Half empty, half full
Cup runneth over
Horns of plenty, coffers full
We're starting over

Half empty, half full
Cup runneth over
Horns of plenty, coffers full
We're starting over

I write you a story
But it loses its thread
And all of my witnesses
Keep turning up, turning up dead

I paint you a picture
Of Pulaski at night
Come back to Chicago
City of, city of light

Come back to Chicago

I paint you a picture
But it never looks right
Cause I fill in the shadows
And black out the, I black out the light

I send you a postcard
It says, "Pulaski at night"
Greetings from Chicago
City of, city of light

Come back to Chicago
City of, city of light

Come back to Chicago


Lyrics submitted by ichimichimo

Pulaski at Night song meanings
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3 Comments

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  • +3
    General CommentThe phrase "Pulaski at Night" has turned up in Andrew Bird's music before ("Cock O' The Walk" from "Oh! The Grandeur," 1999). He explained in a live show that Pulaski Road on Chicago's West Side is not a pretty sight, and the idea someone saying "I want to see Pulaski at night" got stuck in his head (for 20 years) , because it's not something he could imagine anyone wanting to do.

    I see the whole song as taking the same tone, but as an assessment of the whole city of Chicago. I also see it as a conflict between his nostalgia for the ideal of Chicago, and his sorrow for the current state of the city. Up-front, Chicago is one of the great cities of the US, but as you look deeper, all you see is corruption. If you walk downtown, you get a sense of wealth and success ("Horns of plenty, coffers full"), but as you go out to the neighborhoods, you see disrepair and decay.

    "I write you a story | But it loses its thread | And all of my witnesses | Keep turning up, turning up dead" is probably an inner dialog with himself, where he is struggling to deal with conflicting opinions of Chicago. He'd like to be able to tell a positive story of the city, but people are leaving in droves, and there are few of his friends left there that he can turn to for corroboration. This is also likely an allusion to Chicago's mobster mentality that is still pervasive today.

    "I paint you a picture | But it never looks right | Cause I fill in the shadows | And black out the, I black out the light" is how he sees Chicago presently. There is so much wrong there, that it's easy to block out the better parts-- being there eventually makes you a very pessimistic person. But simply giving an assessment of the worst of the city would be inaccurate; there is an ideal that no amount of corruption seems to stamp out, and that's what he has nostalgia for.

    He then mentions "Pulaski at night," tying the song to his original concept of a nightlife that no one would want to see, and then refers to Chicago as the City of Light, which is a tongue-in-cheek parallel to a desire to see the nightlife of Pulaski Road; Pulaski Road is not a destination, and Chicago itself is anything but a City of Light. But in the end, it is his hometown, and he'll always "Come back to Chicago."
    nernon July 29, 2014   Link
  • 0
    My InterpretationAwesome song. My simplistic interpretation is that even though someone can try to communicate the feeling of a place or a thing in their life through their artistry or even by buying things, it's nothing like actually being there with them.
    BuckWilderon July 11, 2014   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI'm under the impression that the first few lines are about giving the place another chance. Horns of plenty / Coffers full - better economic condition, perhaps? Not so good but it's a cup that can be either half empty or half full. In these circumstances, he's starting over.
    erinnerungon August 28, 2015   Link

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