"Apartment Story" as written by and Matthew D. Berninger Aaron B. Dessner....
Be still for a second while I try and try to pin your flowers on
La, la, la, la, la
Can you carry my drink, I have everything else
I can tie my tie all by myself
I'm getting tied, I'm forgetting why

Oh, we're so disarming, darling, everything we did believe
Is diving, diving, diving, diving off the balcony
Tired and wired, we ruin too easy
Sleep in our clothes and wait for winter to leave

Hold ourselves together
With our arms around the stereo for hours
La, la, la, la, la, la, la, la
While it sings to itself or whatever it does
When it sings to itself of its long lost loves
I'm getting tied, I'm forgetting why

Tired and wired, we ruin too easy
Sleep in our clothes and wait for winter to leave
And I'll be with you, behind the couch
When they come on a different day, just like this one

We'll stay inside till somebody finds us
Do whatever the TV tells us
Stay inside our rosy-minded fuzz for days
We'll stay inside till somebody finds us
Do whatever the TV tells us
Stay inside our rosy-minded fuzz

So worry not, all things are well
We'll be alright, we have our looks and perfume

Stay inside till somebody finds us
Do whatever the TV tells us
Stay inside our rosy-minded fuzz

So worry not, all things are well
We'll be alright, we have our looks and perfume on


Lyrics submitted by lampada, edited by evanreyes, bruh

"Apartment Story" as written by Matthew D. Berninger Aaron B. Dessner

Lyrics © BMG Rights Management

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Apartment Story song meanings
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  • +12
    My InterpretationThe thematic centerpiece of 'Boxer' and maybe (along with "Theory of the Crows" and "Bloodbuzz Ohio") the quintessential National song. It's about dressing up and playing adult, looking the part and going through the motions, but ultimately wondering what the hell you're doing and how you got here.

    The opening lines set the scene - a guy and his girlfriend trying to get each other ready (pinned flowers, ties) for a grown-up night out, all the while acknowledging the tragedy of the whole charade: "We'll be alright we have our looks and perfume on." That's what their lives have become - looking, smelling, and acting as late-20 early-30 somethings are expected to.

    Like "Slow Show", it's about being out in the adult world doing adult things but wanting, at the end of the day, just to come home and do nothing at all ("Hold ourselves together with our arms around the stereo for hours..."), a temporary reprieve (hiding behind the couch until they're forced back into the fold) from the trivial obligations of the real world. They find solace in each other, and their music (which, of course, is timeless), if nothing else.

    Also, I always saw "Everything we did believe is diving, diving, diving, diving off the balcony" as a reference to how idealism and naivety (dreams, hopes) go right out the window as the first casualties of the growing-up process. They're watching it happen, but there's nothing they can do about it; that's just life.

    Great theme, great lyrics, GREAT drumming, great song.

    * The Replacements' "Left of the Dial" has a line - "Pretty girl keep growing up, playing makeup - wearing guitar..." that makes me think of "Apartment Story". They both reflect the notion that we never really grow up; we just play the part as we know we're supposed to. I think there's something about acknowledging this, even as we're getting older, that makes the whole thing a little less painful.
    tkim1005on January 16, 2013   Link
  • +7
    My InterpretationThis song is extremely alluring and seductive, but plays it cool, calm and steady... For keen listeners, it does create an alternate reality, a scene to complete the music and the lyrics. Memories of own comfort-seeking behavior fills in the blanks, and builds the apartment...

    A blissful but lethargic couple hibernating under blankets, finding solace in music and each other. The window allows a peek at windy and snowy NYC streets. The stereo, TV, and the couch are all they need, have and care about. Happy times... Isolation and ignorance (i.e. rosy-minded fuzz) lead to bliss, which calls for more isolation and comfort-seeking. A vicious circle of deliberate hibernation...

    How did they get there?

    "Be still for a second while I try and try to pin your flowers on
    Can you carry my drink I have everything else
    I can tie my tie all by myself"

    "I’m getting tired, I’m forgetting why"

    Relentless routine, life itself, slowly but eventually wore them down... And they came to accept it as it is...

