"Artifact #1" as written by and Conor Oberst Conor Mullen Oberst....
What would it take to gain acceptance
To the grounds behind your eyes
You know I'm open to suggestion
The one you made we never tried

Let it slip right out from under
Your breath and it rolled around my head
It was nothing I'd consider
I knew it had to happen then

Stood on the banks of the Potomac
We watched the water rushing by
You said we should live in the moment
Then I'd miss you all the time

And I know no one will believe me
But I don't want a second chance
To be an object of desire
If that means slipping through your hands
If I had tried to make you mine
You would have walked away
I can't compete with memories
They never have to change

This world is full of missing persons
All of these unsolved mysteries
If someone says they know for certain
They're selling something certainly

So when I set myself to wonder
All the questions that remain
The only one that even matters
Is when I'll see you're face again

I keep looking back for artifacts
To prove that you were here
The sound that's been keeps echoing
It never disappears


Lyrics submitted by beckalee

"Artifact #1" as written by Conor M. Oberst

Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

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Artifact #1 song meanings
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  • 0
    General CommentIt seems Conor loves a woman deeply, but is afraid to commit. I think the "suggestion" he refers to is her wanting to get married. His feelings for her are both a blessing and a curse, as he is afraid if he surrenders his heart, she will leave him. This is evident in the lines "If I had to tried to make you mine, you would have walked away".

    When he says "I can't compete with memories. They never have to change", I think he's talking about how he will always be remembered as desirable to her because he was unattainable, whereas she may not have seen him that way had he been easy.

    The lines "If someone says they know for certain, they're selling something certainly" seem to say that he can't promise her what will happen tomorrow, and that he will always be there. I think he loves her far more than he's letting on though, which is actually why he's pushing her away. It's not that he doesn't want to commit. It's that he can't bare the thought of being vulnerable to her, and potentially being left, so he goes ahead and walks away.

    The last few lines "I keep looking for artifacts to prove that you were here. The sound that's been keeps echoing. It never disappears" are so heartbreaking to me. They make chills run up my spine every time I hear them. If you've ever loved someone that way, you will understand.
    musicangel86on February 21, 2015   Link
  • 0
    General CommentOne small correction in the lyrics:

    It is not "I can't compete with memories".
    The correct lyrics are "Life can't compete with memories.

    This song took me a while to get into compared to the rest of the record but I find it more beautiful each time I listen. A lot goes unsaid about this song between Conor and the listener. For instance, the "suggestion" that the subject made that the speaker never tried. This is only one way to interpret it, but I think he may be talking about having a child with the subject. If you look at subtext, there is evidence of this.

    "It was nothing I'd consider, I knew it had to happen then."
    He could be talking about a pregnancy, which is something that does not permit a lot of freedom to responsible and loving adults. In the rest of the album, Conor voices his qualms about having a child, like in the video for Common Knowledge, in the introduction. He also laments his unwillingness to be tied down in Lonely At The Top with "til then I'm walking out the door...running through the airport, til then i'm waiting around for no one."

    In the next lines, he describes standing on the banks of the river, watching the water rush by. Water is a universal symbol of life and fertility. He is watching new life rush by him, doing nothing about it. The next line explains why (you said we should live in the moment, but then i'd miss you all the time), saying that he would never be around for her, and also in the subtext, the baby, since the pronoun "you" is not limited to one person.

    The rest of the song, not particularily about the baby, just explains how the subject is extremely important to him, and how hard it is to be away from her all the time.

    The final evidence of this song being about childbearing is the title iself, and the lyric derrived from it. "I keep looking back for artifacts to prove that you were here." Having a child with the subject would probably be the hardest evidence of their love, since he can't seem to find any the way that things are between them. A child would suite the title of "Artifact #1" very well, don't you think?

    chobsondimason May 29, 2015   Link

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