"Shiva" as written by and Peter Joseph Silberman....
Suddenly every machine stopped at once
And the monitors beeped the last time
Hundreds of thousands of hospital beds
And all of them empty but mine

Well, I was lying down with my feet in the air
Completely unable to move
The bed was misshaped, and awkward and tall
And clearly intended for you

You checked yourself out when you put me to bed
And tore that old band off your wrist
But you came back to see me for a minute or less
And left me your ring in my fist
My hair started growing, my face became yours
My femur was breaking in half
The sensation was scissors and too much to scream
So instead, I just started to laugh

Suddenly every machine stopped at once
And the monitors beeped the last time
Hundreds of thousands of hospital beds
And all of them empty but mine


Lyrics submitted by Freddox

"Shiva" as written by Peter Joseph Silberman

Lyrics © Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd.

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Shiva song meanings
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21 Comments

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  • +6
    General CommentShiva is a a seven-day Jewish mourning period. After someone dies, the mourner is supposed to go to the home of the deceased (in this case, a hospital) and remain low to the ground by sitting on short stools for a week. I think that's what this song is about: the patient dies and the husband mourns.

    In the "Hospice" prologue (printed in the album's liner notes) and in the song "Epilogue," someone who has died comes back to haunt the mourner in dreams right before the mourner falls asleep. I think that's what the middle of the song is talking about.

    The alternate title listed for this song in the liner notes is "Portacaths Switched." A portacath is a medical device for oncology patients installed subcutaneously, making both blood withdrawal and drug injection easier. Any ideas how that applies to the song?

    EmilyAppleon September 10, 2009   Link
  • +5
    General Commentthe entire album is a metaphor for a destructive relationship. he is the caretaker. the roles are reversed in this song, and she just up and leaves, even though he took care of her when she was in the same position. it is sad because he realizes if he were in her shoes she would not do the same for him.
    goodwinteron January 15, 2011   Link
  • +4
    General Commenti don't even have to listen. almost every time i read the lyrics to one of these songs, my eyes glaze over. this part really does it for me: "the sensation was scissors and too much to scream, so instead, i just started to laugh."

    like, WHAT DO YOU DO if you are him, in this situation, after all of this, literally? you might just laugh.
    TheWrongGirlon December 03, 2009   Link
  • +3
    General Commenti think that “shiva” is the child’s perspective through the painful abortion, and that the tracks that directly precede this one (in order, bear, thirteen, two, shiva) detail the perspectives of the father, the mother and the child as the abortion looms, with this track ending the arc.

    i think it makes more sense in chronological order. “bear” is where the baby is first mentioned. written from the father’s perspective:

    [there's a bear inside your stomach
    the cub's been kicking from within]

    he’s focusing on how to handle the situation. he doesn’t bear any noticeable hate towards the baby but thinks of the child as something potentially dangerous: a cub, who could become a bear. he sounds like he’s trying to placate the mother:

    [we'll make all the right appointments
    no one ever has to know]

    [we'll play charades up in the chelsea
    drink champagne although you shouldn't be
    we'll be blind and dumb until we fall asleep]

    he also feels that the main problem is not the child or caring for the child or loving the child, but the problem lies within the parents’ complicated relationship:

    [well we're not scared of making caves
    or finding food for him to eat
    we're terrified of one another
    and terrified of what that means]

    but the father has a clear mindset. he looks at their situation. he tries to fix it. he tries to calm the mother, who is the patient. he doesn’t blame the child, but he knows they’re fucked.

    “thirteen” is written from the child. the melody is slow, sad. the lyrics are simple. the baby’s whole world is revolving around the same circle of thought, show through the repetition:

    [pull me out
    pull me out
    can't you stop this all from happening?]

    the child is a child, the child blames the parents. parents are supposed to protect. the child wants to go.

