"I Should Live in Salt" as written by and Aaron Brooking Dessner Matthew D. Berninger....
Don't make me read your mind
You should know me better than that
It takes me too much time
You should know me better than that
You're not that much like me
You should know me better than that
We have different enemies
You should know me better than that

I should leave it alone but you're not right
I should leave it alone but you're not right

Can't you write it on the wall?
You should know me better than that
There's no room to write it all
You should know me better than that
Can you turn the TV down?
You should know me better than that
There's too much crying in the sound
I should know you better than that

I should leave it alone but you're not right
I should leave it alone but you're not right
I should live in salt for leaving you behind
Behind

Think about something so much
You should know me better than that
Start to slide out of touch
You should know me better than that
Tell yourself it's all you know
You should know me better than that
Learn to appreciate the void
You should know me better than that

I should live in salt for leaving you behind
Behind
I should live in salt for leaving you behind
Behind

I should live in salt for leaving you behind
Behind


Lyrics submitted by SongMeanings, edited by ghostworld, jahjahjeh, flamebroiledchicken, smallwonderrobot, Supersheep

"I Should Live in Salt" as written by Matthew Donald Berninger Aaron Brooking Dessner

Lyrics © BMG RIGHTS MANAGEMENT US, LLC

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I Should Live in Salt song meanings
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  • +18
    My InterpretationI believe the title is referencing the story from the Old Testament of Lot and his family. In the story, angels visit the city of Sodom on a mission to destroy it (as God deems it to be an irredemable city of sin). The angels gather Lot and his family, who are deemed to be worth saving, and tell them what is about to happen. They warn them that they are to flee the city and are not to look back. But Lot's wife does look back as they flee, and is immediately turned into a pillar of salt.

    The song similarly seems to be about living with the guilt of leaving behind the people you can't save or (in the instance of this song) perhaps the guilt of never really trying to save them. Never probing deeper.
    underdog000on May 13, 2013   Link
  • +12
    General Commentwhat i think
    is that
    this is a fucking fantastic song.
    sunwashighon May 16, 2013   Link
  • +10
    My InterpretationI was perusing the National's webpage forums listening to the album stream last night and the general consensus over there is that this song is about Matt's relationship with his brother Tom.

    I agree with this after reading several reviews of Tom's Mistaken For Strangers documentary which evolved into a study of this relationship and how Tom compares himself to the success of Matt. I feel this song is Matt's way of saying that you shouldn't resent yourself for not having my life but just have your own life( ex: " I should leave it alone but you're not right" and "learn to appreciate the void")

    There is also a very concerned and mournful aspect that Matt's lyrics take with the living in salt reference that match up with his interviews leading up to the album about finally learning to put the band on the backburner and attending to his family.He obviously feels that his pursuits with the band are what lead to his neglect of an aspect like the idolizing love of an younger brother.

    Complicated song, complicated relationship, great song and wouldn't expect any less from the National.
    BloodbuzzMOon May 19, 2013   Link
  • +6
    My InterpretationThe first thing that I thought of when I heard the chorus was the idea of putting salt in an open wound. I was thinking that the narrator can't get over leaving his lover behind, so all of their past squabbles ("can you turn the TV down") and what they might say to one another, or to themselves, now ("leave it alone," "learn to appreciate the void") are constantly running through his head. It's like he's living with an open wound, and he feels like he should be punished for walking away -- he feels like he should have to live in salt.
    LNgooon May 16, 2013   Link
  • +5
    My InterpretationA good relationship broken down by small, petty arguments, which build up the feeling of "you should know me better than that."
    "Can't you right it on the wall" and "don't make me read your mind" show a resentment of the passive aggression which go with small arguments. The disputes could easily be resolved by letting the other know what's wrong, but the passive aggression comes from only hinting at it - making them 'read your mind'. ("There's no room to write it all" I think suggests the number of small arguments rather than one big one)

    It is acknowledged that the arguments are small - meaningless, even - but with petty arguments there is a need to be right, a need to get one over on the other person: "I should leave it alone but you're not right".

    The chorus is a show of regret for letting it get so bad, and it is suggested the relationship ended - "leaving you behind". The living in salt sounds like he's calling for some punishment for himself - maybe the biblical reference as underdog describes above: it could be he feels guilt for not trying to save the relationship.
    Or it could be referring to being preserved - he left her behind, and so deserves to be preserved as alone and full of regret as punishment.
    bumcivilianon May 15, 2013   Link
  • +3
    General CommentI was at Bonnaroo where Matt Berninger introduced his brother's film and somebody asked about the meaning of this song. He indeed confirmed that it was about his brother Tom and the guilt he felt for leaving him in his youth and then again after firing him as a roadie on the High Violet tour. Nice little film, by the way. I expected a documentary about the band. It was about brothers.
    dpolovinon June 19, 2013   Link
  • +1
    Song MeaningWhen a band called made its debut more than a decade ago, it was considered an underdog in a busy independent music scene. The lead singer’s melancholy baritone and the lush instrumentation didn’t always fit the irony-laden swagger of the aughts. The National has endured, and these days it has a hard-won following. It headlines big concert halls and late-night talk shows.

