"For Those Below" as written by Winston Aubrey Aladar Marshall, Edward James Milton Dwane, Benjamin Walter David Lovett and Marcus Oliver Johnstone Mumford....
Helpless she lies across the stairs
Haunting your days, consuming your breath
There will be healing but don't force this girl to stand
As she's counting the ceilings with pale voice and trembling hands

You told me life was long but now that it's gone
You find yourself on top as the leader of a flock
Called to be wrong for those below

Whispered notes from the piano in the corner of the room
Hold your throat is that healing that your hearing in her tune
Wanting change but loving her just as she lies
Is the burden of the man who's built his life on love

You told me life was long but now that it's gone
You find yourself on top as the leader of a flock
Called to be wrong for those below

I'll be locked up in store
In the lavender ward
'Cause my mind is just like her's
Just as broken, just as crippled, just as burned

And then I find myself on top as the leader of a flock
Called to be wrong for those below


Lyrics submitted by mike, edited by oofus, xSheafayce, mrswinnie, Mellow_Harsher, ashtell, kcostell

"For Those Below" as written by Edward James Milton Dwane Benjamin Walter David Lovett

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

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For Those Below song meanings
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  • +2
    My InterpretationThis song is incredibly beautiful. One of my favorites from M&S.

    I think it is about man who is caring for his sick wife.

    From what I gather from the lyrics, the wife is not just plain sick, but mentally ill. I was confused on what a "lavender ward" was, then I looked it up and everything made sense.

    The man desperately wants his wife to be restored, but still loves her deeply despite her fate and is willing to care for her as long as he can. The story reminds me of The Notebook, actually. Down to the "whispered notes from the piano in the corner of the room. Hold your throat - is that healing that you're hearing in her tune?"

    On another note, I do think the lyrics say "called to be a rock" instead of "called to be around". It's a beautiful picture of the man being there for his wife.

    Now what I'm still wondering is part where it says "found myself on top, as the leader of the flock" as if he ends up caring for more than just his wife. What do you guys think?
    bethanne13on November 29, 2012   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThis song really touches home for me like few other. It's lyrics speak what I can't say. It is where I'm at in my life. I've never posted on any sites like this or about this before but I just feel like this song is just so clear to me that if it needs explaining, I can do that, no prob.
    I am a father, a husband and hurting greatly but have to stay strong. I have three boys (10, 8 & 4) and a beautiful daughter (7) that has cp. She is absolutely gorgeous just like her mother. She is happy (usually) and "healthy" and she has lots of good friends. She's actually at her first sleeover at a friend's house tonight! But she cannot walk, talk, crawl, sit up, rollover, eat, swallow or communicate in any way. We don't knew what she can comprehend, what she knows, what she feels. She smiles when her brothers talk to her, when we tickle her and other appropriate times. She pouts when she's bored or when we sing twinkle twinkle little star (Ann association thing I'd guess). Point being, we know she feels or love but we want so much more for her. Okay sorry back to the song but I had to set the stage...
    I can't write the whole backstory but this song is not about her and I. It is about my wife, her severe and justified depression and my role as a father and husband.

    Not sure the best way to approach this so I guess I'll just re-post the lyrics and comment about each line:

