"Conversation 16" as written by and Matthew D. Berninger Aaron B. Dessner....
I think the kids are in trouble
Do not know what all the troubles are for
Give them ice for their fevers
You're the only thing I ever want anymore
Live on coffee and flowers
Try not to worry what the weather will be
I figured out what we're missing
I tell you miserable things after you are asleep

Now we'll leave the silver city 'cause all the silver girls
Gave us black dreams
Leave the silver city cause all the silver girls
Everything means everything

It's a Hollywood summer
You never believe the shitty thoughts I think
Meet our friends out for dinner
When I said what I said I didn't mean anything
We belong in a movie
Try to hold it together 'til our friends are gone
We should swim in a fountain
Do not want to disappoint anyone

Now we'll leave the silver city cause all the silver girls
Gave us black dreams
Leave the silver city to all the silver girls
Everything means everything

I was afraid, I'd eat your brains
I was afraid, I'd eat your brains
Cause I'm evil
Cause I'm evil

I'm a confident liar
Had my head in the oven so you'd know where I'll be
I'll try to be more romantic
I want to believe in everything you believe
But I was less than amazing
Do not know what all the troubles are for
Fall asleep in your branches
You're the only thing I ever want anymore

Now we'll leave the silver city cause all the silver girls
Gave us black dreams
Leave the silver city to all the silver girls
Everything means everything

I was afraid, I'd eat your brains
I was afraid, I'd eat your brains
Cause I'm evil
Cause I'm evil
Cause I'm evil


Lyrics submitted by Nitro1515, edited by jahjahjeh

"Conversation 16" as written by Matthew D. Berninger Aaron B. Dessner

Lyrics © BUG MUSIC

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Conversation 16 song meanings
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38 Comments

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  • +25
    General CommentThe zombie reference is metaphorical. He's afraid that he'll become a "zombie" in life.

    The verses (and a lot of the album) describes these really mundane, everyday rituals of family life and moving on into middle age. The narrator is just going with the flow: doing what is expected of him, not disappointing anyone, reading the script of his movie, keeping his shitty thoughts to himself and only telling his wife about them after she's asleep. It's making him turn into a "zombie" though... he's becoming less enthused about life, he's unable to express himself, going through the motions, becoming a "confident liar," etc.

    In the last verse he states all of the anti-zombie things he wants: to be romantic, to believe, to be safe, to continue loving his wife... but he's ultimately afraid he'll "eat her brains". He's afraid that the ritual of everyday life will strip him of his appealing aspects until he's unable to feel emotion (like a zombie) and cause him to do harm to the person he loves and wants the most (eat her brains).

    Because he's evil.
    scott lockeon April 27, 2010   Link
  • +7
    General CommentConversation 16 = everyday interaction has become so mundane that their conversations are made distinct by number as opposed to topic.
    predicateon September 08, 2010   Link
  • +3
    General CommentI was afraid, I'd eat your brains
    'Cause I'm evil
    vicarinatutuuon April 22, 2010   Link
  • +2
    General Commentwhat adds to this songs 'zombie' theme is the vocals. His voice lends to the mood so fucking well and takes it from being a beautifully written and executed song to a glimse into the mind and heart of a spirtually and emotionally drained man.
    tropicanaaon June 10, 2010   Link
  • +2
    General CommentI think this song is about living in Hollywood and resenting that whole LA culture. The National are from Ohio and are genuine. They have outgrown the silver screen starlets and all the facades. They want to move away, raise their children outside of the bubble and live a normal life. They mention not worrying about the weather- a big reason people stay in California (eluding to moving back East where the winters can be brutal).

    This isn't about literal zombies or cannibalism. Conversation 16 conveys how living in a place like LA can eat at your brains and destroy you. The singer is saying he's already jaded and evil. He doesn't want his wife or children to be that way, so they are breaking out!

    This is one of my favorite songs from High Violet. I was so fortunate to see The National twice last year & was very impressed.
    kristaseleneon January 25, 2011   Link
  • +1
    General CommentDoes this song appear to be about zombies to anyone else?
    straylightrunon April 24, 2010   Link
  • +1
    My InterpretationYeah Scott, I think you’re right.
    It’s a man commentating on the effects that his marriage and middle age are having on him. This could almost be ‘Slipping Husband’ from the husband’s perspective.
    The chorus confuses me though. It sounds as if he may be making reference to other men in his position – ‘We’ll leave the silver city’. The ‘silver city’ could be interpreted as the “perfect” lifestyle that the narrator’s tired of.
    Berninger, as always, is extremely self-deprecating although this song unusually contains some justification for his self-pity.

    The symbolism of a ‘silver girl’ may be reference to his wife and thus, the wives of all men suffering from the dysfunction he describes. The fact that Berninger uses the colour silver may be homage to the bitter feelings he has towards the stereotype of a trophy wife.

    He acknowledges his flaws; ‘I’ll try to be more romantic’ but ultimately blames this dysfunction on the trophy wives who aspire to mediocrity.

    Toward the end of the song, the repetition of the line ‘I was afraid I’d eat your brains cos I’m evil’ suggests he left his spouse, returning to a self-deprecating persona because of guilt.
    10203040on April 28, 2010   Link
  • +1
    General CommentNice reading of the silver city/silver girls line. I didn't know quite what to make of it, but that makes sense to me.
    scott lockeon April 29, 2010   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI think he very much wants to be in love but is too afraid to ruin things by being himself (a darker person) because he doesn't think she can handle it.

    I love the lyric "Had my head in the oven so you'd know where I'll be." I think it means his brain will be fried - mindless, compliant and agreeable to the person she knows him to be.
    noles848on May 07, 2010   Link
  • +1
    Song MeaningSo, there is an obvious Zombie motif in the song:

    --->"It's a Hollywood summer"/"leave the silver city 'cause all the silver girls"
    This could be a reference to the 'silver screen' hit Night of the Living Dead, if not it is definitely an interesting comparison

    "I think the kids are in trouble
    Do not know what all the troubles are for"
    ---> A possible reference to Roger Ebert's review of George A. Romero's 1968 film Night of the Living Dead:
    "The kids in the audience were stunned. There was almost complete silence. The movie had stopped being delightfully scary about halfway through, and had become unexpectedly terrifying. There was a little girl across the aisle from me, maybe nine years old, who was sitting very still in her seat and crying"

    --->"I was afraid, I'd eat your brains 'Cause I'm evil"
    Romero's modern reinvention of zombies is notable in terms of its thematics. He used zombies not just for their own sake, but as a vehicle to lambaste real-world social ills (ie vanity, greed, lust)

    Lastly: philosopher David Chalmers coined the term "philosophical zombie"
    "as a concept used in the philosophy of mind, a field of research which examines the association between conscious thought and the physical world. A philosophical zombie is a hypothetical person who lacks full consciousness but has the biology or behavior of a normal human being; it is used as a null hypothesis in debates regarding the identity of the mind and the brain"
    jesslaurenon May 11, 2010   Link

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