"The Rip" as written by and Beth Gibbons Adrian Francis Utley....
As she walks in the room
Scented and tall
Hesitating once more
And as I take on myself
And the bitterness I felt
I realize that love flows

Wild, white horses
They will take me away
And the tenderness I feel
Will send the dark underneath
Will I follow?

Through the glory of life
I will scatter on the floor
Disappointed and sore
And in my thoughts I have bled
For the riddles I've been fed
Another lie moves over

Wild, white horses
They will take me away
And the tenderness I feel
Will send the dark underneath
Will I follow?

Wild, white horses
They will take me away
And the tenderness I feel
Will send the dark underneath
Will I follow?


Lyrics submitted by osbert

"The Rip" as written by Beth Gibbons Adrian Francis Utley

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The Rip song meanings
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  • +6
    General CommentCool, nice to know others who see it too. Both songs (and albums) are tremendous works of art, in my opinion.

    I'm increasingly convinced that the woman in the first verse is a romantic interest. Love would flow, but there are a mountain of obstacles in the way, including her own confusion and bitterness, and the riddles and lies that have bled her mind dry. What "riddles" could there be? Well, how about society's homophobic sophistry/rhetoric, for starters.

    Furthermore, I see two options for what the "rip" of the title could mean:

    1) Perhaps it simply refers to the act of the horses carrying her away from her troubles (i.e. tearing her away from despair). These aren't wild white horses for no reason, after all. White is often associated with goodness and purity; horses typically represent freedom, power, and independence.

    2) The rip could also be a figurative fissure or tear: between a hesitating bitterness, and a love that flows; between the glory of life, and the riddles and lies; between the dark underneath, and the tenderness above.


    Man, this album floors me the more I listen to it. It's like an old flame of mine has come back. I really ought to dive into "Dummy" and "Portishead" again.
    Anarchitecton March 23, 2008   Link
  • +5
    General CommentAnarchitect, i think the meaning of the title 'the rip' is refuring to a nautical/surfing term. On any shore that is wave dominated, there is always a section with a strong current flowing out to sea. Water will travel along shore into this fast flowing channel, where the waves are a lot messier and disconcordant. This seaward flowing channel is known as the rip. The wild white horses are the waves pulling her out to sea.

    Im not sure how this relates to the rest of the song though.
    andysroomon June 20, 2008   Link
  • +5
    My InterpretationThis is one of the most beautiful songs I have ever heard. To me, it is a lot less depressing than what many others here are feeling.

    I see the first stanza as the singer reflecting upon herself and all the doubt and uncertainty she encounters and the bitterness that arises in life, but she realizes that love flows and that is what matters.

    The chorus expresses the way the course of life sweeps us away like a riptide and that her feelings send the darkness and pain away and underneath, leaving her wondering if and wishing she could follow the ways of the riptide.

    The third stanza shows the singer again encountering horrible suffering and doubt and a general dissatisfaction for life and the way things are.

    Then as the song begins to take on a more upbeat pace, the chorus again arises in a different form to elaborate the singer's wondering if she can be swept away by the riptide of love with new a hopeful and optimistic outlook.
    Pterodacylon February 04, 2014   Link
  • +2
    My Interpretationthis song reminds me of drugs (opiates, specifically). i'm not necessarily saying that's what it was intended to be about, but the lyrics, to me anyway, are analogous to the process, experience, and feelings associated with opiate use.

    "wild, white horses":
    ever heard the expressions "horse; underneath the horse, etc" in reference to heroin? don't need to explain this further.

    "they will take me away":
    why do people use drugs, specifically opiates? to feel good yes, but also to numb themselves from physical, mental, and psychological pain/torment. "they (the drug) "will take me (in this case, that which makes a person human, their spiritual/emotionally-driven core) away."

    "and the tenderness i feel":
    you're floating on a cloud, completely void of not only the senses of pain/suffering but of the recollection of them.

    "will send the dark underneath":
    like i explained above, the dark is gone to some other place, it's not within you anymore. i mean, it is, but it's snuffed out. you shoved the pain underneath the rug. it'll reappear later, but for now, you sent it away.

