"Triple Spiral" as written by and Conor Oberst....
I loved a triple spiral
My maiden mother crow
I folded my devotion to an origami rose
So out her ten feet window, she said to look below
Could I see the town was burning?
Could I see the broken prison?
Could I see that it was time for me to go?

They looted the museum,
Took all that they could hold
A motorcade of flatbed trucks
Made off with with quite a haul
And that's when I heard someone shout
"In with new, out with the old!"
A dusty box of letters
A rusty suit of armor
A casket made of 14 carat gold

That's the problem
No sense of time
She changes like an hourglass
They're playing on the side

I loved you triple spiral
Father, son, and ghost
But you left me in my darkest hour
When I needed you, when I needed you
Now that the dream is over, I want it to be known
I never saw you coming
From my little human prism
How sad it is to know I'm in control

That's the problem, an empty sky
I fill it up with everything that's missing from my life
Where'd you come from, you faded sign?
Spinning through the centuries
Expanding all the time

Three worlds at once that blend together
Three times I cried for us
But I felt better then

I loved you triple spiral
My maiden mother crow
You found me in this fallowed state
My mind was off and stow
I heard your strange commotion
And wished I could go home
To live a little longer
A full Indian summer
Long enough to carve you into stone


Lyrics submitted by ModernLeper, edited by Lougness, shilleleigh

"Triple Spiral" as written by Conor M Oberst

Lyrics © SONGS MUSIC PUBLISHING

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Triple Spiral song meanings
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16 Comments

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  • +3
    General CommentThis song in my opinion is him losing faith in god. "How sad it is to know I'm in control" is his disdain regarding the realization that he controls his own fate.
    I can definitely relate to this feeling. This album is an instant classic for me.
    Oneofmykind221on February 04, 2011   Link
  • +3
    General CommentTriple spiral seems to be a reference to religion - mentioned explicitly as "maiden mother crone" for paganism and later with the "father, son and ghost".

    The part I understood best was

    "I loved you Triple Spiral — father, son and ghost
    But you left me in my darkest hour when I needed you,
    when I needed you
    Now that the dream is over I want it to be known
    That I never saw it coming
    Through my little human prism
    How sad it is to know I’m in control

    That’s the problem
    An empty sky
    I fill it up with everything that is missing from my life"

    Which is essentially his change of mind against religion when it had failed him. I love the line "how sad it is..." how he's kind of realised the difference in life when we have to create our own meaning and make our own decisions without some higher purpose.

    The next lines are about attributing "God" as something to replace what's lacking in life - such as purpose or happiness and meaning, again quite obvious especially compared to most of Oberst's lyrics but interesting nonetheless.

    I have to admit, I was very doubtful of the album at first but a few listens and I'm already loving it.
    verandahlion February 16, 2011   Link
  • +2
    Lyric CorrectionBiggest lyrical correction: Maiden Mother Crow is actually Maiden, Mother, Crone. I thought at first it was crow as well, however after just wiki'ing some of the major ideas of this song, I found that this song references neopagan theology. Maiden, Mother, Crow is the "Threefold Goddess" which is also represented by the "triple spiral" symbol.

    This is a simply awesome album, just based on the material that Conor references... an interesting (and biting commentary?) mixing classic scifi literature and theological ideas.
    Andrewch7on February 01, 2011   Link
  • +2
    Lyric CorrectionI loved a Triple Spiral, my maiden-mother-crone
    I folded my devotion into an origami rose
    Stood at her Tiffany window, she said to look below
    Could I see the town was burning?
    Could I see the broken prison?
    Could I see that it was time for me to go?

    They looted the museum and took all that they could hold
    A motorcade of flatbed trucks made off with quite a haul
    That’s when I heard someone shout,
    �In with the new! Out with the old!�
    A dusty box of letters
    A rusting suit of armor
    A casket made of fourteen karat gold

    That’s the problem
    No sense of time
    She is shaped just like an hourglass there laying on her side

    I loved you Triple Spiral—father, son and ghost
    But you left me in my darkest hour when I needed you,
    when I needed you
    Now that the dream is over I want it to be known
    That I never saw it coming
    Through my little human prism
    How sad it is to know I’m in control

    That’s the problem
    An empty sky
    I fill it up with everything that is missing from my life
    Where did you come from?
    You fated sign
    Spinning through the centuries expanding all the time

    Three worlds at once that blend together
    Three times I cried for us but I felt better then

