Into this strange elastic world
Pontus kindly gave up a pearl
Of his eternal stone and mud
And ain't she lovely bone and blood
Born of the sea

A thousand miles away from me
A court of angels
Wards of the sun
A future forming
A curse undone

Under our softly burning lamps she takes her time
Telling stories of our possible lives
And love is the ink in the well when her body writes

I've been selfish and full of pride
And she knows deep down there's a little child
But I've got a good side to me as well
And it's that she loves in spite of everything else

A song in the tree has distracted her mind
Some other curious form of life
Has made its presence to her known
And she coos so gently, soft and low
He shining face in a million reflections
On tiny raindrops that fall in a veil
Over our city like notes from above
It overwhelms me I just ain't that tough

It's not that the darkness can't touch our lives
I know it will in time
But she's no ordinary valentine
And now when the sun goes down she sheds a darling light

I've been selfish and full of pride
And she knows deep down there's a little child
But I've got a good side to me as well
And it's that she loves in spite of everything else


Lyrics submitted by acorvey

September song meanings
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8 Comments

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  • +1
    My InterpretationI think this is about the innocent early stages of a relationship.

    Especially the line: "It's not that the darkness can't touch our lives, I know it will in time, but she's no ordinary valentine." They are still at the point where everything has been perfect, they haven't had any conflict between them. He knows that those little things are inevitable, but for now, she is perfect as is their relationship.
    llscienceon March 17, 2012   Link
  • +1
    Song MeaningI've been thinking a lot about this song since he first debuted it - especially since the music video for it features the lyrics, it made me think he really wanted people to pay attention to it.

    I'm not going to go into what the song is about as a whole, but wanted to provide my thoughts on the background.

    I think there's a really significant mythological element here. The first stanza mentions Pontus, which is the name of an ancient Greek sea-god. The reference to giving up a pearl seems to make this a clear reference to the birth of Aphrodite, born from the ocean in a clam shell.

    Adonis was born of Myrrha, who was transformed into a tree (won't go into the details here, but Google "aphrodite and adonis" and you can see the background of the myth). Aphrodite came upon the baby ("A song in the tree has distracted her mind / Some other curious form of life / Had made its presence to her known".). When Adonis grew up Adonis fell in love with her.

    For the bits about him being selfish and full of pride, this could relate to how Adonis died (Aphrodite warned him to not hunt an animal who shows no fear, but he does anyway with a wild boar in the form of Ares, and dies).

    I've frankly been struggling with this meaning, since there's enough in here that it seems like a clear reference to Adonis and Aphrodite, but other parts are not as clear.

    All I've read from Mercer about this song is that he said it was written as a love song for his wife, so it would raise the questions about the metaphors in the Aphrodite/Adonis relationship (which is pretty complicated) and why you would use it for a love song.

    I may be way off, but some of the lyrics just feel too connected to the Aphrodite/Adonis myth to be purely coincidental.
    zadilloon March 19, 2012   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI think it's probably further along in the relationship. I might be misinterpreting some of it though.

    In the start he's talking about how she's basically a goddess to him, born of the sea by Pontus who was the greek (god) embodiment of the sea itself. Sort of talking in myths himself about how she was fated to find him, or that their relationship was something bigger than mere chance.

    Then the first pre-chorus he is talking about them planning their lives together. This might be more sexual than it appears on first glance, which I'll come back to...

    Obviously the chorus is just about how James feels loved by this woman despite all his shortcomings as a man, and how her love for him is what accounts for most of the good in him.

    Getting back to the first pre-chorus, I think this verse is about a child between the two. Or at the very least they find out she's pregnant. Talking about her coo'ing and another life form making it's presence known. That's why I think the earlier verse is not just about them hashing out plans for their life but plans being made FOR them by the act of making love and creating this child. I really like the line about it overwhelming him, I think that makes sense there if they're talking about having a child.

    Then the last pre-chorus is just about him being sure this is what he wants, and he knows it won't always be perfect but yada yada yada they'll get through it.

    If I had to take it one step further, I'd say that September might be the month the child is due.

    I have literally ZERO to go on with this but I just decided I wanted to put this all together and I think it adds up rather nicely. Thoughts?
    pattypineon March 17, 2012   Link
  • 0
    My InterpretationThe first verse describes a woman in mythological terms, as a "pearl" given up by Pontus (a personification of the sea). This may be a reference to Aphrodite, Greek goddess of love, who arose out of the sea foam ("aphros"). There's a sense of destiny, with "a future forming" thousands of miles away that is realized in the present moment. The next verse describes the two of them together. She projects possible futures for them, out of the love they feel together. There is a suggestion of physical as well as emotional intimacy.

    In the chorus, the narrator expresses regret over his failings, but notes that the woman still loves him in spite of his flaws.

    The next verse describes a scene where the woman hears birds singing in the trees, and the narrator feels overwhelmed by emotion. He explains in the following verse that although he knows there will be problems in the future, that the woman is especially important to him. The repeated chorus offers hope that love will be able to overcome everything else.
    treanton March 28, 2012   Link
  • 0
    My InterpretationI have to agree with llscience in the way that it's about the perfect beginning of a relationship, but you also have to look at the name of the song, september, which is the beginning of fall and traditionally fall symbolizes death or an ending, not saying that this means the author thinks the relationship will end soon. Just saying that it's supposed to be about the ending of the perfect part of a relationship that's about to hit its darker times, which kind of fits the tone of the song in my opinion.
    Roxensoxon April 21, 2012   Link
  • 0
    MemoryWhen I heard this for the first time, I could only think about a girl. One girl. Now she's gone. If you're out there, you know I'm always thinking about you. Mlf2, my star-crossed love, you will always be the one that I let go. My heart will be exposed and torn until my dying day just for you...I will forever be viscerally and hopelessly attached.
    surfndeeezon September 20, 2012   Link
  • 0
    Song Meaning“A working title that stuck, which happens sometimes. September happens to be the month that I first saw (wife) Marisa. I didn’t actually meet her until months later when she came to interview me for Spin. I realized that I had seen her in the audience [at Irving Plaza during the Chutes Too Narrow tour], which is weird–for me to have that moment, especially without my glasses on. But she’s tall and she’s distinctive looking, and she was with somebody who looked a lot like her but was shorter. That’s what I told her when we met, and she was like, ‘I was with my younger sister.’ So we hit it off and never really looked back, and she decided it would be unethical to do the story.”

    magnetmagazine.com/2012/03/26/magnet-web-exclusive-the-shins-james-mercer-on-the-new-port-of-morrow/
    kwakubmon November 05, 2012   Link
  • 0
    Song MeaningThe song was written for Mercer's wife. For Magnet magazine, he wrote, “A working title that stuck, which happens sometimes. September happens to be the month that I first saw (wife) Marisa. I didn’t actually meet her until months later when she came to interview me for Spin. I realized that I had seen her in the audience [at Irving Plaza during the Chutes Too Narrow tour], which is weird—for me to have that moment, especially without my glasses on. But she’s tall and she’s distinctive looking, and she was with somebody who looked a lot like her but was shorter. That’s what I told her when we met, and she was like, ‘I was with my younger sister.’ So we hit it off and never really looked back, and she decided it would be unethical to do the story.”

    And of course, as Zadillo pointed out, it references Pontus and seems that he's comparing his wife to Aphrodite.

    Beautiful song!
    pete116128on May 05, 2015   Link

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