"Lime Tree" as written by and Conor Oberst....
I keep floating down the river but the ocean never comes
Since the operation I heard you're breathing just for one
Now everything is imaginary, especially what you love
You left another message, said it's done
It's done

When I hear beautiful music it's always from another time
Old friends I never visit, I remember what they're like
Standing on a doorstep full of nervous butterflies
Waiting to be asked to come inside
Just come inside

But I keep going out
I can't sleep next to a stranger when I'm coming down
It's 8 a.m., my heart is beating too loud
Too loud
Don't be so amazing or I'll miss you too much
I felt something that I had never touched
Everything gets smaller now the further that I go
Towards the mouth and the reunion of the known and the unknown
Consider yourself lucky if you think of it as home
You can move mountains with your misery if you don't
If you don't

It comes to me in fragments, even those still split in two
Under the eaves of that old lime tree I stood examining the fruit
Some were ripe and some were rotten, I felt naseous with the truth
There will never be a time more opportune

So I just won't be late
The window closes, shocks roll over in a tidal wave
And all the color drains out of the frame
So pleased with a daydream that now living is no good
I took off my shoes and walked into the woods
I felt lost and found with every step I took


Lyrics submitted by BlakeWolfsSN, edited by fido

"Lime Tree" as written by Conor Oberst

Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

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Lime Tree song meanings
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  • +2
    General CommentThis song is certainly about abortion. Here's how I choose to dissect it. The opening verse - "Since the operation I heard you're breathing just for one" - this clearly indicates the subject matter. As does "You left another message, said it's done". The first of several references to the child as an insubstantiated, imaginary, or not yet a whole being is "Now everything is imaginary, especially what you love". This both describes the child and the state of mind that the mother enters after the abortion. Its a horrific feeling of grieving for something that isn't there, and in a sense never was. Grieving for someone you've never met yet you're inexplicably in love with.

    Next verse:
    "Standing on a doorstep full of nervous butterflies
    Waiting to be asked to come inside"
    I believe this refers to waiting outside the hospital or home of the mother after the operation. Undoubtedly this is going to be a horrible feeling of uncertainty, guilt, and fear.

    Next verse:
    "But I keep going out
    I can't sleep next to a stranger when I'm coming down
    It's 8 a.m., my heart is beating too loud"
    This suggests that he turns to drugs to distract him from the grief he feels as a result of losing a child. Which drug? I don't know, and I don't think it is of particular importance here. What is important is why he has turned to drugs. Most interestingly does this particular personal pain suggest that this could have been Conor's child; or is he merely placing himself in the shoes of the father?

    "Don't be so amazing or I'll miss you too much
    I felt something that I had never touched"
    I believe this again refers to the lost child.

    "You can move mountains with your misery if you don't"
    This is a beautifully lyrical line depicting the extent of the grief if it is confronted head on, unsupported. The grief must be either masked by drugs, by company, or by simply getting in touch with nature. Going for a walk (as he seems to do in the final verse) still seems to be the best way of clearing your head.

    "It comes to me in fragments, even those still split in two
    Under the leaves of that old lime tree I stood examining the fruit
    Some were ripe and some were rotten, I felt naseous with the truth"
    This refers to the painful memory of the abortion coming back to him sporadically - "in fragments" - throughout his mourning. The use of the lime tree is intriguing. I believe he has attempted to find comfort in nature as Coleridge does, hence the reference in the title. Unfortunately he sees a different metaphor in the lime's fruit. The "ripe" and "rotten" refering back to the child as being "rotten"; never fully reaching its potential , becoming tainted and then lost. As he notices this he feels "naseous" with pangs of realisation and is forced to take this moment to confront his grief head on.
    "There will never be a time more opportune
    So I just won't be late
    The window closes, shocks roll over in a tidal wave
    And all the color drains out of the frame"
    This is when the grief hits and overwhelms him.

    "So pleased with a daydream that now living is no good"
    This is a truly fantastic lyric which depicts how he had become so attached to his imagined child, that now it is gone, living in reality is rendered pointless.

