"Atrophy" as written by and Peter Joseph Silberman....
You've been living a while in the front of my skull, making orders
You've been writing me rules, shrinking maps and redrawing borders
I've been repeating your speeches, but the audience just doesn't follow
Because I'm leaving out words, punctuations, and it sounds pretty hollow

I've been living in bed because now you tell me to sleep
I've been hiding my voice and my face and you decide when I eat

In your dreams I'm a criminal, horrible, sleeping around
While you're awake I'm impossible, constantly letting you down

Little porcelain figurines, glass bullets you shoot at the wall
Threats of castration for crimes you imagine when I miss your call
With the bite of the teeth of that ring on my finger, I'm bound to your bedside, your eulogy singer
I'd happily take all those bullets inside you and put them inside of myself

"Someone, oh anyone, tell me how to stop this
She's screaming, expiring, and I'm her only witness
I'm freezing, infected, and rigid in that room inside her
No one's going to come as long as I lay still in bed beside her"


Lyrics submitted by Freddox

"Atrophy" as written by Peter Joseph Silberman

Lyrics © Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd.

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Atrophy song meanings
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13 Comments

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  • +5
    General Commentstunningly vivid imagery. The relationship between the Narrator and the Patient really takes off with Atrophy, and Silberman describes the scenario impeccably.


    What's most interesting to me is the music during the coda. "Someone oh anyone tell me how to stop this," is played to the exact same melody as "Wake". (In the same vein as Bear to Epilogue.)
    mikecon September 15, 2009   Link
  • +4
    General Commenthis wife, the woman of this song, literally just abuses him over and over again but he stays with her because he's in love with her and he knows that if he leaves her she will be alone because her friends and family don't like her. i think she's been sick her entire life and when he met her he knew immediately she was special so he took care of her, and married her, and knew that no matter how cruel he was "bound to her bedside, her eulogy singer" because of the vowels he made and the "ring on his finger".

    throughout the entire album he alludes to her haunting him, and it reminds me of edgar allan poe. i think he was dark to begin with but watching someone so fragile die from something he couldn't protect her from made him want to die with her.

    my favorite line is "i'd happily take all of those bullets inside of you and put them inside of myself"
    rupptizzleon February 16, 2010   Link
  • +2
    General CommentPersonally I would say that

    "I've been repeating your speeches, but the audience just doesn't follow
    Because I'm leaving out words, punctuations, and it sounds pretty hollow"

    Is another reference to her control over him. The narrator is telling friends and family the things she says to him to manipulate him,
    Apologising after an abusive moment for example, he is explaining why he doesn't just leave. Clearly still in love he believes that it is his inability to tell her side of the story than her who is at fault.

    This seems to fit with Silberman's own interpretation of the album which is the narrator's escape from an abusive relationship as much as a story of a cancer patient.


    This is a particularly powerful song on the album.
    Speechon August 05, 2010   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThe 'atrophy' the title refers to belongs to the narrator; his inability to act for his own well-being due to his overwhelming sense of commitment to the patient. The atrophy of his self-esteem and self-interest.

    "I'm freezing, infected, and rigid in that room inside her"
    negatyveon July 29, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis song goes by so quickly for nearly eight minutes.

    So good D:
    antihexeon August 26, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI think that this the the patient's body singing to the patient himself. It is the body apologizing for letting the Patient down due to atrophy. The patient is a prisoner in his own body.
    yanksfanon September 29, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI love the back and forth of the dialogue from what I assume are the patient and doctor/nurse. The part that interests me the most is

    "With the bite of the teeth of that ring on my finger,
    I'm bound to your bedside, your eulogy singer.
    I'd happily take all those bullets inside you and put them inside of myself."

    It seems like this is from the perspective of a loved one of the patient who may in fact be their care-taker in the hospital as well. Foreshadowing not only the fact that that they will be there by their side in the hospital as long as it takes for them to pass on, but also that they will be the one to recount the life of the soon-to-be-deceased is quite a disturbing thought. You can really envision their thought process and the site of this inner-dialogue.
    bcov22on December 13, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis entire album has me tranced, its beauty is so capturing, but at the same time it is unbearable to listen to only because of its depressing lyrics. I just wonder what inspired the Antlers to base an entire album on the hospice and the dying cancer patient, what was their muse? If they were going for impact... it made a tremendous one.
    trulymadlydeeplyon March 30, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI think this song has to do with the atrophy of marriage. A controlling, paranoid wife or significant other.

    "You've been writing me rules, shrinking maps and redrawing borders."

    "I've been hiding my voice and my face and you decide when I eat."

    "Threats of castration for crimes you imagine when I miss your call."

    This sounds like a disastrous relationship, one I feel like I was in before. I don't think this has anything to do with any kind of doctor/patient relationship, it seems many people look way too much into the lyrics on songmeanings.net. I think it's clearly about a relationship.

    "In your dreams I'm a criminal, horrible, sleeping around. When you're awake I'm impossible constantly letting you down."

    I felt those exact words in my last relationship.
    benyjetr35on April 18, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General CommentFrom what I got out of it
    The caretaker that is in love with the dying is showing his depression:

    Because I'm leaving out words, punctuations, and it sounds pretty hollow- Feels helpless

    I've been living in bed because now you tell me to sleep - Sleeping to much b/c of the depression
    I've been hiding my voice and my face and you decide when I eat - Keeping himself consolidated from everyone else, his eating habits are destroyed.

    In your dreams I'm a criminal, horrible, sleeping around. When you're awake I'm impossible constantly letting you down- Feelings of helplessness

    I'd happily take all those bullets inside you and put them inside of myself- Wishes the roles were reversed, wishes he was dead.

    Someone, oh anyone, tell me how to stop this
    She's screaming, expiring, and I'm her only witness
    I'm freezing, infected, and rigid in that room inside her - Is helpless

    The song is about the depression stage of the hospice caretaker(helplessness, sleep disorder, eating disorder, suicidal thoughts-would feel better if he was dead)
    cooltobehipon May 09, 2010   Link

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