"Two-Headed Boy" as written by and Jeff Mangum....
Two headed boy
All floating in glass
The sun it has passed
Now it's blacker than black
I can hear as you tap on your jar
I am listening to hear where you are
I am listening to hear where you are

Two headed boy
Put on Sunday shoes
And dance round the room to accordion keys
With the needle that sings in your heart
Catching signals that sound in the dark
Catching signals that sound in the dark
We will take off our clothes
And they'll be placing fingers through the notches in your spine
And when all is breaking
Everything that you could keep inside
Now your eyes ain't moving
Now they just lay there in their climb

Two headed boy
With pulleys and weights
Creating a radio played just for two
In the parlor with a moon across her face
And through the music he sweetly displays
Silver speakers that sparkle all day
Made for his lover who's floating and choking with her hands across her face
And in the dark we will take off our clothes
And they'll be placing fingers through the notches in your spine

Two headed boy
There is no reason to grieve
The world that you need is wrapped in gold silver sleeves
Left beneath Christmas trees in the snow
And I will take you and leave you alone
Watching spirals of white softly flow
Over your eyelids and all you did
Will wait until the point when you let go


Lyrics submitted by PLANES, edited by riverajosie2, adngai, Mellow_Harsher

"Two-Headed Boy" as written by Jeff Mangum

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

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Two-Headed Boy song meanings
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  • +7
    General Commenti dont think in any way this is the correct interpretation of the song, but i think its interesting to see what people think.

    for the sake of clarification, i believe the two headed boy is one person [possibly and probably Jeff] who is torn between the real life and a dream state. there are obvious references to an object and its opposite, which are the juxtaposition of real vs dream.

    the sun and the grass in the first stanze symbolize reality and when the sun passes, night falls and in dreaming he encouters the one he loves. he follows her taps on the jar to find her in him subconscious.

    in the second stanza he is telling himself to participate in the dream, to dance and be free. it goes as far as a sexual encouter "we will take off our clothes" but he brings himself back to reality by talking about the "notches in your spine" possibly reffering to the malnutrion in the Houlocaust, or possibly just the fact she is dead and he could never do anything about saving her. she has died now, even from the dream

    in the third stanza he recognizes the mental anguish he puts himself in, "the pullys and weights." but all he wants to do is play music like that of the stanza before when he was happy, just for him and the object of his affection. again, "the moon across her face" its night time when he has these dreams about her . but she is still dying "floating and choking." again something sexual "in the dark we will take off our clothes" but her death is still real "notches in your spine." she is once again dead.

    in the fourth stanza hes talking to himself. saying there is "no reason to grieve" because shes still alive in his dreams "wrapped in gold and silver sleeves." he lets the notion of him ever being with her in reality die. he lets go "will wait until the point when you let go."
    indieishon August 30, 2005   Link
  • +2
    General CommentI really wish there were more analysis of this song, as there are parts I really don't understand at all. I'll give the last four lines a shot, however.

    And I will take you and leave you alone
    Watching spirals of white softly flow
    Over your eyelids and all you did
    Will wait until the point when you let go

    I think there is someone who is leaving the two-headed boy to die in the snow. The spirals of white would be snow falling over his eyes. The line "all you did will wait until you let go" I think means that all his memories will stay with him until the point that he gives up and dies.
    Raving Lunaticon March 25, 2005   Link
  • +2
    General CommentI don't know how many people know about this, but back in the day circuses and carnivals used to have a section with weird wonders in jars, in which they would take bizarre inanimate things and put them in jars. One of these things were the body two headed fetuses that died young due to lack of care. I always thought that this was at least an aspect of the song that remained strong through out it. There seem to be plenty of parts of the song that suggest it.
    "Two headed boy
    All floating in glass
    The sun it is passed
    Now it's blacker than black
    I can hear as you tap on your jar
    I am listening to hear where you are
    I am listening to hear where you are"

    I think that this is pretty self explanatory.

    "Now your eyes ain’t moving now
    They just lay there in their climb"

    I always thought that this kind of displayed the image of the two headed body in the Jar just laying there while it was being used for the circus for it to keep on keeping on, to climb.
    I'm afraid I wouldn't be able to say what the rest of the song means to me though. But I thought it was neat how it seemed to reference such an obscure fact of history.
    musky_oxon December 11, 2005   Link
  • +2
    General CommentI haven't read all of the comments yet, but I joined this sight specifically to comment on this song. Two-Headed Boy does *sound* romantic, especially in the context of the whole record. As my friend said, this CD was like "catnip for indie girls," back in the last millennium.

    But let's be honest, this song vividly conjures up the image of something you might see at a museum of anatomical oddities (there's one in New Orleans). Literally, he's singing about some freakish fetus or newborn, with two heads preserved in formaldehyde, which they used to do all the time for research (read: gawking). Look,"floating in glass," "jar," the lighting, fixed eyes etc. all make it pretty clear to me. To top it off the song is followed by what that track that sounds like a Creole funeral procession (they have those in New Orleans too).

