Forgotten throes of anothers life
The heart of love is their only light
Faithless greeds, consolidating
Holding down sweet charity
With western eyes and serpents breath
We lay our own conscience to rest
But I'm aching at the view
Yes I'm breaking at the scenes just like you
They have values of a certain taste
The innocent they can hardly wait
To crucify, invalidating
Turning to dishonesty
With western eyes and serpents breath
They lay their own conscience to rest
But then they lie and then they dare to be
Hidden heros candidly
So I'm aching at the view
Yes I'm breaking at the scenes just like you
(I feel so cold on hookers and gin...this mess we're in!)



Lyrics submitted by Ice

"Western Eyes" as written by Beth Gibbons Adrian Utley

Lyrics © CHRYSALIS MUSIC GROUP

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Western Eyes song meanings
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20 Comments

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  • +1
    General Comment:Well, I'm not so sure, but I always thought it was
    "Yes, I'm breaking at the 'seams' just like you.."

    It think it sounds better that way because it makes more sense than scenes, but ya never know.

    I love this song either way..
    noxiousbohemianon August 25, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General Comment:I always wondered where the phrase "western eyes" came from. I was in Foyles bookshop on Charing Cross Road when in the corner of my eyes I saw a book called "Under Western Eyes" by Joseph Conrad. I purchased it and gave up 1/3 of the way through as I found it a tough read. The song does, however, reflect perfectly the noirish mood of the book.

    Wikipedia describes the book as
    "Full of cynicism and conflict about the historical failures of revolutionary movements and ideals. ....the irrationality of life, and the unfairness with which suffering is inflicted upon the innocent and poor and the careless disregard for fellow life with whom we share existence.

    Says it all in my opinion.
    129484on January 17, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General Comment:
    I think this song relates to the way some people manipulate, control and prey on other people who love naively, and then how the abuser moves on with their conscience clear due to laying blame of some sort at the loser's door. I feel that the overall tragic tone to the song pertains to the loser's jaded feelings. I also feel that the meaning has parallels to the western civilisation and somehow blames such for the way we become greedy and selfish even extending to something personal, such as love.

    "Forgotten throes of anothers life"
    Meaning the abuser (I'll say baddy) is not considering the other's (goody) life.

    "The heart of love is their only light"
    Meaning the goody only feels and knows, quite naively, the way we all do when we're young, blind love.

    "Faithless greeds,consolidating"
    The baddy has no faith, and their greed for what they want to get from the goody is consolidated into a fine and focused point.

    "Holding down sweet charity"
    The sweet charity is the love given by the goody being held down by the baddy.

    "With western eyes and serpents breath
    We lay our own conscience to rest"
    The baddy's can lay their conscience to rest by buying into the media, western values and justifying it.

    "But I'm aching at the view
    Yes I'm breaking at the scenes just like you"
    I think this speaks for itself. Beth Just Ache's watching this happen. It pains her,

    This first part of this verse may have two meanings
    They have values of a certain taste
    The innocent they can hardly wait
    To crucify, invalidating
    Turning to dishonesty

    Meaning #1
    It could be written from the perspective of the baddy meaning their values are an acquired taste,similar to some foods and that "The innocent they can hardly wait" refers to how they lay in wait, to prey on the naive lovers. Then, they crucify them and invalidate them by manipulation (dishonesty).

    Meaning#2
    It could be the bitterness the goody now feelsand they themselves, in turn, have been jaded and turned into baddys only to go on and perpetuate the treatment to the next crop of naive lovers.

    The second part of the verse refers to whoever the first part refers to.

    With western eyes and serpents breath
    They lay their own conscience to rest
    But then they lie and then they dare to be
    Hidden heros candidly

    This means that whether it the baddy, or goody (turned bad) the western way means they simply lay the conscience to rest. Then, they go on to lie about the goody, turning blame to them, messing their head up, manipulating, controllling etc. These lies are important because it is the very existence of them and the belief the baddy puts into them that does clear their conscience. These lies can be shoehorned to make the baddy appear the hero, and therefore they have made themselves shine candidly, meaning, falsely and subtley.

    The hookers and gin sample at the end only reflects the coldness and bitterness left in the heart of the goody, who, may give up on the fallacy of romantic love to go and drown their sorrows in cold sex and pain killers.

    To me, this is one of the most haunting songs I have ever heard. Beth's voice is the most appropriate voice for such a song and this song is one of the few which can affect me emotionally every time I hear it. Personally this song is perfection from the tone of Beth's voice, to the meaning of the song to it's structure, sounds, genre and samples.

    And on top of that, it is AWESOME to fuck to!


    ezydriveron April 02, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General Comment:i feel so cold
    all hookers and gin

    this mess we're in :-/
    nicoleon May 06, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General Comment:her voice is truely haunting...
    shockdelicaon March 25, 2003   Link
  • 0
    General Comment:I'm so disappointed to see such little comments on such a BEAUTIFUL song. I LOVE this song so much, I just can't get enough of it. So full of emotional, and reproachful. It reminds me of that song called Waterbaby, in which they collaborated w/ Sneaker Pimps. It also reminded somewhat of an old 1920's song sung at a bar. Beautiful splendid work of her. I love the part at the end, when they put the mysterious, familiar voice of the man at the end. One of my favorites of Beth's!
    Phrogexon May 30, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General Comment:Break down the meaning. Is this disdain for western civilization and ways of thought? Disdain for capitalism and the annihilation of people such as Native Americans, enslaving blacks, etc.
    xponenton November 08, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General Comment:I wan't to know what's the meaning for the last words "i feel so cold/all hookers and gin/this mess we're in". If this is a sample, what's the original source? I'been looking for this in vain... Thanks,
    Yahuar
    Yahuaron September 27, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General Comment:It's a beautifully melancholy song, to be sure. Singing of the hopelessly destructive nature of western civilisation, Beth Gibbons DOES make use of the same musical tones that we've come to associate with deep sadness, as Phrogex said.

    As to the last part
    I feel so cold,
    On hookers and gin.
    etc.

    It DOES sound like a sample, but to the best of my knowledge, most of the instrumentation in Portishead's works are also samples. They're recorded on tape, then down-sampled; producing a gritty sound. Perhaps it was recorded specifically for this song?
    gr1nreaperon December 29, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General Comment:The "hookers and gin" was in fact originated by the band.
    dharbigton January 23, 2006   Link

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