"Sleepless" as written by and Colin Meloy....
As you lie before me now, like a shadow
On a pea green sea
Never thought that I could find you so hollow
Laying into me

But this cup of wine
All salt and brine makes me sleepy
And sorrow sows
A field of tears that will never yield a single penny
But I don't know
I've got nothing to hold on to

Wished for gold so I could buy you a palace
By the riverside
You'd come in and I would fill your diamond chalice
You were still alive

But this cup of wine
All salt and brine makes me sleepy
And sorrow sows
A field of tears that will never yield a single penny
But I don't know
I've got nothing to hold on to
I've got nothing to hold on to

Were you sleepless, tearing at the air?
Was the water everywhere?
Were you fretful, to wade into the room?
I'd been wanting to hear from you
Oh, no

Hand it over (hand it over)
Hand it over (oh)
You're weary, lay him down
You did your time so thank you very much
Hand it over (hand it over)
Hand it over (oh)
So now your hopes are all allayed
But you hand it all away

Did his eyelids affix on empty chairs
You had traveled to lay beside?
A gentle torture to watch it all recede
And all the while your mother slept beside him
Oh, no

Hand it over (hand it over)
Hand it over (oh)
You're weary, lay him down
You did your time so thank you very much
Hand it over (hand it over)
Hand it over (oh)
So now your hopes are all allayed
But you hand it all away

Were you sleepless, tearing at the air?
Was the water everywhere?
Were you fearful, and long to run away
From the cold clasp of Illinois?
Oh, no

Hand it over (hand it over)
Hand it over (oh)
You're weary, lay him down
You did your time so thank you very much
Hand it over (hand it over)
Hand it over (oh)
So now your hopes are all allayed
But you hand it all away
But you hand it all away


Lyrics submitted by hellomagda, edited by An0m4ly, carunzel

"Sleepless" as written by Colin Meloy

Lyrics © BMG RIGHTS MANAGEMENT US, LLC

Lyrics powered by LyricFind

Sleepless song meanings
Add your thoughts

21 Comments

sort form View by:
  • +2
    General CommentAm I the only one who sees a connection between the first narrator and Eli the Barrow Boy?

    "Wished for gold so I could buy you a palace" and "Would I could afford to buy my love a fine robe."
    Both of them have a dead lover:

    "You were still alive" and "but she is dead and gone and lying in a pine grove"
    Both Eli and the first narrator drown too.

    I think the song has two narrators. The first drowns. The second mourns the first. The second narrator comes in after the guitar solo.

    "I've got nothing to hold on to" has two meanings- literally, he's out in the ocean and exhausted and doesn't have anything to keep him afloat. It could also be interpreted as he has lost everything in his life, so what's the point of living.

    Or I could be reading too much in to things. Either way, Meloy is a brilliant lyricist.
    Tatterdemalion44on August 21, 2009   Link
  • +2
    General CommentI think the speaker is talking about death of a loved one, perhaps a family member, in a hospital room.

    "As you lie before me now, like a shadow
    On a pea green sea
    Never thought that I could find you so hollow"

    I agree that the ocean/water metaphor represents a kind of slow drowning, drowning in sorrow.
    The speaker also mentions money. I think this is key to the story.

    "A field of tears that will never yield a single penny

    Wished for gold so I could buy you a palace
    By the riverside
    You'd come in and I would fill your diamond chalice
    You were still alive"

    The speaker and his/her family could've been poor and unable to afford the treatment necessary to save the person who passed away.

    "Did his eyelids fix on empty chairs
    You had traveled to lay beside?
    A gentle torture to watch it all recede
    And all the while your mother slept beside him"

    In the above stanza, I can a scene where there are vacant chairs by the patient's hospital bed that he/she wished were filled with more friends, family or even the speaker himself other than his mother.

    All this time, I think it's one person relating the story. But, then the voice changes into another character:

    "Hand it over (hand it over)
    Hand it over (oh)
    You're weary, lay him down
    You did your time so thank you very much
    Hand it over (hand it over)
    Hand it over (oh)
    So now your hopes are all laid
    But you hand it all away"

    Whoever is speaking here may be the cold subconscious truth edging out of his mind saying give up all hope (hand all hope over). But, I can also imagine them saying hand over all your money for the treatment and with it everything you own, including feelings of hope. "You did your time so thank you very much" is a very cold statement to make in light of death. This speaker gives no empathy and demands even more suffering upon the family.

    Take my interpretation with a grain of salt please. I don't pretend to know what everything Colin means, but I think it really is a death of a loved one and how they can't afford to pay for the hospital bills (keeping with the theme of AIDS awareness).

