At a party he was waiting
Looking kind of spooky and withdrawn
Like he could be underwater
The mighty mother with her hundred arms swept all aside
I hate to walk behind other people's ambitions
I saw you waiting, saint-like, with your warning:

Leave alone
You don't belong here

Got nervous, started whistling, every thought a ricochet
Did you notice? Well, I wondered
"What's the worst thing I could say?"
Froze up inside
"You remind me of someone's daughter
I forgot her . . . I forgot her name, ashamed"
Go home, live with your pain

Leave alone
Leave alone, because you know you don't belong
You don't belong here

When I go, don't you follow

Leave alone
Leave alone, because you know you don't belong
You don't belong here

Slip out quiet nobody's looking
Leave alone, you don't belong here


Lyrics submitted by EnjOy IncUbus, edited by Memento22Mori, Mellow_Harsher

No Name #1 song meanings
Add your thoughts

30 Comments

sort form View by:
  • +1
    General Comment
    The chord arrangement reminds me of the kind of song you might hear at a 1950's highschool dance. However, the delicate understated strumming of the guitar combined with the pitch bends in the melody submerges an otherwise pleasant social event into this uncomfortable, disorienting, somewhat nauseating atmosphere. When the ride cymbal starts playing after the first bar with the snare, it sounds alot like the chatter and movement of a crowd of people talking amongst eachother.

    At a party he was waiting
    Looking kind of spooky and withdrawn
    Like he could be underwater...

    If you've ever shown up to a dance, party, or any kind of festive social gathering feeling uncomfortable, out-of-place, unsure about what to do or who to talk to, or that you simply did not belong there in the first place, this song could take you back there. It doesn't really sound like a place you'd want to return to, but there's a certain pleasure taken when you listen to this song. It has such an endearing quality to it and makes you love the outsider and empathize with him.

    Go home
    and live with your pain.

    And if it's you whose the outsider, it could make you love and empathize with yourself.

    davevazquezon December 17, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General CommentDefinitely agree with the feelings of social isolation, but i'll add that he's definitely referring to the mother complex in this:

    At a party he was waiting
    Looking kind of spooky and withdrawn
    Like he could be underwater
    The mighty mother with her hundred arms

    The mother complex can make it impossible to talk to girls because you never feel like you can live up to their expectations since your always entangled in a drama with your own unconscious mother figure who expects too much of you.
    Fermenton July 20, 2011   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThis is definitely my favourite Elliott Smith song for two different reasons. Firstly how perfectly it expresses the great human feeling of isolation. The imagery of just a fragile teenage boy at a party is remarkably powerful, as is the repetition of 'leave alone' and 'you don't belong', which echo in your head long after the song has finished.

    I am a huge fan of Smith's music and also am fascinated about his life and nature. No Name #1's simple meaning tells us a lot about the man and the isolation he endured throughout his life because of how his brain was wired and because of how talented he was.

    Others have picked up on this quotation: 'The mighty mother with her hundred arms swept all aside' - as a direct reference to his own mother. I too interpreted it this way, it's interesting though, in later songs where a female figure that is seemingly a reference to his mother appears, they are usually portrayed as weak and feeble. Here, the 'mother' is conveyed as a strong, mythical beast. I think this could reflect where he was emotionally in the Roman Candle era, his mother and the internal conflict he suffered from past experiences with her were overpowering and throttling at this time. This could portray anger he felt for her for the pain she had caused him. As time goes on in his songwriting career, this female figure as aforementioned weakens- could this be a sign of his anger transcending into pity for his mother?

    No one knows truly what he experienced in his childhood, but something definitely fucked him up from it. I think this song is a very insightful view into his mind.
    justlikehoney1on April 16, 2014   Link
  • 0
    General CommentHere's an interpretation of a great song, off of my favourite Eliott Smith record:

    He's got major anxiety because he's at a party with people he feels uncomfortable with; very shy around them, afraid of saying something stupid and mindlessly following people around without saying a word. He finally manages to say something to a girl: "You look like someones daughter" - probably really drunk, and she rejects him. He is very embaressed, and decides to go home alone because he knows he isn't making a worthwhile impression on anybody. He slips out of the party without anyone noticing him at all.
    sunshineiodineon November 18, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General CommentOne of my favorite songs right now, I just wish it was longer...
    Passengeron November 19, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General Commentnice interpretation sunshine. this is probably in my top three elliott songs.

    to me, it represents the irony of feeling completely isolated and alone, even in a huge crowd of people. he knows he doesn't "belong there." maybe he feels inferior because he sees this beautiful girl who is "saint like" to him, which only heightens his insecurity and sense of isolation. wow - just a great song, the whole Roman Candle album is just so emotionally pure and raw; probably because he never even meant to release it. he recorded it alone in the basement of his apartment, and only decided to put it out after someone he let hear it begged to produce it.
    NightNeverSleepson November 23, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI relate to this a whole lot, god he was amazing.
    precipitateon November 30, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General Commentthis at the moment is my favorite Elliott song, and it is definately my favorite on Roman Candle. I LOVE this album.. it is so underrated by fans.. as stated above his gf begged him to record his songs, and Cavity Search heard some and wanted to put out a single so he sent these songs and they loved them all and put them all out. I love that story. He was so great. He didnt care about people hearing his music, these songs were cathartic, a way to deal with the pain, express it in the only way you really can. I relate to this song on so many levels.
    lisalynnon February 04, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General Commentdoes anyone know where i can find no name no. 1-4? I only have 5 and 6, I didn't even know these other ones existed.
    darkgoddess57on April 03, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General Commentyou can find no name # 1-4 on "Roman Candle"...
    Doraon May 26, 2005   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