"The Mall and Misery" as written by and James Mercer Brian Joseph Burton....
Use your intuition
It's all you've got
Keys are revving
There's a dozen locks
Standing your way
So goes the gold age
To your entire life

Digging for a way
You cast a spell
Grab a path from all the things they sell
But they don't let go
Just touch your shin bone
Keep them away

I know what I know
But nothing will fill the hole
So let your mind go (let my mind go)
Straight down the runway
Does one want to
Get more used to?
The mall and misery (the mall and the misery)
The dead mouths it costs to be alive

Oh she lies half burning
From the batting crows
You're falling like a lamb
What you've never been told
There's a new world
Somewhere a good girl
Lives and breathes

Part of her opened the callow mind
Audio has stolen the morning tide
There's a dark time
This is a dark life
Feel your heart

I know what I know
But nothing will fill the hole
So let your mind go (let my mind go)
Straight down the runway
Does one want to
Get more used to?
The mall and misery (the mall and the misery)
The dead mouths it costs to be alive


Lyrics submitted by Konversekid, edited by dabenz560sl, tjdonohue, anzii

"The Mall and Misery" as written by James Mercer Brian Joseph Burton

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The Mall and Misery song meanings
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16 Comments

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  • +3
    General CommentIt is always amazing to come on here and read the many different meanings people come up with. To me this is the beautiful thing about music, as many can take what they will from it, and it touches them all differently. My interpretation of this song: I believe it is basically about the world as it is today. The people in control feed consumerism to the masses. We are born and bred to buy buy buy. We are walking atm machines for these people. I think this is a defiant statement against that way of life. It is misery when your worth is measured with what you acquire at the mall. Dead mouths it costs to be alive I think is a reference to the debt each one of us will acquire over the course of our lives. It is impossible to escape with the current system. It is designed this way. Remember what it was like to feel? Think about that. When accosted by debt and force fed fear and paranoia to be kept at bay, while 1 percent of the population spends our wealth on 13 houses which never get lived in except for two months a year. Not trying to get too political, but considering Danger Mouse current situation with his record company(google it) and the fact this album leaked without even really allowing the single to get airplay leads me to believe that this is the meaning behind this song. It does cost to be alive. Should it? Where did the romance go? Where did feelings go? I don't like to feel like I'm doomed before I even got started. This is an amazing song, and to me it is a defiant statement against the way things are and possibly an attempt to get people to think. Does one really want to get more used to the mall and the misery. Thank you Broken Bells. Peace
    TommyCreedboion April 10, 2010   Link
  • +2
    General CommentTommyCreedboi is dead on. Do we really WANT to be "used to the mall and misery"? Probably not.
    I think a lot of people are caught in between doing all the things a person has to do in our society to survive "comfortably" and being themselves in their natural forms. We get caught between those two routes at a relatively young age...possibly an age when we should really be using who we ARE to add something the world...or just to not be miserable.
    There are more forces pulling people toward doing what they have to do in the conventional world than not and that's why this song exists, I think. They ARE telling people to not mute their intuitions for any reason, because so many things drown out the thoughts of individual people.
    SMUSER17419002on September 12, 2010   Link
  • +1
    General CommentOne last correction, it's "the dead mouths it cost to be alive" rather than "the dead mouse accosted me, oh lie."

    yay for Broken Bells!
    yazelis13on February 02, 2010   Link
  • +1
    General Commentit's 'just thought you should know,' now 'just touch your shin bone'
    yazelis13on February 28, 2010   Link
  • +1
    My InterpretationFirst of all, It's "keys are rare, and there's a dozen locks", not "keys are revvin". It's "Standing in your way". It's "carve a path", not grab. Also, it's "biting cold", not "batting crows". It's actually "You'll fall, eat a lamb", not "You're falling a lamb" although that was hard to hear. It's "real world", not "new world". The line is actually "Powder hope in the callow mind", not "part of her opened the callow mind" and I think it's "Ideas stall in the morning tide", not "Audio has stolen". It's definitely The Mall & Misery, though.