    1) as mentioned, my wife is very depressed. She blames herself, she wants more for our daughter, she's scared of our future, she's angry, she's tired, she can barely lift our daughter anymore, her back is in pain. Hardly a day has gone by without tears. She she's our nieces and little neighbor girls play and giggle and it crushes her. So much more to this but it's not my story to tell...
    2) out of respect I wouldn't use the term haunting but I suppose it does, I think of them most of the day when I'm at work (when I can go to work). I know she's suffering while I'm gone. I'm not much for praying but the prayers I do have are for her. I'm on the fence when it comes to prayer. Brought up Catholic but really never "got into it" until more recently. I would love nothing more than to have the confidence in my beliefs to call myself a Christian but I'm too lost to say for sure. I don't pretend to be as the big guy would call my bluff. Part of why I appreciate m&s music is their connecting of my reality to biblical messages.
    3) healing? Perhaps someday but it hasn't happened yet. 7 almost 8 years now but it feels like the bullet it's still on its way through. It angers me that she blames herself as I know it was not. Our girl was full term, 9-9 on her apgars and a smooth pregnancy. She had difficult swallowing so she was slated for surgery on her 5th day. She quit breathing a few times in the nicu but we were told that should have no affect (or effect, I'll never get that right)... something went wrong, somewhere, sometime. Lord knows when our how exactly. I get she's sad. I can't talk her out of it. I'm sad too.
    4) I'm not really sure on this one. She's definitely been brought more into her faith in Christ through this. I picture the counting the ceiling as looking to God. Trembling hand is easy.. She's often bright to her knees in sorrow and panic attacks. Trembling body is more accurate.
    5) in thinking of a long life you imagine the basic kids grow up, go through school, move out, go to college, we retire, kids marry, have grand kids, you spoil them, you die. Cute. Nice.
    6) but now that is gone.. there is no kids move out (I'm okay with that. I love her and will take care of her forever), no college, I am having a hard time working now, I'm an engineer and like my job a lot, the projects I work on, the people I work with, but it is getting more and more difficult to sustain work and home. My girls need me. I am very close to quitting but then retirement will never happen.., my beautiful girl will probably never marry (not because she couldn't be loved but because I doubt I'd ever let anyone take her from me ;)) grandkids very unlikely. "Now that it's gone..."
    7) I am a father. I am to be the leader of this house. Manhood/fatherhood, the magnitude of it, is new to me. I can't tell you when I went from "boy to man" but I get it now. I've found myself on top
    8) I am the leader of my flock, my family, my three boys, my hurting wife, my handicapped daughter (& my dog).
    9) I am called to be the rock (ironically, that is what my name means) to those below... I want to not only hold my family together through this journey but to thrive and inspire my son's. I want to be the man they'll want to be. But I feel like I am in a constant state of failure. My daughter isn't getting better. My wife isn't getting better. Life isn't getting better. But I must dust myself of each physical and emotionally dragging day and press on. I must be the rock for my family.
    I also must sleep. I'll finish some other night.
    pjaxsunon April 13, 2014   Link
  • 0
    My InterpretationWow I love this song as well.

    I'm pretty sure it's "be a rock" and not "be around". Either way, same meaning though, rock is just stronger.

    As with all of M&S songs, it's interesting to notice the grammatical person. The person who is sick is the third person "her", but there is a second person "you" he is singing to, and there is also the first person "I" that he refers to.

    This helps us understand the "leader of the flock" lyric that keeps coming up.

    The person sung to is the original leader of a flock, and then somehow he becomes the leader of a flock as well, in the last stanza. But not until he realizes he is just as humble as the person who is sick.

    Matthew 20:16 "So the last will be first, and the first will be last."

    I can't help but hear this musical allusion in the melody played by the violin in between verses and in the interlude to the line "And life is worth the living, just because He lives" which is an old Christian Hymn...

    youtube.com/…

    When I read the lyrics of that song (azlyrics.com/lyrics/davidcrowderband/…) I can't help but see these two songs intermingled, with Jesus as the one he is singing to... the original leader of the flock.

    Am I out to lunch. Let me know! ;-)
    goodbiton December 07, 2012   Link
  • 0
    My InterpretationI have a few thoughts about the possible meaning of the song.
    “Helpless, she lies across the stairs”
    I think that 'she' is not an actual person but a metaphor for his love life, and his thoughts about love. His love is helpless, there is no hope. Whether in his relationship or in his hope to get one or maybe hi ability to love at all. His ill love is blocking the way up the stairs, he can't move on as long she lays there. To get 'on top' of the stairs she has to be healed.

    “Haunting your days, consuming your prayers”
    Love is the only thing he can think about, it haunts him. Its the only thing he prays for.

    “There will be healing but don't force this girl to stand”
    Love is the only thing he can think about, it haunts him. Its the only thing he prays for.
    His cripple love will recover, but it needs time. As long as he don't force it it will recover. He shouldn't try to love, force himself to fall in love, for she would fall because she is still to sick. He has to wait until he got over his hurts in love. Maybe he just had a relationship that ended.

    “As she's counting the ceilings, with pale voice and trembling hands”
    'the sky is the limit' but a ceiling is definitely a lot lower than the sky. The ceiling is the highest you can get in a room, it is the limit. She is counting the limits, the things that she can't do. And it makes her ill. She is only thinking about the things that are impossible.

