn't literally about developing a eye malady. haha. But this seriously is one of the most beautifully subdued songs that Mr. Bird has produced.

    I agree mostly with Quisquilloso. It's the idea of having others place thoughts and ideas into your head and when you realize they are sour you spit them out and your eyes are then filled with the light, that you can see for your self once you can find your way out of the various "shrubberies" that block your way.

    I have no idea if that made any sense to anybody to me. But that's my musing.
    TheNamingOfThingson September 03, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI see light pouring out of a cat's eyes like waterfalls(cataracts).
    Since people see the dark as an dangerous thing, they might act out of fear. Fight.
    Some will try to hurt you and deceive you, while others have their own agendas.
    The cat is a creature who travels in the dark with grace and stealth.
    When a light is before them, their eyes glow. Light flows outward.

    I do think that the word cataracts is meant both ways. Clouded eyes and waterfalls.
    Maybe since he is seeing the world through "blurry vision"(doesn't see what others see), it acts as an aid when he sees an answer. Illumination.
    owlhowlscowlon March 05, 2011   Link
  • +1
    Song MeaningHi the whistling is completely absorbing isn't it? Very sad and evocative.

    I was wondering if in fact this song is not partly about dying?

    "when our mouths are filled with uninvited tongues of others" (worms/beetles,crows perhaps, I get stong imagery of flesh being eaten from inside)
    "And the strays are pining for their unrequited mothers" (unrequited = unresponsive perhaps? Due to deathly absence?)
    "Milk that sours is promptly spat
    Light will fill our eyes like cats" (An after death type thing? filled with light??)

    and on the final lines:
    "Light will fill our eyes like cats..
    Cataracts" (a reversal or change of meaning here possibly from 'radiant light' to 'light in colour'- 'light' becoming a the white veil of death that appears in the eye like cataracts when someone is dead)

    just a few thoughts...hope they are of interest.
    I must say i find the comments about being 'conquered by another culture' made by Tru_Shard both offensive and highly unlikely - not to mention zenophobic.

    Also i find the imagery of the other verses in this song absolutely stupendous.
    Andrew Bird I HATE YOU!!!!

    Bullitzon October 29, 2011   Link
  • +1
    General Commentat first, I thought the song was about rape. dark places, the feeling of fear, powerful and intrusive people?
    then I was like, no. no no no.
    The song's about people forcing opinions and words into other's mouths. then these "others" reject the opinion for good and obvious reasons. we'll know what's true, despite what they force upon us.
    it doesn't matter what these intrusive people look like. what matters is that they're there, and have all the power and control. We're helpless from their terrible ways, thoughts, and opinions. Their "squirming sacs" might represent people who once didn't think the same way, but now are useless from the attacker's thoughts.
    next, we hide, and continuously reject their thoughts though we begin to process them and think about them. They start to seem not as terrible as before. (catch weed into the fold.)
    next, the original repeats itself. The "cats....cataracts." part represents what was once clear sight of the world and your own opinions being morphed into the attacker's opinions. and the terrible transformation is complete.
    Cactuslaceon February 05, 2015   Link
  • 0
    General Commenti think this one is fairly easy...maybe. By uninvited tongues i think it means being conquered by another culture that speaks another culture. We'll be left without our mothers and fathers who would be killed in the conflict and then we would be forced lukewarm liquid or crap we don't believe in, due to our concrete value systems and will appreciate what we had before. We will be able to see in the night because we learn to reflect the light we dont want (just as cataracts and cats both do)but it shouldn't have to come to this so..if we stop accepting everything as true/right immediately and start finding the facts out for ourselves. Only by actively trying/working at being community minded can we prevent the takeover. let me know your opinions
    tru_shardon April 19, 2007   Link

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