"Kettering" as written by and Peter Joseph Silberman....
I wish that I had known in
That first minute we met
The unpayable debt
That I owed you

Because you'd been abused
By the bone that refused you
And you hired me
To make up for that

And walking in that room
When you had tubes in your arms
Those singing morphine alarms
Out of tune

They had you sleeping and eating
And I didn't believe them
When they called you
A hurricane thundercloud

When I was checking vitals
I suggested a smile
You didn't talk for a while
You were freezing

You said you hated my tone
It made you feel so alone
So you told me
I had to be leaving

But something kept me standing
By that hospital bed
I should have quit but instead
I took care of you

You made me sleep all uneven
And I didn't believe them
When they told me that there
Was no saving you


Lyrics submitted by squo, edited by Proodesta, Alconaut

"Kettering" as written by Peter Joseph Silberman

Lyrics © Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd.

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Kettering song meanings
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41 Comments

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  • +8
    General CommentWhen I first heard this song, I didn't look up the lyrics and just enjoyed it superficially, because I liked the sound and quiet vibe and I found it relaxing. Then on the third or fourth time, some words caught my interest while I was actually paying attention to them. I looked up the lyrics, and my entire relationship with the song shifted.

    I hadn't even realized the reference that the title was making until I read the lyrics and realized they were about someone terminally ill (presumably with cancer), and the person who has to be besides them through it all, watching them. Only then did I realize that "Kettering" was referring to the Memorial Sloan Kettering Center, a cancer center in New York where I spent every weekend of this past summer while my fifteen-year old cousin did her chemotherapy.

    After that, I went out for a night walk and just played the song on repeat and let myself cry to it. It's so beautiful, in the heartbreaking and plaintive way that it is, and it speaks with the humanity of pain, the simplicity of suffering. I've listened to the whole album since then and I know it's created on a foundation of metaphors, interpretations and fluctuating depictions that each song somehow plays into. But even though ever other song in 'Hospice' is just as brilliant, 'Kettering' has become something entirely different to me than just a song. Because my cousin is a hurricane thundercloud girl, and so were all the other children and young adults I got to meet frequently in her ward. So thank you, to The Antlers, for writing this piece.
    ojk22on April 12, 2013   Link
  • +7
    General CommentChords are a simple rotation of Am, C/G, Em.

    I dunno if it's cool to post chords here but I figured someone could use them. Posted them for wake too. Beautiful, beautiful, haunting songs.
    Massuson September 10, 2009   Link
  • +4
    General CommentThe album, to me, seems either

    A.) told (sung) from various viewpoints, like a modernist novel, or

    B.) purposely blurry in its character relationships so as to make its themes more universal.

    There's really no way to definitively decide exactly what's going on; if Pitchfork's correct and the patient is a child, how could she have had an abortion (as heard in "Bear")? And if she's the patient of the speaker (singer), how come he knew her before she got sick (as heard in "Two")? It's impossible to pinpoint specifics and better just to take in the emotions and themes of the album as a whole,in my opinion.
    TearsforAffairson November 13, 2009   Link
  • +4
    General CommentThis song means more to me now than i ever. recently over a dating site, i met a girl that i really like in every way, and we are really hitting it off. After a hours of talking she opened up to me, and admitted that she had terminal brain cancer, i just felt let crying, because of my person i was only more attracted to the idea of meeting her for real, and being with her. But now i know it's doomed to fail before it even started, and i know it's gonna hurt so much when the inevitable comes around, but i refuse to simply let go and forget about her, i cant.
    axelerator3000on August 10, 2013   Link
  • +3
    General Commenti really want to know how people are supposed to deal with this album. i don't know if that a question, or a rhetorical question, or if i'm not asking. it's so brilliant, so achingly painful.
    TheWrongGirlon September 11, 2009   Link
  • +3
    General CommentIt gave me chills and I absolutely love it.
    myrdason January 16, 2010   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThe title 'Kettering' refers to the Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New Jersey, which is likely where the cancer patient is located.
    BiOCaAMon September 28, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI tend to think the "sleeping uneven" bit is about sleeping in a hospital chair next to her bed.
    laertimeon August 03, 2010   Link
  • +1
    Song MeaningHaving bone cancer myself, I think it makes sense that the song is about a friend/family member of him dying of it. Not every patient with bone cancer will die, but it is certainly possible. Elsewhere on the album he talks about femur (upper bone of a leg towards the knee), a common place for bone cancer. The "tubes in your arm" could be about the chemo or a sedative that is given to him.
    scndskyon November 01, 2010   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThey had you sleeping and eating
    And I didn't believe them
    When they called you
    A hurricane thundercloud


    Oh my god. That line makes me cry every time. It's like...how could someone go downward so fast? How could someone be fine, stable one minute, and then just crash?
    Aquarius121on June 14, 2011   Link

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