    [dig me out
    oh, dig me out
    couldn't you have kept all this from happening?
    dig me out from under our house]

    “two” is the mother. her words are more comprehensive, but at the same time, simple. like a young child, she uses basic words to convey the dialogue. this contrasts the perspectives and respective mental stability of the mother and the father because suddenly her world seems to be torn apart:

    [he brought me out into the hall (i could have sworn it was haunted)
    and told me something that i didn't know that i wanted to hear:
    that there was nothing that i could do to save you
    the choir's going to sing, and this thing is going to kill you
    something in my throat made my next words shake
    and something in the wires made the lightbulbs break]

    i think the chorus revolves around the baby:

    [you were just a little kid, and they cut your hair
    then they stuck you in machines, you came so close to dying
    they should have listened, they thought that you were lying]

    very literal in the way it describes their intentions, but it also shows that the mother shares the same childish nuance of blaming the people they deem as their protectors.

    [daddy was an asshole, he fucked you up
    built the gears in your head, now he greases them up]

    she blames the father for fucking it all up, and maybe suggests that their plans for what is to happen to the baby differ. another major motif referenced in these lyrics is the rings. im not sure if the rings are placed on the mother and father, or the mother and the child, but the rings act as a sort of chain that binds the two wearers together.

    [there's two people living in one small room
    from your two half-families tearing at you
    two ways to tell the story (no one worries)
    two silver rings on our fingers in a hurry]

    the two people living inside on small room is her and her baby. the half families are the mother and the father of the child and the war that rages between them about their child. but it seems like the mother continuously closely references the father and the child, the lack of a distinction highlighting her mental vulnerability and her confusion.

    in track “shiva”, it returns to the child’s perspective, post-abortion.

    [suddenly every machine stopped at once
    and the monitors beeped the last time]

    the beep signifies the death of the child.

    [well, i was lying down with my feet in the air
    completely unable to move
    the bed was misshaped, and awkward and tall
    and clearly intended for you]

    the position referred to could be the fetal position. the baby has no motor skill and is lying alone in a hospital bed that he knows was for the mother, who is not there.

    [you checked yourself out when you put me to bed
    and tore that old band off your wrist
    but you came back to see me for a minute or less
    and left me your ring in my fist]

    im not sure if it truly was an abortion. i don’t think the mothers give birth to the child if it is killed during the first trimester. it could have been an induced miscarriage, but i believe that the baby was physically born. the mother leaves him but comes back to look at him, and then goes again, leaving the baby the ring, signifying that their bond is broken.
    handoverfiston June 08, 2012   Link
  • +1
    My OpinionI first thought this was about his wife leaving him right before she died, when I read how she came back to see him and put her ring in his fist, but now I'm sort of guessing that she's already dead at the beginning of the song, the misshapen bed is a coffin, and the person putting the ring in his fist is one of the workers at the hospice giving him all of her personal belongings. I guess.
    BooTheGhoston August 16, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI think there's also an element of resignation, and exhaustion. It's like, she's gone now. He's devoted his life to her and now doesn't know what to feel.
    feveredegoon December 16, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis song totally ties the album together, the songs preceding it just makes it more impactful, because they all explain, to an extent, how taking care of a sick person can take the life out of you.
    pantonecyanon August 19, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI agree with BooTheGhost that she was probably already dead but I don't agree with the coffin idea or anything else. I think she's dead and he doesn't know what to do, he hasn't gotten over her and he's sitting on her hospital bed thinking of her. He's trying to put himself in her shoes "My hair started growing, my face became yours,my femur was breaking in half. The sensation was scissors and too much to scream, so instead, I just started to laugh."
    In his mind he's also watching as she leaves her ring behind and leaves, this symbolizes her departure from life and her anding their relationship.
    DigitalSolaceon September 02, 2009   Link
  • 0
    My Interpretation"My hair started growing, my face became yours,
    my femur was breaking in half."

    This really created a clear image in my mind.
    This, to me, seems to be the decaying process.

    "My face became yours"
    Maybe whomever s/he's referring to is also dead.
    Landsharkon November 22, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General Commentmy theory here: silenskit.wordpress.com/
    SKsilenskiton March 04, 2010   Link

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