Oh, launched all the world’s nukes this morning
Hoping it would kick-start something
Some of them went off course and hit the moon instead
It was kinda pretty.
Hasn’t been a whole lot of looting
On the other hand, oh, it’s fucking freezing
Someone on TV said something about going underground…
Guess we better start digging.
What were you doing for those eight and a half minutes?
Was it mean, was it petty, or did you realize you were sorry
And that you love them?
I saw an astronomer break down on CNN
He said, “I’m a scientist, not your fucking clergyman!”
And no one’s going nowhere ‘cause the cars are all frozen
They give the power plants ten days
What were you doing for those eight and a half minutes?
Was it mean, was it petty, or did you realize you were sorry
And that you love them?
But the sky is like a dome of black metal flake
And stars bleed together in phosphorescent lakes
And a dead black disk slides silently overhead
It’s fucking beautiful is what it is.
What were you doing for those eight and a half minutes?
Was it mean, was it petty, or did you realize you were sorry
And that you love them?
When I die I’m going to heaven
Leave it all to the cockroaches and the 7-11s
But it’d be nice to think we could get it right down here just once


Lyrics submitted by 66exeter, edited by ashamsa

8.5 Minutes song meanings
Add your thoughts

18 Comments

sort form View by:
  • +3
    General CommentThis song is about the Sun exhausting its nuclear fuel, ending its life and the reaction of Earth's inhabitants to this result. In the first part, the Earth's nukes are launched at the Sun to try to restart the nuclear burning process. Some hit the Moon by mistake on the way. The 8.5 minutes refers to the transit time for the light from the Sun to the Earth. The main recurring theme in this song has to do with what the Earthlings would do during the final 8.5 minutes of that last beam of sunlight coming to the Earth - the last time we'd have light. The astronomer is on CNN because they are asking him about the Sun burning out and what we're going to do? will life continue with the ensuing ice age we are about to embark on? It is now realize that everyone is going to die as the power plants are shutting down and the world is basically fucked. The author presents his case as someone who has found peace in the whole horrible mess - he is in the 5th stage of the Kübler-Ross model: acceptance. He finds beauty in the terribleness, e.g. "And a dead black disk slides silently overhead
    It’s fucking beautiful is what it is, " which again proves that he is saying that the Sun has burnt out. The end is pretty self-explanatory....
    rwoolf311on February 18, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General CommentActually, that is not "enough said." It's about what people would do if the world ended. Would they loot, and do things they could never get away with, or would they realize that they're sorry for all the crappy stuff they've done in their lives.
    bizarreon July 29, 2002   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI love the line about the astronomer on CNN: "I'm not your fucking clergyman"

    To explain, the panic spreading through the populace has reached a climax and everyone wants answers. How long do we have? Will the Earth be destroyed? What's going on? And there is this scientist who is just a simple astronomy researcher and all these questions are bombarding him on live T.V. and he screams that he isn't a clergyman, meaning he isn't going to give people peace about death or give them all the answers they need or help them reconcile their behavior. And that is just two lines of this great piece, one word: mind-blowing.
    couldBanyoneon February 23, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General Commentthe nukes were launched because the sun died: "kickstart something", with the heat and the energy of nuclear power. He's not a scientist, he's a musician; whether 8.5 minutes is or isn't an accurate figure is entirely irrelevant.
    Further proof: "On the other hand, oh, it's fucking freezing..." -- no sun? exactly.
    Travis certainly has a way with words, it's true.
    WhiteTideon March 21, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI agree with WhiteTide, about the sun being out and trying to kick start it. I'd say the 8.5 minutes was the time between the sun actually going out and the time before the last of it's light hit the earth. The last 8.5 minutes of life as you know it. The verses talk about the aftermath, and the chorus goes back to how people reacted during the event.
    Klieserberon June 24, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General CommentAwesome song and good job interpreting it. I love the lines:
    "But the sky is like a dome of black metal flake
    And stars bleed together in phosphorescent lakes
    And a dead black disk slides silently overhead
    It's fucking beautiful is what it is."
    No sun means no moonlight, plus no electricity on earth, the sky would look like black metal flake (which is what makes paint metallic or "sparkly", a good example is this-- 2.bp.blogspot.com/_i_AovfzNXgQ/SI_1lbqjB7I/AAAAAAAAUs8/0A773-96ewI/s400/…). The stars would be so numerous, they would just blend together in lakes of light. And the "dead black disk" being the only other thing in the sky: the unilluminated moon, only appearing as a black disc in the sky. It really would be beautiful if you picture it. Great imagery in this song.
    TheDistantPanicon December 02, 2010   Link
  • +1
    General CommentSeems like people have more or less covered the technical aspects of the metaphor at the center of this song, but there's been less discussion about the thrust of the metaphor itself.

    That shows itself in the song's motivating question: "What were you doing for those eight and a half minutes?" In other words, what really drives you when you strip away everything superficial and transient? (That stripping away is accomplished in an extreme and evocative fashion here, which understandably diverts attention from the message.)

    The song presents the question both on the collective and the individual level. The narrator observes things like the lack of looting, but also tempers that observation by the fact that potential looters might be deterred by the cold. You can hear him wrestling with the question of how the human race is going to behave in the face of existential crisis. Is it fundamentally self-destructive or can it muster the fortitude to "get it right" while staring down extinction?

    We also get the individual question: when the chips are down, how are you going to react? Is your impulse to try to get in your spiteful parting shots on the people around you, or do you square yourself with your conscience by attempting to right any wrongs you've committed against them?

    It's a song that struggles with the contradiction of the human impulse for great empathy and altruism along side it's equally capacious selfish side. It wonders, ultimately, which side wins out, both within individuals, and within society writ large.
    greensubmarineon May 03, 2012   Link
  • 0
    General CommentAbout the end of the world, 'nuff said.
    tsucolon May 31, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General Commentgives a lot of images of the end of the world, but what is this "Dead black disc" that slides silently overhead?
    knifetohisthroaton August 03, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI think he may be making a reference to the giant saucers in the movie Independence Day... at least that's what I picture when I think of "dead black disk slides silently overhead."

    I agree with bizarre. This song asks what a person does when there are only 8.5 minutes left for humanity... loot, pillage, and rape or apologize and express love.
    PBCrunchon September 04, 2002   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