"Brainy" as written by and Matthew D. Berninger Aaron B. Dessner....
I've been draggin' around
From the end of your coat for two weeks, ahh
Everywhere you go is swirlin'
Everything you say has water under it, ahh

You know, I keep your fingerprints
In a pink folder in the middle of my table
You're the tall kingdom I surround
Think I'd better follow you around

You might need me more
Than you think you will
Come home in the car you love
Brainy, brainy, brainy

I've been draggin' around
From the end of your coat for two weeks, ahh
You keep changing your fancy, fancy mind
Every time I decide to let go

I was up all night again
Boning up and reading the American Dictionary
You'll never believe me, what I found
Think I'd better follow you around

You might need me more
Than you think you will
Come home in the car you love
Brainy, brainy, brainy

You might need me more
Than you think you will
Come home in the car you love
Brainy, brainy, brainy


Lyrics submitted by lampada, edited by butterflykiss84

"Brainy" as written by Matthew D. Berninger Aaron B. Dessner

Lyrics © BMG RIGHTS MANAGEMENT US, LLC

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Brainy song meanings
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  • +2
    General CommentI think it's about loving someone you feel intellectually inferior to. And there are definitely some obsessive undertones.
    kipshabazzon August 06, 2007   Link
  • +2
    General CommentMy take on it: the aftermath of a relationship. They've split up, but they still see each other and they still have feelings for each other, but she ended it. As so many people in this world decide, she wanted to take a break and see other people in case there may be someone better out there, but keeps him around because she has yet to find anyone who is.

    He's following her around and keeping her company although it pains him to be around her. It's as if he's living in a dream every time he sees her. "Everywhere you go is swirlin', everything you say has water under it." Nothing is clear anymore and every word she says to him is in no way sturdy or solid and even though she might say she loves him, he can't fully believe it because it could just as easily change.

    The fingerprints in the pink folder in the middle of his table are her "fingerprints" on his heart. He's saying "you know I love you."

    As others have said, he's protective of his "tall kingdom" (her). And being around her is more than enough for him even if it causes him pain.

    "You might need me more than you think you will." He believes they were made for each other and one day it'll all be apparent to her.

    "Come home in the car you love, brainy brainy brainy." As I've said, she still has him and he's reliable and available to her whenever she may need him. In other words, he's the car she loves and he'll always be there to take her home. Which leads him to confirm his belief: she needs him and one day she'll see it...his "brainy" plan.

    "You keep changing your fancy fancy mind every time I decide to let go." She wants him around even though she was the one to end the relationship, she doesn't want him letting go.

    "I was up all night again, boning up and reading the American dictionary. You'll never believe me, what I found." He's trying to appeal to her. Even though he believes that one day she'll figure it all out on her own, but there are times when he's more sure about that than other times. He might be able to convince her that he's interesting and worth keeping.

    Over analyzed much? Yeah....

    Here's what Matt Berninger says about the song meaning: pastemagazine.com/articles/2008/09/…
    starry0nightson April 27, 2011   Link
  • +1
    General CommentIs it just me? I swear the line goes:
    "I keep your fingerprints in a pink folder in the middle of my tangle."

    This is one of the first National songs I fell for. This and Start a War. To me this song is about a woman who displays some traditionally masculine attributes. The 'tall kingdom' is a reference from Seamus Haney (sp). In that poem, the tall kingdom is the British Empire and is cast as a 'masculine' power. Also this woman is smart, loves her car! :). He digs her, he's trying to impress her (staying up all night boning up on the dictionary - love that) but she is stringing him along. He is trying to tell her that she may not be as self-sufficient as she might think. And that he might be able to offer her something.

    I agree with thejlar that the surrounding of the tall kingdom means he wants to protect her, but I don't think it is from a specific threat. I think it just means he wants to be the strong protective male in a relationship with her. Just makes the line so brilliant to me. She is a tall kingdom-what a powerful thing, but he could be the wall to protect her; even tall kingdoms need protection. God, I love this song!

