"Firewall" as written by and Conor Oberst....
If there is no such thing as time, you're already there, and you're controlling this cycle. You say, "Man, look what we found here, Einstein," or whoever you're talking to, Tesla - whoever you're talking to. Problems of the future can be solved by mankind because you create them. And you have to believe in the future, it's what we have to do. We progress, we always progress - we try to. So the Sumerian tablets, they say the same thing like Genesis said, that there were chariots of fire that came into the sky. And these beings got out of them, and they walked like a man but they had reptilian features. They had snake-like eyes, a tail, and, uh, scales, right? And they were - they were here, and they made slaves out of the people. And where they landed in is what the Bible calls the Garden of Eden. They were trying to inbreed with the people here. The women would die, the babies would abort. But after two thousand years they started taking, the babies started being born and living. And they had tails, they had a few reptilian features. They could phase shift from one dimension to another dimension, and the people who know say it's from the fourth dimension - the next dimension. Space is expanding; there are spirits coming from the center, right? We're going counterclockwise. There's supposed to be eight other universes going counterclockwise, and that's called Superuniverse, you know? And love's always been the message. It's just - circumstances happen, right? People freak out, just flat flip out, you know? Well, that's where Hitler came from, Hitler came from that way. He was an outspoken, charismatic yeller. And, and all these people said, "Hey, we'll use this guy, hey, look at all these people listening to this guy." You know what I mean? And so that's just what the trip's like, that. You know? It still exists, and their bloodline goes back - back into Sumerian times. You know, they didn't call it reptilian, they didn't call it that. But they did, because they called him Satan, they called him the Devil, and it's the same damn trip. It's a negative force, coming in on a positive force, because it's a third dimension, right? And for it to solidify or to crystallize, it has to have both elements, right? And you have to keep it in balance, or it will, it will, one of them will destroy the other...

I do my best to sleep through the caterwaul
The classicist, the posturing avant-garde
I bought a grey macaw, named him Jules Verne
He'll probably outlive me, he's a bright bird
Keeps me company, I teach him new words

I saw a hologram at the theme park
She looked as real as me through the white fog
Then she melted down to her ankles
Turned into a million-watt candle
If I knew where she went, I would follow

Walking through the land of tomorrow
Martian trinkets, plastic Apollos
In the sunshine, try to act normal
My veins are full of flat cherry cola
Slept on the bench by the rollercoaster

Dreamt I was riding on a motorbike
Lion of Judah, painted on the side

I'm doing fine, I'm back in the Palisades
Life's a wash, a pastoral school play
China shops and cold ivory towers
I and I, make toasts to the Caesars
Forcing down the dregs of Decembers

Madeline, she spins in a slow bang
All through the house, the strong smell of burnt sage
Let's make it clean and run out the spirits
I know a diving bell when I hear it
We're going down now under the surface

Light to dark can shift in an instant
Feeling close but keeping my distance
On all fours she's just so insistent
Fills my mind with jump ropes and slit wrists
Bust through the firewall into heaven

And then I'm standing in that blinding light
Crooked crosses falling from the sky

Seen, yeah, seen by I and I
Seen, yeah, seen by I and I
Seen, yeah, seen by I and I
Seen, yeah, seen by I and I


Lyrics submitted by Browns0286

"Firewall" as written by Conor M Oberst

Lyrics © SONGS MUSIC PUBLISHING

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Firewall song meanings
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  • +3
    My OpinionThis is ridiculously impressive. I've not listened to Bright Eyes in many months... and yet the magic of reading these words floods back as if I was hearing Lifted for the first time again. Viva la Conor.
    Anilandon February 02, 2011   Link
  • +2
    Lyric CorrectionFrom The People's Key digital booklet:

    I do my best to sleep through the caterwaul
    The classicists, the posturing avant-garde
    I bought a grey macaw named him Jules Verne
    He'll probably outlive me he's a bright bird
    Keeps me company I teach him new words

    I saw a hologram at the theme park
    She looked as real as me through the white fog
    Then she melted down to her ankles
    Turned into a million-watt candle
    If I knew where she went I would follow

    Walking through the land of tomorrow
    Martian trinkets, plastic Apollos
    In the sunshine try to act normal
    My veins are full of flat cherry-cola
    Slept on a bench by the rollercoaster

    Dreamt I was riding on a motorbike
    Lion of Judah painted on the side

    I'm doing fine, I'm back in the Palisades
    Life's a wash, a pastoral school play
    China shops and cold ivory towers
    I and I make toasts to the Caesars
    Forcing down the dregs of Decembers

