"The Navesink Banks" as written by and Brian Fallon....
All hope abandon, ye who enter here
Said the sign I read that was hangin' above her bed
And the sirens all were wailin', but a man can ignore the signs
Gotta keep a good eye on the windin' road ahead

And my first sin was a young American girl
My first sin was a young American girl

And I spent time 'neath the trestles
With the punks and the dime store saints
Kept faith and a switchblade stuffed beneath my coat
And I ran with dirty angels, slept out in the rain
We were scared and tired and barely 17

And my first sin was a fear that made me old
My first sin was a fear that made me old

Now I walk down by the shipyards
Near the place where I was born
Sayin' "Oh, Maria, if you'da known me when"

But she only smiles
By the light on the Navesink banks
Sayin' "Listen baby, I know you now"

Then she steps into the river
And I just stand by the moon
Thinkin' 'bout a ghost I hear at night

And she says "Your first sin was a lie you told yourself"
"Your first sin was a lie you told yourself"


Lyrics submitted by VoiT, edited by KK1987

"The Navesink Banks" as written by Brian Fallon

Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

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The Navesink Banks song meanings
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21 Comments

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  • +2
    General CommentI really like this song, it has such a dark, mysterious sound to it... somehow it seems to evoke the emotion/setting of being at a shipyard at night (at least in my opinion).
    but it definitely is about his sins (as he clearly keeps saying it), and more over his past. the first verse, I take is about when he lost his virginity... but he does it in such a poetic, non-raunchy way... but he also doesn't describe the incident as a coming of age, but rather the decent into a relatively sinful lifestyle... the second verse he's talking about hanging out with the wrong crowd, in the wrong places (needs a switchblade 'just in case')... sleeping in the rain, and ultimately being scared "the fear that made me old," those experiences "aged" him beyond his 17 years.
    at the end, i'm imagining "Maria" would be Hollie (his wife)... and he looks back at those moments with regret, "if you'da known me when..."
    but it comes together so well, simply with the line "listen, baby, i know you now." now is all that matters, its so beautiful and what real love should be about... then "your first sin is the lie you told yourself" ...i think she (Maria/Hollie) is telling him, the only thing you've done wrong is telling yourself you've done so many bad things.
    It's beautiful, to me, how this song comes together and turns around...
    nervousfeeton December 16, 2009   Link
  • +2
    My Interpretationthe navesink banks, i think its a really simple song, but its one of my favourite. the first 2 verses are in the past and the final is in the present.

    verse 1, i think is about him losing his virginity, hes 'barely 17', i think he maybe used this girl, theres no reference to romance, lust or passion so i think he just used her and maybe broke her heart.

    verse 2- i think he got into the wrong crowd when he was younger, was a bit of a rebel, acting hard and tough but it was only an act "We were scared and tired and barely seventeen". i think by doing this to this girl and losing his virginity made him feel old and grown up. "My first sin was the fear that made me old."

    verse 3- i love this verse by the way! were now in the present, he's come back to his hometown with his wife/girlfriend and he's trying to tell her that he used to be different, that he was once a different person and she wouldn't have liked who he used to be. "But she only smiles" and says "Listen, baby, I know you now." saying that whats in the past is in the past and its who we are now and what we do now is what matters. he's still haunted by the memories of what he did to this "young American girl", and his girlfriend is saying to him that he's beating himself up over something thats not as bigger deal as he thinks. and that he needs to move on and stop living in regret.


    cieranon January 12, 2011   Link
  • +2
    General CommentThis song...
    I hope some day I can meet Brian Fallon in person, shake his hand and thank him for this song. I get chills and it brings tears to my eyes every time I hear the line, "Listen baby, I know you now."
    mccmitchell357on February 26, 2011   Link
  • +1
    General CommentBy saying that the inscription from the gates of Hell was hanging over her bed, he implies that sleeping with her was the beginning of his proverbial "descent into Hell," which is consistent with the line, "my first sin was a young american girl."

    Also, I've seen other versions of the lyrics that say "and the sirens over wailing, but a man can't ignore the signs" and I thought that version made more sense, but after considering the Dante's Inferno reference, it makes more sense for it to say that he did ignore the signs, since he slept with her anyway.
    eric321on July 24, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThis is another one of my favorite songs. I love how simple and stripped down it is, not a lot going on musically. Just makes the lyrics more powerful if you ask me.

    I love the repitition of the "first sin". "My first sin was a young American girl", "My first sin was a fear that made me old", "Your first sin was a lie you told yourself".

    I think my favorite part though is:

    Now I walk down by the shipyard, near the place that I was born
    Sayin, "Ah, Maria, if you'da known me when."
    But she just smiles, by the light on the Navesink Banks
    Sayin, "Listen baby... I know you now."

    I mean that's just... phew.

    Do you suppose the Maria at the end of the song is the same she from the beginning, with the sign above her bed? Or two different women? Perhaps the first girl was one that ruined him, and Maria is a different one, and he wishes he knew her -- she knew him -- before the first girl. I don't know. I'm just thinking aloud. =]
    Desaparecidaon January 20, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI can't believe there are no comments on this song. This song blew me away, the lyrics are brilliant - specifically the line 'My first sin was a young American girl."
    ringlordon October 10, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis song reminds me of The River by Springsteen. A lot.
    ghoststorieson December 27, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Commentsoo spooky, lolol
    andmywhetstoneon October 27, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentNavesink is a coastal town in New Jersey.
    MattyBeatzon November 10, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General Commentthis is my favorite song on Sink or Swim. really great lyrics.
    YouKnowStuffon January 19, 2009   Link

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