"Bled White" as written by and Steven P. Smith....
I'm a color reporter (rose city on the 409)
But the city's been bled white (white city on the yellow line)
And the doctor orders (drinking till he's trashed is just a waste of time)
He drinks all night to take away this curse
But it makes me feel much worse

Bled white

So I wait for the f-train (white city on the yellow line)
And connect through a friend of mine (white city to a friend of mine)
To a yesterdaydream (yesterday a dream was just a waste of time)
'Cause I'll have to be high to track the sunset down
And paint this pailing town

Bled white

So here he comes with a blank expression
Especially for me 'cause he knows
I feel the same
'Cause happy and sad come in quick succession
I'm never going to become
What you became

Don't you dare disturb me (don't complicate my piece of mind)
While I'm balancing my past (don't complicate my piece of mind)
'Cause you can't help or hurt me (the anger, being mean was just a waste of time)
Like it already has, it may not seem quite right
But I'm not fucked, not quite

Bled white
Bled white


Lyrics submitted by EnjOy IncUbus

"Bled White" as written by Steven P. Smith

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

Lyrics powered by LyricFind

Bled White song meanings
Add your thoughts

43 Comments

sort form View by:
  • +3
    General CommentThis song perfectly illustrates how Elliot (and other folks, like me) use or have used drugs and alcohol to combat depression,just feel normal, or at least numb. The city is cold, lonely, lifeless, and above all boring, at least you see it that way b/c there's nothing to distract from whatever inner agnst you're holding onto. You can drink all night to try to kill the pain, but it will "make you feel much worse"; as booze tends to amplify emotions instead of supressing them (what you want), and hangovers can be a bitch. It takes some good pills or heroin to finally shut down the pain. So you go looking for it, but you don't ever "want to become what you became"; ie a full blown drug addict like his friend. Once you get your sweet, sweet drugs, you can't be touched. You can yell and scream at me all night about being an fucked up loser and it just won't faze you, until you run out. Then your're fucked.

    My favorite song of his. The vocal harmonies are just perfect.
    jmpswannon July 24, 2008   Link
  • +2
    General CommentA songwriter is kind of a beat reporter who goes out and writes about what he sees and feels. The reporter in this song is bummed out because there's nothing new out there to report. I think "bled white" means that all of the stories have been milked by other reporters. The city is like a corpse. It's all been written before. Ironically, this is a juicy and amazing song about not having anything to write unless he gets high. His messed up friend delivers the goods. He may end up going over the edge like his friend, but not for a while.
    MysteriousMrMon February 17, 2010   Link
  • +1
    General CommentMy interpretation is that he is a "color reporter"- someone who thrives on color, and yet he's in a city "bled white"- a city void of color, the thing he needs to flourish. Basically he's bored or uneasy about the dismal, uninteresting world surrounding him.

    The lines "Because I'll have to be high to drag the sunset down/And paint this paling town" suggest that he is going to try and bring life back into the town. How is debatable. His being "high" could either mean being happy and above all the sad, disappointing souls of the city, or it could simply mean high on some form of drug. By Elliott's track record, I would assume the latter, but the lines "I'm never going to become what you became/Don't you dare disturb me" hint that Elliott meant that he is going to try and figuratively be "above" someone or some people.

    Not Elliott's best, however that doesn't say much as even Elliott's poorest songs are better than most other artists and moving in some way. Seems he tried to create a slightly more upbeat one here. It worked but..I don't know. I kinda prefer the slower tempo for Elliott.
    couitneyyon August 17, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI hate to leave such a general comment, but this song is absolutely beautiful. Just wanted to throw that out there.
    kellymcmon March 20, 2010   Link
  • +1
    General CommentAddiction. Only an addict, or ex-addict, can TRULY get every connection in Smith's songs. I guess if you've intimately known an addict, you'd get a lot of it. I hate to say it and there's a lot for other people, too. But his songs have these lines that seems either nonsensical or sometimes a little trite until- BOOM, if you struggle with addiction and he's there along with you, the meaning clicks. He needs drugs to write, he needs drugs to not be completely bored by the ugliness of 21st century urban American, he needs drugs to be happy. He's blaming everyone but himself, which Elliott surely did on purpose- made the narrator unreliable to mirror the deception and denial inherent in the addict's world. Perfect. Sorry to suggest some people will never get this music, I really think that's just like an extra layer of paint on what's already a beautiful and shiny edifice.
    fadetoflasheson January 14, 2014   Link
  • +1
    Song MeaningThis song is highly autobiographical.