    "Tired and wired we ruin too easy
    sleep in our clothes and wait for winter to leave"

    They used to know better than to "do whatever the TV tells" them; but have lost faith in everything, and chose to keep living the easy way, on their own... Since everything they ever worked for, aspired for, loved and desired have dived off the balcony...

    "Oh we’re so disarming darling, everything we did believe
    is diving diving diving diving off the balcony"

    So why not? A stereo, TV, a couch, and a companion to wait out the cold winter, in the cozy apartment. Sounds like a story...
    gatinhaon November 19, 2012   Link
  • +4
    General CommentSo damned catchy... And, kinda like mjhyp3 said, I think it's really a denial of the normal, social idea of maturity and adulthood... Uhm, lemme go through this line by line:

    "Be still for a second while I try and try to pin your flowers on
    Can you carry my drink I have everything else"

    He's trying so hard to fulfill the role of a responsible caregiver and partner, but he's finding that it seems like he's doing all the work in the relationship.

    "I can tie my tie all by myself
    I’m getting tired, I’m forgetting why"

    The first part is him trying to show maturity and independence, like he is an adult. But the second part, and I really do think that word is "TIRED", because he's getting worn out by the modern lifestyle, and he doesn't understand it, because it's what everyone is supposed to do. If it is "Tied", then perhaps he's getting into a serious relationship("tying the knot"), and he doesn't know why, but he's just doing it because everyone else is.

    "Oh we’re so disarming darling, everything we did believe
    is diving diving diving diving off the balcony"

    Every idea that he had as a child about relationships and adulthood is proving to be wrong... And, this relationship, in particular, seems even more alarming and, say, disarming.

    "Tired and wired we ruin too easy
    sleep in our clothes and wait for winter to leave"

    A general hope that, no matter how fragile and helpless we may feel, if we just persevere and don't let it get to us, eventually winter will pass, and things will get better.

    "Hold ourselves together with our arms around the stereo for hours
    While it sings to itself or whatever it does
    when it sings to itself of its long lost loves
    I’m getting tied, I’m forgetting why"

    Finding themselves in music, and relating to the personal heartbreaks of others. It's just the common ground, the ability to know that other people are going through the same thing as you. TIED to the rest of society, and TIED to each other in the relationship.

    "Tired and wired we ruin too easy
    sleep in our clothes and wait for winter to leave
    but I’ll be with you behind the couch when they come
    on a different day just like this one"

    It's as if he knows that if he were to reject society and this adult responsibility, it's doomed to failure. But, it wouldn't change anything. It would still be a different day, just like the last, but the idea adds some uncertainty and excitement to life.

    "We’ll stay inside til somebody finds us
    do whatever the TV tells us
    stay inside our rosy-minded fuzz for days"

    Just telling the rest of society to fuck off, and relishing in the blissful ignorance of mindless programming and pop culture.

    "so worry not
    all things are well
    we’ll be alright
    we have our looks and perfume"

    An optimistic end, saying that, even if the rest of the world sucks, the best that we can do is just embrace the few things that we enjoy, the few things that we can relish, the few things that set us apart from everyone else.

    Sorry I ranted, this is just such a beautiful song, and, although my interpretation might be a bit skewed, it really resonates in my life today, as I'm graduating next week and moving on with my so-called 'adult' life.
    jessepenceon May 16, 2007   Link
  • +3
    My InterpretationI’ve been having real issues interpreting this song because it’s so easy to do contradictory readings of the thing. This is one version, I might post one of the opposites sometime. This is closer to what I feel about it right now though.


    ‘Be still for a second while I try and try to pin your flowers on’

    The girl is restless while he wants to take the time to do the little things that may or may not matter, the little gestures that can easily slip unnoticed. It shows the difference in their personalities. She can’t stay still while he can take the extra time for something insignificant.

    ‘Can you carry my drink I have everything else
    I can tie my tie all by myself’

    He tries to take on too much responsibility, either because he doesn’t trust her to do these things or he thinks he has to.

