You found a sweater on the ocean floor
They're gonna find it if you didn't close the door
You and the smart ones sit outside of their sight
In a house on a street they wouldn't park on the night

Dad was a risk taker
His was a shoe maker
You greatest hits 2006
Little list-maker

Heard codes in the melodies
You heeded the call
Oh, you were born with ten fingers and you're gonna use them all

Interesting colors
I discovered myself
If your art life is gritty you'll be toasting my health
If an interest in culture should be lining the walls
When your birth right is interest you could just accrue it all

Me and my cousins
And
You and your cousins
It's a line that is always running
Me and my cousins
You and your cousins
I can feel it coming

You can turn your back on the bitter world
You can turn your back on the bitter world
You can turn your back on the bitter world
You can turn your back on the bitter world

Me and my cousins
And
You and your cousins
It's a line that is always running
Me and my cousins
You and your cousins
I can feel it coming


Lyrics submitted by TemporaryLife, edited by akjb3, dodgerblue

Cousins song meanings
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  • +6
    My InterpretationI found out what some of the other stuff means:

    Me and my cousins - the band and its fans
    You and your cousins - the critics and the music industry in general
    It's a line that's always running - the two don't mix with each other, just among themselves: the band will always have its fans and the music business will always have its critics, no mixing and matching.
    I can feel it coming - he senses that even this song will be criticized by the very critics against which it protests.

    Additionally, I personally always thought he was saying "You and the smart one", and now that I've realized all this stuff in the rest of the song, I believe it's "You and the smart oneS" - meaning a music critic ("you") and the "smart ones" in the band, doing an interview "in a house on a street they wouldn't park on at night" - because of restricted access to the interview. "You found a sweater on the ocean floor" means that the band created a new sound combining the "sweater" feel of Victorian England with the "ocean floor" vibe of worldbeat. And because anyone who now comes out with something that sounds similar will now immediately get compared to Vampire Weekend, they have, in a sense, "closed the door" on the others who hoped to pioneer such a style and who will now never be able to "find it".

    I always knew those rhymes were too deliberate to be pure nonsense. These lyrics DO mean something. The band is talking like they're responding to critics' questions by saying, "Fuck you, I can do this and you're not gonna stop me, you mooks." Because us - the fans - their "cousins" - are standing behind them every step of the way. This whole song now makes sense to me. I hope this interpretation was helpful to you as well... let me know if you have a better idea.
    Funkmeisteron October 08, 2010   Link
  • +3
    General CommentI think it's about the band is being criticized because of their upbringing and their background, meaning where they went to school and also how they dress. Here's what I think:

    "You found a sweater on the ocean floor.
    They're gonna find it if you didn't close the door."

    how people criticize their "preppy" sweaters and the way they dress. they didn't "close the door" on their style and instead embraced it.

    "You and the smart one sit outside of their sight,
    In a house on a street they wouldn't park on at night."

    this one is hard. perhaps the "smart one" refers to the Ivy League school they all attended? and the house on the street could mean something a bit scary or unknown because they wouldn't park on it at night. as in vampire weekend does different (and awesome) things with music that some people find a bit strange or different or unknown.

    "Dad was a risk taker, his was a shoe maker,
    You, greatest hits 2006 little list maker."

    just talking about the critics. they make the lists of which songs are the greatest hits.

    "Heard codes in the melodies, you heeded the call,
    You were born with ten fingers, and you're gonna use em all."

    the critics of course "heed" the songs and write reviews on them. now I'm really not sure about the next line, but i think perhaps using all your fingers could perhaps mean also using your "middle finger". as in dissing the band because they are different?

    "Interest in colors I discovered myself.
    If your art-life is gritty, you'll be toastin' my health."

    obviously having to do with the way they dress because the band often refers to the way they dress as art. they like colors and find they can express themselves through what they dress. if you like the way they dress they will appreciate it (toast their health).

    "If an interest in culture, you should be lining the walls,
    When interest is your birthright, you could just accrue it all."

    vampire weekend explores with different cultures? (the african pop styles of their music). i really have no idea about the next part. maybe they are saying you don't have to do what people think or say you should do and you should be able to do what you want.

    "Me and my cousins, and you and your cousins,
    It's a line thats always running."

    everyone keeps bring up their rich families and their upbringing.

    "Me and my cousins and you and your cousins,
    I can feel it coming."

    they know people are going to keep asking them about it

    well that's just what i think. anyone else have any different ideas?