    The song seems to be about a smart young girl who chooses to go into the world of fashion. Golden age seems like golden years to me, which often refers to youth. The person he's talking to is young and filling the emptiness of their life with buying things (mainly clothes), or "grab[bing] a path from all the things they sell". However, in this path lies endless greed, because "they don't let go".

    Nothing will actually successfully fill the void, the emptiness of life, so a life of design is suggested, casting off the pursuit of knowledge and living by creativity and designing clothes: "So let your mind go (Let my mind go), Straight down the run way" and asking the rhetorical question of whether you really want to get used to life and the misery that knowledge often brings. Their mind is represented by the clothes on the models walking down the runway, whose mouths are shut as they show off the clothes, being the "dead mouths it costs to be alive".

    With the next verse, it seems the life has bitten back. If "she lies half burning from the biting cold", that could refer to the sensation of frostbite, which reminds me of Caring is Creepy, by the Shins "I never got cold wearing nothing in the snow". "You'll fall, eat a lamb" could have multiple meanings. Lambs are generally thought of as stupid and easily led, and Mercer may be referring to the fashion world, both its models and those who follow the trends. To eat the lamb may be like swallowing her success, her followers. To eat someone alive can mean to exploit someone's weakness and dominate them, which one could do with mindless sheep of followers and fans. A good girl is there somewhere (inside?), but by being 'somewhere', it implies that she may not be easy to find, since she lies in the "real world", which the protagonist is apparently separated from. She was so wrapped up in her success that she became unrealistic.

    Callow means inexperienced and immature, especially said of young people. Powdering hope would mean covering up hope, or making it look good. It could also mean to crush into a powder. The meaning isn't really clear, and the next line does little to help. "Ideas stall in the morning tide" would indicate that she can't think of anything new, or her creativity has run out. She's come to the realization that "this is a dark life".

    I'm not 100% sure, as some of these lines were really hard to figure out, and a lot of them were hard to hear, but that's my interpretation.
    luckyguesson March 05, 2010   Link
  • +1
    General Commentthe chorus is "I know what I know, wouldn't fill a thimble, so let your mind go"
    ShuntripJoshon March 25, 2010   Link
  • +1
    General CommentPS : This song is "The Mall And the Misery" not "October" according to the tracks previewed on Pitckfork.

    pitchfork.com/reviews/albums/13979-broken-bells/
    Cyberghoston March 30, 2010   Link
  • +1
    My InterpretationI share a lot of luckyguess' thoughts, but I have a bit of a looser interpretation.
    In my view, the narrator is speaking rhetorically to someone he cares about, passing along advice that he has learned the hard way from life experience. Perhaps she is a bit younger, 25 while he is approaching his 30's and she is still a bit naive about "the real world". However, he relents that despite his experiences he still doesnt have it figured out. "I know what I know would not fill a thimble".

    He sees the flaws with the way things are, and worries that like all the others he will become accustomed to western civilization and therefore less apt to want to do something to change the system. By participating in conspicuous consumption, you are sacrificing morality for comfort. This is a trade-off he is reluctant to make but at the same time does not see any alternatives because the game is already so established. "they don't let go, so keep them away". His only advice is to ignore the outside world and focus instead on the things that personally provide you real spiritual fufillment vs. the things ads tell you on tv and inside the mall will make you feel satisfied. By taking the easy way out, you miss out on the greatest aspect of life, growing into something great.
    tjdonohueon December 27, 2013   Link
  • 0
    General CommentLuckyguess had a good interpretation of this, I just viewed a few things differently :

    "The dead mouths it costs to be alive" I think he's saying that while you're here alive there are millions that are dying and they could probably do a better job at living your life than you are now. Also "powder hope' could mean drugs, her young mind turns to drugs for hope while the world around "the morning tide" washes her ideas away in this dark time when true genius is ignore and pandering puppets rise to fame.


    Oh she lies half burning
    From the biting cold
    You're falling a lamb
    What you've never been told
    There's a real world
    Somewhere a good girl
    Lives and breathes

    This verse confuses me a bit, could he be talking about a different side of her?
    "lamb" I think is a reference to innocence rather than stupidity.
    Cyberghoston March 30, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General CommentIt's 'If only to learn what you've never been told'
    yazelis13on March 30, 2010   Link

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