    I loved you Triple Spiral, my maiden-mother-crone
    You found me in this fallow state, my mind was off and stowed
    I heard your strange commotion and wished I could go home
    To live a little longer
    A full Indian summer
    Long enough to carve you into stone
    ThatGouletKidon February 02, 2011   Link
  • +1
    General CommentFrom the digital lyric booket:

    "My maiden-mother-crone"
    "Stood at her Tiffany window"
    "They looted the museum and took all that they could hold"
    "No sense of time
    She is shaped just like an hour glass there laying on her side"
    "Where did you come from?
    You fated sign"
    "You found me in this fallow state,
    My mind was off and stowed"
    "A full Indian summer"
    flyingxponyon February 01, 2011   Link
  • +1
    My InterpretationI love the layering that happens in my mind when I consider the possible meanings in the lyrics of this song. It's like plate glass designs that from a continuously richer picture the more you stack them one on the other. And then I think that the song's simplified portrayal of religion is a little overwrought, and then I laugh at myself because this song is about overwrought emotions, not factual facts.

    The "triple spiral" that he loved sounds like a woman who opened him up to the idea that the Christian trinity, and/or it's associated religion, and/or the modern U.S. Republican right (stay with me now, I'll explain more further on), in many ways is badly adapted from the ancient practice of goddess worship. (Maiden, mother, crone.) The woman is so attractive because she is all three layers, or spirals, at once, intertwined. Her completeness attracts the emotionally exhausted, deflated narrater like a magnet. I wish I knew what "origami rose" and "Tiffany window" referred to. Anyone know?

    It sounds like the narrater became disgusted with current events in U.S. society (because this is a Bright Eyes song, I'm assuming the narrater watches too much CNN when he's depressed). The second verse sounds like Conor (I mean, the narrater) is blending his disgust at current affairs with his disdain at the use the early Christian church's co-option of aspects of pagan religion (which rode on the back of Roman imperialism into Europe). The whole second verse, to me, recalls instances from history of tragedies that would be wrenching for someone in the emotional state of the narrater to ruminate on. The "casket made of 14 karot gold" reminds me of Cortez and the New World. We all know how that turned out. Wish I knew what "dusty box of letters" and "rusty suit of armor" referred to, besides old things that used to be used but aren't anymore.

    Third verse is back to the woman. "They"'ve got "no sense of time", which at first appears because they've got no respect for old stuff ("letters", "armor" and "casket" from previous verse). "She", however, it turns out IS time, being "shaped just like an hourglass". Thus my mind is led to think that "they" have no sense of the triple spiral, or the feminine, so called creative half of life. Meaning, no sense of the timeless rhythm of life. "They", who ever they are, are off balance. Too many straight lines, not enough curves. Too many false promises of immortality, not enough rhythm. Too much masculinity, or destructiveness/consumption. Too much "father, son and ghost". (My inner gender neutralist is miffed at myself right now. It's just a song, i.g.n.)

    As for the fourth verse, I like that he backtracks and describes the process that led him to be so receptive to the woman figure in the first verse. "I never saw you coming", sounds to me like a very dry joke about waiting around for Jesus to come back but never finding him. When he realizes there's nothing there ("empty sky"), and has to deal with the aftermath. Feel free to contradict that interpretation, cause it's very loosely held.

    And because he can't just take a good thing and run with it, not our Conor...I mean narrater...he wants to know the ultimate truth behind the triple spiral, he wants to feel COMPLETELY complete. Because the whole last half of the fifth verse is about the triple spiral symbol itself and the ideas it represents...right?

    The layering effect that I mentioned at first really struck me with the sixth verse, as it's so vague you fit all kinds of images into it. Three "worlds": Christian, goddess and atheist or past, present, future or beginning, middle and end (of the relationship with religion and with this woman (very maybe)). "Three times I cried for us" seems to combine the religious significance of three as the perfect number with allowing himself to grieve "perfectly", i.e. naturally, for what he's lost into a pretty cool little verse. Sounds like he feels just as he was starting to get somewhere with his wonderings about the origins of "triple spiral" wisdom, their relationship ended and he's now looking back whistfully, which leads into the last verse:

    By the end of the song the relationship with the woman (his "triple spiral") has ended, but he's very grateful to her for the inspiring role she played as the narrater's spiritual muse, possibly by just being herself without explicit religious instruction in goddess worship. The very end of the song seems to communicate his wistful pining for an idealized time via references to historical practices of goddess worship. Don't really understand the use of the phrase "Indian summer", unless it's just used as an image of an idealic setting in which the narrater is able to heal his mind after having "stowed" it (denial? shock?) to avoid facing the emotional devastation that losing faith in God seems to have had.

    Eh? Eh? I'd love to discuss.