    Madeline she spins in a slow bang
    All through the house the strong smell of burnt sage
    Let's make it clean and run out the spirits
    I know a diving bell when I hear it
    We're going down now under the surface

    Light to dark can shift in an instant
    Feeling close but keeping my distance
    On all fours she's just so insistent
    Fills my mind with jump ropes and slit wrists
    Bust through the Firewall into heaven

    Then I'm standing in that blinding light
    Crooked crossed falling from the sky

    Seen yeah seen by I and I

    ThatGouletKidon February 02, 2011   Link
  • +1
    Lyric CorrectionFrom Bright Eyes' official listening party on Youtube where the lyrics were shown on a projector:

    "Melted down to a million-watt candle"
    "Martian trinkets, plastic Apollos"
    "In the sunshine, try to act normal
    My veins are full of flat cherry cola"
    "Life's a wash, a pastoral school play"
    "I and I make toasts to the Caesars"
    "Madeline, she spins in a slow bang"
    "I know a diving bell when I hear it"
    "We're going down now under the surface"
    "Fills my mind with jump ropes and slit wrists"

    Seen, yeah, seen by I and I...
    flyingxponyon February 01, 2011   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI remember learning in elementary school that some cultures burn incense in houses to rid the houses of evil spirits, I think that's what he's talking about with the "burnt sage..." lines.
    I also feel like this song, as well as a lot of the rest of the album, is talking about heaven or what else there might be after life. And here, when he talks about the hologram woman melting, he says he'd follow her if he was sure of where she was going. That's a reason many people choose to follow religion as it is, a sense of knowing what happens when we die. So I think it's partially about a fear of dying, or just the general uncertainty about death.
    rawrroseon February 01, 2011   Link
  • +1
    General CommentLike classic Bright Eyes, this song is layered and image-filled... It's also typical in its stream of consciousness style jumping from topic to topic in an effort to string together deeper meaning (perhaps) or perhaps I'm just a posturing poster. One thing that stands out to me is his repeated imagery of love being revelation/illumination, and sex as (bad?) religion... I'm not sure if it works, but it's a theme I've seen before
    crookedcrosseson February 06, 2011   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI've noticed something really interesting :

    Denny Brewer , the guy who does the intro , speaks of some Alien creatures and describes thusly : "They had snake-like eyes, a tail, and, uh, scales, right?"

    Now an excerpt from the intro to Fevers and Mirrors , where a kid reads the story " Mitchell is moving":

    "And you look at me and think, same old face, same old tail, same old scales

    Since face and eyes are almost the same I think it seems to me that it's not really a coincidence

    what are your thoughts on that ?

    Light-Pollutionon February 14, 2011   Link
  • +1
    General CommentFirst--before anything--I have to say that this is an awesome song. Lyrically beautiful.

    To me, then, the song is interestingly layered but overall about combating loneliness. Here me out: The first part (“I bought a grey macaw, named him Jules Verne / He’ll probably outlive me, he’s a bright bird / Keeps me company, I teach him new words”) seems to be about language. Or, more rather, the power language has to–at the very least–make us feel less lonely. First he names the bird Jules Verne, this is a reference to the author (of course) but also maybe to the idea that when you read books (be it Verne or Beckett or Bolaño) you’re somewhat communicating on some level with that author, or, to be less specific, at least with the ether of the author’s ideas. Secondly, he teaches the bird to speak, hinting toward language or communication again curing us of loneliness, or hinting toward an attempt to use language to cure loneliness.

    Too, the hologram part seems like another strive at connection, but (now that I look at it again) it could actually be, interestingly enough, how the forming of a relationship (be it dating or simply friendship or whatever) has happened but the connection has either soured or not been there in the first place, or paradoxically the relationship itself being the driving force of loneliness in the speaker. Think about it, “The she melted down to her ankles / Turned into a million-watt candle / If I knew where she went, I would follow.” How could you not know where a million-watt candle went? Hyperbole aside, it’d be bright as shit. That makes me think that he’s lying to himself. That he doesn’t want to follow an unsatisfying connection if such a thing just leads to loneliness in the long run.

    The line “Dreamt I was riding on a motorbike / Lion of Judah painted on the side” is, again, an attempt to battle loneliness, but in a different way. Where the human connection failed earlier, the speaker seems to be trying to find a connection in both a sociological aspect and a religious or spiritual aspect. References to the Lion of Judah can be found in Christianity, Judaism, and Rastafarian, and in all three the reference is toward a tribe of Judah. ‘Tribe’ connoting a sense of place, of belonging (which, then, would certainly lead to a destroyed sense of loneliness).