    "I took off my shoes and walked into the woods
    I felt lost and found with every step I took"
    He walks again to find comfort for this event but this lyric has a more important meaning in the context of the album. He has spent the entire album searching for emotional and spiritual contentment. The whole album is about going from place to place looking for somewhere where he can be at peace. Then once he has finally found somewhere in the penultimate song
    "I must belong somewhere,
    I know that know thay's why I'm staying here."
    his contentment is smashed by a tragic personal event. This child's death has displaced him once again. He now must begin his search all over again. This is an exceptionally painful realisation.

    Opinions?

    Whatever you think this is a truly magnificent end to a very fine album.
    dustygrooveson May 09, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThe drug addiction he is speaking off is almost certainly meth. It seems no one has ever really noticed how there is a chance Conor is addicted to meth, hopefully this is all of the past. In digital ash he speaking of passing the foil with the flame, and always makes refrences to not eating, not sleepinig, and how the one girl is looking skinny like a model with her eyes all painted black, always going to the bathroom saying she will be right back. That was paraphrased for sure but Conor does come from the midwest, and in many of his songs, some very hidden he makes discrete refrences to this drug.
    I33on April 07, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentHas any of you ever done meditation? As the elementary intro of the album points out, this is a spiritual album, a spiritual journey. 'Observing the river' is a metaphor for meditation, and 'the ocean' is a well-known image for enlightenment. We are kept from enlightenment by our swirling thoughts, our daydreaming, our ego's and the tug of our serious problems, like that abortion. Our lives are dominated by craving and aversion, we are never satisfied. We want new friends, new music, and we want MORE. We long for the past and fear the future, while the present is slipping by unobserved. Meditation is about letting go of all that, about seeing the world as it IS, about silencing our obtrusive ego's, stopping our daydreaming, and staying in the PRESENT, the only place and time where we can find happiness. Oberst clearly has seen glimpses of that state, like fragments, feeling like something he's never touched. He knows it's there, and wants to find it again. But in order to be able to find it he must accept reality, everything in it, ripe ánd rotten, as reality always contains two sides. If he surrenders to that truth, only then he can step into the woods of the unknown and find liberation from suffering. Everyone who can consider this state as 'home' is very lucky, as he rightly points out. And we should turn to it NOW, as 'there will never be a time more opportune'. The song is about the difference between a life of suffering, as we all know it, and enlightenment, or at least the willingness to enter the path to enlightenment. I think the old lime tree refers to the Bodhi tree, under whose eaves Buddha found enlightenment.
    Elly Vlutterson November 21, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General Commentwhether or not it was specifically written by conor to be about an abortion, i think the lyrics hold a lot of different meanings for different people. words have a way of being twisted in perception to fit the understanding of the reader.
    mormonxcore.on April 14, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General Commentit's 8 am, my heart's beating too loud.
    xLackOfColorHereon January 01, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General Commentto add, my father has a picture of a river leading to the ocean with a caption next to it saying, "what you think might be the end, is really a new beginning." conor's putting himself in the baby's perspective at times and identifying himself to him. i think the river signifies the baby in the mother's womb floating down the river (birth canal) towards birth, and never makes it. to strengthen that idea he also gives the unborn baby advice saying "if you made it to the mouth" (of the ocean ie world) you would be lucky if you're able to think of this world as home. i think its clear that conor doesn't consider this world as his home and knows its truly the miserable in this world who feel out of place that change it, for good or bad. he talks about this idea again when viewing the fruit of the lime tree, some were ripe some were rotten, referring to the people of this world, some good some bad. how sad that this baby was never able to make a decision about his own course in this world.

    the lyrics here are a revelation on so many levels. i had this song for two years until it hit me one day, and i can't believe i overlooked it for so long. might be the best song i've heard from him.
    ksvoldon July 21, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General Commentim pretty sure its "eaves of that old lime tree"
    not "leaves"
    getoutofthepoolon November 19, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis is by far my favorite song on Cassadaga.

    "So pleased with a daydream that now living is no good"

    Love that line
    megafooon March 29, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Commentthis is my favorite off cassadaga also. this is gonna sound kinda gay, but it feels like a dream when I hear it. It's surreal. I just get all these images in my head when I hear the song.
    triple07on March 29, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentPerfect end to a perfect cd.

    This cd is better than either Lifted... or I'm Wide Awake
    Silon March 30, 2007   Link

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