"Autumn Sweater" as written by and Ira David Kaplan Georgia Mia Hubley....
when I heard the knock on the door
I couldn't catch my breath
is it too late to call this off?

we could slip away
wouldn't that be better?
me with nothing to say
and you in your autumn sweater

I tried my best to hide in the crowded room
it's nearly possible
I wait for you, oh, most patiently

we could slip away
wouldn't that be better?
me with nothing to say
and you in your autumn sweater

so I looked for your eyes and the waves looked like
they'd pour right out of them
I'll try hard, I'll try always
but it's a waste of time
it's a waste of time if I can't smile easily
like in the beginning
in the beginning

we could slip away
wouldn't that be better?
me with nothing to say
and you in your autumn sweater

we could slip away
wouldn't that be better?
me with nothing to say
and you in your autumn sweater
you in your autumn sweater
you in your autumn sweater
you in your autumn sweater


Lyrics submitted by typo

Autumn Sweater song meanings
Add your thoughts

27 Comments

sort form View by:
  • +10
    General CommentI think the song describes an awkward meeting near the beginning of an intimate relationship. As the narrator recounts the events in the song, he primarily recalls the insecurity he felt. Throughout the song, references are make to nakedness or exposure that stand in sharp contrast to the you of the song, who is described only as wearing a sweater. Ira converys the bittersweet lyrics in a vocal style that sounds soft and plaintive, almost humiliated. The music also supports the theme of nakedness; each instrument stands apart from the others. The instruments seem concentric rather than coordinated -- that is, their distinct repetitious rhythms give the impression of something working together almost by accident rather than intent. At the point of narration, I get the feeling that the narrator has conquered some of the basic insecurities that he struggled with in the beginning of the relationship, but he still struggles with similar insecurities. These insecurities prevent him from moving into a completely conjoined and selfless relationship with his significant other. But I don't get the feeling that the relationship will break up. In fact, the relationship seems to be both strong and tender. I get the feeling that the struggle between self and selfless or I and we will continue as long as the relationship is alive, eventually gaining the consistent and essential qualities of a heartbeat.
    green3on July 12, 2002   Link
  • +2
    General Commentit isnt about the end of a relationship. i think its about a relationship that has already ended, and they are meeting face to face again.

    he wants her, but thinks he cant have her.
    he wants to run away with her, and not have to worry or think about anyone but her. ("i tried my best to hide in a crowded room").

    but then he realizes that its over, and he came to terms with it, he doesnt want to waste his time with her, because in the end, it wouldnt work out.
    just at that point of realization, she wants to be with him, but he doesnt want her anymore. she cries, and he tries to explain to her his reasoning.

    i probably over-explained it, because its a simplistic, pure song. its amazing, really.
    its self explanitory.
    infiniteabbysson January 20, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThat was a really well-written explanation green3, and I hardly want to tread on it. Nonetheless ... I have always thought that it was about seeing someone who you used to be intimately involved with, but who you haven't seen in significant amount of time. What triggered this was my own experiences of meeting up with an ex-girlfriend in the past. I had equally contradictory desires of simply wanting to see her, but fearful of not really knowing what to say or how to act. Leading up to the moment when we met, I sat anxiously wondering if it would be better if we didn't see eachother again. It didn't seem to be enough to simply discuss whatever we had in common before, so I felt like there was not much I needed to express to her. The lyrics that make it seem as though it is not about the beginning of a relationship is: "it's a waste of time if I can't smile easily like in the beginning." This makes it apparent that there is a history between the two people, that the natural giddiness and the directionless ease of a new relationship is no longer possible. Something has happened to heighten the insecurity the narrator lives with. But I do think you have it nailed about the narrator's lack of security ... the autumn sweater is used as the juxtaposition to the narrator's insecurity. An autumn sweater is all about security - it's so warm and cozy and I think people who wear them are comfortable in their own skin.
    tubesockson September 11, 2002   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI've always taken this song to mean that the narrator is tired of life and situations that cause anxiety and he would much rather be with the person he cares for, as in "slip away" from the world and be in a comfort zone. I agree with the autumn sweater represents comfort and security, and the fact he has nothing to say could mean that he's comfortable in the quiet or he has nothing to complain about.
    trademarkon December 05, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General CommentWhat I love about lyrics are you can interpret them your own way in your own mind.

    I'd like to think the narrator/guy wants to call off the fact that they are breaking up.

    Lets just run away from it all. Simple & what I'd like to think.

    He wants to be with her in the way they were at the beginning. Comfortable in the Fall. The most beautiful season of all.
    eclecticMon June 27, 2013   Link
  • 0
    General Commentyay for green3's explanation
    starlightfadingon August 16, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General Commenttubesocks, your definition was equally as great. i liked how you pointed out the "its a waste of time if i can't smile easily like in the beginning", because i relate to that part the most.

    personally, i imagined this song to be something like what would happen if i saw an old friend of mine (someone who i was never officially with, but we were more than friends). i'm still not quite sure what happened to us, but we started fading away.. and then, i see him at school again after a summer apart, and it was something like this song. i really relate to it, especially since i want to rekindle a friendship, at least. that's what i get out of it, anyway. brings back memories..

    FAVORITE PART: [depends on mood]
    starlightfadingon September 17, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General Commentwow, everyone's said some pretty interesting things. I felt like i should comment since this is my favorite yo la tengo song.

    i imagined this song relating to couple who has been together a while but recentliy things have been changing in their relationship. they're each secretly thinking about ending it, except neither person has worked up the courage to do so. So wouldn't it be better if they both slipped away? The rest of the lyrics, for me, just related to this scenario, and to be all metaphorical, the "autumn" is the near-end of the relationship.

    after reading tubesocks' comment and then re-reading the lyrics though, i think that's more on the right track. i've never been in a situation like before, so obviously i didn't have that experience to draw on, but it definitely seems like that's what someone would feel when meeting with an ex.

    the drum beat in the beginning is what really makes the song for me. i knew from that moment that i would love this song.
    hellomello19on November 26, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThe version I have ends right after "but it's a waste of time." How lame.
    FreeformCannonon June 17, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General Commentthis song narrates an episode of my life this weekend...kinda strange.

    Oh and all of your comments have been great guys, good explanation.
    koolairdon October 22, 2006   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