"Calgary" as written by and Justin Deyarmond Edison Vernon Matthew Mccaughan....
Don't you cherish me to sleep
Never keep your eyelids clipped
Hold me for the pops and clicks
I was only for the father's crib

Hair, old, long along
Your neck onto your shoulder blades
Always keep that message taped
Cross your breasts you won't erase
I was only for your very space

Hip, under nothing
Propped up by your other one, face 'way from the sun
Just have to keep a dialogue
Teach our bodies: haunt the cause
I was only trying to spell a loss

Joy, it's all founded
Pincher with the skin inside
You pinned me with your black sphere eyes
You know that all the rope's untied
I was only for to die beside

So it''s storming on the lake
Little waves our bodies break

There's a fire going out,
But there's really nothing to the south

Swollen orange and light let through
Your one piece swimmer stuck to you

Sold, I'm Ever
Open ears and open eyes
Wake up to your starboard bride
Who goes in and then stays inside
Oh the demons come, they can subside


Lyrics submitted by thuglifeforevs

"Calgary" as written by Justin Deyarmond Edison Vernon Matthew Mccaughan

Lyrics © Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd.

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Calgary song meanings
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  • +9
    General CommentJust heard an interview with Justin where he says something along these lines (and this is something of a paraphrase):

    "When I wrote this song, I'd never been to Calgary - still haven't been - and I had a few really close friends that I'd met throughout the years from Calgary, and it always seemed like a place that I felt connected to. This song sort of became about an envisionment, a place, about when you think there's somebody out there that you could be in love with but you haven't met them yet. And it sort of became a metaphor for places you haven't been but that you feel like you know, and you can sort of have that feeling about somebody you haven't met that you feel like you're supposed to be with."

    And in an interview with NPR, he says this while talking about Beth/Rest:

    "Calgary sort of introduces that idea... eventually, you start waking up to the fact that you might be ready to spend your life with somebody and still feel good about who you are and what kind of changes you're going to go through no matter what."

    So, hope that says something.
    firstgreenroomon June 28, 2011   Link
  • +4
    General CommentI agree with thuglifeforevs interpretation, but for some reason it doesn't strike me as sad. It sounds content. Like, maybe they weren't in love at first, they only stayed together for the family, but as time wore on they became attached to each other. Now they've grown old and face death together, but with no fear.

    There's a lot of allusions to aging here:

    "hold me for the pops and clicks." Weary joints, you know, arthritis.

    "hair, old, long along your neck onto your shoulder blades." Self-explanatory.

    "hip, under nothing
    propped up by your other one, face 'way from the sun."

    Bad hips people! Come on, haven't you ever heard someone complain about their hips? Their bones are becoming brittle, "under nothing" and "propped up." The line "face 'way from the sun," kind of sounds like they're in the last stages of their life. The sun is setting.

    "just have to keep a dialogue
    teach our bodies: haunt the cause
    i was only trying to spell a loss."

    Some couples lose the romance or become bored as they grow old together. They "have to keep a dialogue" to survive the paces of marriage. "Teach our bodies: haunt the cause" could mean they're trying to remember what drew them to each other in the first place, what "caused" the attraction. Try to rekindle the spark. "I was only trying to spell a loss," could mean one of them is afraid of the relationship disintegrating, or one of their deaths, and that's why they're bringing up all these worries.

    "joy, it's all founded
    pincher with the skin inside
    you pinned me with your black sphere eyes
    you know that all the rope's untied
    i was only for to die beside."

    They realize they are "in this together," in love or not. They depend on each other, make each other happy. I think "you know that all the rope's untied" is like saying, "in the end, no matter what." Aww <3

    "so it’s storming on the lake
    little waves our bodies break."

    The end is near! DUN DUN DUN. *ahem* sorry.

    "there's a fire going out,
    but there's really nothing to the south."

    The life in them is waning. "There's really nothing to the south" might mean there's no hell below them, that in the end nothing matters except for the present.

    "swollen orange and light let through
    your one piece swimmer stuck to you."

    The "light." You know, like in movies people always "see the light" when they die? I think the line about the one piece swimmer is a memory flying by. They're remembering their past, their youth. Their life is flashing before their eyes.

    "sold, i'm ever."

    He's eternally hers.

    "open ears and open eyes
    wake up to your starboard bride."

    They're on "the other side." Where? Who knows. But he's woken up on a different plane of existence, still beside her.

    "who goes in and then stays inside
    oh the demons come, they can subside."

    His "starboard bride," the one who traveled with him all his life and is still with him in death, makes everything better. No matter what problems arise, no matter what "demons" come, they'll never be strong enough to put out the joy in his heart when she's in it.