    It's a metaphor of course. For what, I haven't a fecking clue... I'm not a literature type of person. If it's a love song, he's certainly taken the scenic route... and rather grotesque one at that. But that would be consistent with the material on this record (think suicidal fathers juxtaposed with someone's first sexual experience on Carrot Flowers).

    That said, this is one of my all-time favorite songs. Still gives me chills.
    Matty Dubson December 18, 2005   Link
  • +2
    General CommentNo. That cannot POSSIBLY be the case. Know why? This album was released in 1998. Episode III came out last year. *slap*
    Triangle Manon February 06, 2006   Link
  • +2
    My OpinionThis song reminds me of the bizarre testing they used to do in Nazi Germany on twins, more specifically seeing how, if any, psychic or telekinesis powers existed between identical twins. Some cases they would injure one child to see if the other would respond.

    I rather enjoy the ambiguity of the lyrics though. The song is much more passionate when felt rather then dissected, any persons concept of it is as good as the next. Truely great song!
    Pcooney13on July 08, 2011   Link
  • +1
    General CommentSuperba, I think that "climb" still fits in with a depiction of sex, as in the climb to orgasm (as his eyes sort of roll back into his head and stop moving, you know?)

    As for the two-headed part, I was thinking more along the lines of a freak sort of thing, as he's "floating in glass" and taps on his jar, like everyone's watching him like he was some sort of mutated lab rat. I think that he's not necessarily disfigured or anything, it's just a figurative depiction.

    Given the Anne Frank take on things, the lines "the world that you need is wrapped in gold and silver sleeves, left beneath Christmas trees in the snow" is an allusion to the epitome of non-Jewish holidays. It's kind of a defeatist stance to take on the whole Christian assault on the Jews.

    Not a sermon, just a thought.
    Sporkuson February 24, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI've always thought of this in a completly different way...That Jeff Mangum is actually in love with the idea of Anne Frank...A sort of Miniver Cheevyesque story of him being born too late to love his soulmate. If you go about the entire album in this way, it becomes one of the saddest and most beautiful love songs ever. The whole CD seems to be one long song--One descriptive transgression of Jeff Mangum, very much about the holocaust, but also about the sexual confusion of the singer--like in Holland, 1945, "The only girl I ever loved Was born with roses in her eyes But then they buried her alive One evening 1945."

    coming back to the THB...I feel that two heads describes both his walk through reality and his dreamstate.

    " placing fingers through the notches of your spine" could be describing the horrific experiments on and the post-mortem uses of parts of the victims' bodies by the Nazis--such as the human skin lampshades, the body fat soaps, bone funiture...vertebrae could be made into rings if ground around the outside. A person could quite literally put his or her fingers through the spinal canal of a vertebral ring.

    I know that's pretty graphic...but it's my interpretation and only an opinion.
    the_skidon June 26, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General CommentTwo headed boy
    With pulleys and weights
    Creating a radio played just for two
    In the parlor with a moon across her face
    And through the music he sweetly displays
    Silver speakers that sparkle all day
    Made for his lover who's floating and choking with her hands across her face
    ^^ I always thought this was Jeff describing himself. You know, describing the beautiful music he's making just for her, just for Anne Frank, who is dying a horrible death.
    words&trickson March 02, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General CommentOk, I gotta finally post instead of just reading all these lovely and wonderful interpretations that you all have contributed.
    I went to the Anne Frank museum a few years back. Man, that's haunted me ever since. I read her diary, and it was a bit different from the original version I read when I was her age. As in, she actually kissed Peter, and other coming of age things.
    I'm just taking a stab at this, but two big things come out when I think about it:
    If you google "two headed boy", you come up with the two headed boy of bengal, who when he was born in the late 1700's, the midwife threw him into the fire, he survived to the age of 4. His parents covered him in between freak shows. But this sounds more like Two headed boy part 2.
    The "parasitic head" didn't move
    "Now your eyes ain’t moving now
    They just lay there in their climb"
    See the following link for all sorts of creepy pictures:
    cabinetmagazine.org/issues/5/…
    This will freak you out, but hey, it's Magnum afterall.
    Oh yeah, and there was another two headed boy that commited suicide with a gun... Sound like two headed boy part 2??? The above link has info about Edward Mordake, the other two headed boy.
    Now, for the part about how this all ties into Anne Frank... I vaguely remember her saying that she had a crush on another Peter before the war, in her childhood before she was hidden in the house in Amsterdam. Then she said something really interesting when she moved into hiding. She said something like the two Peter's had become one. Like merged into one being. This made me think of the whole two headed boy thing. I think the first Peter she called Petel or something like that. Heck, I can't bear to read it again, so if anybody out there feels like reading the newer version, please update me and refresh my memory.
    I could be oh so way off with this one, but hey, it's what it means to you right???
    Oh yeah, I'm taking an anatomy class, and we were studying skeletons the other day. You totally can put your fingers in the notches in the spine. Freaky. Even freakier that I tried it. Yeah yeah, but I was listening to the song before the class. Wonders of Ipods, and wonders of being obsessed with song lyrics. But then, if we're all listening to this song to figure out it's meaning, we're all a wee bit weird, eh?
    helamonsteron March 14, 2006   Link

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