The path to the awful room that one will sleep in again
Was lit for one man only gone where none can follow him
Try to look down the way he'd gone:
Back of a closets whose depths draw and on and on

And nice people said he was with God now
Safe in his arms
But the voices of the angels that he heard on his last days with us
Smoke alarms

Well the path to the palace of wisdom that the mystics walk
Is lined with neuroleptics and electric shocks
Hope daily for healing
Try not to go insane
Dance in a circle with bells on
Try to make it rain

And nice people say he had gone home to God now
Safe in his arms, safe in his arms
But the voices of the angels singing to him on his last hours with us
Smoke alarms, smoke alarms


Lyrics submitted by mdon06

Philippians 3:20-21 song meanings
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8 Comments

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  • +2
    General CommentJust read an interview with Darnielle where he confirmed this song is a reaction to David Foster Wallace's suicide. In Infinite Jest, Wallace compared a depressed person committing suicide to a person jumping out the window of a burning building, so maybe that's the source of the smoke alarms line.
    darnhoodlumson May 27, 2010   Link
  • +1
    General Comment"For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ;
    who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself."
    reagankon October 08, 2009   Link
  • +1
    Lyric Correction"The path to the awful room that NO one will sleep in again..."
    c3oon February 12, 2011   Link
  • 0
    Song MeaningDarnielle in an interview for Pitchfork:

    "The song is about the conflict between what people say happens after we die and the sort of lives we live. It's kind of an angry-at-God sort of song. Because you hear of people who suffered their entire life that, once they die, now their won't have bad days, because they're with God. People say that.

    And you think, well, maybe God could have been more merciful and let them off the hook earlier. Brought them into this place of no suffering and eternal bliss and presence of the most high a lot earlier and saved this person a lot of unnecessary pain, instead of having them suffer their entire lives. And in the case of people who are so damaged they wind up taking their own lives, well, you'd think an all-powerful God could have prevented that. It's in the nature of being all-powerful, right? I had a specific person in mind. The song is about the sorts of hard questions that come up when somebody kills himself."
    erolsabadoshon September 14, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentDarnielle in that same interview: "The song is actually about a specific person. I'm not going to say who, but it's a person of note."

    I'd wager heavily that Darnielle was thinking of Elliott Smith. The strongest textual clue I see is "neuroleptics and electric shocks" (Smith subjected himself to a hell of a lot in trying to cure his depression and addiction), but I'm thinking more of the essay Darnielle wrote when Smith died: lastplanetojakarta.com/articles/…

    Smith:
    1. Was greatly admired by John Darnielle
    2. Suffered his entire life, it's written
    3. Was a person of note
    Bort100on September 18, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentAlso DFW went through courses of electro-shock as a last-ditch effort in the year before his death.
    darnhoodlumson May 27, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General CommentJOHN DARNIELLE MAKES IT RAAAAAAAAAIN.
    ExoM7on June 19, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General CommentNot sure what it's actually about, but the first stanza sounds a LOT like House of Leaves.
    OctaVariuM8on October 18, 2012   Link

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