    So basically, the best love song ever.
    Aquarius121on June 17, 2011   Link
  • +2
    Song Meaningi'm thinking that it is an old couple (hair, old, long), with flashbacks to their younger days?
    maybe they are not in love and maybe they never really were.
    but they remain.
    or maybe he loves her more than she ever loved him. (i was only for to die beside) (i was only for your very space) (wake up to your starboard bride who goes in and then stays inside)
    starboard is the steering side of a ship i think..
    i'm really not sure but it sounds so sad.

    the voicemail sounding thing at the end seems to say (something like)
    ...really great..sorry darling...i can't really do it.

    thuglifeforevson May 20, 2011   Link
  • +1
    My InterpretationI think it's more of her loving him more. He stayed around to take care of the kids and now he's leaving, asking her to move on and such.
    RavioliFaceManon May 22, 2011   Link
  • +1
    Song ComparisonI think it might be about a girl only wanting him for wanting someone.
    "I was only for your very space"
    Maybe he's singing about a girl that is hurt and wants someone but he's not THE one. This song just gives me the feeling that from her part it's only lust but from his it's love.

    "thuglifeforevs": it would make sense if they were saying that too. because he wants her body, her breasts hips and her neck but still he loves her too much to not be loved back but only used by lust. '

    "don't you cherish me to sleep" he wants her to be in love and not let him sleep. It doesn't stop. They can't go to sleep after. Because he's there forever?

    I actually don't know at all. Just wanted to share my thoughts on it. And this idea pretty much goes with any line.

    Even onto the last line " oh deamons come, they can't subside" there's a lust but no love. deamons.

    "wake up to your starboard bride
    who goes in and then stays inside" This makes me think that maybe he wakes up every day with the hope that she loves him but she hides. Maybe she loves him after all ut she's scared. Maybe this is why he keeps fighting.

    "
    Sannispannison May 22, 2011   Link
  • +1
    Lyric CorrectionFull lyrics per Bon Iver's Youtube channel:
    don't you cherish me to sleep
    never keep your eyelids clipped
    hold me for the pops and clicks
    I was only for the father's crib

    hair, old, long along
    your neck onto your shoulder blades
    always keep that message taped
    cross your breasts you won't erase
    I was only for your very space

    hip, under nothing
    propped up by your other one, face 'way from the sun
    just have to keep a dialogue
    teach our bodies: haunt the cause
    I was only trying to spell a loss

    joy, it's all founded
    pincher with the skin inside
    you pinned me with your black sphere eyes
    you know that all the rope's untied
    I was only for to die beside

    so it�¼s storming on the lake
    little waves our bodies break

    there's a fire going out,
    but there's really nothing to the south

    swollen orange and light let through
    your one piece swimmer stuck to you

    sold, I'm Ever
    open ears and open eyes
    wake up to your starboard bride
    who goes in and then stays inside
    oh the demons come, they can subside
    dlynch4on May 16, 2011   Link
  • +1
    General CommentFrom an interview:

    "Justin Vernon: Calgary really feels like an accomplishment to me. It has a form, a repetitive idea, and a good cadence. I really like the opening line: "Don't you cherish me to sleep." There's that whole thing that happens in relationships-- you can love someone but, as soon as they stop loving you so unconditionally that they stop being themselves, it can be so dangerous."

    Source: pitchfork.com/features/interviews/7989-bon-iver/
    corecreativeson June 13, 2011   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI just drove from Calgary to the US/Canada border the other day. He's right; there really IS nothing to the south.
    murlough23on August 29, 2011   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI saw this concert. In Calgary, my hometown, actually, which was quite the experience.

    Justin Vernon stated that the song was made as he dropped out of college and was travelling around Europe. He was in Ireland and he met a man named Paul from Calgary, and this song was written about him. He said they still stayed in touch throughout the years and he was a very, very close friend.

    His own words of the meaning of this song :)
    jabberparroton June 04, 2012   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI think this song is about the narrator rowing out in a lake with his girlfriend and going swimming during a thunderstorm. The lyrics are, I think, more for sound than for their literal meaning- even if "hair old long along/neck onto your shoulderblades/always keep that message taped/cross your breasts you won't erase" doesn't make any literal sense, it feels and sounds like he's admiring her body while she's swimming.

    "Propped up by your other one/face way from the sun"- I think he's sitting in the boat, shielding his eyes from the sun.

    Then there's a storm, which is symbolized by the increasingly powerful guitars and drums (plus the first line of that bit of the song is "so it's stormy on the lake"). "Little waves our bodies break" - the water is washing over them but they don't mind.

    "Your one piece swimmer stuck to you"- they're getting even wetter, obviously.

    Then the storm subsides and they row back to shore to dry off and go to sleep. He wakes up the next morning and she's still there ("wake up to your starboard bride")

    Also, the incomprehensible voice at the very end of it is a phone message, left by Bon Iver's manager Kyle Frenette. If you listen to the isolated multitracks for the song, you can hear understand it better- it's something like "...ask two people to pay, and that's not really great, in fact I like really don't want to pay two people right now." I don't think it has anything to do with the rest of the song, it was probably just stuck in there as an easter egg.
    Crane42on August 16, 2012   Link

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