    Singer and lyricist Matt Berninger recently spoke with NPR’s Audie Cornish about the band’s new album, Trouble Will Find Me, as well as being in a band of brothers, how his own brother inspired “I Should Live in Salt” (and made about their tour together), and his own sheepish attitude toward the band’s recent success. You can listen to the radio version at the audio link and read more of their conversation below.

    Tell us a little bit about the lyrics to “I Should Live in Salt.”

    “I write all the lyrics, and this one was sort of inspired – very much inspired – by my younger brother, Tom, who’s nine years younger than I am. And he was on my mind a lot while we were making this record because he was living with my wife and I at the time. Still – actually still does. So he was on my mind and in my house. But he came on tour with us when we were touring for High Violet and made a film [Mistaken for Strangers] about his experience there, which is, which was – it’s a complicated movie. We’re very different brothers. Whereas I might be kind of buttoned-up and ambitious, he’s more lax in his approach to the universe, I guess. We love each other a great deal, but there’s often a lot of conflict between the two of us.”

    And there’s some fun imagery in one of the verses: “Can you turn the TV down? You should know me better than that.”

    “The lyrics to that are like a bunch of little fragments of thoughts about him. And, truthfully, it’s about us actually getting to know each other as adults, because I went off to college when he was a little kid. He was 9 when I was 18 and went off to college, and then I moved to New York after that. And he kind of went his own – a different path.

    “I felt a lot of guilt, because I think [he] needed an older brother the most when you start hitting your teens, and that’s when I sort of took off and disappeared on him a little bit. I mean, we’ve been close our whole lives. But then, when he came and joined us on the tour as a roadie, it was the first time we were spending a lot of time together as adults. And it was a big shift in our relationship and trying to figure out how to love each other and respect each other as adults – not just this much older-younger brother sibling dynamic. So the song kind of is a reflection on all of that.”

    It’s interesting, because the band The National is made up of siblings. There are Aaron and Bryce Dessner, and also Scott and Bryan Devendorf. So you’re the guy who doesn’t have a brother there.

    “And that’s always been a really healthy part of our band dynamic and stuff; it’s very much sort of the glue that’s kept our band together for 14 years. And I actually missed my brother, and I also was envious of the relationship they had – that they were traveling the world with their brother and had that person to lean on and vent to. When my brother came on tour with us – to have someone to lean on and complain about the other guys to or whatever, because there’s so much tension living in a bus together.”

    And you said you felt a little guilt, but the chorus is, “I should live in salt for leaving you behind.”

    “Honestly, that was just kind of an abstract image or something in my head and I don’t know. I think Lot’s wife turned to salt when she looked back at the city. I think they used to pack bodies in salt. So there’s not specifically any meaning into it directly, but it seemed like a bad thing to have to live in salt. A lot of my lyrics are approximate meaning without me knowing why they sound right.”

    How did your brother react to this? Now that the movie is over that he was making and you’re coming out with this album, what’s that relationship like?

    “Our relationship is much better. It’s good; it went through a healthy sort of rebirth of understanding each other, like I said, as adults. And he’s 33 now. He was 30 when he came on tour with us. But as far as the song goes, when he heard the song, he thought the song was about salt. He didn’t – he had no idea that it was about him at first.

    “ In a strange way, we made a very unguarded record because we weren’t so worried about disappearing overnight as a band.

    “But he is a heavy-metal guy. He does not listen to a lot of indie-rock, which I guess that’s the demographic or something that our band fits into. So he – it’s funny, we’re extremely different in many, many ways, but then, underneath the surface, I think we are very much brothers. There was a breaking point where we realized that he’s very different than I am and we’re both adults now. That’s when I think a whole different level of respect happened. I mean, we still fight like crazy like brothers or anybody does, but we just had to understand each other as people and not as older brother, younger brother.”
    TheAnsweron June 16, 2013   Link
  • 0
    My InterpretationFirst of all I think the lyrics are wrong, it should be "I should leave it alone but you're not around".

    Secondly, I think it's true it's about Matt and his brother. I think that in the verses, Tom is speaking to Matt, but the chorus is Matt speaking to Tom ("I should live in salt for leaving you behind").
    Rasseron June 01, 2013   Link
  • 0
    General CommentCan't quite decide what I make of this song. The "living in salt" reference confuses me a little. Salt preserves things, so living in salt could be interpreted as a life frozen in the moment.

    Regardless, a lovely song.
    tednolon June 05, 2013   Link
  • 0
    General CommentOfficial lyrics from album sleeve:

    Don't make me read your mind,
    you should know me better than that.
    It takes me too much time,
    you should know me better than that.
    You're not that much like me,
    you should know me better than that.
    We have different enemies,
    you should know me better than that.
    I should leave it alone but you're not right.
    I should leave it alone but you're not right.

    Can't you write it on the wall?
    You should know me better than that.
    There's no room to write it all,
    you should know me better than that.
    Can you turn the TV down?
    You should know me better than that.
    There's too much crying in the sound,
    I should know you better than that.
    I should leave it alone but you're not right.
    I should leave it alone but you're not right.

    I should live in salt for leaving you behind.

    Think about something so much,
    you should know me better than that.
    Start to slide outta touch,
    you should know me better than that.
    Tell yourself it's only noise.
    You should know me better than that.
    Learn to appreciate the void.
    You should know me better than that.

    I should live in salt for leaving you behind.
    flamebroiledchickenon June 08, 2013   Link

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