    Thanks,
    Chewy

    chewyballeron January 13, 2010   Link
  • +1
    MemoryI think this song can be interpreted in many ways but reminds me of the struggle that takes place just before one dies after a lengthy illness. It reminds me of my Grandfather that lay in the hospital "on a pea green sea" and it comforts me that someone was on the other side saying "You're weary, lay him down
    You did your time so thank you very much, Hand it over."
    "You had traveled to lay beside? A gentle torture to watch it all recede And all the while your mother slept beside him" reminds me of how his family and friends converged at the time to be with him and we even slept with him until the end.

    Thanks for this song Colin.
    xoxo papa
    manda243on March 21, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General CommentIt's about LULAMORASHI.
    lulamorashion July 24, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General CommentMy interpretation of this would be a failed relationship.

    As you lie before me now, like a shadow
    On a pea green sea
    Never thought that I could find you so hollow
    Laying into me
    - The feelings post-relationship. You find someone gone , like a shadow , empty and hollow , devoid of anything , yet you can still feel it. But they dont , they're hollow.

    But this cup of wine
    All salt and brine makes me sleepy
    A sorrow so
    A field of tears that will never yield a single penny
    But I don't know
    I've got nothing to hold on to
    - "Cup of wine" , drinking. A metaphor for an action you do trying to forget. But you cant , and it makes things rough , and cause some to cry , but nothing will make things back the way they were. You have nothing to hold on to , nothing to give you support.

    Wished for gold so I could buy you a palace
    By the riverside
    You'd come in and I would fill your diamond chalice
    You were still alive
    -The feelings during a relationship. You want to give him/her everything , you treat him/her as a queen/king , but it was when things were fine. When things were "alive" , so to speak.



    Were you sleepless, tearing at the air?
    Was the water everywhere?
    Were you fretful, to wade into the room?
    I'd been wanting to hear from you
    Oh, no
    - The hurt one is asking the ex-partner if they felt the same. If they felt sleepless, distraught , or felt like drowning (being taken over). But they're not okay anymore , and all he can do is ask himself/herself.


    Hand it over (hand it over)
    Hand it over (oh)
    You're weary, lay him down
    You did your time so thank you very much
    Hand it over (hand it over)
    Hand it over (oh)
    So now your hopes are all laid
    But you hand it all away
    - To give it up. To forget and forgive. To let it pass.


    Did his eyelids fix on empty chairs
    You had traveled to lay beside?
    A gentle torture to watch it all recede
    And all the while your mother slept beside him
    Oh, no
    - To view on the past memories. When things were good. It's hard to see something good and to be reminded of what once was. "..while your mother slept beside him". I dont get this part , but maybe a different partner? Someone close to you , probably.

    These are just *my* feelings anyway.
    candlesniffon December 04, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General CommentAlso, from my not-at-all thorough listen of Dark Was The Night, most of those songs had nothing to do with AIDS. So I wouldn't immediately infer that this one is, either.
    JIBTEXHNKAon January 26, 2010   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI imagine this to be a son watching his cruel father pass away. He's asking him if the pain he inflicted on him was his only way to express love. Sleepless meaning the drifting in and out nearing death and the water closing in being the final curtain.

    Hand it over meaning he's inheriting all the father's stuff and thank you for doing your time raising him.

    Possibly his father's disposition was because of the grandfather's own cruel streak. "And all the while your mother slept beside him"

    I may be reaching a bit but it seems to fit.
    rendalfon December 22, 2011   Link
  • 0
    My InterpretationI don't know why, but when I first heard this I imagined a man that maybe owned a vineyard ("a field of tears that will never yield a single penny"), loved a girl, girl dies. He meets another girl, but is never the same "did his eyelids fix on empty chairs." He becomes an alcoholic and the new girl is carrying him and the relationship. Finally the narrator tells us that the girl is exhausted because she's been carrying all the weight of the relationship and she just needs to let him go "you're weary, lay him down you did your time so thank you very much... hand it all away"

    I don't think this is anywhere close to the correct meaning, but meh, whatever.

    Oh, and I've found a few mistakes in the lyrics, but it's good enough for just a rough copy (most of the mistakes are when Colin sings very quietly).
    CarolineArghon February 18, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentIt sounds like a child who's been away from his or her father for too long and then he passes away, and this is the family's reaction to the child's homecoming -- sort of passive-aggressive, sorrowful, angry, and relieved.
    bodishmoshersonon February 23, 2009   Link
  • 0
    My Interpretation"A sorrow so" should be "And sorrow sows." This builds the "field of tears" metaphor: seeds of sorrow return a harvest of tears.

    I heard "pea green sea" as "peat green sea," but I'm not too sure.

    "Eyelids fix" sounds closer to "eyelids affix."

    "All laid" is "all allayed."
    TJDon March 24, 2009   Link

Add your thoughts

Log in now to tell us what you think this song means.

Don’t have an account? Create an account with SongMeanings to post comments, submit lyrics, and more. It’s super easy, we promise!

Back to top
explain