"Haile Selassie" as written by and Conor Oberst....
Pilgrim across the water
We are the same, brother
Hitchhiking back to Zion
Holding our tears as we flip the album
What if this leads to ruin?
You got a soul, use it
All this despair forgiven
Rolling away on a wheel of sevens
Seems like the Queen of Sheba
Voice through a blown speaker
One drop and bubbling Leslie
Calling me home like Haile Selassie

Pilgrim beside the fire
Its been a long winter
We got a lot in common
Cover our heads as they split the atom
All of our days are numbered
I take in some comfort in knowing the wave has crested
Knowing I don't have to be an exception
Children they fill the bleachers
One is the next Caesar
Keep all their minds collected
Until it comes
Until it comes
Hide the Omega day
In plain sight
Too good to be true

I've seen, I've seen, I've seen stranger things, man
I've seen, I've seen that tree of smoke
I've seen, I've seen, I've seen stranger things happen
Happen before

Pilgrim upon the mountain
Bare foot and still climbing
Filling the book of hours
Day after day in the filth and squalor
We are the chosen people
Safe from the next evil
One Love! Magnetic memory
Reel after reel, spinning within me
I had the wildest dream last night
I was swimming with you in that Cenote the Heavens made with black fire
Just woke up too soon

I've seen, I've seen, I've seen stranger things, man
I've seen, I've seen that tree of smoke
I've seen, I've seen, I've seen stranger things happen
Happen before

I've seen, I've seen, I've seen stranger things, man
I've seen, I've seen that tree of smoke
I've seen, I've seen, I've seen stranger things happen
Happen before


Lyrics submitted by gazsafa, edited by Mellow_Harsher

"Haile Selassie" as written by Conor M Oberst

Lyrics © SONGS MUSIC PUBLISHING

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Haile Selassie song meanings
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18 Comments

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  • +3
    Lyric CorrectionI think "How do you make a day in plain sight" is supposed to be

    "Hide the Omega day
    in plain sight,
    too good to be true."
    nesserstrudelon January 29, 2011   Link
  • +2
    My OpinionThere's something so blissfully carefree about the words of this song.
    Anilandon February 02, 2011   Link
  • +1
    Lyric CorrectionPilgrim across the water
    We are the same brother
    Hitchhiking back to Zion
    Hold in our tears as we flip the album
    What if this leads to ruin?
    You got a soul, use it
    All this despair forgiven
    Rolling away on a Wheel of Sevens
    She sings like the Queen of Sheba
    Voice through a blown speaker
    One drop and bubbling Leslie
    Calling me home like Haile Selassie

    Pilgrim beside the fire
    It’s been a long winter
    We got a lot in common
    Cover our heads as they split the atom
    All of our days are numbered
    I’ve taken some comfort
    In knowing the wave has crested
    Knowing I don’t have to be an exception
    Children they fill the bleachers
    One is the next Caesar
    Keep all their minds collected
    Until he comes, until he comes

    Hide the Omega Day in plain sight
    Too good to be true

    I’ve seen stranger things
    I’ve seen that tree of smoke
    I’ve seen stranger things happen before

    Pilgrim up on the mountain
    Barefoot and still climbing
    Filling the Book of Hours
    Day after day in the filth and squalor
    We are the chosen people
    Safe from the next evil
    One Love, magnetic memory
    Reel after reel spinning within me

    I had the wildest dream last night
    I was swimming with you
    In that cenote the heavens made with black fire
    Just woke up too soon

    I’ve seen stranger things
    I’ve seen those daytime ghosts
    I’ve seen stranger things happen before

    I’ve seen stranger things
    I’ve seen that tree of smoke
    I’ve seen stranger things happen before
    ThatGouletKidon February 02, 2011   Link
  • +1
    General Comment"In Rastafarianism, they're talking about fighting back against an imperial power with the best tools at their disposal, which are music and soul and weed and community," [Conor] says. "The symbolism in that music seemed very potent to me, and very appropriate."

    Conor expressed in interviews that he wanted to include the Rasta message of being one. Not in the music, but in the lyrics.

    "Hitchhiking back to Zion"
    Zion is what some Christians refer to as Israel, or the society that will be formed in the last days. It is said that these people will be of "one heart and one mind" which seems to go along with the Rasta idea.

    The Wheel of Sevens is a wheel that has the seven verses of the Lord's prayer, from what I understand.

    Haile Selassie is seen by the Rastafarian people "as a messianic figure who will lead a future golden age of eternal peace, righteousness, and prosperity." so he's like their Messiah. Again, this idea of Rastafarianism, and a people of peace, like Zion.


