"The Blind Leaving the Blind: 1st Movement" as written by and Chris Thile....
(Part One)

Tell me what you want me to think
You can lead me to water, you can make me drink

I trust you if you say it's good
You wouldn't hurt me and I don't think you could

Tell me what I don't need to keep
I overpacked and the sidewalk is steep
To your cathedral at the Tapenade Hill
'Makes me tired, and dear, it always will

Tell me why I haven't been healed
I haven't changed, and nothing's been revealed
And what's in the blood of the way and the light
That makes my sin Sunday morning, and makes me drunk at night

Tell me that I'm more than a dream,
A golden hell prize you failed to redeem

Don't tell me that you've always known
That I'd wake up first, and you'd wake up alone

(Part Two)

Sweet young man, goes walking down the street wiping blood off his hands
And it doesn't look good but he does what he can
To erase the signs
Of a nightmare he faced
At the scene of the crime

She snuck up behind him
As he knelt by her victim
Whispered, "I knew you'd come
But there's nothing to be done,
And if I was you, I'd run
'Cause no one cares
About what you felt
When they see any sighs of guilt
You kissed its face,
You held its hand
You always were a sweet young man."

He's still a mess,
So he hires a car
To take him to the fountain
At Balboa Park
Where he used to play
When he was young
He's gonna wash off
In front of God and everyone.


Lyrics submitted by sarahxbear

The Blind Leaving the Blind: 1st Movement song meanings
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3 Comments

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  • 0
    General CommentThis is a really great song. Thanks for posting!
    mjanik09on August 28, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI'm surprised no one here's tried to analyze this song yet. All four movements link into a somewhat cohesive narrative, so there's a lot to dig into. That being said, I find the lyrics to be vague (especially in this song), perhaps in order not to sound so personal and therefore render the song meaning more universal to listeners.

    I don't know if I can take a stab at it yet. I know the overall story is about the break-up of a relationship and the aftermath, but I'm still puzzling out most of the lines (again, particularly in this song- the second half specifically greatly confuses me with its use of pronouns, I find it hard to understand who's doing what and what's happening in general and whether it should even be taken seriously).
    EnduringChillon October 17, 2017   Link
  • 0
    My InterpretationSeveral months later, I'm back to take a stab at it.

    "Tell me what you want me to think. You can lead me to water, you can make me drink."
    Obvious play on the saying, "you can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink," meaning that you can give someone orders or try to steer them in a certain path, but it's up to them to actually act on the orders or go down that path- you can't force someone to do anything. However, in these opening lines it's clear that the song's narrator is resigned and will do anything his soon-to-be-former-lover asks, because he's tired of resisting and wants to avoid an argument. He doesn't know what's expected of him anymore, so he asks her to tell him what to think and how to react.

    "I trust you if you say it's good. You wouldn't hurt me, and I don't think you could."

    Extending the metaphor of the horse to water- trusting that the water is not poisoned or harmful in any way, because he trusts her not to hurt him and in fact doubts her capability for it (probably due to their romantic past). It further shows how the relationship is out of his hands and he's just trying to salvage whatever's left by trusting her and doing what she says. Trust is probably the last positive aspect of the relationship.

    "Tell me what I don't need to keep. I overpacked, and the sidewalk is steep to your cathedral at the top of the hill. 'Makes me tired, and dear, it always will."

    He's leaving her now because she wants him to go. On one level, this could be literal- he has a lot of physical baggage, a lot of stuff packed up in order to move out, and it's tiring to carry it down the steep hill (presumably to where the moving truck or car is waiting). Or it could mean the baggage of their relationship, all the memories and emotions from their time spent together. Her house is likened to a cathedral, and elevated on a hill, because he used to love her and worship her so highly as if she's a goddess- it's unclear if the pedestal was broken or not over the course of the relationship.

    "Tell me why I haven't been healed. I haven't changed, and nothing's been revealed."

    He expected more out of this relationship than he got- he hasn't undergone any significant changes, hasn't experienced any amazing revelations, hasn't been "made whole" in some way. It was not fulfilling to be with her.

    "And what's in the blood of the way and the light that takes my sin Sunday morning, and makes me drunk at night?"

    I'm honestly not sure what this line has to do with the narrative at this point, except that it introduces the themes of religion and debauchery in the upcoming movements.It could have to do with a loss of faith- the wine representing the blood of Christ has now only become a way to numb the pain and drown out the world.

    "Tell me that I'm more than a dream, a golden hell prize you failed to redeem. Don't tell me that you've always known that I'd wake up first, and you'd wake up alone."

    Now he's asking his former lover to connect with him again, even though it's already over. "More than a dream-" something substantial, something more than just a goal for the future, some sign of commitment. Unfortunately she couldn't commit to him. I find it interesting that the narrator is described as a prize, as it seems men often talk about women in such a way, but here the man thinks of himself like that. Either way, the lover didn't win him, being clearly less invested in the relationship than he was. "Waking up" could be metaphorical in the next couplet, as in waking up to reality, opening one's eyes in a realization. In this case, it would be realizing that the relationship has gone sour. I can't help but feel that the pronouns should be switched in this last couplet, as it seems to be the lover who wanted out and thus realized first that the relationship was not going to last, leaving the narrator to wake up by himself. Either way, he accuses her of having known from the start that it wasn't going to last, and never having seen it as permanent to begin with.

    "Sweet young man, goes walking down the street wiping blood off his hands. And it doesn't look good, but he does what he can to erase the signs of a nightmare he faced at the scene of the crime."

    Here's where the narrative gets confusing for me, because I know the second half isn't meant to be literally happening but I can't figure out what it's supposed to represent. The narrator is referred to in third person now. I believe that "wiping blood off his hands" means he feels responsible for the end of the relationship, and the "nightmare" and "crime" was the relationship's end itself. It's a very dramatic, almost literary description.

    "She snuck up behind him as he knelt by her victim. Whispered, 'I knew you'd come, but there's nothing to be done, and if I was you, I'd run.'"

    The victim could be a personification of the relationship- now he's accusing her for having ended it.

    "'Cause no one cares about what you felt when they see any sighs of guilt. You kissed its face, you held its hand. You always were a sweet young man.'"

    That first line is an astute observation- when someone looks or acts guilty, no one cares about what really happened. They'll blame this person for the crime no matter what. The narrator believes his lover was the one to end the relationship, but she wants to be perceived as the victim and almost seems to relish in the idea of him being blamed for it. I don't really know what the last few lines mean, as it's here where the pronouns trip me up the most- what does "it" refer to?

    "He's still a mess, so he hires a car to take him to the fountain at Balboa Park, where he used to play when he was young. He's gonna wash off in front of God and everyone."

    There's still incriminating evidence- blood from the crime scene- all over the narrator, so he goes somewhere to wash it off. That's the literal reading of these lines. Metaphorically, I admit defeat, as I wasn't really able to decipher the metaphor when it was introduced. All I know is that the narrator retreats to a favorite childhood spot, reflecting on a happier time when life wasn't as complicated, before the heartbreak occurred- who hasn't wanted to go back in time like that, during a hard time? Naming a specific park seems to make the story more personal, proving that this is a true account.
    EnduringChillon January 16, 2018   Link

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