"The Wrote and the Writ" as written by and John Patrick Vivian Flynn....
They're taking pictures of the man from God
I hope his cassock's clean
The burden of being our holy fellas
Your halo'd better gleam, better gleam

What of all those wayward priests?
The ones who like to drink
Do you suppose they'd swap their blood for wine
Like you swapped yours for ink, for ink

You wrote me oh so many letters
And all of them seemed true
Promises look good on paper
Especially from you, from you

The weight of all those willing words
I carried all alone
You wouldn't put your pen to bed
When we hadn't found our own, our own

Your sentences rose high at night
And circled round my head
The circle's since been broken
Like the priest before me is breaking bread

I'm being asked to drink the blood of Christ
And soon I'll eat his flesh
I'm alone again before the altar
Shedding all my old regrets

The last of which I'll tell you now
As it flies down the sink
I never knew a part of you
You didn't set in ink, in ink

The letters that you left behind
No longer shall I read
Your blood's between the pages
And I can't stand to see you bleed

And I'll soon forget what was never there
Your words are ash and dust
All that's left is the song I've sung
The breath I've taken and the one I must

If you're born with a love for the wrote and the writ
People of letters your warning stands clear
Pay heed to your heart and not to your wit
Don't say in a letter what you can't in my ear


Lyrics submitted by eyelessinholloway

"The Wrote & the Writ" as written by John Patrick Vivian Flynn

Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.

Lyrics powered by LyricFind

The Wrote and the Writ song meanings
Add your thoughts

10 Comments

sort form View by:
  • +4
    General CommentJust to clear up and simplify things...

    The subject of this song is God, not a woman. The "letters" are what was written in The Bible...letters that God had "left behind". It is about the author turning away from an idea that sounds good on paper, but was never real because extent of the relationship was only "in ink". He is turning away from a life of futile piety, and warns others who are also attracted to a beautiful idea to (seemingly ironically) "pay heed to your heart and not to your wit" - this means to consider the reality and the emotional and philosophical limits/sacrifices of what they're getting into (in other words, following your heart), as opposed to just doing what they are told and raking in these promises word for word without any discretion or heed to what they really mean...and this is not easily done through letters alone.