    I believe the song is referencing both Texas and Portland as the setting. First, Rose City is a small town in east Texas in the area code 409. But then Portland is known as "the Rose City" and has the MAX Yellow Line, which goes through the Rose Quarter. I'm not sure which one has the "F-train", but I imagine it's probably Portland.

    Elliott left Texas at 14, supposedly because his step father was abusive and his mother was distant, at least. They may also have had drinking problems. The lyrics from 'Waltz No. 2' seem to have been about his mother: "She appears composed, so she is, I suppose. Who can really tell? She shows no emotion at all, stares into space like a dead china doll..."

    So he was leaving a really bad scene in Texas. Though he was not from Rose City. I don't know who he knew there, or what he was doing there.

    His father was a doctor, a psychiatrist. Elliott originally came to Portland to live with him, long after he and Elliott's mother had divorced.

    Elliott had serious Major Depression problems. He could have also had Bipolar, or Cyclothymia, a lesser form of Bipolar, both of which can occur with Depression, and both of which are very heritable. The lyric "happy and sad in quick succession" could be a reference to Bipolar, or at least Major Depression.

    It's very likely he got out of the frying pan and into the fire. He escaped his abusive step father in Texas, just to end up with his father in Portland, who may have had substance abuse problems (this is a guess!) and mental illness.

    Elliott cites having had an interest in psychiatry, like his father, but didn't "have anything to offer other people." Hence the lyric: "I'm never going to become what you became." sweetadeline.net/…

    I don't know exactly what "bled white" refers to. The racial makeup of the cities? I have my doubts about that, though it kind of makes sense. It might just be from some incident or conversation that we will never know. But it's a great metaphor -- the pallor of someone, or a corpse, who has lost blood.
    ZagZyggon May 05, 2014   Link
  • 0
    General Commenti may not seem quite right
    but i'm not fucked, no quite

    another excellent elliot smith line..
    AndForgetMeNotson April 15, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General Commentspell elliott right.

    This was just copied from the lyrics at sweetadeline.net, but some of the lyrics are off, and there are background vocals between certain lines that add to the songs. "I'm a color reporter (rose city on the 409) but the city's been bled white (rose city to the other line) and the doctor orders (drinking till he's trashed is just a waste of time) drinks all night to take away this curse" etc. Then on the other bits... "don't you dare disturb me (don't complicate my peace of mind) while i'm balancing my past... (don't complicate my peace of mind) 'cos you can't help or hurt me (faith in me, baby, is just a waste of time) like it already has"... anyway the song seems deeper with the other vocals.
    mon no jigokuon June 07, 2003   Link
  • 0
    General Commentmon no is right, get the lyrics in there
    man on tvon October 20, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General CommentFull Lyrics

    I'm a color reporter (rose city on the 409)
    But the city's been bled white (white city on the yellow line)
    And the doctor orders (drinking till he's trashed is just a waste of time)
    He drinks all night to take away this curse
    But it makes me feel much worse

    Bled white

    So I wait for the f-train (white city on the yellow line)
    And connect through a friend of mine (white city to a friend of mine)
    To a yesterday dream (yesterday dream was just a waste of time)
    'Cause I'll have to be high to track the sunset down
    And paint this pailing town

    Bled white

    So here he comes with a blank expression
    Especially for me 'cause he knows
    I feel the same
    'Cause happy and sad come in quick succession
    I'm never going to become
    What you became

    Don't you dare disturb me (don't complicate my piece of mind)
    While I'm balancing my past (don't complicate my piece of mind)
    'Cause you can't help or hurt me (the anger, being mean was just a waste of time)
    Like it already has, it may not seem quite right
    But I'm not fucked, not quite

    Bled white
    Bled white
    nevermind_03__on December 21, 2004   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