    LearningToHarmonizeon February 16, 2010   Link
  • +3
    My InterpretationDad was a risk taker
    His was a shoe maker
    You greatest hits 2006
    Little list-maker


    * Means that although the band feels it should be respected for their hard work and dedication, the critics ("little list-maker"), although not truly qualified to do so, write off their new style as preppy and annoying. One interesting tidbit that I found out... Joseph Stalin was the son of a shoemaker. Just sayin' ;)

    Heard codes in the melodies
    You heeded the call
    You were born with ten fingers and you're gonna use them all

    *Refers to the loyal fans who will listen to the song, realize the hidden message in the lyrics, and "use all their fingers" to flip off whoever disses the band.

    Interesting colors
    I discoveredmyself
    If your art life is gritty you'll be toasting my health
    If an interest in culture should be lining the walls
    When your birth right is interest you could just accrue it all

    * Ezra Koenig created the style ("interesting colors") all by himself, and this new style is risky and innovative ("art life is gritty") because of its sheer unconventionality. He believes that this groundbreaking new style should really be "lining the walls" with hits and if he wants to make this kind of music no one should get on his case about it because "interest" (in worldbeat) is his "birthright" - he's technically allowed to say fuck it and do whatever he wants because it's HIS music. Great message.

    Me and my cousins
    And
    You and your cousins
    It's a line that is always running
    Me and my cousins
    You and your cousins
    I can feel it coming

    * No idea what this line or the opening one mean, I think he just stuck them in to show that he can do whatever the hell he wants. That's what this song is all about, after all :)

    You can turn your back on the bitter world

    * Meaning that's what he plans to do - the world is so bitter to his new style that he will simply turn his back on them.

    Ezra is such a great lyricist and a master at hiding deep messages in pure, simple lyrics. This song exhibits that talent like no other. This band rocks my fucking socks off and I love these guys and I agree wholeheartedly with this song and everything it stands for. Please post comments if you think I'm on the right track :)
    Funkmeisteron October 06, 2010   Link
  • +2
    General Commentok well most of you are getting close but i recon your slightly off. the song is about origins.

    You found a sweater on the ocean floor
    they're gonna find it if you didn't close the door
    you and the smart ones sit outside of their sight
    in a house on a street they couldn't park on at night

    sweaters are regaurded as a posh kind of clothing, and finding it then closing the door is denying your rich. smart ones, out of sight, the street they couldnt park on at night, they intentionally pretended they were poor to stay. i get poor because a good car will get broken into on a bad street. in summary this person denied a rich background for the sake of their profession.

    Dad was a risk-taker
    his was a shoemaker
    you, greatest hits 2006 little list-maker,
    heard codes in the melodies
    you heeded the call
    you were born with ten fingers and you're gonna use them all

    grampa worked a hard honest profession, dad put his ass on the line to get where he is, then their is you who makes pointless music lists for a living. i get the negative assumption from "little", meaning insignificant, and the fingers bit, which says is that your only talent, counting on the fingers you were given at birth (counting/listing)

    Interesting colors I discovered myself
    if your art life is gritty, you'll be toasting my health
    if an interest in culture should be lining the wall,
    when your birthright is interest you could just accrue it all

    this is about them and their music. they have used "gritty" in terms of courage not texture. basically our music is bold and heavily influenced by culture and diversity. the whole bit here is rather self explanitory. this

    as for the chorus i think 'learningtoharmonise' hit the nail on the head.

    so basically
    lyricaljoyon May 15, 2010   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThis song makes me exceedingly happy. :)
    drteeth75on January 10, 2010   Link
  • +1
    General CommentSounds like it's "You and the smart one" instead of this model. And "Golds in the melody, you eat it to-go (or eager to go)"

    But that's just what it sounds like...
    kyle16813on January 11, 2010   Link
  • +1
    General CommentPlease someone explain what are they singing about :(
    erythrocyteson January 27, 2010   Link
  • +1
    General CommentAll I can say is that it takes all ten fingers when I cover this on the piano
    but it is fun to play it, the bass line is all over the place

    They're educated so their lyrics are going to be complex

    It's a mix of direct statements about lineage and subtle snide inference to the wealthy that talk more about art that actually doing it
    (the last verse)
    "Interesting colors
    I discovered myself" - found their own style and perform it

    "If your art life is gritty you'll be toasting my health" - I'm doing it - you're not

    and this is the best line, a complex and smart jab at critics and wealthy "artists"

    "If an interest in culture should be lining the walls
    When your birth right is interest you could just accrue it all" - the wealthy and educated dictate what is art and what is not
    and when you are born with money and privilege you are entitled to say whatever you want and buy whatever you want
    they don't have to do anymore than talk about it and own it

    michaelcovelon August 31, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis is a cute song, very catchy. Love it, (:
    mchrisseeon January 08, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General CommentOh wow, this song only has comments now? Huh. I've been listening to it for at least a month with a lot of repeats. :) I thought he said "Middle East-maker" and I thought it made absolutely no sense, so thanks for the interpretation. lmao. Contra's a great album.
    ExoM7on January 09, 2010   Link

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