"The Piano" as written by and Polly Jean Harvey....
Hit her with a hammer
Teeth smashed in
Red tongues twitching
Look inside a skeleton

My fingers sting
Where I feel your fingers have been
Ghostly fingers
Moving my limbs

Oh God, I miss you
Oh God, I miss you
Oh God, I miss you
Oh God, I miss you
Oh God, I miss you

Daddy's in the corner
Rattling his keys
Mummy's in the doorway
Trying to leave

Nobody's listening
Nobody's listening
Nobody's listening

Oh God, I miss you
Oh God, I miss you
Oh God, I miss you


Lyrics submitted by stentorian

"The Piano" as written by Polly Jean Harvey

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

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The Piano song meanings
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  • +3
    General CommentThe song is titled "The Paino" because that's partially what it is about. Look at the first verse. The "her" in the first line is referring to a piano, and each of the following lines in this verse fits with this idea (the "hammer" being a straightforward part of the instrument, "teeth" being the keys, "tongues" the strings, and "skeleton" the frame).

    It is appropriate that the first line, when taken out of context, has a violent quality to it, because this song also seems to be about dealing with problems around oneself (in this example, intolerable familial relationships) and venting the aggression this causes (pounding on the piano's keys or "teeth.")

    However, it would appear that the piano is an object with which the speaker associates an absent person ("Where I feel your fingers have been") who was formerly another means of solace from the violence around her (in PJ's case, we'll assume this person is her grandmother). Still, the speaker continues to play the piano and escape her unstable family life, the memory of the absent person giving her the will to do so ("Ghostly fingers/Moving my limbs").
    MistaSparkleon April 28, 2008   Link
  • +1
    My InterpretationAfter listening to this song for a while i thought:

    Nobody's listening to the piano. She's trying to call for attention in pain, trying to make herself heard. She plays the piano almost in trance.

    "Hit her with a hammer, Teeth smashed in. Red tongues twitching, Look inside a skeleton".. Sounds almost as if someone was raped at home, and she, as a kid, was the one who watched it. But this is the most uncertain part of the song to me.


    "My fingers sting where I feel your fingers have been" her fingers are literally her fingers.. "your" fingers are the piano keys


    "Ghostly fingers moving my limbs" She plays the piano in a trance, she's not completely conscious of what she's playing. The piano plays her, more than she plays the piano.



    Then, nobody's listening is self-explainatory. "Dad is in the corner rattling his keys" while "mom is in the doorway trying to leave", they're shocked by the scene. Daddy is in the corner.. which corner? it must be the corner of the room in which she's playing the piano, or else it wouldn't say "the corner" as if it was obvious. Then mom is behind her dad, she tries to escape.



    The mistery is.. what happened? WHO is she missing?








    girlgettingbittereron December 01, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General Commentif you watch the video for this song it suggests a whole new meaning, the whole idea of the circle of abuse is interesting i think, 'ghostly fingers moving my limbs' like the idea that events from her past are still controlling what she does

    similar to the collaboration with Tricky she did called 'Broken Homes' but less explicit i think
    hanginginthewireon February 03, 2012   Link
  • +1
    My InterpretationAs it often happens with poetry, these song plays on double meanings and abiguity: one one side PJ describes home abuses, the hit, the blood, the broken teeth are what they mean, the image that follows is the X-ray (a look inside the skeleton). It also happens a lot that the "Stockolm syndrome" is experienced by those who suffer home abuse, so the "oh god I miss you" verse is about that distance from the father, perpetrator of the abuse. The family is broken the father just want to fix the problem he caused, he rattles the keys because either he just used 'em as a wepon or he wants to take her to the hospital to fix his sins. The mother tries to escape (maybe the father locked the door, and that's why he rattles the keys as a display of power over the family). Nobody listens because everybody is so self centered. Nevertheless the abused kid misses his/her family, because he/she misses the love that it should imply not the actual family he/she lives in. Misses (in other words) the abstract idea of family love by missing his/her broken home. At the same time it might be (as suggested) the smashing of a piano and that she misses the instrument. I don't recommand this interpretation beacause some of the songs titles of that record where born in strange ways: this is the only song not based on piano but on guitar of the whola record, PJ stated that she wanted a piano centred album and wrote the recond on it, despite the fact she didn't actually know how to play it. As for "broken harp" the song title might come just from stuff happened during the recording sessions.
    troncoson July 24, 2012   Link
  • 0
    General CommentAhem.
    To me, this song talks about how unstable homes make kids be unstalbe in relationships. Like a circle of bad decisions. The kid witnessing how bad his/her partents' relationship is and then doing the same when he/she grows up. I think it couldn't be any clearer. "oh, God, I miss you, because I do not know any better...but you're with me".
    stentorianon September 17, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI agree with the above, strange lyrics and topic to be singing about but none the less she does a fantastic song and it sounds amazing, defiantly about the unstableness of family life and how this then carries on with someone till they are older in life in to relationships and other thing's
    dannypolicarpoon September 24, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Commentp.s. i especially love the 'Oh God I miss you' part she sounds so amazing and it just makes me wanna use that bit in reference to people i miss and want them to feel something.
    dannypolicarpoon September 24, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentConsidering prior to writing this album, Polly Jean witnessed the death of her Grandmother (she was holding her hand at the time) I think this is about the way a family suffers with the death of a loved one. Thus explaining the lines 'oh god I miss you' and 'ghostly fingers, moving my limbs'.
    magickmidgeton December 14, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Commentmissing someone, obviously but the lyrics and the way it sounds hints at a darker meaning. she seems to be haunted (either literally or figuratively) by the ghost of someone who's been murdered.
    pandora_ash_avalieon December 28, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentWell I couldnt say exactly, and am probably wrong. But there is an extremely beautiful film called the Piano, its about a dumb woman who only speaks through the piano and her young child. Its an amazing and shocking film, if you havent seen it you should and i can draw simularities but that would involve divulging certain parts of the plot. wonerful song,
    blackskieslullabyon June 24, 2008   Link

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