It had something to do with the rain
Leaching, loamy dirt
And the way the back lane came alive
Half moon whispered, "Go"
For a while I heard you missing steps in the street
And your anger pleading in an uncertain key
Singing the sound that you found for me

When the winter took the tips of my ears
Found this noisy home
Full of pigeons and places to hide
And when the voices die
I emerged to watch abandoned machines
Waiting for their men to return
I remember the way I would wait for you
To arrive with kibble and a box full of beer
How I'd scratch the empties desperate to hear
You make the sound that you found for me

After scrapping with the ferals and the tabby
I'd let you brush my matted fur
How I'd knead into your chest while you were sleeping
Shallow breathing made me purr

But I can't remember the sound that you found for me
I can't remember the sound that you found for me
I can't remember the sound


Lyrics submitted by superficies, edited by Mellow_Harsher, komies

Virtute the Cat Explains Her Departure song meanings
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46 Comments

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  • +9
    Song MeaningAn amazing song. I cry nearly every time I hear it. Like many of you, I was crushed when I saw the song title on the new album.

    One thing that was left to imagination in "Plea" was whether or not Virtute ever got through to her owner and whether or not his life improved. The crushing truth is that it did not. I've seen some people saying that "Virtute left because she was no longer needed", but the lyrics don't support this. Near the end of Virtute's time with her owner, he never talked to her, and she tried everything she could to just hear her name (a concept unnatural to cats, thus she thinks of it as the 'sound that you found for me'), scratching beer cans etc. Even a scolding would be better than the silence she endures. This is why Virtute leaves. For the first time since she was brought home (either from a shelter or off the street), she is tempted by the outdoors. The world seems exciting, and the pros of an owner no longer outweigh the lure of the turning dirt and the glowing moon. The saddest thing is that it is inevitable. Virtute tried, but the owner is not going to change, and he's just bringing Virtute down with him. She had to leave for herself.

    Now she lives in a what is most likely a construction site (it's noisy, the voices of the workers die when they go home, and construction vehicles always seem abandoned after the work is done, just left there till the next day). She is still living there at the time of the song, hence her saying she "found THIS noisy home" (you only refer to something as 'this' if it is present). The tips of her ears have fallen off from a previous winter's frostbite. (I should point out here that it's the TIPS of her ears that fell off, so she can still hear-- obviously, since she calls the site her "noisy home" and knows when the "voices die".)

    She remembers the good times often-- the cat fights, the brushing, and the sleeping, but she doesn't go back because she's grown distant from that life because the one thing that was constant through all the good times is gone from her memory. She can't remember the name her owner gave to her-- the sound that Virtute understood as her own and that bound cat and owner together.

    And now I'm crying. Great.
    Quirkon June 10, 2009   Link
  • +4
    General CommentI got so scared when I saw this song title. Virtute has helped me through so much in telling me to be strong.
    Naolson August 15, 2007   Link
  • +3
    General CommentSigned up just because of this song.
    Here's my take on the lyrics, which basically agree with everything that you folks have said.
    Virtute's departure is explained in the first four lines of the song. The rain, the loamy dirt, and the half-moon all whispered for Virtute to "go". All of these natural, outdoorsy things remind Virtute about the freedom that she had being a feral, outdoorsy cat, and these things convince her to leave and go back to that life. She feels taken for granted by her owner, who prefers his beer to Virtute and who likes wallowing in self-pity (from the first song).
    Now, she's back to being a feral cat who can't remember the sound her owner once made for her (Virtute, her name). But yet she still finds herself thinking wistfully about her ex-owner, even as her memories of him are leaving.
    I have heard a LOT of songs in my lifetime. A LOT. And none of them hit me as hard as this one does. As much as I love it, I also find it sort of hard to listen to, as it makes me want to cry every time I do. My girlfriend simply refuses to listen to this song because it breaks her heart every time.
    God willing, on the next release by The Weakerthans, there will be a song called "Virtute The Cat Explains Her Return".
    There has to be.
    Please?
    Killian32on October 29, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThis song absolutely OBLITERATES me. I am not prone to emotional outbursts, and the first few times I heard this song, I didn't really listen to the lyrics, but got the impression that the singer was comparing himself to a stray cat in a metaphor about love.

    When I REALLY listened to it though, and read the lyrics, my heart broke violently. He puts the whole story in such simple terms, but really conveys how it must feel for an animal that runs away; strange new surroundings, and slowly forgetting it's previous life, except for how happy it was.
    yourhero88on January 12, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI think this song has a deeper meaning than the obvious "departure of Virtute the cat". Virtute in Latin I believe means strength, and the departure of Virtute would give the impression of loss of strength or loss of courage.
    The line "I can't remember the sound that you found for me" is an amazing personalification for the cat. Since an owner would usually call his or her cat by its name, in this case, Virtute; the cat is pleaing for the owner to rediscover his own strength and courage. Just like the prequel "Plea from a Cat Named Virtute", I believe this piece is also speaking about the cat asking the owner to be strong. I think the song reflects a more depressing tone in that Virtute the cat has left, and hence the leaving of the owner's strength.
    I'm just rambling on now, so don't mind me :)
    Nevertheless, the song is beautifully constructed and reflects so much more than the apparent meanings. The song, along with many other songs written by John K. Samson, helped me through many rough patches in my life, and I'm sure it has helped many others as well.
    Rocker0615on November 05, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General CommentSince I botched the title of mine, I should suggest that you change the second line to "loamy dirt."

    Great song. Great line: "But I can't remember the sound that you found for me."
    Imposs1bleon August 12, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentJust wondering what everyone's take on the line "the sound that you found for me" is.

    Is it like cat talk, you meowing or beeping back at your cat when they're making a noise at you? I do that, which might sound strange, but Samson's lyrics are always so right on, this is what I imagine.

    So, does Virtute make it back, or is she lost because she forgets the sound? Such a good song.
    virtutethecaton August 14, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI got so scared when I saw this song title. Virtute has helped me through so much in telling me to be strong.
    Naolson August 15, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Commentthis song made my cry the very first time i heard it, which i think is a difficult effect to have since the person's never heard it before. it does help if you know the backstory for virtute (meaning "plea from a cat..."), though.

    anyway, it sounds like like song tells three different stories (in each of the three stanzas) about virtute having run away and then come back after hearing "the sound that you found for me".

    "I heard you missing steps in the street and your anger pleading in an uncertain key singing the sound of you that you found for me"

    that part leads me to believe that it's a call, the same way you or i would call for a lost pet if they ran away. but maybe i'm looking at it too basically. maybe it's not a sound at all, so much as the feeling behind it? i have no idea, really. just a guess. i want to say it's deeper than just a "virtute, come home" sort of thing.

    anyway, this is my favorite off the new record. bravo jks! another amazing cd!!
    notabuttmonkeyon August 15, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentJust my opinion, but when I hear "the sound that you found for me," I think it means "Virtute". Just because, the sound most people find for their pets are their names... and "singing the sound that you found for me," it might mean he lost his cat, and went through the streets, kind of half-yelling, half-singing their name in that weird way us humans do. "Virtuuuuute~!"

    "How I'd scratch the empties and desperate to hear, the sound that you found for me" - what is the first thing we call out when a cat is pawing and clawing at something they shouldn't be? It's their name.

    Now the cat's been gone for so long that it's forgot its own name. Such a sad song for an imaginary cat so strong it inspired Naols a few posts above me, and however many others...

    Great song.
    Sketchwardon August 15, 2007   Link

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