It's so good to learn that right outside your window
There's only friendly fields and open roads
And you'll sleep better when you think you've stepped back from the brink
And found some peace inside yourself; lay down your heavy load

It gets alright
to dream at night
Believe in solid skies and slate blue earth below
But when you see him, you'll know

It's okay to find the faith to saunter forward
There's no fear of shadows spreading where you stand
And you'll breathe easier just knowing that the worst is all behind you
And the waves that tossed the raft all night have set you on dry land

It gets okay
to praise the day
Believe in sheltering skies and stable earth beneath
But hear his breath come through his teeth

Walk by faith
Tell no one what you've seen

It's so good to learn that from right here the view goes on forever
And you'll never want for comfort, and you'll never be alone
See the sunset turning red, let all be quiet in your head
And look about, all the stars are coming out

They shine like steel swords
Wish me well where I go
But when you see me, you'll know


Lyrics submitted by mossushi

Never Quite Free song meanings
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12 Comments

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  • +13
    My InterpretationI think it's about someone who's a survivor of abuse. You get past it, and you try to live a normal life and believe that the world is safe and that everything will be alright, and then one day you see the abuser on the street or you hear a sound that reminds you of them and all the attempts you've made to insulate yourself and feel secure just crash down around you.

    You're never quite free.
    HooperXon April 01, 2011   Link
  • +7
    My Opinionand this is how a song can save lives.
    n_a_r_i_non May 22, 2011   Link
  • +6
    General CommentJust saw The Mountain Goats last week. Darnielle introduced this song by saying that a bunch of folks have told him how much "hope it gives them, which is odd," he said, "because it's about never actually being free from something."

    God I love The Mountain Goats.
    JonMcPon February 09, 2012   Link
  • +2
    General CommentI agree with the interpretation of it being about surviving sexual assault, but I think it has a happy ending. There is the triggering of trauma in the lines "when you see him, you'll know," and "hear his breath come through his teeth," but there is also that last line: "when you see me, you'll know."
    I feel like that last line indicates that when you see the protagonist, you'll know all of the hope and strength (listed in the rest of the song) that that person houses within them.
    When you see me, you'll know that I am a survivor, that I have found the faith to saunter forward, to dream at night (no more nightmares), and to finally heal.
    pasmithon August 01, 2011   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI think you mean fantastic. This is one of the album highlights for me.
    Manifest0on March 24, 2011   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI believe the couplet toward the middle is Walk *by* faith", a common theological expression.
    RevAKMAon April 02, 2011   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI believe the couplet toward the middle is Walk *by* faith", a common theological expression.
    RevAKMAon April 02, 2011   Link
  • +1
    General CommentAnd this is what hope sounds like
    glaupieon May 09, 2012   Link
  • +1
    My InterpretationI've always interpreted this song as being about Death. You can live a good life, work through your problems and trials and come out a better, happier person on the other end, but the specter of your eventual death will always be there, breathing down your neck. We're never quite free of that fear.
    mrnovember09on June 21, 2012   Link
  • 0
    My InterpretationThe passage "Walk thy faith/Tell no one what you've seen" is almost certainly a reference to Mark 8:22-26 from the King James Version of the Bible.

    Chapter 8
    (22)And he cometh to Bethsaida; and they bring a blind man unto him, and besought him to touch him.(23) And he took the blind man by the hand, and led him out of the town; and when he had spit on his eyes, and put his hands upon him, he asked him if he saw ought.(24) And he looked up, and said, I see men as trees, walking.(25) After that he put his hands again upon his eyes, and made him look up: and he was restored, and saw every man clearly.(26) And he sent him away to his house, saying, Neither go into the town, nor tell it to any in the town.

    As with many of John Darnielle's lyrics (and an entire album) it is steeped in religiosity.

    Possibly a reference to a moment of epiphany in which you see the way things are so clearly and all you can do is keep soldiering on. Instead of telling everyone about this realization, he keeps it to himself and finds inner peace, despite the problems which continue to plague him.
    rebelleaderredon January 13, 2014   Link

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