cattail down,
the morning rail yard whistle blows.
cattail down,
our boxcar bound for... no one knows.
after every hidden seed out
from it covering has been free,
and every book has been discarded from the bookshelf.
cattail down,
and the forgetting of myself.

cattail down,
replace the feathers in our vests.
cattail down,
surround the ivy
thats gone to poison in my chest.
"the parachute broke loose,"
cried the goose with misplaced
but understandable concern
for his little brother's mental health.
his happy little brother,
and the forgetting of himself.

cattail down,
around the bulrush, the pollen shed.
cattail down,
to dress my wounds,
it left a bee sting in their stead.

half an acre thoughts from out my head.

headed east out of st. paul,
we stopped for water.
rested in the cemetery,
watched the mississippi.
running out of food stamps,
found a bag along the footpath
off highway 61 filled with
what looked like marijuana.
(don't worry mom, we left it there)

hopped a grainrail out of pig's eye
toward milwaukee, a deer
between the tower and the tracks,
saw right through us.
said, "you don't know where you came from,
you don't know where you're going,
you think you're you-
you don't know who you are,
you're not you.
you're everyone else."

you're everyone else.


Lyrics submitted by aaron_kaump

Cattail Down song meanings
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17 Comments

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  • +4
    General Commenti just saw the Weiss Family and Friends in Buffalo, NY. After the show, i asked Aaron what they say in the middle of this song, and he told me it is "Half an acre thoughts from out my head!" Apparently, his ex-fiancee is engaged to a new person and they live on a half-acre farm. This was his way of putting her completely out of his mind and being happy for her new life. He also said that this is the only line on this album dealing with her after writing a lot about her in the past. Just wanted to let everyone know.
    easiersungthansaidon August 18, 2009   Link
  • +2
    General CommentI love the end of this song where it repeats "You're everyone else" over and over again as a chorus. Its almost like it sucks you into the song and makes you a part of it. I hope they play this song at Cornerstone so I can sing this while surrouned by who knows how many of my brothers and sisters. awesome.
    Zdayon May 21, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General Commentyou think you're you-
    you don't know who you are,
    you're not you.
    you're everyone else.
    sweater_poorly_kniton May 08, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General CommentYou're not you
    You're everyone else
    You're everyone else
    You're everyone else
    You're everyone else
    You're everyone else
    HWOntoFireon August 12, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentPretty close. I think after the deer line, it's "saw right through US". I would agree that the first part of the "i've been having anger thoughts" line is wrong, but I don't know what it is!

    I love this song. The end is sweeping. The horns are pure class.
    shadowamion April 17, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General Comment"Don't worry mom, we left it there!"
    That part makes me smile ever time !
    oralcanceron April 29, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI believe that this song is all about pizza and elephants... If you look at the lyrics and study enough it begins to make a lot of sense. In concert Arron stated that he's always wanted to write a song metephoricly linked to Pizza and Elephants. Never thought it would be this deep though! and I bet a lot of people won't even realize it :)
    whyburnpoorandlonelyon May 01, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General Commentquick correction:

    "hopped a grain rail out of pig's eye toward milwaukee.
    a deer between the tower and the tracks saw right through us"

    more info on pig's eye: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/…">en.wikipedia.org/wiki/…
    TheFoxholeon May 04, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis is my favorite song off the album. Only problem... not sure what it is about. The bridge does sound like memoirs from a tour (perhaps). Anyone with insight would be great. The songs are always better when you know what they are singing about.
    topskankeron May 25, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentAt least the latter half of this song is about being lost. I think he is speaking on behalf of himself and the band. They must feel very lost in their lifestyle of touring and traveling without certainties, leaving behind everything at times to do what they feel is right for them. The geographic references like "St. Paul," "Mississippi," "Highway 61," "Milwaukee," etc, definitely suggest the touring. The last two verses really illustrate this sequence of wandering: "You don't know where you came from, you don't know where you're going." I think the "boxcar" in these lyrics refers to his tour bus, and that's just his way of romanticizing his story with the feel of antiquity.

    "after every hidden seed out
    from it covering has been free,
    and every book has been discarded from the bookshelf.
    cattail down,
    and the forgetting of myself."

    I feel like he's saying that only after he's completely stripped himself of his superficial identity and maybe every obligation or expectation he'd had in his life (uncovering the seeds), as well as everything that lies in his past (discarding the books), only then is he free to become himself. Forgetting himself seems to be a healthy practice in finding happiness.

    "you don't know where you came from,
    you don't know where you're going,
    you think you're you-
    you don't know who you are,
    you're not you.
    you're everyone else."

    I think these lyrics are applicable to anyone who feels lost, but perhaps Aaron struggles with his identity also. He may be trying to discard his role that's been ascribed to him as this great figure who preaches his word of God (he writes about this problem in January 1979 as well, with his "grasshopper king" metaphor), and perhaps he's saying that he's nothing special. Maybe it came to him when he saw that deer, a pure creature of God, telling him that he's nothing, he's a regular person, just like everyone else.

    I could be way off.
    brightasthesunon May 26, 2009   Link

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