"Like the Wheel" as written by and Kristian Matsson....
Oh I wish I was the sparrow in your kid's eye
Like a fly above is summer all day long
On an island in the heart he has to carry
Past the many you have let into your song

And I said oh my lord why am I not strong
Like the wheel that keeps travelers traveling on
Like the wheel that will take you home

And in the forest someone is whispering to a tree now
This is all I am so please don't follow me
And it's your brother in the shaft that I'm swinging
Please let the kindness of forgetting set me free

And he said oh my lord why am I not strong
Like the wheel that keeps travelers traveling on
Like the wheel that will take you home

And on this Sunday someone's sititng down to wonder
Where the hell among these mountains will I be?
There's a cloud behind the cloud to which I'm yelling
I could hear you sneak around so easily

And I said oh my lord why am I not strong
Like the branch that keeps hangman hanging on
Like the branch that will take me home


Lyrics submitted by ACaricatureOf

"Like the Wheel" as written by Kristian Matsson

Lyrics © Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd.

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Like the Wheel song meanings
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  • +3
    My InterpretationAn attempt (with many hat-tips to JE):

    >Oh I wish I was the sparrow in your kid's eye

    This whole verse sounds loving, but notice the 'your kid'. It could mean a few things, but I imagine a lover from the narrator's long-past youth, who has moved on and had children.

    >I could fly above his summer all day long
    >On an island in the heart he has to carry

    He wishes he could be part of that family, but is drawn most of all to the child's innocent wonder. He's been hurt, and perhaps isn't sure that he'd want to come back in the role of the lover. "Heart he has to carry" also suggests a somewhat jaded view of love.

    >Past the many you have let into your song

    This jealousy or this regret is tied to some other lover that this woman has known.

    >And I said oh my lord why am i not strong

    He wants to be the adult, and to try to take her back, or even move on.

    >Like the wheel that keeps travelers traveling on
    >Like the wheel that will take you home

    But even in saying that, he comes back to her. He is not strong, and he longs for her to come back to him, picturing her traveling far away.

    >And in the forest someone is whispering to a tree now
    >"This is all I am so please don't follow me"

    This isn't delusion, it's despair. This second person is alone in the woods, and trying to console himself, but he can find nothing to pull him out. He (this person) doesn't want the narrator to pay him any mind. This, and the ambiguous change of pronoun in the next line, make me think that the "someone" here is still the narrator, talking to and about himself, but I'd be curious to hear if anything made more sense.

    >And it's your brother in the shaft that I'm swinging

    I'm lost on this. If this is the narrator talking to his love, it's not clear where in the story the brother belongs. This might make more sense in light of a better interpretation of who this "someone" is.

    >Please let the kindness of forgetting set me free

    He is giving up. He sees no way forward, and is bound to this memory that is consuming him.

    >And he said oh my lord why am I not strong
    >Like the wheel that keeps travelers traveling on
    >Like the wheel that will take you home

    "He" again, here. Curious.

    In any case, he still imagines her coming "home."

    >And on this Sunday someone's sititng down to wonder
    >Where the hell among these mountains will I be?

    Again, "someone" in the first two lines (interpreting the second line as a quote), and "I" in the next two. Hrm.

    This person is lost, but this is ambiguous. Either he's trying to find a way out, and struggling to imagine a place that he could live, or escape, or else he's resigning himself to nature.

    >There's a cloud behind the cloud to which I'm yelling.

    Again, he's crying out to the woods. The cloud doesn't hear him, and the day is only growing darker with the growing clouds.

    >I could hear you sneak around so easily

    We come back around. He's sure she cheated, which is why he feels he can't come back to her, he no longer trusts her, and isn't sure what she feels.

    >And I said oh my lord why am I not strong
    >Like the branch that keeps hangman hanging on
    >Like the branch that will take me home

    This sounds a lot like suicide. She has her own life, and can come home from her travels, but that home cannot be with him. The narrator now sees his home in resigning himself to the mountains as a body.


