"Xizi She Knows" as written by and Imogen Jennifer Jane Heap....
We come to your shores over misty millennial
From hustlers to emperors
For power and pleasure
We carve through the cars
Dance around the Daily News
Cue in the Grande ballabile
Even your ten-ton tone rings home for Marco Polo

(Slow down)
From a thread of sky (Slow down)
To the warp and weft your being (Slow down)
You're beautiful, graceful, like no other
Pretty damned good as you are

(Slow down)
Friend of mine (Slow down)
In a terrible hurry for change (Slow down)
As you unravel your marvels
From evergreen gardens
Remember we loved you this way

To treasure it all, scroll out to see
In gold, fire, wood, clay and water
Your structure and flow, adagio to allegro
With leaves to the tide
In full moon, plum blossom, we salute to you

(Slow down)
From a thread of sky (Slow down)
To the warp and weft your being (Slow down)
Dynamic and playful, you opened my eyes yeah
Pretty damned good as you are

(Slow down)
Friend of mine (Slow down)
Could you go for progression not pace (Slow down)
As you unravel your marvels
Don't lose them all on the way

(Slow down)
From a thread of sky (Slow down)
To the warp and weft your being (Slow down)
You're beautiful, graceful, like no other
Pretty damned good as you are

(Slow down)
Friend of mine (Slow down)
In a terrible hurry for change (Slow down)
As you unravel your marvels
From evergreen gardens
Remember we loved you this way

(Slow down)
To the warp and weft of your being
Beautiful, graceful, like no other
Pretty damned good as you are

(Whoa) Xizi she knows that once it's gone, then it's gone
Xizi she knows that once it's gone, then it's gone
Xizi she knows that once it's gone, then it's gone


Lyrics submitted by lrkrmo15

"Xizi She Knows" as written by Imogen Jennifer Jane Heap

Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.

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Xizi She Knows song meanings
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5 Comments

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  • +3
    General CommentRandom notes
    [counting]
    A child is counting in Chinese to 8.
    1 is 'eee', 2 is 'err', 8 is 'baa'. (non-standard spelling, there are 4 tones which I'm ignoring but just to give an idea where the sequence starts and ends, this should do)

    8 is a lucky number.
    Chinese will sometimes try to work it into something; a phone number, custom license plate, even as a middle name.

    "gold, fire, wood, clay, and water"
    She's alluding to the 5 Elements. The Chinese Zodiac assigns an element to a year as well as an animal. 'gold' is a metal. 'clay' alludes to earth. 12 animals, 5 elements. 60 years later, someone born a Water Dragon will see the Water Dragon year again.

    "in a terrible hurry"
    China has undergone tremendous change. Shenzhen is a city larger than NYC. 30 years ago, it apparently barely rated as a place on a map. Now it makes nearly all of our computer devices, and yes that includes non-Apple stuff too. China bulldozes a lot of history. 200 years old in the US is ancient. In a nation that existed before Jesus Christ and the Western calendar, a 200 year old village gate is just a trivial obstacle to a bigger street.

    "adagio to allegro"
    Adagio is a musical term for slow. Allegro is brisk. The rate of change has gone from slow to frantic.
    unkannyon February 09, 2012   Link
  • +2
    General CommentThe counting at the beginning goes like this:
    1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8
    2,2,3,4,5,6,7,8
    3,2,3,4,5,6,7,8
    4,2,3,4,5,6,7,8
    Then 3's and 4's sequences are repeated.
    I'm new here, and I wish that I can help.
    silentstargazeron May 01, 2012   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI'm surprised these weren't posted earlier; Heap released them fairly early.

    I only adjusted a few lyrics to how she sang it in the song, And I didn't want to screw up the Mandarin, so I just opted for [counting].
    lrkrmo15on January 30, 2012   Link
  • +1
    General Commentfor me this song is a worldsong, not about people but about nations. It reminds me of dear englishman by sinead o connor in that way. This might not be at all what imogen meant with it, but i see it as a glorious lovesong from england(/europe?/the west?) to china (/asia?/ the east?), begging it not to change too fast, not to loose all those things that makes it special and that we love about it. I feel its about how wonderful that culture seems to us europeans and how much we adore it the way it is, and that it never needs to change.

    I also feel that the song is a gentle warning, maybe about how sometimes cultures take after western culture too much, or is driven to progress too quickly so that it looses something in the process. The song sounds like it urges us to take care of our heritage and our tradition. Once its gone then its gone.
    vivianmarion July 23, 2012   Link
  • +1
    My InterpretationFor the curious ones:

    yī, èr, sān, sì, wǔ, liù, qī, bā are the pinyin readings of the numbers 1 to 8 used in the song.

    Now here's my personal interpretation of the lyrics (by doing some info-gathering around the net... namely Wikipedia)

    ''Xi Shi (Xizi being a nickname) was one of the renowned Four Beauties of ancient China'' (Wikipedia). Apparently, Imogen Heap wrote this song shortly after spending time in Hangzhou, China, in which its West Lake is said to be the incarnation of Xizi.

    By saying: ''Xizi she knows that once it's gone then it's gone!'', Heap is basically using this traditional folkloric figure as the embodiment of what makes Hangzhou beautiful.

    Imogen is warning the people of Hangzhou through Xizi: Take the traditions away and they might get lost forever!

    It seems Heap is speaking to the city as a friend, telling it it's beautiful the way it is and should be careful not to lose its beauty (its traditional aspects, both cultural and architectural) in the midst of its frantic changes.

    The first paragraph starts as an introduction of the city being visited by strangers for various reasons, much like why people visited China.
    Then she describes the daily life with words referring to movement and dance.

    ''Even your ten ton tone rings home for Marco Polo'', especially the ''ten ton tone'' sounds like how Mandarin Chinese sounds like, in which many expressions and play of words can be used with the many homophones of the language.

    Marco Polo is a famous historian figure who explored China as part of his work as a merchant.
    SimDuffon March 05, 2013   Link

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