    And the line that supposes the priests would "swap their blood for wine", simply means that said group of priests are (by nature) alcoholics and would figuratively give their life for a drink...but that line is mainly there to serve as a comparison for "Jesus(God) trading his life so that people could know his story of passion in the form of ink", and also to point out hypocrisy in even the ones who are supposed to set an example.
    IceIceBritanion September 20, 2009   Link
  • +2
    Song MeaningThis piece titled The Wrote and the Writ by Johnny Flynn is a pop-folk song. In a pop song, instruments typically open before lyrics. This song utilises a predominately strophic form (A, 1A, 2A, ...) of folk music which developed during the eras of the Dust Bowl and the World Wars. The steel electric guitar is plucked in this song rather than strummed, imitating the music of Woody Guthrie, The Carter Family, and other early folk ballad musicians. Lyrically, the song is composed of ten stanzas, each containing four, unregulated syllabic verses. Influenced more from folk than pop, none of the stanzas repeat themselves or become victim to choruses. Keeping with the tradition of folk, the listener can assume that this song will tell a story, and it does.
    The first two stanzas centres its focus on the role of a pious man who is constantly watched and judged by those who are not “m[e]n from God”. It’s interesting that the singer would choose the phrase “man from God” (1) over different diction like ‘man of God’. Albeit minute, from implies a direct spiritual decent from a higher authority whereas of could simply suggest self-awarded piety. From the first verse, one could begin to assume that the singer is spiritual. Whether his own piety is equivalent to the priest’s or is simply a personal acknowledgment of God is uncertain, but knowing this is important to understanding the subject and will carry more significance in stanza six. The priest who wears the cassock (a uniform of piety), must always appear to be as sinless as God. Even if the priest has a hidden waywardness due to “drink” (6), he must always appear “clean” (2) with a “halo [that] better gleam” (4). Stanza two supposes that perhaps the priest’s desire for alcohol is stronger than his vow to holiness. The singer rhetorically asks of his subject (who makes an appearance in verse eight), “Do you suppose they’d swap their blood for wine” (7)? Being that a pious Christian must spiritually drain their own blood and replace it with the pure, cleanly blood of Jesus, a yes answer to the singer’s question would suggest a complete departure from perfection and self. It’s a step beyond being born again; this is being unborn again. Made apparent by verse eight, the priest and pious dialogue is all a simile. You, the unnamed subject and focus of the simile, is accused by the singer to have changed her1 life in a complete turnabout just as the priest: His was for drink, hers for ink.
    Analysing the instrumental implications on the lyrics of this song becomes difficult due to the aforementioned strophic meter. With the exception of a very nonstrophic B musical meter during 2:23 – 3:06, the influences rely on what is subtle, particularly from the bass guitar and drums. What’s exciting about these subtleties is how they often hit on the stressed syllables of the verses in which they’re employed. For example, the bass strikes deeper and heavier on pic (of pictures), man, and God, each being a word stressed in the first verse. Although this technique is intermittent, it does draw attention and give weight to certain words. In stanza two, the stressed way from the important wayward gets a heavier base beat, along with blood, wine, and ink. One could argue that the lyrics’ weighted theme is further burdened by the heavy drop of the base guitar beat and this furthers the meanings of these words through evoking an audible sound of heaviness.
    The following two stanzas explore the singer’s relationship to his subject. One can assume that the singer was personally invested in his subject. “Especially from [her]” (12), he at one time enjoyed receiving “oh so many letters” (9). But just as drink was in opposition to Christ-like perfection and led to waywardness, her ink and letters are what caused her to be wayward. For the singer, his subject’s departure from piety and truth came in the form of broken promises. Though they “look[ed] good on paper” (11), they merely “seemed” (10) – as opposed to ‘were’ – true. This is the singer reflecting, though. While the singer was experiencing this, the letters were active, eager, and “willing” (13). It’s clear she was an excellent writer or at least good enough to make the singer feel he was “carr[ying]” (14) the “weight” (13) of these words whilst in loneliness. These letters didn’t stop coming so long as the pen wasn’t put “to bed” (15), and it seemed sleep never occurred. Instead, these letters explored what the singer terms “our own” (16). In the manner that one might write to discover oneself, the singer was under the impression that these letters helped define ourself, or the relationship and passion that the singer shared with his subject through the writ during correspondence.
    The instrumentals do not deviate from the repetitive pop formula during stanzas three and four, rather they echo the first two. Ironically, when Flynn sings “weight of all those willing words”, the instrumental weight is countered by one reverberating pluck of the guitar (13). It’s possible that this lack of sound is contrasted with the silence in the absence of the subject’s letters. Anything musically deviating doesn’t happen until the miniature bridge between stanza four and five during 1:18 – 1:31. The bridge acts a small climax. The base is consistently heavier and there is a noticeable drum roll leading into the next stanza. This mini-climax works as it would in a novel or film. Flynn, who’s hinted at his problem, has setup the beginnings of a story. Between stanza four and five, there’s a musical climax of harder, thumping beats. When words no longer attempt to describe the intangible emotions, the music alone evokes emotion. After the mini-climax, the song both instrumentally and lyrically becomes more interesting.
    The singer begins stanza five with his mind still on those letters. Into the late of night, the words of his subject “circled round [his] head” (18) and consumed all his thoughts. Verse three of the stanza five shows a very interesting tense shift into the present. Previously, aside from the priest metaphor, all language has been past-tensed reflections. Verse three with the word “since” (22) brings the song to present time. If verse three puts the listener in the moment, then verse four is the current action the singer is taking. Flynn ends the stanza returning to the priest, but now not as a simile. Whether this priest be wayward or not, he is offering Communion and asks the singer “to drink the blood of Christ” (24). The singer has come “before the altar” to be forgiven and “shed... old regrets” (27).
    As mentioned, stanza five starts off with a racing bang of the drums. These drums directly coincide with the lyrical content. The singer is passionately affected by the words of his subject that constantly race. These thoughts are moving quickly because of her words. The drum roll expresses the sensation of fast-paced thoughts swirling around until the circle becomes “broken” (22). The effects of the drums don’t stop with verse 20 as it continues to emphasise the stressed syllables of verse 24. Where once the singer was asking the priest-related question of turning away from God, now the priest is asking the singer to turn to God.
