My heart became a drunken runt
on the day I sunk in this shunt,
to tap me clean
of all the wonder
and the sorrow I have seen,
since I left my home:

My home, on the old Milk Lake,
where the darkness does fall so fast,
it feels like some kind of mistake
(just like they told you it would;
just like the Tulgeywood).

When I came into my land,
I did not understand:
neither dry rot, nor the burn pile,
nor the bark-beetle, nor the dry well,
nor the black bear.

But there is another,
who is a little older.
When I broke my bone,
he carried me up from the riverside.

To spend my life
in spitting-distance
of the love that I have known,
I must stay here, in an endless eventide.

And if you come and see me,
you will upset the order.
You cannot come and see me,
for I set myself apart.
But when you come and see me,
in California,
you cross the border of my heart.

Well, I have sown untidy furrows
across my soul,
but I am still a coward,
content to see my garden grow
so sweet & full
of someone else's flowers.

But sometimes
I can almost feel the power.
Sometimes I am so in love with you
(like a little clock
that trembles on the edge of the hour,
only ever calling out "Cuckoo, cuckoo").

When I called you,
you, little one,
in a bad way,
did you love me?
Do you spite me?
Time will tell if I can be well,
and rise to meet you rightly.
While, moving across my land,
brandishing themselves
like a burning branch,
advance the tallow-colored,
walleyed deer,
quiet as gondoliers,
while I wait all night, for you,
in California,
watching the fox pick off my goldfish
from their sorry, golden state –
and I am no longer
afraid of anything, save
the life that, here, awaits.

I don't belong to anyone.
My heart is heavy as an oil drum.
I don't want to be alone.
My heart is yellow as an ear of corn,
and I have torn my soul apart, from
pulling artlessly with fool commands.

Some nights
I just never go to sleep at all,
and I stand,
shaking in my doorway like a sentinel,
all alone,
bracing like the bow upon a ship,
and fully abandoning
any thought of anywhere
but home,
my home.
Sometimes I can almost feel the power.
And I do love you.
Is it only timing,
that has made it such a dark hour,
only ever chiming out,
"Cuckoo, cuckoo"?

My heart, I wear you down, I know.
Gotta think straight,
keep a clean plate;
keep from wearing down.
If I lose my head,
just where am I going to lay it?

(For it has half-ruined me,
to be hanging around,
here, among the daphne,
blooming out of the big brown;
I am native to it, but I'm overgrown.
I have choked my roots
on the earth, as rich as roe,
here,
down in California.)


Lyrics submitted by kitteh, edited by millivanilliscoop

In California song meanings
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14 Comments

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  • +6
    General CommentI just realized the "cuckoo" breakdown part happens almost exactly an hour into the album. I don't know if this is intentional, but it's genius.
    minincoalon March 03, 2010   Link
  • +4
    General CommentCorrected lyrics and better formatting:

    My heart became a drunken runt
    On the day i sunk in this shunt
    To tap me clean
    Of all the wonder
    And the sorrow I have seen
    Since I left my home:
    My home on the old Milk Lake
    Where the darkness does fall so fast
    It feels like some kind of mistake
    (Just like they told you it would;
    just like the Tulgeywood).

    When i came into my land
    I did not understand:
    Neither dry rot, nor the burn pile
    Nor the bark-beetle, nor the dry well,
    Nor the black bear.

    But there is another,
    who is a little older
    When I broke my bone,
    he carried me up from the riverside

    To spend my life
    in spitting distance,
    of the love that I have known,
    I must stay here, in an endless eventide.

    And if you come and see me
    you will upset the order.
    You cannot come and see me,
    For I set myself apart.
    But when you come and see me,
    in California
    you cross the border of my heart.

    Well, I have sown untidy furrows
    across my soul,
    but I am still a coward,
    content to see my garden grow
    so sweet & full
    of someone else's flowers.
    But sometimes
    I can almost feel the power.
    Sometimes I am so in love with you
    (like a little clock
    that trembles on the edge of the hour,
    only ever calling out "Cuckoo, cuckoo")

    When I called you,
    you, little one
    in a bad way,
    did you love me?
    Do you spite me?
    Time will tell if I can be well,
    and rise to meet you rightly.
    While, moving across my land,
    brandishing themselves
    like a burning branch,
    advance the tallow-colored,
    wall-eyed deer,
    quiet as gondoliers,
    while I wait all night, for you,
    in California,
    watching the fox pick off my goldfish
    from their sorry, golden state-
    and I am no longer afraid
    of anything, save
    the life that, here, awaits.

