"Metal Heart" as written by and Marshall Cat Power....
Losing the star without a sky
Losing the reasons why
You're losing the calling that you've been faking
And I'm not kidding

It's damned if you don't
And it's damned if you do
Be true 'cause they'll lock you up
In a sad sad zoo
Oh hidy hidy hidy what cha tryin' to prove
By hidy hidy hiding you're not worth a thing

Sew your fortunes on a string
And hold them up to light
Blue smoke will take
A very violent flight
And you will be changed
Sand everything
And you will be in a very sad sad zoo.

I once was lost but now I'm found was blind
But now I see you
How selfish of you to believe
In the meaning of all the bad dreaming

Metal heart you're not hiding
Metal heart you're not worth a thing

Metal heart you're not hiding
Metal heart you're not worth a thing


Lyrics submitted by typo, edited by nickcash

"Metal Heart" as written by Cat Power Marshall

Lyrics © Peermusic Publishing, BEGGARS MUSIC, LTD.

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Metal Heart song meanings
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  • +10
    General CommentThis just might be my favorite Cat Power song. I think it's about, at least to me, is not following your dreams, your calling, just going through the motions of life, locked up in a "sad sad zoo", pretending it doesn't bother you, and the danger in doing that, how it can change you... God, I need to get out of this office.
    DevastatorJr.on February 04, 2005   Link
  • +6
    General Commenti'm not really a cat power fan, i just have a couple of her songs that people sent me and i've listened to them only once or twice. i have to say tho, it didn't hit me how great this song was until i gave it another proper listen when i was really down in the dumps.

    i think it's about freeing yourself of the self-restraints you put urself up to to protect yourself. and the way i see it, she's somewhat chiding herself for putting up all these defences, altho she understands that it may be necessary to protect yourself, to cushion yourself from the possible hurt (damned if you don't, damned if you do). but i see this as her reaching a moment of clarity where she decides 'i'm not gonna be all closed-up anymore', because she finally sees how self-destructive that can be. ("how selfish of you to believe in the meaning of all the bad dreaming")
    jadedgypsyon April 30, 2006   Link
  • +6
    General CommentA lot of people seem to have found their meaning in this song as something introspective. For me though, this is a song being sung to someone else. It's like, when you are in a relationship, or starting to get into a relationship, the way people complicate things.

    The voice is directed towards a part of someone else that is stopping them from giving themselves fully to you, even though it is what you both want. The part of someone that holds them back, maybe out of fear, sometimes fear of being hurt themselves, but more often, fear of hurting or disappointing the other person. The song is saying, please, surrender yourself, there is no need to hold anything back. If you keep a part of you just for yourself, then some part of you will never be fully realised.

    It's saying that, by holding back, so as not to hurt me, all you are really doing is denying me from fully realising myself in you, denying us from finding ourselves in each other. To the metal heart, you are selfish because you are standing in the way of the love that could be between these two, living, beating hearts.

    It's a love song, it's a plea. It's a happy song because it is full of hope for a love that is so close, you can almost reach out and touch it. It is a beautiful song.
    dd528on January 20, 2009   Link
  • +3
    General Comment"losing a star without a sky
    losing the reasons why
    you're losing the calling, you've been faking"

    i think this is about making up an image of you or something you supposedly believe in that isn't really true or worthwhile... and you get so wrapped up in trying to convince others and yourself of this so-called truth that you even forget what it was supposed to mean, why you did it...

    "oh hidy hidy hidy what're you trying prove?
    by hidy hidy hiding you're not worth a thing"
    again... if you forget to be yourself and just focus on this image (what are you trying to prove by doing it, who are you trying to impress, it doesn't make sense to try this), then that's when you stop being worth all that...

    "how selfish of you
    to believe in the meaning of all the bad dreaming"
    and sometimes you give up on people or projects because you imagine it may all go wrong and then you believe it. it's like ending a relationship for fear of being hurt, and thus, hurting the other person. selfish.

    one of the most beautiful, most melancholy, most post-disillusionment songs i've ever heard.
    dylan_in_the_movieson August 07, 2006   Link
  • +3
    My InterpretationI think this song is about being in love with someone who's in love with something else, a passion or a dream, a job maybe. And in a way he's putting her aside for the sake of his own interests, but she can sense that he's faking it and that maybe his passion/job/dream is just something to hide behind because he can't show his true feelings and that he loves her. He has a metal heart.
    So she's saying: Be true, to yourself! And if you're hiding and if you can't love me then you're not worth a thing.

    "sew your fortunes on a string
    and hold them up to light
    blue smoke will take a very violent flight
    and you will be changed
    and everything
    and you'll be in a very sad sad zoo"

    For me, these lines mean that there are no absolutes, in life you have to take chanses and go with it all because things can change quickly, life can pass you by without you having loved or been honest and true. Also that you can't plan everything and you really can't afford to be cold hearted and afraid. So she is saying: "Sew you're fortunes on a string and hold them up to light!" see if anything happens, if you're lucky.

    And then in the end she realizes that maybe he's not hiding, that maybe he's just not able to feel anything for her. And so she's mad and blames it on his metal heart, that's not worth a thing.