    I don't think I have a great sense of how the wheel fits in to this story. I don't really see the mythological connection going any farther than the wheel evoking pain. Besides that, it's elemental, it's strong, and it can take one home, either in the disillusioned routine of the narrator's life or in the lost dream where she comes back to him.
    sbowmanon May 26, 2011   Link
  • +2
    General CommentNot sure if anyone else got this, but I always thought this was a song of religious despair and losing faith (though I myself am not religious, I think a great deal of the imagery and metaphor here is obvious and in many ways it seems to be addressed to God). I won't analyse the whole thing, it's better if you just listen and think about it, but what stuck out in particular to me was the line 'There's a cloud behind the cloud to which I'm yelling'. This to me seems to be a realisation that perhaps there is no God, but simply another cloud behind the cloud to which we're all yelling our prayers.
    hollypatonmorrison August 23, 2011   Link
  • +1
    General Comment'Like a fly above is summer all day long' is supposed to be, 'That could fly about his summer all day long."
    benjaminteddyon September 19, 2010   Link
  • +1
    General Comment"It's your brother in the shaft that I'm a-swinging"

    He's talking to the tree. The shaft of the axe is made of wood.
    MelleB90on December 05, 2012   Link
  • +1
    General CommentAnd indeed....(like the branch that will take me home) ... the tallest man himself once stated after performing this song "Like the wheel": "That was a song about killing yourself"
    ralberts3on June 30, 2013   Link
  • +1
    My InterpretationThe thing that blew this song wide open for me was thinking that perhaps the verses aren't in chronological order. I believe the story starts with the first verse, with the second being a kind of epilogue, and the third is actually the climax, which is why it's put at the end.

    The second verse is about the author's brother cutting down the tree on which the author hanged himself. The brother whispers out a paraphrase of the suicide note left for him to find:

    "This is all I am, so please don't follow me."

    This is the author's conclusion after sitting down to wonder "where the hell among these mountains" he is- or rather what he is. "Please don't follow me" appears to be a plea for the brother to not follow suit.

    "It's your brother in the shaft that I'm a-swingin'"

    As MelleB90 pointed out, the brother now is swinging an ax, noting the irony that his brother hung from the tree whose brother is in the shaft that will cut it down, echoing the pain haunting him by his brother's suicide.

    "Please let the kindness of forgetting set me free."

    The brother wants to forget what he's seen and done involving this tree, so he cuts it down.

    This also explains why the author says,

    "HE said, 'Oh, my lord, why am I not strong?
    Like the wheel that keeps travelers traveling on?
    Like the wheel that will take you home'"

    The author is echoed here in his desire to save his lost love from the path she's on- the brother wishes the exact same thing. Families of those who commit suicide often have no idea there's such a burden on those that they end up losing.

    sbowman nailed it, but melleb90's comment got me thinking, and this is what I came up with. Beautifully written and painfully tragic song.
    NovemberBlueon October 10, 2014   Link
  • +1
    My InterpretationBeautiful song.

    The lyrics on this site are fucked though. Come on: "Like a fly above is summer all day long"... What? What fucking language is that? Wrapping my heard around this semantically raped sentence gave me a goddamn aneurysm. So I'm just gonna go ahead and try my best to interpret the actual lyrics instead of this quasi-english bullshit.

    I give my interpretation with a "hat-tip" to all you clever users before me.

    _______________________________________________________

    "Oh I wish I was the sparrow in your kid's eye
    I could fly above this summer all day long"

    The "your" is most likely the narrators lover.
    The narrator wishes to be closer to "your kid", expressing that this potential closeness what making him feel as if he were "Flying above this summer".
    Note the positive metaphorical language.

    "On an island in the heart he has to carry"

    The narrator wishes he has a special place (an island) in the kid's heart.
    The phrase "the heart he has to carry" shows that the narrator feels sympathy for whatever emotional turmoil this kid is going through.

    "Past the many you have let into your song"

    Talking to a lover, the narrator expresses that she has "let many into her heart".

    Recap: The narrator is talking to a lover, focusing on how he wishes he had a special place in her kid's heart, past the many she has let into her "song" (into her life). He doesn't show much regard for his lover, but focuses instead on her kid, wishing that the kid (whom he seems to show sympathy for, i.e. "The heart he has to carry") would him dearer than all the other men the kid's mother has been with. (All those she has let into her song, if you will)

    "And I said oh my Lord, why am I not strong
    Like the wheel that keeps travelers traveling on"

    The narrator wishes he was strong. He compares strength to the wheel that keeps "travellers travelling on". This comparison makes me believe that the narrator has a wish to leave this family behind, he washes he had the strength of the wheel so he could travel like the traveller. But he doesn't, and so he can't move on.

    "Like the wheel that will take you home"

    The narrator expresses a yearning for his lover to "come home". But again, she probably won't be coming home.

    Recap: This is how I see it so far... The narrator is stuck in this semi-relationship with a single mother who keeps seeing all this other men. (The ones she is letting into her song) This is making the narrator deeply upset. He wishes he had a special place in the kid's heart, past all the other men. He shows sympathy for the kid and the "heart he has to carry", recognising it must be hard for the kid to not have a father, but instead have a mother who is seeing all these different men. More than anything, the narrator wishes the three of them could be a family, but his lover (the kid's mother) keeps fucking about, seeing all these other men. The narrator wishes he could let her and the kid go, that he could just leave them, that he could have the strength og the wheel that keeps the "travellers travelling on" or the strength of the wheel that brings her back to him.
    But he doesn't, and so he despairs.