    On an tangentially personal note, I really like how he describes becoming aware of this new idea as "I heard your strange commotion". In the context of this song, I imagine the narrater thinking back with a little smile to how he remembers his "triple spiral" woman: an eccentric, satisfied feminine who is profoundly comfortable with life because she knows a deep truth. Makes me think of Harold and Maude, and I really like that movie :)
    wakeupshinyon April 11, 2011   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI think that this song is actually referring to the ups and downs of a disillusionment with his faith in the Catholic church. "Maiden, mother, crone" is a symbol predominant in neo-pagan/Wiccan culture for the "triple goddess". People often refer to the Blessed Virgin Mary as an artifact from that tradition. The references to "Tiffany window" or stained glass, as well as the reference to the "origami rose" (the Mother of God is often depicted with roses, and has been associated with multiple miracles in which she's been involved) both reinforce this conclusion.

    It seems that the "looting" he refers to focuses more on a sense of loss, than of some sort of political injustice. The "out with the old, in with the new!" seems to strike a somber tone, as he details the list of items that all seem to contain value, but have decayed and become antiquated (the box of letters are dusty, the suit of armour rusty, and even though the casket is made of gold --it's nonetheless a casket [perhaps the casket of fourteen karat gold refers more to a casket that holds contents of great worth, emotionally speaking]). It seems that items (or beliefs) he once treasured and revered were suddenly ripped from his life, as they no longer fit within his mental context.

    The "hourglass on her side" refers to time at a standstill (i.e. the sand doesn't move). It seems that our sense of time becomes the most disrupted, and the most slowed, when terrible tragedies arise in our life. Such tragedies often prompt us to doubt God's existence. How could something so unspeakably awful happen with his consent?

    He then goes on to specifically call on God (the Father, Son, and Ghost), telling him that he loved him, but was abandoned when he "needed you the most", (i.e. when the tragic event took place). He then comes to a revelation that his fate exists within his own hands, a conclusion that arose suddenly, that he didn't expect (I never saw it coming, from my human prism).

    I believe the last verse refers to his musically "fallow state". While incredibly prolific, Conor Oberst often expresses dissatisfaction with his work (e.g. he spoke of how he's quitting all "the rootsy shit" when talking about his past folk sound). He specifically went to his hometown of Omaha to record this album, suggesting that this album was intended to be a very meaningful one. It seems that he heard the "strange commotion" and was inspired once again, though in different way this time. He wished he "could go home" "to carve you into stone". In some ways, this song is in honor of a love lost: a faith that was eroded and destroyed, rather than burnished, in the face of catastrophe.

    missfish86on August 10, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General Commentit's "they looted the museum, took all that they could hold" not "Eluded her museum, to (?)"
    and "a full indian summer" not "A foal(?) indeed in the summer"
    indianwordsheelfripon January 31, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General Comment"They looted the museum to guard what they could hold."

    I believe this is a reference to Afghanistan. The USA was trying to guard the oil fields while the people of Afghanistan looted the museums. But they weren't stealing, they were just holding on to the treasures until it was safe to return them. Truth is the US soldiers stole from the museums and destroyed a lot of the great archeological sites there.
    care-lineson February 04, 2011   Link
  • 0
    Lyric CorrectionI loved a triple spiral
    My maiden-mother-crone
    I folded my devotion to an origami rose
    Stood at her Tiffany Window, she said to look below
    Could I see the town was burning?
    Could I see the broken prison?
    Could I see that it was time for me to go?

    They looted the museum and took all that they could hold
    A motorcade of flatbed trucks
    Made off with with quite a haul
    That's when I heard someone shout
    "In with the new, out with the old!"
    A dusty box of letters
    A rusty suit of armor
    A casket made of fourteen carat gold

    That's the problem
    No sense of time
    She is shaped just like an hourglass
    There laying on her side

    I loved you triple spiral-father, son, and ghost
    But you left me in my darkest hour
    When I needed you, when I needed you
    Now that the dream is over, I want it to be known
    I never saw you coming
    From my little human prism
    How sad it is to know I'm in control

    That's the problem, an empty sky
    I fill it up with everything that's missing from my life
    Where'd you come from, you fated sign?
    Spinning through the centuries
    Expanding all the time

    Three worlds at once that blend together
    Three times I cried for us
    But I felt better then

    I loved you triple spiral
    My maiden-mother-crone
    You found me in this fallow state
    My mind was off and stowed
    I heard your strange commotion
    And wished I could go home
    To live a little longer
    A full Indian summer
    Long enough to carve you into stone
    Blooptralon February 20, 2011   Link

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