"The Arm" as written by and Baney Thorburn....
Breathe in deep
I want you to
That's why the arm came for you
Help you up, help you out
To help you through
That's why the arm came for you

You faded into a different shade
A completely different hue
Of a kind of blue
In a lifeless carcass
In a bad ass car crash
Hopefully you'll wake up soon
Hopefully you do
I want you to

That's why the arm came for you
That's why the arm came for you
That's why the arm came for you

Now you'll see how it feels
To live like a bee
Always searching, for what's honey
And the veins made some stains
When they burst from your legs
Your anxiety is a tapestry

Now you'll swim until it's deep
Until it feels like you're asleep
Against the sound of warning cries
Which you don't hear
I could not hear
In a lifeless carcass in a bad ass car crash
Hopefully you wake up soon
Hopefully you do
I want you to

That's why the arm came for you
That's why the arm came for you
That's why the arm came for you

Don't go to sleep, don't want you to
That's why the arm came for you
Need you to even if it's pointless to
Let your arms carry you

You're mine, you're mine
You'll always be mine
Lord knows I tried to keep you from leaving
Maybe I'll try

You're mine, you're mine
Is that why I lied
If I tell the truth
You weren't breathing
Maybe I'll try
Girl I lie


Lyrics submitted by wrat

The Arm song meanings
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12 Comments

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  • +1
    MemoryThis is one of my favorite Islands songs, and I've listened to it probably a gazillion times, so whenever I listened to it or sang along, the events described in the lyrics stopped even registering to me, even though things having to do with a "lifeless carcass" tend to be hard to ignore. I was able to get the chance to REALLY not ignore that kind of thing, though, a few months ago. I was on my way to work, riding my scooter, when someone tried to turn left in front of me when I had the right of way. Needless to say, he hit me; totalled my Vespa, and I hit and then was thrown over his car, then smeared across the road - a lifeless carcass in my very own badass car crash. I also lost 6 pints of blood, as both of my femurs broke in half and were sticking through my legs. The veins definitely made some stains (on my favorite skirt of course) when they burst from my legs, although in my case it was probably the femoral arteries in addition to veins. When I got to the hospital they put me in a coma, and it wasn't clear if I would wake up or not. When I put a CD on with this song on it a few months after I got to leave the hospital, listening to the words gave me a frission. But now I like to think that the person in this song did make it through.

    P.S. Always wear your helmet. No matter what. Pretty much the only reason I am still able to enjoy Islands songs. Also, breathe.
    robotitronon February 20, 2013   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI love this song! The vocals are so amazing and they played it sooo well live. At the show I went to they had a 2 or so minute intro to the song so at first no one knew what was coming, and then they burst into The Arm and it was simply amazing! Greatest band ever.
    brandnewplagueon March 22, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General Commentyeah this song is sick. i like creeper more tho (on the myspace)
    spiritwalkerzon April 02, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI think you've got most of it right... the last few lines are definitely the most ambiguous because of the clarity of Nick's dwindling voice amid the outro of the drums and guitar... anyway, some possible edits:

    "Need you to even if it's pointless to let your arm's carry you"... it really could be either though, they're pretty similar either way.

    "Lord knows I tried to keep you from leaving, oh baby, I tried" - This song seems to be telling a past tense story so I think the lyrics are probably closer to this.

    This last one is a bit harder, I think it goes something like this: "you're mine, you're mine, there's no way I lied/it's no wild lie when I told you you were breathing, oh baby I tried, but you just float on by" Definitely not sure about 'float on by' but it's definitely something a little like that.

    Anyway, great song, the string duo is a little cheesy in it's addition to this album, but only really when it's being used for ELO-like sweeping arrangements such as are featured in the verses of this song. But it's still an A-grade tune, one of the things I'm always impressed with about Nick is that his songs have so many different movements to them and The Arm is no exception... my favorite one is definitely the 1/8 notes of the piano in the bridge, combined with Nick's amazing vocal delivery. His vocals have just gotten better and better, even if they've sacrificed some of that Built To Spill aesthetic for a more showy, theatrical style- lots of "Ohs!" and "Oooos", even more than before.

    That said, I'm very excited for Arm's Way, don't think it will be AS good as Return to the Sea because J'Aime was a better drummer than the guy they replaced him with and Jim Guthrie was a much more interesting lead guitarist as well; but Nick's songwriting is as strong as ever, so undoubtedly it will still be head and shoulders above most of the crap everybody else is coming out with these days.
    fgevilmonkeyon April 05, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThat said, I'm very excited for Arm's Way, don't think it will be AS good as Return to the Sea because J'Aime was a better drummer than the guy they replaced him with and Jim Guthrie was a much more interesting lead guitarist as well; but Nick's songwriting is as strong as ever, so undoubtedly it will still be head and shoulders above most of the crap everybody else is coming out with these days.

    I feel the same way! J'aime is my brother-in-law, so I know my opinion is probably a little biased...but he was SUCH a better drummer. Too bad he got married, I guess....

    The Arm is probably my favorite song they ever made, though.
    FastFallerSkyon April 06, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI think it's probably about coming out of denial about someone dying the narrator knows.
    SamMooCowon April 08, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentHey, by the way, does anyone know what he's singing in the background during the bridge right before "don't go to sleep"
    SamMooCowon April 17, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General Commentsam, i think i was wondering the same thing too cuz in the booklet that came with the cd, i dont think it had that part written in the lyrics...hmm
    but anyway i just love this song so much
    they played this live at UCLA when i went to see them there
    rikostarron May 26, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentEpic.
    Oubleion August 13, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General Commentit's about somebody who's trying to revive his girlfriend who was in a car crash

    at the beginning of the song he believes she can be saved
    the arm might be his- carrying her or giving her cpr
    he wants her to breathe in deep and wake up

    he loved her, she was always his

    he begins to realize he might not be able to save her
    "maybe I'll try"

    he was hoping that she would wake up soon
    but he was lying to himself
    "girl, I lie"
    at the end of the song he realizes he can't save her
    notjimion January 19, 2009   Link

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