There are places we must go to
To bring these hollow words on back from
You must cross the muddy river
Where love turns to love turns to fear

They say you don't look
There's only one way
On back from on back from here
They say you don't look
They say you don't look
'Cause it'll disappear

And our eyes, they keep on strainin'
As if to see what lies behind them
Through the shells of empty buildings
And great columns of glass

They say you don't look
They say you don't look
'Cause it'll drive you mad
And if it drives you mad
If it drives you mad
It'll probably pass

Lyrics submitted by wild_ cosmia, edited by smallwonderrobot

Orpheo Looks Back song meanings
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  • +2
    General CommentI got excited when I saw just the name of this song because I knew the story of Orpheus and Eurydice and made the connection... In the Greek myth the enchanting musician Orpheus falls in love with Eurydice, but their happiness is cut short when Eurydice is lured to her death into a viper pit. Orpheus uses his musical talent to gain access to the underworld and makes a deal with Hades and Persephone. Eurydice is allowed to accompany him back to the above world, on the condition that Orpheus trust that she is behind him, and not turn to look at her until they have both returned to the world above. At the last second Orpheus loses faith that his love is behind him, and fatefully looks back causing her to vanish and be taken back as a soul of the underworld.
    AutumnGreenleafon July 26, 2012   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI have no idea if this song is about King Orpheo - but here is a link to the short story.…
    letloveruleon June 29, 2012   Link
  • +1
    My InterpretationAs AutumGreenLeaf said, this is based off the Orpheus and Eurydice myth (which was also the original source for the King Orpheo story). In this song, Bird uses the story as a metaphor for the process of creativity and inspiration.

    The first verse introduces this idea, stating that "There are places we must go to / To bring these hollow words on back from / We must cross a muddy river / Where love turns to, love turns to fear". In other words, creative production is like a journey to some other realm where art comes from, which is metaphorically linked to the underworld. This involves some kind of emotional vulnerability, going to a mental state where "love turns to fear" -- this might either be the love of creation turning to fear of failure, or personal experiences like love being transformed into fear of loss when examined closely.

    The next verse again connects to the Orpheus/Eurydice myth. In the context of artistic expression, perhaps looking back refers to self-doubt -- creation requires you to have faith in your inspiration, or everything falls apart.

    The next verse expresses how we keep trying to understand where inspiration comes from, but we can't make anything out. The imagery of "shells of empty buildings / And great columns of glass" makes me think of an abandoned city, evoking the eerie spaciousness of the underworld. Perhaps this represents memory, as we look back on past emotions and events, trying to understand what it all means. I don't know.

    The last verse seems to tie back to the idea of not looking back: "They say you don't look / Or it'll drive you mad / ... / And if it drives you mad / It'll probably pass". In other words, trying to logically understand the process of creation will not only be unsuccessful, but will destroy the original source of inspiration.
    treanton November 10, 2012   Link

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