"This Mess We're In" as written by and Polly Jean Harvey....
Can you hear them?
The helicopters
I'm in New York
No need for words now
We sit in silence

You look me
In the eye directly
You met me
I think it's Wednesday
The evening

The mess we're in
And ohh (the city sunset over me)
Ohh (the city sunset over me)

Night and day
I dream of
Making love
To you now baby
Love making on screen

Impossible dream
And I have seen
The sunrise over the river
The freeway
Reminding of

This mess we're in
And ohh (the city sunset over me)
Ohh (the city sunset over me)

And ohh (the city sunset over me)
Ohh (the city sunset over me)

What were you wanting? (What was that you wanted?)
I just wanna say (I just wanna say)
(Don't ever change) Don't ever change now baby
(And thank you) And thank you
(I don't think we will meet again) I don't think we will meet again

(And you must leave now) And you must leave now (Before the sun rises over the skyscrapers)
Before the sun rise (And the city landscape comes into view)
Over the skyscrapers (Sweat on my skin, oh)
The city

This mess we're in
And ohh (the city sunset over me)
Ohh (the city sunset over me)
Ohh (the city sunset over me)
Ohh (the city sunset over me)


Lyrics submitted by shut, edited by goodnews

"This Mess We're In" as written by Polly Harvey

Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

Lyrics powered by LyricFind

This Mess We're In song meanings
Add your thoughts

35 Comments

sort form View by:
  • +3
    General Commentthey "want" each other, but they're obligated to someone else, perhaps a spouse. they get together for a night, but that's all.
    mystikmuzikon March 27, 2003   Link
  • +3
    General CommentI love the way PJ's words 'sweat on my skin' and Thom's 'sin' overlap, so that they become one. The sweat on her skin is his sin.

    Its typical of the whole song; beautiful and perfectly formed. You can tell they've really thought about what they're saying and the way they say it. They take real pleasure in their art.
    boss_2kon April 15, 2004   Link
  • +2
    General CommentThe discussion taking place on the PJ Harvey thread for this song suggests that the song might be about a pair of lovers who ae obligated to someone else, perhaps a spouse (thanks to Mystic_Muzic), and whom get together for one night, decide it won't work, and then call it quits for good in a terribly tragic love story.
    Arianrhodon June 19, 2003   Link
  • +2
    General Commentyou're right lauradee, that was dumb.
    akagoldfishon October 05, 2008   Link
  • +2
    My InterpretationHe's attached, meaning he has another lover, and they get together from time to time, although it goes on and on about "never seeing again". I think it just what they say every time he leaves before the dawn, and then they always get back together. I mostly think of this b/c of the line

    "Night and day
    I dream of making love to you now, baby
    Love making on screen
    Impossible dream"

    Love making on screen means going out in the open about her, and that's something he can't do, since he has the other girl. And it's definitely an affair, that's the "mess" they're in, but at the same time though they can't be together, they just can't be apart, even when "sitting in silence, no need for words"...

    The best part, as boss_2k said, when PJ Harvey's "sweat on my skin ugh" and Tom Yorke's "sin" overlap. It's obvious, the sweat the "ugh"... they're having sex, and though it's a sin for him, seeing her happy with him is worth it... that's why he keeps dreaming the impossible dream.
    311210on August 29, 2012   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThe song reminds me of the secretive relationship between Winston and Julia in totalitarian society in "1984" by George Orwell where love is forbidden.

    Can you hear them?
    The helicopters?
    -Reference to the helicopters that fly over the rooftops as Big Brother discovers Winston & Julia's secret room in which their love-making takes place.
    I'm in New York

    No need for words now
    We sit in silence
    You look me in the eye directly
    You met me
    -When they are captured, they don't say anything but reminisce in their memories.
    I think it's Wednesday
    -In the dystopian society, the people are no idea of the real day, month or year as the government constantly manipulates information to their discretion.
    The evening, the mess we're in


    The city sun sets over me
    The city sun sets over me



    Night and day
    I dream of
    Making love to you now baby
    Love making on screen
    Impossible dream
    -Making love is impossible under Big Brother's regime where the feelings of love and pleasure derived from sex is eradicated.
    And I have seen
    The sunrise over the river
    The freeway, reminding of
    This mess we're in
    -Winston's and Julia's incarceration in room 101.


    The city sun sets over me
    The city sun sets over me



    What were you wanting?
    I just want to say
    Don't ever change
    And thank you
    I don't think we will meet again
    -By the end Winston and Julia are "brainwashed" to the point of not wanting to see each other again.
    I really must leave now
    Before the sunrise
    Above skyscrapers
    The sin and
    This mess we're in

    The city sun sets over me
    The city sun sets over me
    angus_stoneon December 10, 2008   Link
  • +1
    MemoryThis song reminds me of the movies "before sunrise/before sunset" (Julie Delpy - Ethan Hawke), that perfect connection wtihin two strangers that wouldn't be so perfect if they stay together. So they decide to stay away because of their different worlds they belong to.
    comprimidaon March 22, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI'm not actually too sure what it's about, but when i first heard it and read the lyrics my first impression was that, as it's sung as a duet with thom yorke, i think that it's about two lovers who are in trouble. They could have relationship troubles, or it could be to do with the law because it says "the sin-this mess we're in". But that could mean a lot of things: one of them's had an affair, they've betrayed the other in some way, it's probably me trying to look too deep as usual when the meanings are so simple :0p ah well hehe xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
    Lorna450on June 11, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General Commentthis song is great. Thom Yorke compliments hers completely....though i have no clue what it's about
    Kezon June 16, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI agree with mystikmuzik's opinion.
    Its like they get together for a night, and decide it just wont work, and break it off. Terribly tragic.
    It's one of my ultimate break-up songs, though.
    Arianrhodon April 16, 2003   Link

Add your thoughts

Log in now to tell us what you think this song means.

Don’t have an account? Create an account with SongMeanings to post comments, submit lyrics, and more. It’s super easy, we promise!

Back to top
explain