    ‘I’m getting tired/tied, I’m forgetting why’

    If he’s unsure about getting tied then he has doubts about the relationship and can’t work out what to do. He keeps taking things further and doesn’t know how to get out. If he isn’t sure why he’s getting tired then it’s because he thinks things should be easier with the person you’re with.

    ‘Oh we’re so disarming darling,’

    They had their doubts about the relationship from the start but stuck with it anyway to see what happened. Either that or they just allayed any fears they had and rushed straight in, believing that if it was meant to be then things would work out.

    ‘everything we did believe
    is diving diving diving diving off the balcony’

    They had certain ideas about love and relationships and now they’ve moved in together all of those ideals are flying out of the window.

    ‘Tired and wired we ruin too easy’

    As someone said in a previous comment, maybe ‘we ruin to easy’ means that they’re letting things affect them that would never have made a difference before. They aren’t resilient enough as a couple.

    ‘sleep in our clothes and wait for winter to leave’

    I get an image of two people laying back to back in bed, touching but only barely. There’s a coldness between them that was never there before. They’re waiting for the bad times to pass so that they can be how they were before. But they aren’t doing anything about it, they’re just ‘waiting’ and hoping.

    ‘Hold ourselves together with our arms around the stereo for hours
    While it sings to itself or whatever it does
    when it sings to itself of its long lost loves’

    They rely on modern technology to keep together. They can just sit and listen to the stereo and not have to communicate – the stereo does it for them.

    ‘but I’ll be with you behind the couch when they come
    on a different day just like this one’

    On another day, in better times, they’d be fine. They’d be huddled up close together. They’d get over the trivial problems but right now they’re struggling.

    ‘We’ll stay inside til somebody finds us
    do whatever the TV tells us
    stay inside our rosy-minded fuzz for days’

    Again, relying on anything that prevents them from having to communicate. In the beginning of the song they were going out and having fun. Now they can’t even be bothered to do that. They’d rather watch TV and construct a ‘rosy-minded fuzz’. Perhaps optimistic that TV can help when in a rut?

    ‘so worry not
    all things are well
    we’ll be alright
    we have our looks and perfume’

    Sounds very sarcastic to me, as if they have everything they need in their ‘rosy-minded fuzz’.
    Could be the break-up – ‘it’s okay, we’re young and good-looking, we’ll find other people’
    Batesy_predatoron November 22, 2008   Link
  • +3
    General CommentI've recently revisited Boxer after listening to mostly their new stuff and for some reason this particular section is currently hitting me hard:

    "Hold ourselves together with our arms around the stereo for hours
    While it sings to itself or whatever it does
    When it sings to itself of its long lost loves"

    This screams to me of feeling apathetic and powerless but finding common ground with your significant other through songs. The imagery of two people draped motionless over a stereo, avoiding the outside world and lazily connecting to the music is a fantastic one. No matter what, they're both music freaks and they can speak to one another through that medium. At the same time, they're on fragile ground and not really talking and connecting with one another because the stereo has become a sentient being and is singing about its past troubled loves. "It can't be us, it's that damn stereo again."

    The lovers are connected but distant, either because mutual fatigue has led them there or because the circumstances (the outside world) are out of their control. Still, there's that lingering connection where they can communicate to one another in music. I love that. Mix-tape love.

    The lyrics here are classic National: clever, weird and sensical in an entirely non-sensical way. You can never quite pinpoint what the hell the song is about but you relate to the mood it creates. Whatever you're going through, the lyrics just fit. This - along with the amazing music and genuine personalities - is why I love them so much.
    loveandrocketson July 17, 2011   Link
  • +2
    General CommentThis is going to be long, annoying, and probably unnecessary, but I'm bad at saying things in a few words. =/

    I think this song is about a couple that's trying to deal with the adult world when it's thrown in their faces. I think the first verse is about how they've progressed from high-school ("pin your flowers on" sounds like a prom) and moved on. "I can tie my tie all by myself" is growing up.

