Wish you gave me your number
Wish I could call you today, just to hear a voice
I got a long way to go
I'm getting further away

If I didn't know the difference living alone'd probably be ok
It wouldn't be lonely
I got a long way to go
I'm getting further away

A lot of hours to occupy, it was easy when I didn't know you yet
Things I have to forget
But I better be quiet now
I'm tired of wasting my breath
Carrying on and getting upset

Maybe I got a problem, but that's not what I wanted to say
I'd prefer to say nothing.
I got a long way to go
I'm getting further away.

Had a dream as an army man with an order just to march in my place
While a dead enemy screams in my face
But I better be quiet now
I'm tired of wasting my breath
Carrying on, not over it yet

Wish I knew what you're doing
And why you want to do it this way, so I can't go the distance
I got a long way to go
I'm getting further away
I got a long way to go
I'm getting further away



Lyrics submitted by EnjOy IncUbus, edited by deadevil13

"I Better Be Quiet Now" as written by Steven P. Smith

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

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I Better Be Quiet Now song meanings
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31 Comments

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  • +1
    General Comment:I must say that this is one of Elliott's best songs. Its so beautiful.
    ilovetrishon July 05, 2004   Link
  • +1
    General Comment:I love how he sings so quietly while he says:

    "But I better be quiet now
    I'm tired of wasting my breath
    Carrying on, getting upset"

    I remember Ben Folds saying one time he asked Elliott why he never yelled in his songs. Elliott said something about how when you grow up in a house full to screaming, you learn to love silence.

    I love how he can express so much anger and sing basically at a whisper. So missed.
    heyjohnsullivanon November 02, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General Comment:Can't get this out of my mind. Wouldn't want to. One of Elliott's most-beautiful melodies. Listening tonight, I heard--for the first time--the electric-guitar fills, all but one of which were almost too subtle for me to notice before.

    Does anyone agree the song structure feels different? As if each verse has its own miniature chorus ("Got a long way to go..."), while the role more-typically played by a chorus is instead fulfilled by two "bridges," the parts in which he sings the title.

    So sad; so careful to avoid anyone seeing he's hurting. The second verse would sound dismissive, if the meaning of all these apparently-reassuring words weren't dramatically altered: by leading with, "If I didn't know the difference..."

    Elliott sounds as if he truly wants to believe he'd rather not "waste his breath" asking this now-absent person, don't I remember each of us saying "I love you"? For years we lived together, and now you expect me to pretend we're strangers?

    He knows he's expected to leave the past behind & act as if it didn't matter. Because he tries, don't assume he's OK with it. I'd been nonplussed by the image of a nameless "dead enemy" not allowing him any peace. Then I understood. His earlier self--with this love still alive in his heart--is screaming, but he's been ordered to ignore it.

    As our earliest respondent Starry already noted, these lines are devastating:

    Wish I knew what you're doing
    Or why you want to do it this way

    Not sure whether my analysis added anything new, but it's a great song; I enjoyed doing it.
    foreverdroneon January 23, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General Comment:Elliott Smith is not afraid to say what he feels and his lyrics are awesome. They are heart felt and easy to relate to. I like the part when he says "wish i knew what you were doing. why you want to do it this way". His voice is so soothing and his lyrics are so true. Keep it up Elliott
    Starryon April 22, 2003   Link
  • 0
    General Comment:maybe this is the best song to relate to when you have been unwillingly broken up with. Such poet!
    briaron October 28, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General Comment:"a lot of hours to occupy it was easy
    when i didn't know you yet,
    things i'd have to forget. "

    i think he's talking about the time in relationships that you unknowingly devote to the other person. at the beginning, this is a good change, you're putting yourself into someone else.

    but at the end you can't remember how you used to get by without them, and frankly, sometimes people never remember.
    makeartnotmathon December 08, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General Comment:"had a dream as an army man with an order
    just to march in my place
    but a dead enemy
    screams in my face"

    i agree with makeartnotmath. the lines above make me think of having a life in order with the same routine and then a someone becomes part of your life and when they are no longer in your life you cannot be your self or live without them. all you see and think about are the memories of you and this person."but a dead enemy screams in my face"
    maybeIhaveaproblemon December 14, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General Comment:Has anyone else noticed that Elliott adds some military jargon into some of his songs??? There's the reference to "an army man with an order just to march in my place" and, "The reflection in the water showed and iron man still trying to salute, people from a time he was everything he was supposed to be." From Everything Means Nothing to Me. Clearly, I listen to Elliott too much to pick up on these things, but I think there are more references to being a washed up army man in other songs as well. Maybe he's using it as a metaphor for his life being more or less a war that he's tired of fighting.
    SouthernBelleon March 09, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General Comment:Southern belle, i totally agree with you and so does Elliott, i'm not talking for him, but in Strange parallel, he definately alludes to that. the scene is cool, he's in a bar and a drill sergant, or someone, comes and starts screaming orders at him, and he just sits there, then he says that in the future sergants will come and badger anyone who isn't conservative enough or doesn't make enough of their lives and then creativity might die.

    About the song, this is personnally the saddest song by Elliott, i can't listen to it without crying. it's like people hurt, but you only have the power to change yourself, so you try to take their shit, and then it just kills you and you become numb and you think that's the best way to handle it "i got a long way to go getting further away" he's got a long way to go until he's numb enough for this world, but is gradually getting further away.

    beautiful. honestly, sometimes only Elliott and his music keep me afloat. thanks Elliott for sharing your amazing soul.
    lost_in_twlighton April 05, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General Comment:nothing about dogs....
    happygonutson May 02, 2005   Link

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