    I don't belong to anyone.
    My heart is heavy as an oil drum.
    I don't want to be alone.
    My heart is yellow as an ear of corn,
    and I have torn my soul apart, from
    pulling artlessly with fool commands.
    Some nights
    I just never go to sleep at all,
    and I stand,
    shaking in the doorway like a sentinel,
    all alone,
    bracing like the bow upon a ship,
    and fully abandoning
    any thought of anywhere
    but home,
    my home.
    Sometimes I can almost feel the power.
    And I do love you.
    Is it only timing,
    that has made it such a dark hour,
    only ever chiming out,
    "Cuckoo, cuckoo"?

    Cu-ckoo, cu-ckoo, koo, ha-a, ha-hour, ha-a, ha-a [x4]

    My heart, I wear you down, I know
    Gotta think straight,
    Keep a clean plate;
    keep from wearing down.
    If I lose my head
    Just where am I going to lay it?

    (For it has half-ruined me,
    to be hanging around,
    here, among the Daphne,
    blooming out the big brown;
    I am native to it, but I'm overgrown.
    I am choked my roots
    on the earth, as rich as roe,
    here,
    down in California)
    Juanjo25on March 03, 2010   Link
  • +4
    General CommentSome parts of this song confuse me (I don't think any JN song doesn't confuse me... i love it), but I feel like, at times, it is a testament to how geography can play a part in the way you love someone. California is her home and her heart, and her lover (living somewhere that isn't CA) doesn't translate to that part of her life. "When you come and see me in California, you cross the border of my heart." It's almost like there's the California side of her and the other side, and they don't really go together due to timing. I think we all have different sides to us, especially when it comes to being at home versus being out in the world by yourself. I don't know, though, there are probably a million possible meanings to this song... But this is just what I took from it!
    hearthatsongagainon November 15, 2011   Link
  • +3
    General Commentnow we arrive at the next "chapter": this beautiful piece. the narrator seems to be from milk lake originally, but there is evidence to suggest that she left much earlier, (see: "good intentions paving company," in which she and her lover take a trip back to her "old country" and it completely freaks her out, for lack of better words). she has left her lover, and gone back to california. joanna's from nevada city, as we know, so she does have personal ties to the state. the narrator, however, probably decided to go someplace rural, and does not seem to be familiar with so many things as shown in this verse: "when i came into my land, i did not understand neither dry rot, nor the burn pile, nor the bark-beetle, nor the dry well, nor the black bear." in other songs she mentions all her "finery", etc. she's clearly not quite cut out for this life: she is not afraid of anything, "save the life that here awaits."

    i think she fled to a new place not only because she and her lover (temporarily) ended things, but also because she had some things to deal and work through on her own. she wanted to face the issues in her past that made her hesitant to go back to her home. i believe that she does not end up really facing them, as a life in california is the only thing that scares her now.

    in this part of the narrative, she turns to drinking in her sorrowful state. although she knows that her former lover was the one that chose to take separate paths, she wants him to come see her in california. in her heart, however, i believe that she knows he does not plan to, and she justifies this by saying that he "cannot come and see [her]." later, she realizes how much she still wants to love him, and she "wait[s] all night" for him to show, even though she knows that he will not.
    ericaruthon September 19, 2010   Link
  • +2
    General CommentI notice that there's a Milk Lake that's about an hour east of Nevada City, CA. And I assume that "Tulgeywood" is a reference to Lewis Carroll's Jabberwocky.
    rickterpon March 06, 2010   Link
  • +2
    General CommentThis song is so jamp-packed with references to California, it's like she can't help but cram every recognisable emblem of her home state in there, just to express her deep connection to it:

    "...nor the black bear", prevalent in southern california and the state emblem

    "...watching the foxes pick off my goldfish from their sorry golden state"

    "...my heart is heavy as an oil drum" (california being famous for its oil)

    "...my heart is yellow as an ear of corn" (the vast golden fields of corn, after which 'the golden state' was named,as well as it's association with sunshine and goldmining)

    This song has really grown on me the last few listens.
    richterscaleon May 23, 2010   Link
  • +1
    General Comment"my heart became a drunken runt"

    "Eventide"

    "just like they told you it would
    just like the Tugleywood"

    "untidy furrows across my soul"

    "fool commands"

    "(for it has half-ruined me,
    to be hanging around,
    here among the Daphne
    blooming out the big brown
    I'm a native to it, but I'm overgrown
    On the earth, as rich as roe
    here
    down in California )"

    From the songbook
    GoodIntentionsPaveron February 26, 2010   Link
  • +1
    My OpinionThis song is really painful, in the best way possible.
    ostapoppion March 18, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General CommentPerfect, just perfect.
    searchresultson February 24, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General CommentAnyone else notice how some of the melodies and chord progressions sound exactly like "It Does Not Suffice" and "Baby Birch"? It seems to almost be a medley or homage, i love it!
    zortmuckermanon March 01, 2010   Link

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