For several days the visitors were here
We saw them turned down and we watched them disappear
Talked about the days they’d said were sure to come
Had a hard time believing

I remember seeing you my tongue struck dumb
When you first came here from wherever it was you came from
The power in your voice
Your rough touch
You keeping care of me
Keeping watch

Open up the doors to the tent
Wonder where the good times went
I will do what you ask me to do
Because of how I feel about you

I saw his little face contract as his eyes met light
Try to imagine anything so bright
You only see it once then it steals into the dawn
And then it’s gone forever

For several hours we lay there last ones of our kind
Harder days coming maybe
I don't mind
Sounds kind of dumb when I say it but it's true
I would do anything for you

Open up the promise of the day
Drive the dark things away
I will do what you ask me to do
Because of how I feel about you


Lyrics submitted by brandontheinnocuous, edited by irate13, ThTetrapod, haruki

Genesis 30:3 song meanings
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8 Comments

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  • +3
    General CommentI think there's a bit of context that can be presented here.

    Biblically, Shaggy R has the score on the exact verse, but in context the story goes like this: Jacob had left the home of his father Isaac, fearing the anger of his brother Esau from whom he had stolen a blessing of prosperity. Isaac had told him not to marry a Canaanite woman but instead go to the house of his mother's brother, Laban, and marry one of Laban's daughters. Sure enough, upon arriving he meets Rachael, daughter of Laban andfalls in love with her. Laban tells Jacob, that if he works 7 years for him, he shall be allowed to marry Rachael. But at the end of the 7 years, on the night of the wedding, Laban tricks him and marries him to the older daughter Leah. Upset, Jacob demands from Laban what he was promised, but Laban explains that tradition dictates the older daughter must be married first. Should Jacob want both he can marry Rachael in a week, but he is to do another 7 years of labor. He agrees, and Leah begins conceiving Jacob's children. Rachael, however appears to be barren, and so, she tells Jacob to have children with her servant so she can have a family. Here, we might imagine Jacob, tricked into the marriage with Leah, seeing Rachael angry and distraught, saying to this request: "I will do what you ask me to do, because of how I feel about you."

    The next important thing to mention is a touch of John Darnielle context, and verges on interpretation of my own. The first is that this is the first love story in the bible that seems real. I mean, most of them are functions of God's promises or just happy little things where it hardly matters and the woman basically isn't there. John says, "All the relationships in the Bible prior to that are working relationships, but there’s people and love in this story." John mentions in the same interview* that there is a complication to both his feminism and his feelings about writing here. He mentions that this story is pretty blatantly patriarchal and seems to treat womanhood as being the same thing as giving birth, but also it uses a trope similar to the one where a g7uy does something rash for a girl showing his love, but we're supposed to applauding his self-destruction rather than think he's a psycho.

    I think this has many of the elements of the regular Mountain Goats love songs here. Sadness underscored by love (or the other way around) the two of which are inseparable. Maybe things will get worse, but they're certainly bad and everyone's aware. He Contextualizes it with the tension of the first hard love story of genesis. The view seems like it may change from Rachael's to Jacob's, but it might be Rachael's throughout.

    * This interview, and a lot of the John context appears in Paste Magazine's October 2009 edition. The interview is available here: pastemagazine.com/articles/2009/10/…
    Eccentricityon October 21, 2009   Link
  • +2
    General CommentI interpret this song as from the perspective of Abraham, speaking to his wife Sarah.

    The bible verse in the title (Genesis 30:3) depicts Sarah (who believes herself to be barren) telling Abraham to impregnate her handmaid Bilhah so that the married couple may have children "through [Bilhah]."

    When God eventually grants Sarah a child by Abraham and she becomes pregnant with Isaac, she becomes extremely hostile towards Bilhah. Worried about Isaac's inheritance as second son, Sarah demands Abraham cast out his first son Ishmael and the child's mother Bilhah. Abraham obliges.

    This story speaks to the 4th verse of the song, where the narrator sees his child's face only once before it's "gone forever." The tale also explains the repeated somber refrain of "I will do what you ask me to do because of how I feel about you," as though Abraham were speaking directly to Sarah.
    wolfcreatureon January 28, 2015   Link
  • 0
    General CommentCorrections:

    For several days the visitors were here
    We saw them turned down and we watched them disappear
    Talked about the days they'd said were sure to come
    Had a hard time believing

    I remember seeing you my tongue struck dumb
    When you first came here from wherever it was you came from
    The power in your voice
    Your rough touch

    Open up the doors to the tent
    Wonder where the good times went
    I will do what you ask me to do
    Because of how I feel about you

    I saw his little face contract as his eyes met light
    Tried to imagine anything so bright
    You only see it once and then it steals into the dawn
    And then it's gone forever

    For several hours we lay there last ones of our kind
    Harder days coming maybe I don't mind
    Sounds kind of dumb when I say it but it's true
    I would do anything for you

    Open up the promise of the day
    Drive the dark things away
    I will do what you ask me to do
    Because of how I feel about you
    You keeping care of me
    Keeping watch
    erolsabadoshon September 14, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentTwo perspectives here:

    the child

    and the father of a child

    SHould make sense if you read it like that, don't feel the need to point out the obvious portions belonging to each respective narrator. Beautiful song about parenthood.
    bcontraton May 02, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General CommentHmm.

    It's really interesting coming here and getting the Biblical context of the song. Thanks for explaining that!

    When I listen to it, to me it seems like they're talking about a couple who lost their baby -- that's why people are coming to visit and try to cheer them up, and why they're "the last ones of their kind," because they have failed to reproduce. They're going to try to stay together even though it seems impossible to imagine being happy together again.

    I don't know how to fit that in with the Bible story, though. Especially because I don't really know my Bible. Any ideas?
    asimaiyaton June 04, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General Comment"For several hours we laid there, last ones of our kind
    Harder days coming maybe
    I don't mind."

    This part makes me think of two people lying in silence, a lot of unspoken assumptions between them, a lot of questions unspoken that they'd rather keep unanswered for now. And that they're honestly happy like that. I honestly don't need anything else.

    Sounds kind of dumb when I say it but it's true.
    I would do anything for you.
    greenlandIsMELTINGon October 27, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General CommentAm I the only person that thought the song might be from the perspective of Bilhah? Or else, first from the perspective of Rachel and then from the perspective of Jacob...

    But it seems, the person narrating gives up the baby (you only see it once...)
    .. which makes me think of Bilhah. Ultimately, i guess, it's ambiguous.

    Everyone, in this story, is compromising for someone.

    The song, ultimately, seems to be either about adopting or losing a child. And the relationship between two people.
    Nina2on April 29, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General CommentAs has been already mentioned this song to be about a couple who have lost their child. Perhaps the child was born prematurely. We don't know but it certainly seems he didn't live long. The lyrics that suggest this have already been sited so read the other comments if you want to know more.

    What interests me is the refrain "I will do what you ask me to do because of how I feel about you". Earlier in the song we're let know that she's the stronger one of the two (power, rough touch, keeping care, keeping watch). Perhaps she wants to try again for another child and he he's not sure he can risk that suffering again. His love and his trust of her brings him to agree. I'm close to a couple who's first child lived just two hours. It was devastating for them but they now have three healthy children. For me this song is for them.
    Androgynouson January 23, 2014   Link

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