    Then the second verse is talking about how everything they thought they knew is "diving off the balcony" and it doesn't apply anymore. The adult world is making them tired, and now they're strung out and "ruin too easy". I think the couple sort of combats this by clinging to their young lives, as in:

    "Sleep in our clothes and wait for winter to leave"
    "Hold ourselves together with out arms around the stereo for hours"
    They're just sitting locked up in an apartment listening to pop songs on the radio and ignoring all the responsibility of adult life.

    "I'm getting tied, I'm forgetting why" seems just like he realizes that they can't ignore the real world forever, but he doesn't quite realize that.

    "But I'll be with you behind the couch when they come on a different day just like this one" Favorite lines in the song. This just reminds me of kids hiding behind the couch when a solicitor or someone comes to the door. They're just hiding from the rest of the world together, not answering the door, pretending no one's home.

    "We'll stay inside 'til somebody finds us, do whatever the TV tells us" Acting really childish and just hiding from the adult world, letting the television rule their lives like it used to and just acting really naive, as if everything will go away if they just stay in their own little world.

    "Stay inside our rosy-minded fuzz for days" Keep on going thinking they can just live in their own little world, where everything is warm and fuzzy and just peachy, even though outside the apartment, the real world is waiting for them. But they just want to stay inside the fantasy world they created.

    "So worry not, all things are well, we'll be alright" is sort of just the narrator reassuring the girl that everything will work out, even when they have to leave their rosy-minded fuzz and deal with the rest of the world.

    "We have our looks and perfume on" is saying that even though they have to deal with the real world again, they still have their youth, even if they're 'adults' now. They're still young enough to pretend like they're kids, hiding in their apartment and wishing everything would go away.

    At least, that's what I see in it. A lot of The National's songs seem to have darker meanings than I thought they did, but I like to think this one is just hopeful.
    entitudeon August 11, 2008   Link
  • +2
    General Commentthe perfect evocation of a young couple moving in together and their relationship disintegrating as they come to actually know each other. i imagine all they could do in the end was sit on a couch and watch t.v. because they literally had nothing to say to each other, clinging to rosy-minded optimisim through avoiding actual interaction.

    or anyway, that's what happened to me the first time i moved in with a girl. and this song sure does make me think of it.
    one or clownon October 30, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General Commentjessepence, you really should consider doing explications like the above for other songs by the national. I think what you have said is very insightful, and in any song there will always be a bit of a skew of its meaning toward your own personal life, but that in my opinion that's what makes Matt Berninger's lyrics so appealing. Some would call your post a rant, but after all this is a site meant to interpret songs, and you have done just that.
    Myswordhandon June 20, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI don't know how Theosepiphanes knows for a fact that this is about coming down off ecstacy, but it obviously means a lot more to the majority of people posting. I really like one or clown's take on it; it's different than what everyone else is saying. But let me add one thing that hasn't quite been emphasized that the song means to me.

    Many of us, in our younger years, have developed and held onto certain social and artistic ideals. We are moved by what's not pop culture because it means something beyond just being popular. We form subcultures that are anti-conformist or counter-culture, and which, many times, circulate around music. THEN we grow up.

    What I'm saying is that it's more than just growing up and having responsibility. It's growing up AND leaving behind the ideals that formed your identity as a teenager and young adult. Take, for example, the film SLC Punk! Steve-o is a punk, but by the end of the film, he has this very realization and admits he is going to law school. I think this is an important element to this song that hasn't been presented yet.
    frideron May 28, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General CommentJust a small piece that I haven't seen mentioned. "I'm getting 'tied' I'm forgetting why" isn't referring to getting tied into a relationship or anything. He's referring to the getting ready he has been talking about. Getting tied as in putting on his tie which is referring to getting all dressed up to go to some event for this newly stressful life that is causing crankiness and short tempers and eating away at the important parts of his life. This line is saying "I'm forgetting why I'm doing any of this, I'm doing it because I think I'm supposed to but I've forgotten why I want to do what I'm supposed to when it leads to this." Its a song that relates to being a yuppie and the changes and problems that come with this transition.

    He mentions pinning the flowers on and he can tie his tie all by himself to give the feeling of being a young professional where those aspects of getting ready still stand out as being accomplishments or landmarks in a sense.
    thrice19on April 29, 2012   Link

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