From the dusty mesa
Her looming shadow grows
Hidden in the branches
Of the poison creosote

She twines her spines up slowly
Towards the boiling sun
And when I touched her skin
My fingers ran with blood

In the hushing dusk
Under a swollen silver moon
I came walking with the wind
To watch the cactus bloom

A strange hunger haunted me
The looming shadows danced
I fell down to the thorny brush
And felt a trembling hand

When the last light warms the rocks
And the rattlesnakes unfold
Mountain cats will come
To drag away your bones

Then rise with me forever
Across the silent sands
And the stars will be your eyes
And the wind will be my hands


Lyrics submitted by sephira, edited by ShannonNutt, mokoko, j11, peaslee, Bittergreen

Far From Any Road song meanings
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14 Comments

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  • +6
    Song MeaningGenerally, the song tells about protagonist's fascination with Selenicereus Grandiflorus and his intention to watch it bloom, which is a unique occurrence by itself. Namely this species of cactus blooms only on a single night once every 2-3 years, and it(the bloom) withers within hours. There are also legends about people losing their minds while witnessing this rare event. Rennie stated this at a live performance of the song at Castle Douglas.

    The symbolic meaning of the act and the cactus itself apparently reflect protagonist's affection towards the esoteric, the unfeasible and the beauty of strangeness embodied in the cactus.The cactus may also represent
    a person with such characteristics who the author loves or feels for, which is implied by the use of the words "her skin" and his being tempted to touch it. It is located in a most foreboding place, a sweltering desert filled with dangerous animals and poisonous plants, and the cactus itself is spiny and allegedly induces insanity with its blooming, but nevertheless he/she is determined.

    In the second stanza the night has fallen and the lyrics become more ambiguous and foreboding. There is a commotion of ominous shadows (which can be interpreted either as the onset of the overwhelming madness or as actual unearthly phenomenon) and also a reference to strange hands halting the character (from witnessing the blooming in entirety perhaps?), but still he/she collapses and feels his/her hands trembling from the trauma. The protagonist(s) may even have died, as the following lines describe the natural course of things in the desert: predators will come at night to feed on his/her corpse and tear it asunder.

    The final lines suggest the only tragic possibility of bonding with such a horrific and astounding thing:

    eventual union in a different, unknown mode of existence, when his/her body has dissolved into particles and literally become a part of the desert which the cactus belongs to, a part of the still life, then his/her life essence will be able to relate to the morose beauty and ethereal being of the otherworldly cactus in an incomprehensible way(seeing each other with "stars" and touching each other with "wind").

    Although Brett and Rennie take turns singing, I think they both represent the voice and mindset of the same character, or at least two characters with identical destinies.
    svarog989on February 19, 2014   Link
  • +5
    My InterpretationThis is a love story, albeit a dark and tragic one.

    The first verse, sung by Brett, describes a man who goes into the desert in the heat of the day to find the elusive cactus, Queen of the Night. He finds it, among a poisonous creosote plant, and collapses there, eventually to die.

    The second verse, sung by Rennie, depicts a woman who sets out on the same quest at dusk. She finds the same cactus and when she "falls down in the thorny brush" she feels the man's trembling hand.

    The 2 characters die there and their bones are dragged away by desert scavengers. They are forever joined by their common fate. The tragedy is that if they'd found each other sooner, perhaps they could have found what they were seeking in each other and not in this dangerous quest.

    Thanks to everyone who answered before me. You helped me play detective and find my true meaning for this amazing song!
    segdehaon March 06, 2014   Link
  • +3
    General CommentFirst line:

    "From the dusty mesa"
    Thermidoron November 24, 2010   Link
  • +2
    General Commentit Is A Beautiful Haunting song
    gammadubon February 26, 2014   Link
  • +2
    General CommentII think the meaning is a bit simpler: it's just about traveling to the desert to watch the Selenicereus Grandiflorus bloom, becoming completely transfixed by it, dying there as a result and being left behind as a ghost to forever haunt the place.
    Lerxston March 04, 2014   Link
  • +2
    General CommentThe song blended well the the show true detective
    gemini0557on March 10, 2014   Link
  • +1
    General CommentYes, the correct lyrics are "A strange hunger haunted me"
    and "I felt a trembling hand"
    Svarog989 and Skyzophrenyk are onto it. The first verse describes the setting-"a dusty mesa." It's a cactus, it grows slowly-"her looming shadow grows".
    The seed that it grew from took root under a creosote plant- a nasty, poisonous desert pant whose oil was, and still may be , used to preserve wood for outdoor use such as railroad ties. If you have ever burned wood soaked in creosote by accident in a camp fire you know how bad this is. But, it protects the young plant and up it grows.

    Then, when he touches it, he bleeds. Duh, it's a cactus. But it's also a 'she'-something more, a spirit within perhaps?

    Next verse the first two lines are straight forward but the third is key- "a strange hunger haunted me" that is the urge to watch it bloom, even though it will lead to madness and death out in the desert. The viewer falls to the ground and feels a hand-the spirit embodied in the cactus?

    Next verse has my favorite line. He's singing about sunset-but he gets there in such an clever and spooky way. If you have grown up in the desert, at some point you were told to never stick your hand under an overhanging rock during the day. Rattlesnakes, which can't autoregulate their body heat, coil up and hide under rocks out of the sun during the day. But as the sun sets, they unfold and come out to hunt, and at night they lie on the rocks and stay warm from the heat the rocks retain-there can be a 50-60 degree swing in temp, and they have figured out how to handle it. But what a great line to describe the sunset, and make it ominous. Then of course, another nocturnal creature-the mountain lion (cat, cougar, puma-all the same critter) comes and drags off the body of the viewer. And finally her soul is taken up and joins with ....the spirits of other victims, the cactus, whatever. Such a great, concise, evocative bit of songwriting!
    peasleeon February 23, 2014   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI love this song. I first heard it on "True Detective," which I love too; but i think this song is amazing on its own. It gets me high when i hear it. The lyrics are amazing and so is the instrumentation. I think the lyrics are subjective and can mean infinite things, but i sort of have two main thoughts about them. The first thought is just a more raw interpretation, where the lyrics just paint a vague picture or story about love and longing and death. The second thought is a more structured interpretation (although still about that stuff) where the male voice is from the perspective of a human man in the desert (far from any road), and the female voice is the perspective of some sort of deadly desert creature. Basically the man comes upon the creature and when he touches her, she stings him or bites him or something like that and he dies. And when the last light warm the rocks, mountain cats come drag away his bones.
    doktordukeon February 03, 2014   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThere are a few things I heard differently.

    Current Lyric: And strange hands halted me
    What I heard: A strange hunger (halted or haunted, not sure which) me

    Current Lyric: and felt the trembling hands.
    What I heard: and felt a trembling hand.
    skyzophrenykon February 13, 2014   Link
  • 0
    General CommentIn context of the show, the song also makes sense as a man murdering a women he longs for in the desert. The duet style really gives some oomph to that reading.
    MaximumSamon February 25, 2014   Link

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