"Gift Shop" as written by Robert Baker, Gordon Downie, Johnny Fay, Joseph Paul Langlois and Robert Gordon Sinclair....
The beautiful lull
The dangerous tug
We get to feel small
From high up above
And after a glimpse
Over the top
The rest of the world
Becomes a gift shop

The pendulum swings
For the horse like a man
Out over the rim
Is ice cream to him
The beautiful lull
The dangerous tug
We get to feel small
But not out of place at all

We're forced to bed
But we're free to dream
All us human extras
All us herded beings
And after a glimpse
Over the top
The rest of the world
Becomes a gift shop

I don't know what to believe
Sometimes I even forget
And if it's a lie
Terrorists made me say it
The beautiful lull
The dangerous tug
We get to feel small
From high up above

From high up above
From high up above
From high up above
From high up above


Lyrics submitted by black_cow_of_death

"Gift Shop" as written by Johnny Fay Gordon Downie

Lyrics © Peermusic Publishing

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Gift Shop song meanings
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10 Comments

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  • +2
    General CommentI could listen to this song until my ears bleed. It's that good.
    OpinionHeadon June 14, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General CommentJus maken a post, and complimenting on how well they pull it off on the album "Live Between Us". I have no clue what the lyrics mean, but its a real good song to listen to. I think a band can do anyting if they have 5 hours for every song to master it in the studio, but to pull it off perfect live, in front of thousands of people, it takes some real talent earned only through hard work and experiance. I'm a guitarist and i know how hard it is to make live stuff sound good... plus the crowd will mess yeh up.
    HipFan_007on July 02, 2003   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI love this song because the meaning is much simpler than most of their other songs. It seems to me this song is about a person caught in a dream where he or she is looking down on the world and out into heaven. When we get to heaven, the earth in all of its splendor and glory are nothing more than trinkets that were here for our needs. We don't trinkets with us. Beautiful metaphor if you ask me.
    OpinionHeadon August 06, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI like what opinionhead said. That really makes sense with the "beautiful lull...dangerous tug" of materialism.
    ProudesterMonkeyon April 26, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentFor any hip fans who want to search potential meanings of songs...

    hipmuseum.com

    According to this awesome site, this song was inspired by the big hole in the ground in Northeastern Arizona.
    OpinionHeadon January 07, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI read many years ago in an interview with one Rob or Paul (can't remember exactly) where it was said that this song is essentially about Niagra Falls. Another Hip song, Daredevil, deals with it specifically. The story goes that Gord was sent letters from an elementary school class that was asked to interpret the lyrics to Daredevil, and Gift Shop was born out of that correspondance. I don't know if it's true or not but I've lived with the interpretation ever since.

    I don't know what to believe,
    sometimes I even forget
    and if it's a lie,
    terrorists made me say it

    Seems to me to touch on the divide between Canada and US that the Falls partially represent. In Canada we have a habit of structuring certain social ideologies in contrast to the US, to the point where if one were to consider themselves happy with American ideology and yet live in Canada (a possibility considering the geography), one would be perpetually confused as to what to believe.
    mhareon March 27, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentAfter watching this video a number of times, I can't help but see this song as an unintended memorial toward 9/11. It came out five years before that, but the video for the song shows a few shots of the Twin Towers in all their glory. Maybe I'm drawing the wrong conclusion here, but I just happen to see it that way at this moment.
    OpinionHeadon September 16, 2010   Link
  • 0
    My InterpretationI think of Gift Shop as the thoughts going through Gordie's mind as he is taking a flight somewhere - "the dangerous tug" being the plane as it takes off. When we travel away from home, "the rest of the world becomes a gift shop". Looking down at the world "from high up above" he ponders our shared human existence and the vastness of the world ("we get to feel small").

    But he also affirms our existence with lines like "we're forced to bed / but we're free to dream" and "we get to feel small / but not out of place at all". And for all of the thoughts he is pondering (perhaps taking into account many of the seemingly petty issues of the times) he ultimately admits "I don't know what to believe / sometimes I even forget".

    To me, the deeper genius of describing the world as a gift shop is also a pointed critique of consumerism, and how it affects our lives and world in so many ways (contributing to us feeling small). But hey, "if its a lie, terrorists made me say it".
    john101549on June 01, 2016   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThe song is a reflection on Gord's, and the band's, place "above the common rabble" --the experience of being famous. "The beautiful lull, the dangerous tug" is the temptation to see yourself as better than ordinary people, to give in to your ego. They still feel human, average, ("small,") but his/their vantage point is extremely distanced from the everyday ("high up above"). He then examines the lot of the average person and notes that we (as humans) are "forced to bed" (our creative impulses are stymied and discouraged) but ultimately no one can stop us if we're sufficiently motivated ("we're free to dream"). Ultimately Downie rejects the role of prophet, however: "I don't know what to believe...sometimes I even forget..." and absolves himself of the responsibility of providing insight to the masses "if it's a lie...terrorists made me say it." There's both an acknowledgement and an irony in the closing refrain of "from high up above"--Downie was writing this song at the peak of the Hip's popularity, giving a nod to the fact that the Hip were metaphorically--and in the song, literally--"on top"--but also admitting that once there, he really didn't know what to do with themself and didn't really want the responsibility.
    monkeycmdron July 27, 2016   Link
  • 0
    General CommentBoys the song is about skydiving. It's about the view and flirting with death and how it makes everything afterwards better. The dangerous tug is the deployment of your parachute.
    peter10306on March 15, 2017   Link

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