    "Pilgrim beside the fire
    It’s been a long winter
    We got a lot in common
    Cover our heads as they split the atom
    All of our days are numbered
    I’ve taken some comfort
    In knowing the wave has crested
    Knowing I don’t have to be an exception"

    as in he is relieved that this Omega Day hasn't come, so he can live life as usual? Not sure. I'm guessing the Omega Day is the day that this oneness is achieved. Sort of like Judgement Day?

    No idea what he means by tree of smoke - anyone?

    Book of Hours is a Christian book from the Middle Ages...

    "We are the chosen people
    Safe from the next evil"

    as in they're working towards some Eternal Salvation?

    "One Love, magnetic memory
    (the idea of one, rasta theme)
    Reel after reel spinning within me"(over and over again, history, time moving forward?)

    A cenote is a pool of land water surrounded by rock, basically.

    The swimming in this cenote that "the heavens made with black fire" is compared to a dream, so maybe he's saying he isn't sure the heavens are really there, like Heaven is only somewhere you can believe in in dreams. I'm not sure.


    Still, daytime ghosts, tree of smoke?

    Help me, people, please:]

    megbird1691on February 04, 2011   Link
  • +1
    General Comment"I'm taking some comfort in knowing the wave has crested
    Knowing I don’t have to be an exception"


    Slight lyric correction.

    Also, i think this is a really important line in the song. He might be saying that he feels better that his generation wasn't the one responsible for the haphazard 20th century. Or he might be saying he feels better knowing that more and more people are starting to adopt a more modern view point and starting to see that things need to change. Or i might be way off. Either way i get a lot from this lyric.
    seulenstein1on November 15, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General Comment"bubbling leslie" as in a leslie speaker
    jed kingstonon January 28, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General Comment"Magnetic memory
    Reel after reel, spinning within me "

    tape/reel to reel tape deck reference?
    getoutofthepoolon January 29, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI hear a heavy cure influence in this whole album!
    DeadSwaggeron February 08, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General CommentMegbird1691 - Very interesting interpretation and info.

    Tree of smoke might be the burning bush...it's the only ting I can think of.

    Daytime ghosts - angles....lost souls?

    It feels as if he is singing this song for the Pilgrim (religious man while he, Connor is a non-believer ) stating how alike they really are and how they face the same dooming world.

    "All this despair forgiven
    Rolling away on a Wheel of Sevens
    She sings like the Queen of Sheba
    Voice through a blown speaker
    One drop and bubbling Leslie
    Calling me home like Haile Selassie"

    These lines seem to emphasize the allure of religious beliefs...when time are hard ones seem to just roll along and believe...because it's the easiest thing to do.
    Haile Sealassie is again a synonym for such beliefs....and it's calling him home....when he says "sings like the Queen of Sheba" he means singing temptingly...the Queen of Sheeba (mentioned in the Muslin Quran and the Bible too....not sure) was a beautiful seductress.


    "Cover our heads as they split the atom
    All of our days are numbered
    I’ve taken some comfort
    In knowing the wave has crested
    Knowing I don’t have to be an exception
    Children they fill the bleachers
    One is the next Caesar
    Keep all their minds collected
    Until he comes, until he comes"

    This veers away from religion into science and polities.....things that are wrong with the world today....there are atom bombs and nuclear weapons being made....but what can he and this pilgrim do about it...they just keep their head down and move on....he also finds a sense of comfort in this end....like he wants the hanging thread of apocalypse to be done and over with.
    People keep on and on multiplying endlessly...one is the next Ceasar (tyrant) all their minds are kept uniform and collect. (things he has stated in earlier songs and bands about the death of individuality).

    Hide the Omega Day in plain sight
    Too good to be true

    While we are all kept "uniform" and busy we miss to see the Omega Day right in front of us.


    I’ve seen stranger things
    I’ve seen that tree of smoke
    I’ve seen stranger things happen before


    Not sure about the chorus...


    "Pilgrim up on the mountain
    Barefoot and still climbing
    Filling the Book of Hours
    Day after day in the filth and squalor"

    Struggling on through it all...


    "We are the chosen people
    Safe from the next evil
    One Love, magnetic memory
    Reel after reel spinning within me
    "

    Not sure about this either...
    Cyberghoston February 16, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General CommentTree of smoke' is indeed a biblical reference, although not the burning bush... though I don't myself know the specific lines I found this info:
    'In the Bible, the Tree of Smoke is a portent, signaling the day when "the sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood, before the great and terrible day of the Lord comes."'
    In the context of the song, especially with reference to 'cover our heads as they split the atom' I would hazard that it's a reference to the 'tree of smoke' produced by an atomic bomb and a symbol of the dangers of modernity and technological advances... and all the strange things those bring.

    I also thought it might be 'mimetic memory', not 'magnetic', which would make sense with the sci-fi tone of the album
    hannyanny68on February 20, 2011   Link

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