"Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings" as written by and Joshua Michael Tillman....
Jesus Christ, girl
What are people gonna think
When I show up to one of several funerals
I've attended for grandpa this week
With you
With me

Someone's got to help me dig
Someone's got to help me dig

Jesus Christ, girl
It hasn't been long so it seems
Since I was picking out an island and a tomb for you
At the Hollywood Cemetery
You kiss
On me

We should let this dead guy sleep
We should let this dead guy sleep

Jesus Christ, girl
I laid up for hours in a daze
Retracing the expanse of your American back
With Adderall and weed in my veins
You came
I think
'Cause the marble made my cheeks look pink
But I'm unsure of so many things
Ooh

Someone's got to help me dig
Someone's got to help me dig
Someone's got to help me dig


Lyrics submitted by casiopt10

"Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings" as written by Joshua Michael Tillman

Lyrics © Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd.

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Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings song meanings
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  • +7
    General CommentTillman's stated in plenty of interviews that his dad kind of summoned him to his grandpa's funeral, after having missed all the other grandparents' funerals, and how he was kind of sickened by how funerals commemorate people's lives in such a shitty, lifeless way. Later, he was making out with a girl (the blogger from imboycrazy, which they both stated personally on her podcast) in a graveyard on Halloween and how he thought to himself, "This is such a better way to commemorate someone's life. My grandpa's favorite thing was probably fucking my grandma, anyway." So this song IS about sex, really, and he's stated that this album is a conscious effort to NOT make the "sexless male fantasy" album that every other artist is making, and how he intends to be upfront about liking sex and drugs and mischief. (All of which appear in this song, so it makes sense that he would release this track first.)

    I remember in an interview a few years back, as J. Tillman, the interviewer asked him what themes he saw running through the album he was touring, and he said, "Just, you know... death." And the people in the room laughed, and the interviewer joked about how that was so uplifting (sarcastically, of course) and Josh shrugged and said, "I think it is." He went on to talk about how the idea of the afterlife kind of substantiates our lives in a figurative sense, not a literal sense. It was an interesting little speech he gave, but it really does go to show that death is that one red thread running through everything he writes, whether in an uplifting way (like Year in the Kingdom) or a macabre way (like this). So his writing style has changed, and the sound of his music has changed, but the thoughts that stand behind all of his work still rings true. (To me, at least.)
    prettybirdon June 03, 2012   Link
  • +5
    General CommentHere I thought the "Someone's gotta help me dig" line was "Someone's gotta healthy dick"
    quickmikeon May 27, 2012   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI think this song might be about having sex on people's graves.

    Sorry.
    FishesWillLaughon April 15, 2012   Link
  • +1
    General CommentPerhaps it's just me, but I feel that there are some good explanations/interpretations for this song that seem to seamlessly incorporate all the elements of sex, love, death and loss present here. First off, while there are lines that hint at his lover being dead in a real, corporeal way--"It hasn't been long so it seems/since I was picking out an island and tomb for you/at the Hollywood cemetery" being the most obvious--there are also hints that she is still alive, but is the sort of reckless, socially defiant personality that allows the singer to indulge in his own death wish and feed his current ambivalance about living by following her into the destructive storm of her personality.

    Whichever is the case, he is still committing to being with her, alive or dead, even as he fears her intensity and the way he can't seem to separate himself from her influence. He is unnerved by her manic behavior and disregard for the distinctions between the mores of the living or the death--ie, "What are people gonna think?" and "We should let this dead guy sleep"--but at the same time it exhilarates him. Furthermore, when he sings, "Jesus Christ/I laid up for hours in a daze/retracing the expanse of your American back/with Adderal and weed in my veins", to me he seems to be attempting to articulate that push/pull, love/hate, life/death tug of war within himself, especially since his tone and inflection suggest a mixture of reverence and uneasy self-loathing. In being with her, he's ridden and possibly still is riding the rollercoasters of her emotions and indulges(ed?) her in her craziness both because it's sexually stimulating and because it allows him to stand on the edge and stare down into his own personal oblivion without quite tipping over into it...yet.

    Whether or not the woman he pines for has passed away in the literal sense or whether he simply knows that at some point he's going to have to make a difficult choice between saving himself at her expense in order to live a less confusing life, or embracing his own death in order to be closer to her now that she's gone, I feel like the essence of the song is the same. It's fitting that the French call orgasms "la petit mort", or "the little death", and it certainly seems to apply here. It's possible he is truly mourning her loss after she has passed on, dealing with his grief by writhing against and jacking off on tombstones in the cemetery where she is buried in spite of the humiliation of people seeing him there so often he can no longer easily explain away his presence. If she's alive, he is simply a troubled man distracting himself with a woman whose problems far outweigh his own.

