"Squalor Victoria" as written by and Matthew D. Berninger Bryce D. Dessner....
Underline everything
I'm a professional in my beloved white shirt
Underline everything
I'm a professional in my beloved white shirt

I'm going down among the saints

Raise our heavenly glasses to the heavens
Squalor Victoria
Squalor Victoria
Raise our heavenly glasses to the heavens
Squalor Victoria
Squalor Victoria

Out of my league, I have birds in my sleeves
And I wanna rush in with the fools
Out of my league, I have birds in my sleeves
And I wanna rush in with the fools

Raise our heavenly glasses to the heavens
Squalor Victoria
Squalor Victoria
Raise our heavenly glasses to the heavens
Squalor Victoria
Squalor Victoria

I'm going down among the saints

3:30 in the last night for you to save this
You're zoning out, zoning out, zoning out, zoning out
3:30 in the last night for you to save this
You're zoning out, zoning out, zoning out, zoning out

This isn't working, you, my middlebrow fuck up


Lyrics submitted by lampada, edited by hnavarro

"Squalor Victoria" as written by Matthew D. Berninger Bryce D. Dessner

Lyrics © BMG RIGHTS MANAGEMENT US, LLC

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Squalor Victoria song meanings
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26 Comments

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  • +5
    General Comment"Squalor victoria" means "triumphant filth" in Latin.

    I'll leave the rest to you guys.
    Kemutsemuon June 17, 2008   Link
  • +5
    General Comment"underline everything i'm a professional in my beloved white shirt/i'm going down among the saints"

    -gets a new job, feels confident and excited and grown up

    "Raise our heavenly glasses to the heavens, Squalor Victoria! Squalor Victoria"

    -still goes out and parties every night because he feels so accomplished

    "out of my league i have birds in my sleeves and i want to rush in with the fools"

    -he's not equipped to hold down his new job, because he's not as grown up as he thinks he is - he still constantly thinks about getting out of work and partying with his friends

    "3:30 in the last night for you to save this, zoning out, zoning out, zoning out"

    -trying to finish a project for the next day that he's been putting off and he's just too damn tired to get it done

    "this isn't working, you, my middlebrow fucker"

    -could be him getting fired, but i really see it more as his own disgusted realization of his irresponsible and immature ways


    I think the entire Boxer album, save for Gospel, is about struggling to find a foothold in the adult world during the mid-late twenties transition from carefree, young, partying to responsible adults, and this is possibly it's most direct song. I think it's a description of him in his early professional days, overconfident and having not yet realized that work has become a much more significant part of his life than he wants it to be
    petewilletton March 16, 2010   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI'm pretty sure that last line is actually "This isn't working, you mild, middlebrow fucker/fuck up"
    thebaronofsentimenton November 19, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI always thought this song was fun when listening to it, but oh my god. That last line is incredible and terribly sad.
    Jon_doe889on July 01, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThe last line is the only one that makes sense to me. What's the rest of it mean?
    lapairon July 11, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentSome guy gets a white-collar job, isn't really qualified for it. He fakes his way through it--"underline everything" demonstrates that he doesn't really understand anything that he's reading. He spends his nights getting shitfaced and patting himself on the back for the "work" that he did that day. He doesn't realize that his job is in jeopardy because people are beginning to realize that he can't do the job very well. He gets one last chance when he stays late nights to "fix" a project he screwed up. He gets canned at the end?
    SenatorCWuon July 15, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI tend to think The National lyrics to tend more toward being personal than political, but I don't undestand many of them so maybe I'm mistaken. So, although the unfit white-collar worker theme seems more in line with other song themes, the Bush-Iraq War theme is still intriguing.

    Not only does "Squalar Victoria," at least for me, instantly convey the image of Iraq, but the way the US entered fits in with "Out of my league, I have birds in my sleeves and I wanna rush in with the fools" (what are "birds in my sleeves"? Maybe this is fanfare warfare?). On the other hand "3:30 in the night" and "zoning out" don't work as well as metaphors.
    mpsalemon July 22, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentAs for the birds in the sleeves, I have a potential answer. Magicians usually have some trick where a bird flies out of their hand from seemingly nowhere, so maybe it refers to Bush believeing he can "magically" win this war on terror and so he's gonna rush in their with the fools. I realize this is quite a stretch. As for themes of the National songs, while many of their songs in the past and on Boxer tend to be personal, I find that a few on Boxer have potential political undertones, ie. "Fake Empire" and "Gospel."
    cmgonemadon July 25, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentFrom a Torontoist.com review of a 2007 show at the Opera House:
    "At the end of "Squalor Victoria," a song as cryptic as it is beautiful ("Out of my league, I have birds in my sleeves and I wanna rush in with the fools"), lead singer Matt Berninger admitted to the audience that "I don't know what that song means...but it sounds Canadian.""
    mfeenstraon August 13, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI've been listening to this quite often lately and I think the song is about a very average, very normal guy who has a very average and boring job ('white shirt', 'underlining', 'middlebrow fuck-up').

    He does whoever wish he weren't so average but instead different (and above) from the average, normal person. But he doesn't quite know who to escape this mediocrity so he starts drinking, hoping to escape his worries or hoping it will give him the courage to do something not so average. It's also the reason he talks about 'out of my league':above normal, 'birds up his sleeve'=a special ability, 'rush in with the fools'=do something bold and brave. The zoning part, I consider to be the part where he has already been drinking so much he's 'zoning out'. And in the end he concludes nothing will ever work and he is and will always be a 'middlebrow fuck-up'.

    But I guess since the lead singer himself doesn't really know what it's about, any interpretation is correct.
    subsundayon September 01, 2007   Link

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