    "And in the forest someone is whispering to a tree now
    This is all I am so please don't follow me"

    The switch between a third-person and second-person narrative makes me think that the person in the forest who is whispering to a tree, is actually the narrator himself, whispering his concerns to no one, to the trees of the forest if you will. The narrator seems deeply troubled and by saying: "This is all I am so please don't follow me" it makes it seem as if he is about to do something to himself. This line represents a self-loathing of sorts. "This is all I am", as if to say: "This is all I am and nothing more".

    "And it's your brother in the shaft that I'm swinging"

    I see this line as cryptical, but somehow I imagine the narrator walking through the forest, remembering the times he has felt like part of the family, swinging his lovers brother etc.

    "Please let the kindness of forgetting set me free"

    This line is pretty obvious. This poor man is walking through the forest, expressing his troubles to the trees, remembering all the good times he has had with his lover and hating how things are. Wishing he wouldn't remember all the good times, wishing the "kindness of forgetting" would set him free. (Great line by the way)

    "And he said oh my lord why am I not strong
    Like the wheel that keeps travelers traveling on
    Like the wheel that will take you home"

    See interpretation at first chorus.

    "And on this Sunday someone's sitting down to wonder
    Where the hell among these mountains will I be?"

    Now... This is where it gets interesting. My interpretation of this is that the "someone" who is sitting down to wonder, is actually the kid. This poor little kid is sitting somewhere, wondering which one if these adults is going to take care of him. Where the hell among these "mountains" is the kid going to be. Mountains being a reference to how tall all these adults most seem to a little kid. In my mind, the narrator is walking about in the forest, sad as fuck, again expressing concerns for the kid. Where is he going to be now? Where does he belong? His mother doesn't seem to show much regard for him and he has no father. The only one who seems to really, genuinely give a shit about this kid, is in the forest talking to trees, about to do something stupid. So now that the narrators has fucked off, who among these "mountains" is gonna look after the kid?

    "There's a cloud behind the cloud to which I'm yelling
    I could hear you sneak around so easily"

    First line is an expression of all the trouble in the narrators life at the moment. It's not just the fact that his lover is seeing other men, it's also the fact that the kid is caught in the middle of it all. A cloud behind a cloud.
    Second line doesn't really need much of an interpretation, it's pretty straight forward. The narrators lover has been seeing other men, but this is absolutely no surprise to the narrator, who has known for quite a while, yet stuck around in the hope that she would "come home" so the she, the narrator and the kid could be a family.

    "And I said oh my lord why am I not strong
    Like the branch that keeps hangman hanging on
    Like the branch that will take me home"

    Now... We all know where this is heading at this point. "Hangman" is a pretty obvious clue. The narrator is talking to God, for a final time, asking: "Why am I not strong, like the branch that supports a hangman, like the branch that will take me home." The narrator wishes he was as strong as the branch he is planning to hang himself from, in despair about the whole situation.

    _______________________________________________________

    So... To recap this entire fucked up emotional rollercoaster...

    A guy falls in love with a single mother. He loves her and he loves her kid. He wishes more than anything that they could all be together. This is all screwed up by the mother, who keeps seeing other men. So what is the narrator suppose to do? He wishes he had the strength to leave, but he doesn't. So he walks out to the forest, expressing all his concerns to the trees and clouds. He keeps remembering how happy he was, being a part of this family, and he wishes he could forget all these happy moments. He has known the whole time that his lover has been with other men. He expresses a final concern for the kid, who he really loves, before he decides to hang himself in complete despair...

    VERY emotional song, brilliantly executed, amazing lyrics.
    A Nameless Ghoulon May 25, 2015   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI'm pretty sure a few lines have issues, but I got the gist of it...
    ACaricatureOfon May 03, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General CommentSomeone give a good run down of this song?
    AChapon October 19, 2010   Link
  • 0
    Song MeaningSeems pretty clearly to be a song about loss of freedom. The last chorus would lead me to believe that it's about a man on death row, but TTMOE is so metaphorical in his lyrics that it could be something much deeper than that. However, his sentiments like "Please don't follow me," and "Why am I not strong?" and "Let the kindness of forgetting set me free" indicate that the singer has had moral weaknesses that have led to his imprisonment, whether that prison is metaphorical or literal.

    This guy is a lyrical master. His songs can be tough to decipher!
    sbkbson November 13, 2010   Link

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