Ottoman couch, how handsome your furniture
Lovelier now, but dressed for a funeral
Begging you to sit for a portrait on the wall
To hang in the dark of some parliamentary hall

Elegant clothes, you want to be seen with her
Under your tweeds you sweat like a teenager
Begging you to sit for a portrait on the wall
To hang in the dark of some parliamentary hall

Today's for you
They laid it out for you
For you
There will be six bells a-ringing and white women singing for you
But this feels so unnatural to Peter Gabriel, too

All of the costs and all of the time it took
Soon it's all lines of red in a leather book
Begging you to wait for a minute by the door
Your creeping feet where they've never been before

Today's for you
They laid it out for you
For you
There will be six bells a-ringing and white women singing for you
But this feels so unnatural Peter Gabriel, too


Lyrics submitted by blinxbcr, edited by sassc, Ralon17

Ottoman song meanings
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31 Comments

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  • +3
    General CommentI love the idea that he's awkward in his tweed and sweating like a teenager, but reminding himself that this would be awkward for Peter Gabriel too makes him feel reassured.
    ooubeon October 10, 2008   Link
  • +2
    General CommentNick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, for the win!
    cityonyourspineon October 20, 2008   Link
  • +2
    General Commentto me it sounds like "all of the costs and all of the time it took" which would seem to make more sense if it is about a marriage.
    citizenerased01on March 08, 2010   Link
  • +1
    General Commentactually it is CARDS not cars. it wouldnt make sense if it was cars. the lyrics show that it takes place in the 1800's if not around that time.

    tweeds were used more commonly back then,

    6 bells a ringin symbolizes a traditional church wedding, which was much more common, if not the only way to get married back then

    sitting for portraits doesnt usually happen these days, unlike wealthy families back then.

    besides, "all of the cards" is a metaphor for all of the steps (like for a wedding)
    tiggerme123on January 07, 2010   Link
  • +1
    General CommentSomebody mentioned the idea that the woman he's with is of a higher up, wealthy family. This can be inferred, since the portrait is being hung in the "dark of some parliamentary hall." The speaker claims to be nervous, as he is "sweating like a teenager." He dresses in his elegant clothes because he "want[s] to be seen with her."

    This correlates to the ideas referenced in Taxi Cab on Contra, where the speaker reflects his failed relationship with an aristocratic woman, because he was intimidated by her wealth.

    Anyway, about Ottoman. As we discussed, he is nervous about his impending marriage with a woman of high social status. The first two verses and the chorus are discussing the moments before, and moments following the wedding. The verses discuss his anxiety, and the chorus paints a picture of the wedding scene.

    That's the obvious part, the third verse is the part that hits me the hardest.

    The shift is obviously post marriage. It's clear because he discusses "all of the costs, and all of the time it took." This paints an image of a family, or perhaps the wedding ceremony and preparations. However, it's all "lines of red in a leather book," perhaps an image made to show the distribution of money or possessions setting up a divorce.

    The idea of this divorce is emphasized by the speaker is "Begging [her] to wait for a minute by the door, her creeping feet where they've never been before." This image is strong and truly painful. It's pretty self explanatory, as the woman leaves him.

    As I said, this correlates heavily with Taxi Cab, as the themes of aristocracy and break up. I encourage avid listeners of this song to look up Taxi Cab for comparison.
    CFruitcakeson January 21, 2015   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI know a lot of this is off, but any corrections I'd be happy to hear! Thnaks
    blinxbcron September 23, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General Commenthere's what i get:

    ottoman couch, how handsome your furniture
    love you now but dressed for a funeral
    begging you to sit for a portrait on the wall
    to hang in the dark of some parliamentary hall

    elegant clothes, you want to be seen with her
    under your tweeds you sweat like a teenager
    begging you to sit for a portrait on the wall
    to hang in the dark of some parliamentary hall

    today's for you
    they laid it out for you
    there will be six bells a-ringing and white women singing for you,
    but this feels so unnatural to peter gabriel too

    all of the cards and all of the time it took
    soon it's all lines of red in a leather book
    begging you to wait for a minute by the door
    your creeping feet where they've never been before

    today's for you
    they laid it out for you
    there will be six bells a-ringing and white women singing for you
    but this feels so unnatural to peter gabriel too



    how great is that line, 'you sweat like a teenager' !!??
    i think this is about the same thing as c.c.k.k. she's rich and he's not and he feels intimidated by this fact, and it dooms their relationship.
    ap0theosizeon September 23, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThat's so great that they use Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa lyrics.

    Lyrics sound right to me.

    Love this song.
    AIxeleganceon October 01, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General Commenti agree with ap0theosize, the line 'you sweat like a teenager' really gets me for some reason.
    girlofjulyon October 04, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General Commentnah, i love the "feels so unnatural Peter Gabriel, too"
    lol :D
    mariatehgweaton October 08, 2008   Link

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