"Oh Well, Okay" as written by and Steven P. Smith....
Here's the silhouette, the face always turned away
The bleeding color gone to black, dying like a day
Couldn't figure out what made you so unhappy
Shook your head to say no, no, no
And stopped for a spell
And stayed that way
Oh well, okay
I got pictures, I just don't see it anymore
Climbing hour upon hour through a total bore
With the one I keep where it never fades
In the safety of a pitch black mind
An airless cell that blocks the day
Oh well, okay
If you get a feeling the next time you see me
Do me a favor and let me know
Because it's hard to tell
It's hard to say
Oh well, okay
Oh well, okay
Oh well, okay

Lyrics submitted by EnjOy IncUbus

Oh Well, Okay song meanings
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  • +7
    General Commenti'm kinda surprised no one mentioned all the references to pictures. it seems like he wrote this after looking through some old photos. i have a feeling they're pictures of himself, but it's not really clear, and they could easily be of anyone he cared about.
    it seems like he's bored and looking back, and just can't figure out why he's been so sad for so long. i think the mention of "silhouette" and "bleeding color" are both referring to an old photo. and the imagery ("gone to black," "dying") he uses just help accentuate the sadness in the picture and in his heart.
    the part about the one trapped in his head is interesting ("With the one I keep where it never fades
    In the safety of a pitch black mind"). i'm not sure what picture he's specifically thinking of. maybe it's just a memory of himself in a really hard time that he can't let go of. it almost seems like he wants to hold on to his sadness, since he mentions "safety" of his mind. he doesn't want too let go of that image, even though it seems so depressing.
    maybe the last lines about, "If you get a feeling the next time you see me/ Do me a favor and let me know" are to himself. Meaning, if my happy self comes around, come on in. I think he's tired of being so sad, even though he does like to cling to his depression at times. As he says, "It's hard to say/ Oh well, okay." I think this just means it's hard for him to always feel so depressed and apathetic about life and to be surrounded by so much melancholy, in his heart and in old photos.
    I feel the same way. I miss you, Elliott. RIP
    kaoncandyon October 07, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentMore than a few devastating lines in this song. The ones with the most impact, in my opinion:

    Climbing hour upon hour through a total bore
    With the one I keep where it never fades
    In the safety of a pitch black mind
    An airless cell that blocks the day

    Tempting to assume "the safety of a pitch black mind" refers to self-numbing via drugs, but I'm wary of this; I think we all tend to read references to drugs in Elliott's songs, when he may have intended something else. As others have mentioned, the song is a vivid evocation of depression. If you've been there, you know what he means by a "pitch black mind." (This also fits with the earlier line: a daily struggle which feels endless, boring and pointless because of the inability to maintain interest, or feel pleasure.) When I hear him sing about the endless cell, I think of (metaphorical) self-confinement: what William Blake called "mind-forged manacles."

    Elliott refers to picture(s) in "Sweet Adeline" also. Does he literally mean photographs (which can be cut apart with scissors, as the other song suggests), or pictures in one's head? Memories. Ones you'd like to keep, but most often would rather not look at.

    Recently I read an excerpt from the autobiography of a doctor. (Here I'm thinking of what blackout2oo7 wrote.) At a symposium attended primarily by psychiatrists, she spoke of lying awake nights wondering about that mistake she might have made, the one which could cost a patient their life. Other attendees said they could sympathize: but that if you've never been a therapist with many patients who are suicidal, you can only begin to imagine what the worst of those sleepless nights are like. If I'm ever having doubts about therapy because of the financial cost, I try to remember how--more than once--my doctor has fought for my life.

    Ethan's description of Elliott's voice, "clear water," is perfect. Some critics complain his voice is too even...not expressive enough. Have they never heard him sing live? Regardless...I don't think every singer needs histrionics to give a moving performance. Mark Eitzel for example; I like his music, but sometimes I wish he'd dial it down a bit.

    I too have wondered whether the "you" is someone he knows, or whether this is an internal dialogue.
    foreverdroneon November 20, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General Commentsomeone close to him seems to have fallen into a bout of depression or maybe just apathy ("the bleeding color gone to black, dying like a day"), and the speaker is frustrated because he doesn't know how to help bring the life back to them. "if you get a feeling next time you see me/ do me a favor and let me know/ 'cos it's hard to tell/ it's hard to say/ oh well, okay." he's saying, if you ever feel like you can tell me how to help, DO SO, because it's so hard to stand here while you're hurting and be powerless.

    it's a feeling of helplessness when trying to aid those you love, but can't. one of my favorite elliott smith songs...
    tripolion April 15, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General Commenti interpretated it as "if you get a feeling next time you see me, do me a favor and let me know" opposed to "if you get a feeling, next time you see me, do me a favor and let me know" which your intepretation seems to have intepretated it. perhaps i didnt explain that in the best way, but both interesting.
    the green eyeson April 22, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General Commentthis song reminds of my friend that died. alot of elliott smith songs do. but i started listening to his stuff long before it happened, so being depressed about something makes the music better. same thing with hot water music. actually the first time i heard this song was when i was at work, it happened to be 1 of 2 elliott smith songs on the quiznos playlist. its almost been my favourite song for a month, before that i'd pick 2:45 AM
    rossxon September 23, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General CommentYou could almost say maybe he's talking to/about himself until "if you get a feeling next time you see me." like a monologue. Just a thought.

    This reminds me of a past relationship I had with somebody, a melancholy person who never knew, through all my psychoanalysis and therapy with them, why things were the way they made them. It's been quite awhile now, but you don't usually forget things like that with people who seemed important to you at one time.

    Sometimes, after all the shock, you just have these pictures that are fading slowly over the trust you figured was there. It used to be suffocating, but it's a passing face, and you just shrug it off.. "oh well, okay." Even though sometimes you're unsure if it was all just sympathy or if it meant something. If you cared about them, why would you want to just shrug it off like they'd want you to?

    I guess one could dedicate this song to a brick wall.
    blackout2oo7on January 02, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General Commentcan't offer much insight on this except i know it's about elliot, because in an article in spin magazine they talked about how elliot couldn't look people in the face, and he wore sunglasses and dark coats and stuff to kinda cover up who he was (hende "here's the silhouette"). i'm guessing it was a girl who couldn't take all the personal and personality problems he had going on
    naptimeon January 13, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General Commentfuck yeah
    j.acobon January 14, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI think this song is about losing a friend, through change or whatever it may be. However you still see that person even though they continue to abuse you.
    buwhahaon March 17, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General Commenti agree with tripoli and most of what blackout said. also, this has been one of my favorites for a long time.

    these lines are some i hold close to myself:

    "if you a get a feeling the next time you see me
    do me a favor and let me know
    cause it's hard to tell, it's hard to say,"

    i'm guilty of this myself... holding things in i want to say when i have the opportunity to say it. sometimes i wonder what others have held back from me. it's an interesting point to ponder..
    delialon August 07, 2005   Link

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