    “I’m doing fine, I’m back in the Palisades” seems to be a last-ditch effort to essentially feel better, a retreat inside oneself. Traditionally a ‘palisade’ is (from the NOAD): “a fence of wooden stakes or iron railings fixed in the ground, forming an enclosure or defense.” However, the speaker uses the word as a proper noun and (with the definite article in front of it) is probably referring to (again from the NOAD) “a ridge of high basalt cliffs that line the western side of the Hudson River, in New Jersey and in New York, beginning across from New York City in New Jersey and extending north to Newburgh in New York.” You all more than likely know this and I’ve probably just insulted you by repeating it. I’m sorry. But, taken what the Palisades is and combining that with the definition of ‘palisade’ you get a sort of natural protective barrier, which I think is what the speaker is doing. Naturally (as in ‘doing what comes natural’ not ‘belonging to nature’) retreating inside himself. A sort of defense mode.

    Still, although he feels comfort now, his attempt to connect, to battle loneliness is stunted. Life, for him, has turned into a series of motions. The “pastoral school play” part seems to simply refer to a bad attempt to romanticize his situation (in art [i.e. visual art] ‘pastoral’ often refers to a piece portraying country life in a romanticized form, and usually in literature or really every-day-speak, referring to something as a ‘school play’ connotes a tedious and ill-gained situation). “China shops and cold ivory towers” again refer to the speaker’s inability to make a connection. In this case, he is the ‘bull in the China shop,’ unable to form lasting, unbreakable relationships, forcing him to retreat to a safe (but lonely) ivory tower of sorts (again a retreat inside himself). “I and I make toast to the Caesars” to me simply means being virtually alone, or feeling virtually alone, for that matter.

    Madeline I do think is a real person (or, at least, real to the speaker) and another connection attempt for him. But, I think both sides of the Madeline debate on here are essentially right. Like I said, I think she’s a real person, but I also think she’s a very spiritual person and someone the speaker is maybe jealous of. She’s found a way (a personal way) to make lasting connections and successfully battles loneliness, and the speaker knows this, wants this more than anything. The line “I know a diving bell when I hear it” I think refers to his attempt to connect to something the way she does. A diving bell (again [and I know you’re tired of this already] from the NOAD) is: “an open-bottomed chamber supplied with compressed air, in which a person can be let down under water.” But, traditionally diving bells were used as a sort of base or means of transport for a small number of divers, so, both the speaker and Madeline are going (via diving bell, if you will) “under the surface” of her religion or spirituality to attempt to form the aforementioned connection.

    This, however, leads to sex (“Light to dark can shift in an instant / On all fours she’s just so insistent”), but whereas a sexual connection with a person would/could be (and is) such a good thing and amazing (possibly life changing) experience for the speaker, he however cannot connect with her, and the meaningless sex (where it may be good for some) simply reminds the speaker of horrible times (“Fills my mind with jump ropes and slit wrists”).

    The final bit of the song (“Then I’m standing in that blinding light / Crooked crosses falling from the sky / Seen yeah seen by I and I”) seems to be another last-ditch effort by the speaker to stifle loneliness through personal experience.

    All of this, of course, is up in the air. We all know that interpretation is 90% subjective. However, given that, this is just the way I see it. In fact, the entire album (to me) seems to be transitioning in and out of this overarching theme: combating loneliness. Finding something (be it religion, spirituality, humanity, et cetera et cetera) to get you through the day. And this song (in a very Nietzscheian sort of way) destroys all preconceived notions and paradigms in order to build up new, personal ones.

    All in all, again, fucking amazing song.
    thehowlingfantods1320on February 22, 2011   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI also believe much of this album explores the dmt our body releases when we die. Check it out on wikipedia. It is a chemical we all have in our bodies and some scientists believe it causes us to hallucinate when we die (this is one explanation for near death experiences)

    They have done studies with DMT and many people reported experiences with 'reptilian creatures' some of which where loving and others horrifying.

    So if you think about. Life can be a series of hallucinations. Dreams within dreams.
    wheretheladdergoeson March 06, 2011   Link
  • +1
    General CommentIt's not about Disneyland, and sorry for my terrible spell check. It's about this Post-Apocalyptic world and breaking free from that through the Firewall. Maybe a theme park is an example of how run down and ridiculous the world may seem at this point.
    moonmirageon December 29, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis is such an insane song. It took me a couple listens to get into the spoken intro, but now I absolutely love it. I had thought, after a few disappointing side projects (both Mystic Valley Band records, Monsters of Folk) that Oberst might have lost his edge, but... if this is really the last Bright Eyes record, then he's going out with a big, honking bang. The record is fairly close to perfect, and I love it.
    TemporaryLifeon February 08, 2011   Link

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