    The keeping of her fingerprints and following her around do give the idea of obsession, but it doesn't strike me as creepy in this song. I take this more figuratively. Her identity is with him all the time, he wants to be with her and is puppy dogging her - trying to win her over. Trying to prove he could be important to her.
    songyoneon October 18, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General Commenti hear this song as having two meanings, one obvious and another very dark.

    the obvious interpretation is, as others have stated, this song being about feeling inferior to a lover intellectually. probably because of the reference to a coat and a fancy car, i immediately thought of a guy dating a female physician. the inferiority is visually described as the man feeling like a wall or perhaps even moat (ie "water") surrounding a "tall kingdom." what is the use of having a wall surround tall buildings? the height of the buildings alone would be protection enough. but i also agree that the "kingdom" could be a biblical reference of some sort i'm not familiar with.

    the other, darker interpretation was already hinted at as well. the line "you'll never believe me what i found" has always stuck in my head. at first i thought it might reference how pathetic he feels by trying to draw her attention to mere words in a dictionary to somehow prove his intelligence, kinda like "hey, look here! isn't this word something you haven't heard before?" but i've also since realized that line as possibly indicative of there being an infidelity in their relationship. while reading the dictionary one night to build up his vocab, he stumbles across a love letter or evidence of some other sort hidden in the book. that's when he decides to gather evidence, keep fingerprints, and spy, hence the spy-like tune in the intro. there may even be hints of his suggesting a surprise attack of some sort on the other man, hence her impending "need" for protection a la the wall/moat around the "tall kingdom." good interpretation of the "water" line up above, though the less ominous interpretation would be that she uses her big words to keep aloof from the relationship.
    pfinarffleon November 19, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General Commenti think the guy want this "brainy" hard girl
    and he´s just telling this to her.

    he feels underestimated.
    he´s not a stalker. there humour here.
    he is ironic about being so persistent...

    for me it´s just
    "hey. i´m here. you are a amazing girl, but im not bad at all. give me a chance"
    she thinks too much...

    i don´t feel a dark song here.
    However, GREAT SONG !!!


    pretty sure: "Come on let me call you love... "
    barbozzaon November 05, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General Comment"everything you say has water under it"

    i think it's pretty obvious that the person he is referring to is lying. if everything she says has water under it, it means that it'll never stand up on it's own, it's just gonna sink. just my opinion.
    brainybrainybrainyon November 08, 2009   Link
  • +1
    My InterpretationI'm with Starry0Nights on this -- I think this is a wonderful love song, about someone trying to convince someone that he's the right one for her. I disagree that this is painful, however: I think it's a song about him being very insecure about his appeal, because she's so much better than he is.

    I read the lyrics "Everywhere you go is swirling, everything you say has water under it" as him feeling that everything keeps changing, and it's exciting but intimidating -- he's basically not on solid ground.

    Similarly, I think the lyric is actually, "You keep changing your fancy, fancy mind every time I decide to let it go" with the "it" referring to the end of the coat he's been hanging on. Meaning that just when he starts to feel more secure everything changes again, and he needs to keep hanging on so he can keep up.

    That leads to the wonderful line about the dictionary, where he's discovered some things she might think are important enough to make him valuable.

    Overall, I find it an endearingly wonderful and hilarious seduction attempt, with a priceless refrain, because even if you don't think I'm smart enough you still love my car -- "You might need me more than you think you do, come home in the car you love, Brainy, Brainy, Brainy".
    CompressedAireon October 31, 2011   Link
  • +1
    General CommentBeautiful stalker song.
    mister care-too-muchon March 29, 2012   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI love this song and all of Boxer.
    tinerjon April 03, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis is probably my favorite song off of Boxer. It's such subtle, beautiful melancholy. Completely awesome.
    illiterature7on May 26, 2007   Link

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