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I like to see
The stone steps rounded
And bowed by a billion scuffing soles
And dirt paths cutting corners

The evidence of abrasion
On a wall behind a chair
That has recorded every end of working day
The fumble-marks around a keyhole
And wedding ring scratches on a rail


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Abrasion song meanings
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  • +1
    My InterpretationI feel that this song, though very light on lyrics, is a rather profound satire of humanity's interaction with nature; because of the rapidity of everyday life, Man moves so fast that he seems to have become detached from the beauty of the countryside and of the wilderness. This is not very surprising, as most of Wilkinson's lyrics deal with immersing one's self in the wilderness and nature.

    The speaker of the song quips in an ironic tone that he wants to see "the stone steps rounded/and bowed by a billion scuffling soles." The stone steps represent man's harnessing of nature to serve his own purposes (the setting is most likely an industrial city), so that billions of scuffling soles - the working-class zombies, one might argue - can tread upon it (pay attention to the language used; scuffling is an urgent, confused, and stressful act). The speaker also wanting "dirt paths cutting corners," means that going off the beaten path or taking the scenic route is too time-consuming, and therefore trivial; why go the extra distance when man-made roads already exist to travel on?

    The second verse of the song refers to the speaker's life at home, where "the evidence of abrasion" can be found "on a wall behind a chair." An abrasion, according to dictionary.com, is 1.
    a scraped spot or area; the result of rubbing. He also notes that this evidence "has recorded every end of working day," which probably means that the man has kept a record (in scratches on a wall) of all of the days, presumably as a working-class stiff, that he has been detached from the intricacies of the wilderness that once charmed him as an idealistic young man. And not only is the time away from the wild recording in abrasions, but his displacement from the wild is evidence of an abrasion of his own soul.


    Anyway, that's how I viewed it as the young man I am.
    RemyD123on February 27, 2010   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI like your analysis Remy, but to me, Wilkinson's statement in this song seems to be much more positive than that kind of satire...

    Throughout he describes how he "Likes to see" hard (usually man-made) objects being made less rigid and formalised by the natural action of common people. If anything he foregrounds the inherent and innocent beauty of human behaviour;

    - the 'stone steps' are made more variegated and become 'bowed' (a word positive in connotations: it is now like a hammock, a pliable branch, or at least a cushioning structure - and even evokes a pretty bow itself)
    - again the crucial thing is that he 'Likes to see' dirt paths cutting corners. Instead of assuming he is being satirical about it, a face-value deconstruction of this line is surely positive isn't it? it highlights how many people can find more direct ways of getting to where they want to go without having to stick to the pre-laid, square-path roads laid down to suit our society.
    - with this in mind, the scraped notches in the wall may be sad in that they point to a lonely life, but to me the fact that "they recorded every end of working day" is life-affirming; they are the record that someone determinedly overcame each 'working day'. Every one of those marks would represent a day of a life spent by someone who used to inhabit that same space that the speaker finds himself in - a comfort is derived from this.
    - again the 'fumble marks' show how the natural act of 'human error', if you like, can leave reminders of human life itself
    - ... something that strongly reinforces this whole positive notion is that the wedding ring is foregrounded in the final line. The wedding ring (an object that strongly stands for the unity of humans through love) has left lasting scratches on the rigid railing - not the other way around.

    So in broad terms, I think he is saying that human abrasion is a comforting thing to him - these 'blemishes' are a constant reminder that human life leaves a lasting mark on this world. The fact he uses 'scuffing soles' is a good indicator of this, if you hear that phrase as a homophone i.e. 'scuffing souls', it emphasises the power of human conscience to literally shape the world.
    Soopaglitcheron June 09, 2010   Link

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