    "I once was lost but now I'm found
    was blind but now I see you"

    She really loves him.
    Freyiaon May 13, 2012   Link
  • +2
    General CommentTo me, this song is about someone trying to be someone they are not. They are trying to do the things other people want them to do because they think it will make them happy, but it really is making them miserable. The metal heart represents the separation of the person from his/her own true feelings.

    i love this song.....
    downthestaircaseon July 09, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General Comment"be true, 'cause they'll lock you up in a sad sad zoo" does she mean the funny farm? hmmm.
    rxqueenon May 02, 2003   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThis song is about killing someone, from what I can tell, for revenge. Blue smoke will take a very violent flight and you will be changed. That's poetic gunfire if I ever heard it. A sad sad zoo is prison. You're losing the calling, you've been faking. This line is about someone claiming to be seeking justice but is actually seeking revenge. It's damned if you don't and it's damned if you do. I think this is either about legal justice failing but the other option is a failure as well, or that the transgressor is already paying a price whether action is taken or not.I once was lost but now I'm found was blind but now I see you, how selfish of you. The author once agreed with the idea of revenge but has since had her eyes opened. Metal heart could be a gun, or to say the seeker of revenge has replaced their heart with the desire for vengeance. Everything after the first three and a half lines is utter speculation but those lines I am pretty sure about. Kablamo.
    appreciationon April 26, 2009   Link
  • +1
    My Interpretation
    losing a star without a sky
    losing the reasons why
    you're losing the calling, you've been faking

    >> In a world where so many people are adamant about a specific thing, it’s still hard for some of us to find one thing to have that much passion about. After a while, you just stop giving a fuck, and “going through the motions” so to speak, just to get by.
    and I'm not kidding
    it's damned if you don't and it's damned if you do

    >> If you don’t care about anything, you fall into depression and everything loses meaning, whereas, if you do care, you’re still fucked, because things don’t go as planned, or don’t go at all, and you’re just left heartbroken.

    be true 'cause they'll lock you up in a sad sad zoo

    >> If you stop caring altogether, no tears, no fears, no sad no happy no anything, you get locked up in the “sad sad zoo” which I think is the mental hospital.

    oh hidy hidy hidy what're you trying prove?
    by hidy hidy hiding you're not worth a thing

    >> You can’t prove anything by being unfeeling, and what point is there in living if you feel absolutely nothing?

    sew your fortunes on a string
    and hold them up to light

    >> Take everything you have, or think you have: all your stuff, all your family, everything you did, and examine them all very closely. What does any of that mean in the end? Nothing. When you have experienced so much hurt and learn to block feelings out, teach yourself not to care so you don’t get hurt like that again, (excuse my grammar here) nothing means anything anymore.

    blue smoke will take a very violent flight
    and you will be changed
    and everything

    >> POOF! Like in a magic show, once you realize what’s happened, the illusion (that anything mattered in the first place) is gone.

    and you'll be in a very sad sad zoo

    I once was lost but now I'm found
    was blind but now I see you

    >> You finally find something… someone that you care about, that breaks down those walls. Finally, a fucking reason, something that you would take a chance on.

    how selfish of you
    to believe in the meaning of all the bad dreaming

    >> And they are content to let things go to shit, because like you, they prepare themselves for the worst, because it hurts less that way. It’s easier to just let it fall by the wayside, because who wants to risk feeling that hurt again?

    metal heart you're not hiding
    metal heart you're not worth a thing
    metal heart you're not hiding
    metal heart you're not worth a thing

    >> Her heart is impenetrable, like metal, unfeeling, and not worth a thing because of this. She doesn’t want to hide, and be unfeeling, but her heart knows no other way.
    karmababe24on July 28, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General CommentIn my opinion, this song fits well to the idea of disillusioning yourself from hidden fantasies and pride; or a related melancholic pep talk. I'm probably out of context though because the song seems very personal and I don't know about Chan Marshall's life.

    "losing a star without a sky, losing the reasons why"

    In our viewpoint and observation, a star cannot exist with a sky, just as one might say that sound does not exist unless someone is there to hear it. It's just an abstraction inside your head and nothing else.
    'Losing the reasons why' anything bad or good would happen suggests a previous habit of neurotically and irrationally probing into the meaning of everything that happened to you, as if they were something that were destined or likewise.

    "you're losing the calling that you've been faking and I'm not kidding"

    Faking a calling implies a self imposed artificial valuation of yourself driven by your own grandiose ideas.

    "it's damned if you don't and it's damned if you do
    be true 'cause they'll lock you up in a sad sad zoo
    oh hidy hidy hidy what're you trying prove?
    by hidy hidy hiding you're not worth a thing"

    Contrary to my overall interpretation this is the trickiest because it presents some kind of moral dilemma in some trial-like situation. Nevertheless here, "you" have to confess and not hide your true motives. Hiding and shutting yourself before the tribunal of conscience will not improving anything.

    "sew your fortunes on a string and hold them up to light, blue smoke will take a very violent flight"

    This evokes an imagery of putting fortunes (or something relative to desires and dreams) under the scrutiny of light, or truth. Blue smoke suggests quick conflagration and destruction of such fantasy.

    "and you will be changed and everything and you'll be in a very sad sad zoo"

    After having reached the climax of destruction, like a roller coaster, the narrative goes again down into the depths of depression and self hate.

    "I once was lost but now I'm found
    was blind but now I see you"

    Here, in moment of realization, "you" refers to that other side of oneself, and not an actual person.

    "how selfish of you
    to believe in the meaning of all the bad dreaming"

    This ties up and reiterates the egotism inclined to someone so wrapped up in his (or her) own mind.

    "Metal heart" seems to me as a metaphor for the artificial split side of the character (the Mr. Hyde) devoid of true empathy.
    jhnchr90on August 10, 2010   Link

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