    “You told me life was long
    But now that it's gone
    You find yourself on top
    As the leader of a flock
    Called to be a rock for those below”

    now hes life is gone, now he is old, after time had passed, he finds himself on top. On top of the stairs. So she has stand up. His love problem is over. He is the leader of a flock and can help those who are still below the stairs. In the song there are 3 persons: 'I' 'you' and 'she', these are all forms of himself, I are his thoughts, you is himself when he is self reflecting, and she is his ability to love. These three might form a group, a flock that forms him. So when he is old he finally is able to lead himself. I am not very sure about the flock part, but it is just a thought.

    “Whispered notes from the piano in the corner of the room
    Hold your throat is that healing that you're hearing in her tune”
    his love slowly starts to play a tune, though it is still wary, it whispers. He holds his breath, is he hearing healing in her tune? Is she recovering.

    “ Wanting change but loving her just as she lies
    Is the burden of the man who's built his life on love”
    this piece is confusing me a bit. He wants his love situation to change, but he still don't want to give up on his old love, his relationship which is kind of dying.

    “I'll be locked up and stored
    In a lavender ward
    Cos my mind is just like hers
    Just as broken, just as crippled, just as burned”
    he will be old and locked up and stored in a retirement home. Because he doesn't do anything about it, because his mind got just as sick as his heart.

    But what I find confusing is the contrast between the last couplet, and the refrain. In both he is old but in the refrain he learned from it and now it is over he can help others. And in the couplet he is just broken and crippled by it. I have to think a little more about this. this is all just my interpretation and I could be completely wrong, I'd love to hear your thoughts about it.
    gemmatuson June 26, 2013   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI know I'll sound like a total religious nut, but I think that the chorus is about St. Peter, the first Pope of the Catholic faith. Peter means "rock" in Hebrew, and Jesus put him as "the leader of a flock" and Jesus even is described as a shepherd and that we are his flock. And Peter is "called to be a rock" literally his name. "For those below" I think refers to the belief that Peter holds the keys to Heaven, allowing "those below" into Heaven. That's about all that theory covers.
    mason11537on April 06, 2016   Link
  • 0
    My InterpretationHeard this song for the first time shortly after losing my mother and I couldn't listen to it again for some time as memories of my mother rushed through my head. Revisiting and listening to it I see why it had such an impact.... it's the commonality of loss that I identified with.

    In my view, and as mentioned in previous interpretations, I believe this has to do with mental illness... more specifically Depression (maybe from a loss, or maybe that's just my emotions playing upon me...). His heart aches for his wife who is depressed and he longs for healing but I believe he cannot determine if it's just wishful thinking and holding onto a thread of hope (he asks, is that healing in her tune?). I believe the sadness creates the eventual despair in which he too succumbs and becomes the leader of the flock. I do get stuck on the "for those below" as I see two possibilities. Death... or, is it being beneath the crushing weight of depression?

    I could be of base but again, that's the beauty in music that speaks to your soul. It heals, it comforts, it helps and is dynamic. It quite literally has an infinite amount of meanings which allows it to speak to us on such a personal level. It's meaning is often not found in the lyrics but more in the feelings it evokes. So, if your true to your feelings, you can never be wrong in the interpretation. My 2 cents.
    jopanoyon April 13, 2018   Link
  • -1
    General CommentFor the love of God. While some of their music may have religious tones or references, not every song is. I know music is different to everyone. It is almost like a rorschach test. That being said, if every M&S song is referring to ONE thing. Maybe that says something. But songs generally have different meanings, so how about if you think its only about JC, then just post JC and move on. So the non religious nuts can continue looking for another meaning to the song.
    molonlabeon June 11, 2013   Link
  • -2
    Lyric CorrectionHelpless, she lies across the stairs
    Haunting your days, consuming your prayers
    There will be healing, but don't force this girl to stand
    As she's counting the ceilings, with pale voice and trembling hands

    You told me life was long, but now that it's gone,
    You find yourself on top, as the leader of a flock
    Called to be around for those below

    Whispered notes from the piano in the corner of the room
    Hold your throat, is that healing that you're hearing in her tune?
    Wanting change, but loving her just as she lies
    Is the burden of the man who's built his life on love

    You told me life was long
    But now that it's gone
    You find yourself on top, as the leader of a flock
    called to be around for those below

    I'll be locked up and stored
    In a lavender ward
    My mind is just like hers,
    just as broken, just as crippled, just as burned

    And then I find myself on top, as the leader of a flock
    Called to be around for those below
    buliajoyson September 27, 2012   Link

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