"Tall Saint" as written by and Aaron B. Dessner Bryce D. Dessner....
Keep your legs from shaking, fill your eyes with new tears
Don't ask questions, you don't know your name
Something for everyone, try to win prizes
Stay young and quiet

Tall saint I'm devoted with a glass of champagne to you
Bubbles to the chandelier
I'm in your hands tonight
Tall saint stay behind me

Don't tell everybody at the table about your dreams
They're too amazing, it'll melt their minds
Take 'em to Hollywood, cut out the good parts
Become millionaires

Tall saint I'm devoted with a glass of champagne to you
Bubbles to the chandelier
I've been looking for you all night
Tall saint stay behind me now, tall saint

In my city I didn't make a sound
When I fell over and cracked my crown
Heard a woman say stay down
Champion stay down

Tall saint I'm devoted with a glass of champagne to you
Bubbles to the chandelier
I'm in your hands tonight
Tall saint stay behind me now
Tall saint stay behind me now, tall saint

In my city I didn't make a sound
When I fell over and cracked my crown
Heard a woman say stay down
Champion stay down

But I got up, got in a car
Said I don't think I'm gonna go very far
Just take me one time around the ballroom slow
And take me home


Lyrics submitted by empathyislost

"Tall Saint" as written by Bryce D. Dessner Aaron B. Dessner

Lyrics © BMG RIGHTS MANAGEMENT US, LLC

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Tall Saint song meanings
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4 Comments

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  • +2
    My InterpretationI agree with you, J0shy.

    As with many of The National's songs, I feel the lead singer - - often sings from the perspective of an insecure, fragile, somewhat defeated character. Often the songs, I interpret, are this characters confessions (as example: Brainy) of how he views people, friends, loved ones and the world. One gains the sense that he often is seeing this world and the people in it, including himself and his feelings, as things to be analysed. Often the lyrics craft his observations, his findings, into beautifully drawn analogies that instead of simply stating the feeling or experience, paint a picture in the mind of the listener that pulls on heartstrings and emotions..that gives this band it's edge and uniqueness.

    This song in particular: "Tall Saint", is a song that focuses on the character's insecurity of being a part of this world. The piece opens to create a sense of unsure, a sense of anxiety with confidence:

    "Keep your legs from shaking, fill your eyes with new tears,
    Don't ask questions, you don't know your name,
    Something for everyone, try to win prizes,
    Stay young and quiet."

    The character is so self-doubting he questions his ability to, or validity of, answering questions; even those as simple as his own name. His insecure nature leads him to want to please everybody, but above all: "stay young and quiet" - stay out of focus, out of attention.

    I've taken to interpret the chorus and title of the song to be very literal: he is talking about his tall Saint. The word "tall" however, alludes to the thought of "protection", of "guardianship", somebody to "look over you", in this sense, being literally tall enough to do so.

    "Tall Saint, I'm devoted with a glass of champagne to you,
    Bubbles to the chandelier,
    I'm in your hands tonight, Tall Saint,
    Stay behind me."

    The character seems to request safety from his Saint, admitting defeat to the solo-running of his life - instead, choosing to leave the night's plans in his Saint's hands: "I'm in your hands tonight, Tall Saint, stay behind me."

    Here, I agree with J0shy. I think the next verse concentrates on the character's vivid imagination, his wild, perhaps untamable dreams. I think The National may indeed be "taking a dig" at the commercial "big-money little-story" films of today that lack original creativity and spark, leaving the viewer with a quite mundane, mind-provoking-less tale:

    "Don't tell everybody at the table about your dreams,
    They're too amazing, it'll melt their minds,
    Take 'em to Hollywood, cut out the good parts,
    Become millionaires."

    The line "Don't tell everybody at the table about your dreams, they're too amazing, it'll melt their minds" may give light to the character's inability to relate, or to become involved with conversation. Perhaps he feels what interests his mind is too different, too unlike others, that he'll be made outcast, that he shouldn't open his mouth at all.

    "In my city, I didn't make a sound,
    When I fell over and cracked my crown,
    Heard a woman say "stay down,
    Champion, stay down."

    This notion just talked about, how the character of the song may feel apprehensive to share his mind's ramblings with others, is further reinforced by this next verse: "Im my city, I didn't make a sound" (even) "when I fell over and cracked my crown" - he still didn't articulate his thoughts or feelings.

    This next line is perhaps my favourite "Stay down, Champion, stay down."
    Strengthened by the general "feel" of this song: that the character is lost in life, at living, at serving a purpose. Incapable of conversing, scared of standing out, with the aim of blending in, "stay down, Champion, stay down" acknowledges his defeat, and also at this point, the listener is made to believe the character accepts this command, without protest, and "stay(s) down".

    The last verse is quite important. It shifts the characters mindset, and surprises the listener:

    "But I got up, got in a car,
    Said "I don't think I'm gonna go very far,"
    Just take me one time around the ballroom slow,
    And take me home"

    The character objects to "lying down", to admitting defeat. He instead gets up, gets in a car, and altnough he "(doesn't) go very far", the line "Just take me one time around the ballroom slow and take me home" suggests the character has won this battle. He has decided to "soldier on", to keep going, despite his unsteady confidence, his lacking assurance. The line "Just take me one time around the ballroom slow, and take me home" conjures images of a "victory lap". The war is won for this character.
    geoyeahyeahyeahon May 24, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI think the "tall saint" is a tall glass of alcohol.
    Aquarius121on October 23, 2012   Link
  • 0
    General Comment"Don't tell everybody at the table about your dreams,
    They're too amazing, it'll melt their minds,
    Take 'em to Hollywood, cut out the good parts,
    Become millionaires."
    Guess he sings about people making alota money from pointless and useless and bad movies.

    Dunno about the rest. Rad song tho :o
    J0shyon July 22, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI think Tall Saint is Depression.
    "Tall Saint, I'm devoted with a glass of champagne to you. . .
    I've been looking for you all night, Tall Saint . . .
    I'm in your hands tonight, Tall Saint . . .
    Stay behind me now, Tall Saint."
    But tonight, Tall Saint wins and dreams are quashed, he decides to just head home --
    "But I got up, got in a car, said 'I don't think I'm gonna go very far.' Just take me one time around the ballroom slow, and take me home."

    And the woman who says "Stay down, champion, stay down," after he fell down drunk and hit his head, does so with mocking sarcasm.

    Why would Depression be referred to as Tall Saint? Well, looks are deceiving, plus Depression is familiar to the person, he's unavoidably drawn to it. It's always there, always lurking, and tonight like any other night he's waiting for its presence (and drinking for it): "I've been looking for you all night." He WANTS it to stay behind him, but he can't shake it.
    TheNationalFanon August 30, 2015   Link

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