"We Need a Myth" as written by and Will Sheff....
We need a myth
We need an amethyst bridge
We need a high hanging cliff
Jump, fall and lift

We can make it
We need a myth
We need a path
Through the mist

Like in our beds
We were just kids
Like what was said by our parents
I guess

What we're after is just this
We need a myth
I feel my heart's like a fist
I words spilling out

From the blessed lips
Of any prophet or goddess
I need a myth
Brought back to life by a kiss

Scrape away grey cement
Show me the world as it was again
In a myth
A red ribbon to reconnect

The lady's head to her neck
And to forget that her throat
Was ever slit
I guess

What we're after is just this
A myth
And I'm sick
Of all these picture books that try

To steal some old reflections for their light
But desperate measures point to desperate times
Which is why
We need a myth

We're cut adrift
We need a mass uplift
The world is trembling and weeping
And at the point of believing

In a myth
The sun that shines on my head
The moon that lights me to bed
Were two identical twins

In a myth
I heard the voice of a friend
On Lethe's banks
Wading in

He said
"Before I forget
We need a myth
As we lean in to kiss

To get two nails
Through the wrist
To get covered in blood
And to get covered in spit

And to forgive."

And if all we're taught is a trick
Why would this feeling persist?
And with the truth closing in
I must insist

We need a myth.

Lyrics submitted by Kozumou, edited by emo-seal

"We Need a Myth" as written by Will Sheff


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We Need a Myth song meanings
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  • +1
    My InterpretationI believe the “we” in this song is humanity, and the song is generally about humanity’s requirement for “myths,” both fictional and religious in nature.

    The first movement starts off with the first types of “myths” most humans are introduced to as children: fairy tales. I don’t think there is a reference to any particular tale, just obstacles (bridges, cliffs, paths) that are typical in fantastical children’s stories. This shows from our earliest age, we’re looking for something more than what reality has to offer us.

    The next movement gets slightly more up-tempo and the narrator seems to have grown up and is looking to re-live the escapism that his childhood myths provided by looking for it in classical mythology (references to prophets, goddesses, and people brought back to life.) The narrator wants to see the world as it was when he was a child when he still “believed” something more than reality could exist and he was not inundated with “truth.”

    The narrator then makes reference to a traditional children’s story sometimes called the “The Red Velvet Ribbon” or the “The Red Thread” in which a lady’s head is only kept on by a red ribbon around her throat. Her husband unties the ribbon and her head falls off. At this point, the narrator knows that these myths are impossible and he is longing for the time when he still believed they could be true. (Likely why he tells the story in reverse. He wants to reconnect her head to her neck and forget her throat was slit, ie, innocence.)

    The narrator then seems to rue the current state of mythology, believing that all stories now are only re-hashed from older stories. They “steal some old reflections for their light.” He goes on further to give his observation of humanity as being overly disenchanted and needing more than ever to be uplifted by some new type of empowering fiction.

    The tempo of the song picks up even more as the narrator begins to discuss religion; sort of the ultimate “myth” that people believe in to escape reality. First he mentions Greek mythology by referencing the twins, Apollo and Artemis, the God and Goddess of the sun and moon, and then the River Lethe, one of the rivers surrounding the Greek underworld, which would cause those who entered it to forget everything they’ve ever known. The narrator then moves on to Christianity by referencing Jesus, who is about to walk into the Lethe, (thus, “before I forget”), who briefly touches upon peace, sacrifice, and forgiveness.

    The narrator then delivers his closing statement, which is that even though we as humans know the “truth” and have reality all around us, we need new mythology, via fiction or religion, now more than ever. It’s necessary, probably to protect ourselves from becoming overwhelmed by how harsh the world actually is. If we forget this, and become too obsessed with truth and reality, we’ll become less human. Thus, “we need a myth.”
    cold cruiseron December 13, 2011   Link
  • +1
    General Commenti think the kind of "myth" Sheff is referring to here is Myth in it's much bigger more meaningful sense. not as a simple fairy tale, although these too can hold meaning to different people, but Myths as deeper truths. what Joseph Campbell described as humanities "shared dreams" revealing deeper spiritual knowledge about ourselves as both individuals and communities. people tend to think of myths as untruths or fictions which they are in some ways but you could also look at them as more like songs, in that their meanings are meant to be felt emotionally not analyzed intellectually. myths impart different kinds of "truths", ones that can't always be expressed clearly but come in more poetic dream-like stories in order to better connect with us on a deeper level.

    what this song is saying, to me, is that society (western, American society in particular) has lost it's deeper values and meanings. not ones necessarily associated with any certain mainstream religion or history but simply those that it needs in order for it's people to feel whole. it's modern innovations and technological progress has overtaken us and we've lost sight of what was truly important.
    i don't believe he's really condemning technology or the modern world entirely but at least in that it's hard to find a voice or an identity in the world in it's current state and that there's more to life and what we need isn't being fulfilled by the shallow less-meaningful ideas and truths that we as a people have invested ourselves in. he makes a point in the end of mentioning how we are taught that "spiritual" or religious ideas are simply falsehoods but questions this because he can't ignore the way he longs for them.

    Sheff makes several mentions to the world being a state of turmoil and disarray and i think when he says that we need a myth, what he's saying is that we need to come together and really reevaluate who we are as a culture and as a people. myths aren't just tales of gods and heroes fighting monsters but stories by us, for us and that tell us what we stand for, believe in and care about.

    in other words, to me, the song is about the need for finding a reason and purpose in life.
    StrayDogFreedom12on January 10, 2012   Link

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