    "will i follow?":
    when the high starts to dissipate, the threat of the imminent crash (and state of withdrawal, for the addicted, chronically using individual) will shove you back to the pain you used to get away from in the first place.

    then the drum loop kicks in, and it reminds me of the hazy, blissful numb of the rush immediately following injection. the emotion behind the words fade, the looping lyrics kicks in (when the moment stands still, the rush is at its peak, time stops!)... followed by the verse again, surrounded yet shrouded by the repeating electronic, synthesized looping sound layers.

    interesting how the first half of the song is more melancholy, minimal and bare-sounding. the lyrics and emotion behind them stand out, front and center. this is in contrast to the second half, when the drum/electronic sound loops rush in quickly and faster, like the beating of an accelerating heart. the lyrics are less prominent now, and there's a conspicuous mood change in the song. the heavily-felt emotion of the first pass of the chorus is in diametric opposition to the layered, artificiality of the verse as it's sung seemingly behind the additional loops and sounds.

    i could analyze the other verses in the song, but i've already wrote a goddamn novel.

    again, i'm NOT saying that this was written with drugs in mind. really, much of the truly great music throughout human history is comprised of complex meaning, applicable to a broad variety of human experiences. this song could also mirror the pains of losing a loved one, a relationship, feeling alone, physical ailments, transcending suffering, WHATEVER. you get my point.

    but as a recovering addict (IV use of dilaudid mostly) the lyrics resonate so strongly with my experiences with opiates that i couldn't help but share my thoughts with the rest of you all.
    jewdifulon November 02, 2011   Link
  • +2
    General Commentas she walks in the room scented and tall hesitating once more
    (This to me is about bumping into a ex lover who she doesnt want apart of him).
    and as i take on myself and the biterness i felt i feel love flows.
    (This to me means hes so angry and hurt over what has happened but he realises that he still has feelings for her).
    wild white horses they will take me away
    (To me that is he longs to get out either being drugs or suicide i believe suicide and he wants to go somewhere peaceful )
    And the tenderness i feel
    (Pain and depression)
    will send the dark underneath will i follow
    (its a mixed message i think its on about getting rid of pain and will i follow means will i go with it too )
    Through the glory of life
    (Blood)
    i will scatter on the floor.(self explanitory )
    disapointed and sore.( I think this means ashamed of himself )
    and in my thought i have bled ( means a self battle with depression)
    for the riddles of been fed ( just lies and being let down )
    Another lie moves over ( his life could of been a lie and decided to go through with it this is more of what people would think of him for doing it that he didnt apear unhappy no signs a lie and he does it in the end )
    I honestly believe this song is about suicide and the music turns into a dreamy state at the end as if he decided to go through with it and hes going to a better place absolutely amazing song
    elsheilsioon February 07, 2013   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThe song's name used to be "Mystic", which may tie into the reference to Wiccan Mysteries on "Silence". Not to mention the horse imagery, which might be related to the animist beliefs of some Wiccans.

    p.s. Does this sound like the sister song to Radiohead's "Weird Fishes/Arpeggi" to anyone else?
    Anarchitecton March 20, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI don't have the album so I don't know if it has a lyric sheet, but doesn't "centered and tall" make more sense?
    Just a suggestion.
    benton June 10, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General Commentandysroom and russell, I agree with you too.

    What I got out of this song(of which I can't get out of my head) is something I've heard about when a person drowns. A friend nearly drowned and told me. Apparently, once you give in and realise you've no chance, and start breathing in the water, it's a wonderful calming feeling.

    That's what's I think anyway! I love this song.
    j
    jen261on June 28, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General Commenti like to think that the white horses are death and she is cotemplating following death cos she cant take the despaIR OF LIFE ANYMORE. this song brings me to tears everytime i listen to it. its heartbreaking
    gothkittyon April 07, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General CommentAm I the only person that thinks this song is about death? Realising at your own funeral 'that love flows'
    'Through the glory of life I will scatter on the floor' (ashes scattered)

    'And in my thoughts I have bled, for the riddles Ive been fed, another life moves over'

    Just seems she is singing about death really...
    Superkitty8on June 03, 2016   Link

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