"Centennial" as written by and Alsop Monks....
This is skin
You can wrap all of your arms and legs in
An address that you know
An envelope unfolds

I'm writing to catch up
We were small when we last met
But the letters are unread
She's heard it on cassette

Taught to read and write
At such an early age
Passenger still
She's got books on tape

I'm running to catch up to that old VW
They're leaning out the back
You've never heard of fiction
You've never heard of fact

Way back when
We met 'cause my parents
Knew your parents
Steady hands, easy friends

All these designs
Parading on the rooftops
All of this time, little kids
Intrepids

I'm running out of space
So let me sum this up for you
I'm only wishing well though you won't believe me
This coming Thursday evening is our centennial


Lyrics submitted by shrodes

"Centennial" as written by Graham Fraser Wright David Thomas Monks

Lyrics © SONGS MUSIC PUBLISHING

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Centennial song meanings
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9 Comments

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  • +2
    General CommentI definitely think that its a song about someone special in his life that he knew a long time ago (We were small when we last met) and they're relationship was openly casual but he felt more than that. And they grew apart and so he was writing a letter or journal type entry to sum up his feelings and to basically say that he still thinks of her and they're relationship with the (this coming Thursday evening is our centennial).

    and omg,thisisntjess:
    im so glad to know im not the only one who totally finds the way he sings centennial at the end amazing! it's my favorite part! hahaha

    shelbyanneon November 09, 2010   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI think it's about knowing someone so well that you feel like you've known them for 100 years (especially since he met when they were kids and they grew up together).

    Whether they were together romantically or not, it seems they've grown a little apart yet - hence the "only wishing well" part. Yet he's still outlining they have/had some kind of relationship (friendly or no) he won't forget and still feels he's known her forever. Especially when he says "coming Thursday evening," it seems random and mundane - like they're both so comfortable with each other, their relationship seems both old and long lasting.
    Just my interpretation.
    slk32on July 23, 2008   Link
  • +1
    My InterpretationI see this song as a letter from a guy to his ex.
    She comes home, picks up her mail - a letter from a familiar address is in her box...she puts it away with all the others he sent her after she left for college. She never reads them...why should she? She already knows what they say, because it's been playing in her head constantly...("But the letters are unread, she's heard it on cassette.") Some dopey thing about how he loves her and misses her and wants her back, something cheesy like that. They never really broke up, but after graduation, they didn't see each other so much, and their relationship had never developed enough to withstand that separation - she's moved on already. But he hasn't. Letters, all the time, and she can never read them. She likes to think it's by choice, but, she's afraid that reading them will overwhelm her with thoughts about her past, and she needs to move on. Life for her needs to keep going, but for him, he's still running behind, trying to catch back up ("Passenger still...I'm running to catch up, to that old VW. They're leaning out the back..." In this case, the old VW van is a metaphor for life - she's still passenging leaving him in the dust.)
    He knows what she thinks about this, about how she's moved on from him and how he's still stuck on her. But, he also realizes that her moving on is cold and shallow, and that if she actually wants to get anywhere in life she can't forget about her past. (Taught to read and write at such an early age...[but] she's got books on tape.") Additionally, he points out her naivete; even though she's trying to be forward-thinking and mature, she's still making a huge mistake. ("You've never heard of fiction, you've never heard of fact.") Still, he's not much better where he is now, and he continues writing to her.
    But someday...something overcomes her and she opens the letter, as though her hands are moving for her and she's not even thinking to stop them. Unfolding it, she reads... "I'm writing to catch up." She is washed in a wave of nostalgia. How could she will herself to forget something like this? How they met, because their parents knew each other, and from then on they were best friends. How they'd explore roofs of houses intrepidly, fearlessly going through life hand in hand. Yes, he does want her back, but he's not going to beg her. Back when they separated, they were so naive ("We were small when we last met"). They're still both tenderfoots, but now, they're both wise enough to realize they had something special and now it's gone.
    As she nears the bottom of the page, "I'm running out of space, so let me sum this up for you. I'm only wishing well. Although you won't believe me, this coming Thursday evening is our centennial." Those words hit home, echoing all of his lost love, all of the things she tried to forget. No, she wouldn't have believed him before reading the letter, but only because she denied and contradicted him in an attempt to 'move on'. Now she realizes how much their relationship meant for both of them, and how she gave up on that. It's late now...it seems like almost a hundred years too late...but they will still celebrate, miles away, without even talking - to acknowledge what they had, and keep those memories alive.

    The entire last stanza for me really stands out. The way the singer sings it feels like it's actually what he means: I'm only wishing well, I know you won't believe me but it's our anniversary next Thursday. When he sings "Centennial ~" and the music drops to that echo-y bit at the end, it gets me right there... An excellent song by an excellent band. The lyrics are the perfect combination of abstract and literal. Brilliant.
    RamuneDrinkon June 17, 2012   Link
  • 0
    General Commentugh how can no one have commented this song yet?! it's so amazing. i love when he goes "cennnntennialll" at the end.

    anyway, to the point, i actually have no idea what it's about but i feel like it's a guy who lives a really long time all for this girl? just the feeling i get but oh well.
    thisisntjesson April 01, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI see this song as being about looking back on the death of a younger sister, reflecting on what she did/will never know.
    Sad song, really.
    josculon April 30, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentIt can't be a sister "we met cos my parents knew your parents" ...
    AllyS2on June 10, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General Commentummm... you guyes have such educated guesses... I think its about the subject wanting to regress and find out about their past and they remember the family friend and writes to them to try and remember the past.
    (I'm writing to catch up
    We were small when we last met
    But the letters are unread)

    Thats my guess... my GUESS

    Its an Awethome song though
    Robzehion June 24, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General Commenti agree with you, slk32^=
    to me it feels like it could be both romantically or simple friendship wise, but point blank the two used to be so close. they've grown apart, none-the-less. "we were so small when we last met." sounds insanely like childhood friends. its sad regardless.
    just a take.
    coralFMon August 22, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General Commenti'm not exactly clear on what this song means, but obviously he's refferring to someone who is blind ("the letters are unread, she's heard it on cassette" "she's got books on tape"). it seems to me that this is possibly a childhood friend with whom he had a close relationship, and possibly there was an accident that caused her blindness. possibly, "this coming thursday evening is our centennial" refers to an anniversary of when they met or became friends or began their romance, who knows... i don't know what the significance of "centennial" could be, or most of the other things such as "passenger still" and "parading on the rooftops"
    yancy x edgeon March 09, 2009   Link

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