"Dead" as written by and John S./flansburgh Linnell....
I returned a bag of groceries
Accidentally taken off the shelf
Before the expiration date
I came back as a bag of groceries
Accidentally taken off the shelf
Before the date stamped on myself

Did a large procession wave their (Did a)
Torches as my head fell in the basket, (large pro-)
And was everybody dancing on the casket? (cession dance?)

Now it's over I'm dead and I haven't done anything that I want (now it's over)
Or, I'm still alive and there's nothing I want to do

I will never say the word
"Procrastinate" again; I'll never
See myself in the mirror with my eyes closed
I didn't apologize for
When I was eight and I made my younger brother
Have to be my personal slave

Did a large procession wave their (Did a)
Torches as my head fell in the basket, (large pro-)
And was everybody dancing on the casket? (cession dance?)

Now it's over I'm dead and I haven't done anything that I want (now it's over)
Or, I'm still alive and there's nothing I want to do

(So) So I won't
(Sit) sit at home
(And) anymore
(And) and you won't
(And) see my head in
(And) the window
(And) and I won't
(And) be around
(And) ever anymore
(And) and I'll be up there on the wall at the store

I returned a bag of groceries
Accidentally taken off the shelf
Before the expiration date
I came back as a bag of groceries
Accidentally taken off the shelf
Before the date stamped on myself

Did a large procession wave their (Did a)
Torches as my head fell in the basket, (large pro-)
And was everybody dancing on the casket? (cession dance?)

Now it's over I'm dead and I haven't done anything that I want (now it's over)
Or, I'm still alive and there's nothing I want to do

Now it's over I'm dead and I haven't done anything that I want (now it's over)
Or, I'm still alive and there's nothing I want to do


Lyrics submitted by Spacecow

"Dead" as written by John Linnell John Flansburgh

Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.

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Dead song meanings
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15 Comments

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  • +3
    General CommentThis is another great TMBG song of sadness hidden inside lunatic lyrics and great melodies. The song is weighted with the regret of someone who wasted their life ("it's over... and I haven't done anything that I want") or is currently wasting their life. Doesn't matter which because they are essentially the same. Sure, now he resolves to not sit at home anymore and finally stop hanging around, but it's too late. I could even say that "taken off the shelf before the date stamped on myself" eludes to him expiring (dying) before he was ready (date on self); but I never read that far into it. So stop wasting your life blogging or downloading music and DO STUFF.
    FireFox31on October 19, 2004   Link
  • +2
    General Comment"by Brother_Dave on 10-20-2004 @ 04:30:08 AM
    Are you high? Both Johns have said MULTIPLE TIMES that virtually none of their songs have any meaning. And yes, they've actually said which ones too. This is not one of them."

    You're pretty naive if you take that at face value.
    t4ron February 01, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General Commentreincarnation as a bag of groceries...what can beat this?
    pinkubus_floydon July 12, 2002   Link
  • +1
    General CommentWhen I die this song will be played at my funeral or I'm going to haunt my family.
    Sim Goddesson November 18, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General Commenti *heart* this song so much!
    silverstringsarecuton May 28, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General CommentAre you high? Both Johns have said MULTIPLE TIMES that virtually none of their songs have any meaning. And yes, they've actually said which ones too. This is not one of them.
    Brother_Daveon October 20, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General Commenti thought it was about the French Revolution, what with them cutting his head off for walking out of the grocery with a bag of groceries before the expiration date.

    Rodan2000
    Rodan2000on December 30, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General Commentwhen I first heard this song I wasnt paying attention too well and I heard the head cutting off bit first which makes it sound like hes being killed and used as a food product. mmm, soylent green.

    What do you think about the bit "I'll never see myself in the mirror with my eyes closed"? Maybe he has no concept of what he should be/do? kinda like how you fell just after highschool.

    I wonder if theres any specific signifigance to the enslaving the younger brother thing? or if its just an example of a general regret?

    and I'd have to agree with t4r, lots of artists have said that to avoid things like controversy, or debte, or maybe they just didnt want to explain it. could be lots of reasons for saying that besides it being true.
    carseron April 06, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis song is really depressing. It's written in an amusing and entertaining fashion but the meaning is just about being really low and depressed. Thinking of death, and wondering who'll care, and if someone does care, will they just be happy he's gone.

    That part about not procrastinating and taking a real look at oneself instead of just an imaginary one is a positive thing here: A
    pep talk into getting up and doing something and positive introspection.
    tacobanditon May 22, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentDid a large procession wave their torches as my head fell in the basket

    This seems to me like this person was executed by a riot (á la the French Revolution). "wave their torches" conjures up images of an unruly riot just as "head fell in the basket" makes me think of a disembodied head rolling off a guillotine into a basket.

    Anyway, the gist of the song is a procrastinator who is too lazy to do the things he wants/doesn't have anything they want to do. In the end they die and regret not doing anything. TMBG use the metaphor of a 'bag of groceries' (the person) 'taken off the shelf' (passed away) 'before the expiration date' (early).

    One line that puzzles me is "I came back as a bag of groceries'. Does anyone have any personal interpretations?

    Anyway, one of my favourite TMBG songs - although there are so many greats to choose form though :(
    Gesiwujon October 25, 2007   Link

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