"Mistaken for Strangers" as written by and Aaron B. Dessner Bryce D. Dessner....
You have to do it running
But you do everything that they ask you to
'Cause you don't mind seeing yourself in a picture
As long as you look faraway, as long as you look removed

Showered and blue-blazered, fill yourself with quarters
Showered and blue-blazered, fill yourself with quarters

You get mistaken for strangers by your own friends
When you pass them at night
Under the silvery, silvery Citibank lights
Arm in arm in arm and eyes and eyes, glazing under

Oh, you wouldn't want an angel watching over you
Surprise, surprise, they wouldn't wanna watch
Another un-innocent, elegant fall
Into the un-magnificent lives of adults

Make up something to believe in your heart of hearts
So you have something to wear on your sleeve of sleeves
So you swear, you just saw a feathery woman
Carry a blindfolded man through the trees

Showered and blue-blazered, fill yourself with quarters
Showered and blue-blazered, fill yourself with quarters

You get mistaken for strangers by your own friends
When you pass them at night
Under the silvery, silvery Citibank lights
Arm in arm in arm and eyes and eyes, glazing under

Oh, you wouldn't want an angel watching over you
Surprise, surprise, they wouldn't wanna watch
Another un-innocent, elegant fall
Into the un-magnificent lives of adults

You get mistaken for strangers by your own friends
When you pass them at night
Under the silvery, silvery Citibank lights
Arm in arm in arm and eyes and eyes, glazing under

Oh, you wouldn't want an angel watching over you
Surprise, surprise, they wouldn't wanna watch
Another un-innocent, elegant fall
Into the un-magnificent lives of adults


Lyrics submitted by lampada, edited by thebrignad

"Mistaken for Strangers" as written by Bryce David Dessner Aaron Brooking Dessner

Lyrics © BMG RIGHTS MANAGEMENT US, LLC

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Mistaken for Strangers song meanings
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  • +4
    General CommentAlright, first off it must be said that this song is the definition of "the shit." I looked it up.

    Now for my take on it, I would have to agree with most above that its a song about the self-induced murder of your youth by joining the "real world."

    The first part just screams young employee/intern. Running around doing all the bitch work. The picture part makes me think of how people arent admittedly proud of themselves for joining the business world and working for "the man" but don't mind being recognized by the higher ups in pictures or portraits (as long as its in the back and subtle.) All showered up and blazered (which may point out a change from college life and youth which is customly just before a business job) starting out getting paid starter pay or "quarters." The whole part is just about a person starting out and not necessarily happy to be working for the man but at the same time anxious to succeed.

    The second verse has the most ambiguity. The heart of heart sleeve of sleeve part i think refers to opinions and feeling like previous have said. Like wearing your "emotions on your sleeve," you believe what you do in your heart and then display your stance on your sleeve. The fact that Berninger adds "MAKE UP something to beleive" sound like our main character is a suck-up brown-noser trying to get ahead with the heads. Think the way they do and they'll respect you for it, have your own opinion and you'll suffer for it. That may lead into the feathery woman (most likely an angel) leading the blindfolded man (most likely an older employee whos been fired for our protagonists promotion) into the trees. The 2nd part shows how our main character is moving up in his new world, but for a price.

    The chorus is awesome. As this person focuses more time on their new career and monetary success (citibank - banks are perfect examples of white collar successful/respectable jobs) they begin to loose touch with their past and friends who are still walking the night streets arm and arm with glazing eyes from being out drinking and having fun. The person is ashamed which is why he wouldn't want an angel watching over, but Berninger points out that angels have no interest in watching him/her walk down the same dull, trite path that so many nameless businessmen walk.

    Its an uninnocent fall because our leading figure has brought it upon himself. I hope its never me.
    Knife 10.21on September 26, 2007   Link
  • +3
    General CommentI feel like a lot of people misunderstand this song. It is about very self-important young adults who despite living very droll and nearly identical lives still think they're very special and unique. The intention is most succinct in the chorus:

    "you wouldn't want an angel watching over you" is something you'd say in passing which would imply you live a lifestyle that an angel wouldn't approve of, maybe as a boast. The reply is of course:

    "surprise, surprise they wouldn't want to watch|another un-innocent elegant fall into the un-magnificent lives of adults" which is essentially a wake up call, as if to say "an Angel wouldn't haven any interest in your life, there is nothing about your experiences that would warrant their attention."

    The term "mistaken for strangers" sort of drives this home because it implies that this group of people are so indistinguishable with how they live they might as well be strangers. It is a critique on being self-absorbed in a modern society of self-glorification.
    HeadSouthon May 18, 2011   Link
  • +3
    General CommentThe "showered and blue-blazered" line is from the novel The Extra Man by Jonathan Ames. I think Technophobia really nailed the meaning of the song back in 2007, because that's kind of what the book is about. In one section the character that is "showered and blue-blazered" spends a lot of time in peep-show theaters in Times Square, putting quarters into the slot to look at the girls behind the glass.
    allhailspartaon November 22, 2011   Link
  • +1
    General Commentfucking brilliance. intro sounds like sonic youth.
    powderfinger01on April 03, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentSuch a brilliant song, it's one of those songs you don't want to end
    elbonoon May 22, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentUntil now I thought the line was:

    Oh you wouldn't want an angel watching over
    surprise, surprise they wouldn't wannna watch
    another you innocent, elegant falling to the unmagnificent lives of the dogs.

    It totally fits. I'm super dissapointed in my ability to use my ears.
    I thought it was about kids throwing themselves into the apparently wonderful but realistically, quietly desperate and desolate world of sexual maturity and the requisite self-sufficiency of adulthood; and doing so when they have the sexual development to fit in physically, but not the mental development to have any hope of doing it right.
    Samobon April 07, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General Commentpretty sick, probably my favorite off the new album so far
    jasono52on April 03, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Commentgreat sound and lyrics
    upthera44on April 24, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Commentwhen i first heard this the intro kinda put me off, but now its one of my favorites off boxer. "surprise surprise they wouldn't wanna watch"
    ha, love that line
    ElfyNibs33on June 15, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Commentaw, I love this song!
    xjaclynnxon June 15, 2007   Link

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