    Either way, sex and the physical indulgence of his body are the only things that bring him comfort as he stumbles through his life wondering what, if anything, to do next. Finally, I love that for me, the line "someone's gotta help me dig" can be interpreted to mean any of the following: 1) That he wants to continue to dig the two of them deeper into his/their own dark, twisted hole so that they can be free of the prying looks of people that don't understand them; 2) that he is literally so crazed with grief over losing her that he wants to dig up her body and hopes other people will leave him alone with her corpse and his memories; or 3) he views her as the perfect partner even as she frightens him, because she is the only one willing to dig with him down into the darkest, dirtiest recesses inside him and then soothe and protect him from them with the comfort of her body.

    So, yeah. I could be way off, but that's what I get out of it so far. It may be about sex in graveyards, death, and/or obsessive love or grief, or it could be that the past and present are so overlapping and intertwining for him that he simply can't tell the difference, and subsequently neither can we. I think that's what makes the song so arresting and worthy of many, many listens.
    carpeomniachicaon June 01, 2012   Link
  • 0
    General CommentOh I just love it! Josh transformed his music work - from sad gentle acoustic songs, through fleet foxes' folkish sound all the way to this. I'm happy I went to ff's concert last year when he was still the drummer :) And the song.. As if the drums are giving life to the whole song. It's great. :)
    Leikaaon February 06, 2012   Link
  • 0
    General Commentgreat song, thanks for the lyrics! I wonder what's the meaning of "you came, i think, cause the marble made my cheeks look pink" though. Does anybody know?
    david90on February 07, 2012   Link
  • 0
    General CommentYep excellent song. My 2c it's about people who act like they love you only to desert you when you really need them. They're really just not worth it are they?
    heppercatnonpluson June 01, 2012   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis song is amazing. Somewhat dark and totally heart-wrenching. Here's my interpretation:

    The first verse seems to be about having to attend his grandfather's funeral alone, revealing that he and his lover are no longer together to his family "what are people gonna think". He expressed how close they were with the line "with you, with me" meaning that he had hoped for them to spend their life together, resulting in them being buried together with his family. The line "someone's got to help me dig" is him expressing her absence in the burial of his grandfather.

    The experience triggers a fond memory that he sings about in the second verse. A memory of him and the lost lover making love in the hollywood cemetery and fantasizing that they could one day be famous enough to be buried there. When he says "we should let this dead guy sleep" he is speaking about whoever was underneath them while it happened.

    The third verse goes into more detail with him reminiscing about that experience. The "marble" he refers to is the headstone. And his cheeks looking pink is a representation of how alive he felt when they were still together, despite being in a cemetery.

    He again sings "someone's got to help me dig" but this time he seems to be referring to their break up and how it was like a death to him.
    sandydateson June 02, 2012   Link
  • 0
    General CommentJesus Christ, girl
    What are people gonna think
    When I show up to one of several funerals
    I've attended for grandpa this week
    With you
    With me

    Here I think he's saying to this girl that she's insatiable and perhaps they they go somewhere else for a bit because someone is going to notice that they keep showing up to all these funerals, day after day.

    Jesus Christ, girl
    It hasn't been long so it seems
    Since I was picking out an island and a tomb for you
    At the Hollywood Cemetery
    You kiss
    On me

    He's saying to her, "we haven't been together that long because it was just the other day I was picking out that tomb we made out it in the first time."

    We should let this dead guy sleep
    We should let this dead guy sleep

    Jesus Christ, girl
    I laid up for hours in a daze
    Retracing the expanse of your American back
    With Adderall and weed in my veins
    You came
    I think
    Cause the marble made my cheeks look pink
    But I'm unsure of so many things

    Here he's remembering that first time when he just laid there afterwards, as high as he could be and he was obsessed with her back. Just lost in the details and exploring it's intricacies. He doesn't remember much about that first time though.

    I think the lines "Someone's got to help me dig" might be referring to how a relationship is not built by just one person, it takes two. He's asking her to help him dig or work on this relationship.
    wageboon June 15, 2012   Link
  • 0
    General CommentHoly Hell, people, you are way over thinking this. J. Tillman (aka Father John Misty) has been very up front in interviews that he wanted to make an album about his actual experience instead of trying to be some overly poetic alter-ego.
    He revealed that this song is about flying to Baltimore for his grandfather's funeral and shortly thereafter having a tryst at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery.
    ladeephyfeon July 18, 2012   Link

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