    The next two stanzas offer nothing in musical difference outside of the strophic form, but instead are more lyrically focused. The singer begins stanza seven addressing you, this time presumably the listener, as he admits his last regret. Lyrically concerned, verse two of the stanza is the weakest line; unless there is significant meaning buried within, one would be pressed to find something which “flies” (29) down a sink. Regardless of its usefulness, the metaphor is there to show a quick and speedy attempt to “shed [his] old regrets” (27). His last regret is this: “I never knew a part of you/ You didn’t set in ink” (30-1). Everything the singer knew of this girl, saw of her, felt, and became passionate over, he only knew through her inscribed writings. He’s already accused her of trading her life and blood for the writ. This is a regret which the singer has long awaited to rid himself from. Because this woman traded her life for writing, the singer would have never known anything outside of what she “didn’t set in ink”. This statement doesn’t reflect on the poet during the relationship; one could assume that the poet was sincerely dedicated. What he is commenting on again is the idea of ourself; he never knew who she was outside of her writings and therefore never discovered “our own” (19). What he does have is her letters which were “left behind” (32). These are the only physical remnants of their relationship. Since these are letters and his subject traded blood for ink, these letters can no longer be read because they are an extension of her life, her ink, and her blood.
    Moving beyond stanza eight, the song takes liberties unlike any it has before. It breaks away from the strophic form and creates an instrumental, climatic B lasting from 2:23 – 3:06. Strings layer over the familiar A form just before the drums again roll and pound the music to change. While A music still resides in the background after the drums, it’s clear that the musical climax has been reached.
    What follows after the climax? What comes after the singer has shed his old regrets, asked for forgiveness, and taken Communion? The singer now wants to “forget what was never there” (36). He has admitted to himself that her passion was not for him, but for the writ. The words found in the letters are now “ash and dust” 2 (37) and no longer hold personal meaning to the singer. He recognises that life moves forward. He may only have this song to physically account for what he misconstrued as reciprocated passion and a relationship, but he also understands that he has life and “breath” (39). Departing from the literal, still having life is important to the singer. While his subject may have traded her life for writing and the priest acted equally towards alcohol, the singer is the only character in the song that has the comfort and security of knowing that his life is still his own.
    Lyrically, the final stanza rounds out the song. To reinforce the power of what the singer is saying, an ever so faint yet noticeable second vocalist sings with Flynn doubling the volume and impact of the words. The singer turns more general and addresses all people with a love for writing and letters. Almost pleading to prevent what happened to himself not to be passed onto others, he challenges these writers to “pay heed to [their] heart[s]” (42) rather than their “wit” (42) for words. He’s not attacking writers, for he is one himself. Instead, he’s saying that it’s okay to write passionately, but if that passion can’t be said, verbalised, or personalised outside of the ink, then listen to your heart and don’t hurt another soul by “saying in a letter what you can’t in my ear” (45).
    shreveyboyon February 07, 2009   Link
  • +2
    General CommentHAHA shreveyboy.
    modermaliceon February 28, 2009   Link
  • +2
    General CommentThey’re taking pictures of the man from God;
    I dearly hope his cassock’s clean. For quod
    A soul is he apart from common gent,
    Whose halo better shimmer, never bent.
    But what of all those wilful, wayward priests?
    Do you suppose some are perverse like beasts,
    And choose to swap their blood for wine and drink,
    The same as you did switch your blood for ink?
    You wrote to me great notes appearing true,
    With trust, I thought of them without purlieus,
    Particularly with all your willing words,
    Which rose so high at night with all the birds.
    When once they circled ‘round my thoughts and head,
    It’s now the priest who gives to me the bread,
    And asks of me to drink the blood of Christ.
    Alone before the house of God, enticed
    I am to shed these old regrets and pain,
    And I allow no more myself the strain:
    But I not knew a side or part of you,
    Except, alas, by writ and ink accrued.
    The notes you left for me I shall not read;
    Inside the text between the words you bleed.
    And soon I will forget what was ne’er there,
    Your words are now but ash and dust in air,
    ‘Tis all that’s left: The song I’ve sung from breath
    Yet ceased. I breath to dodge and steer out death.
    If you are born with love for wrote and writ,
    My urge, alert, and message: Shun the wit,
    And heed the heart of such who need not tears,
    For letters don’t convey like voice to ears.
    shreveyboyon April 06, 2009   Link
  • +2
    General CommentIceIce... I never considered that the song was entirely about God. Maybe it's true (it's certainly sensible), but I think it is about a woman, too.
    What I love about it is how he takes two seemingly unrelated snapshots and intertwines them perfectly. Different facets of life intersecting into this gorgeous lament... Religion and love, each falling short in some aspect.
    This man's way with words is remarkable, some of the lines are so cutting yet so simple. He doesn't waste words.
    NooneofConsequenceon September 22, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General CommentMaybe it can partially relate to a relationship with a woman, or any type of relationship, when it comes to the last stanza beginning "If you're born with a love for the wrote and the writ". It seems to warn against ANY type of relationship in which one cannot experience the full of the person on the other side, rather than entirely or mostly through letters...but more so against the person on the other side of the pen hiding parts of themselves behind stationary and a cold veil of ink.
    IceIceBritanion September 28, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General Commentthe instrumental between the 8th and 9th verse remindss me of
    mgmt's electric feel.
    teffie123on May 22, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI tend to listen to Emmy the Great's "Paper Trails" after this song bc they sound like the same situation from two different perspectives. A woman making promises in letters and paper, but not following through in person.
    Coffeejunkie891on April 02, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI think it's about love letters and lies. I love the linking in with religion and regret and confession with the blood and the wine and the ink - it's quite poetic!

    'do you suppose they'd swap their blood for wine' - brilliant line, witty comments on the idea of stereotype drunken Irish Catholic priests with blood that's more alcohol (wine) than blood, and the idea of the wine at communion becoming the blood of Christ.

    squitchtweakon September 29, 2010   Link
  • -1
    General CommentI don´t think it´s good to say "it´s a about this and cannot be about this" because it´s not just about what the writer was thinking when he wrote it, and it is also perfectly possible (since we have no idea, we weren´t there in his head when he wrote it) he wrote it thinking, "This is what I meant, oh but it sounds like it could mean this to an unknowing ear, I like that." And that´s why it´s nice to think of it however you would like to think of it, especially seeing as though this is a really nice melancholic song which is nice to listen to with a bit of closeness and emotion in it. And it´s nice because the emotional part is so subtle, I like to believe it´s there.
    Hermannon July 31, 2011   Link

Add your thoughts

Log in now to tell us what you think this song means.

Don’t have an account? Create an account with SongMeanings to post comments, submit lyrics, and more. It’s super easy, we promise!

Back to top
explain