"Eyepennies" as written by and Mark Linkous....
I will return here one day
And dig up my bones from the clay
I buried nails and strings and hair
And that old tooth I believe was a bear's

I held my hand in the fire
It burned me down to the wires

Blood suckers hide beneath my bed
And black fumes of skin so gently bled
I slept with a cat on my breast
Slowing my heart stealing my breath

At sunrise the monkeys will fly
And leave me with pennies in my eyes

I will return here one day
And dig up my bones from the clay
I buried nails and string and hair
And that old tooth I believe was a bear's

At sunrise the monkeys will fly
And leave me with pennies in my eyes


Lyrics submitted by Tiger_Angel

"Eyepennies" as written by Mark Linkous

Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.

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Eyepennies song meanings
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  • +3
    My InterpretationIn many cultures, including American folk lore, cats are thought to steal children's breath. To suck, suffocate, the life out of babes. More specifically, when the child is asleep and the cat is sitting/lying upon on the child's chest. It's in the same vein as the eye penny (coins) lore. The flying monkeys occurred in the Wizard of Oz. And, it turns out, Dorothy was dreaming the whole movie. Bloodsuckers are underneath his bed and the the breath stealer is on top of his bed, so at every turn there's someone or something waiting to drain him. Drain him of his energy, youth, vitality, kindness, innocence, whatever a soul has to give.
    The black fumes being gently bled is how slowly your time ticks away. That it's not sudden, it eases you into a false sense of security. But at the end of the day, it's BLACK FUMES! And if you'd taken the time to notice, might've alarmed you.

    To me, this song is about childhood's end and the realization of moving towards death everyday. Of sleeping, dreaming = childhood. Waking up = growing up, getting older, realizing death can happen at any time.
    About being able to return to that childhood place of buried memories again - but only in dreams.

    I don't have the lyrics, but I think it says, "Black fumes of soot so gently bled." Instead of "skin."

    The best thing about poems & lyrics is the way it has a different tone, a different meaning for everyone.
    Keetonon May 25, 2012   Link
  • 0
    General CommentMy favorite Sparklehorse song. A song to fall asleep to.
    rivason April 18, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General CommentFirst off, Sparklehorse is one of those bands that I suspect don't offer lyrics open to holistic analysis (I realize I should be speaking in the singular - it's basically just Mark Linkous - but whatever).

    But essentially, this song seems quite easy to get. It's about dying and reincarnation. The 'I will return' sections are about both body and memories (the bear's tooth) rising again. There's also the dichotomy between suffering and gentleness - "black fumes of skin" that, we are told, "so gently bled." The blood suckers and cat seem both external influences that are draining the life from him - these could be seen as the constant pressures of life, constant because they are even present beneath his bed (usually seen as a private place of relative safety) and sleeping on his chest, of which the narrator is very aware. The monkeys leaving pennies in his eyes is about the old tradition of putting coins in dead people's eyes - this is based on the idea that the dead need to pay the boatman a fee to cross (I think) the river Styx into the afterlife.

    I'm not quite so sure about the meaning of a few things. Why did the narrator himself bury what are presumably his own 'nails and strings and hair'? Also, what is the meaning of the part of holding his hand into the fire and the wiring being revealed? Is he just a robot, a part of a much larger machine (and is that possibly why he can be so confident that he will rise again)? Any thoughts and ideas much welcomed!
    wortelon April 29, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentWhose bones are they? That is the question! But what a haunting song.
    Delichonon July 14, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General Commenthaha. I think you're off wortel. It's about the end of your childhood. The first stanza's about the burying of a memory capsule (or whatever you want to call it). Then

    "at sunrise the monkeys will fly
    and leave me with pennies in my eyes"

    means that his dreams and disallusionment as a child have left, and left him only seeing money, like so many adults.
    riley490on June 30, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Commentto me, the song is the figurative death of an aspect or a particular persona of the narrator. he's burying who he was, knowing one day he'll look back and examine the remains of who he used to be. he is achieving this death by tearing himself apart, burning his exterior to find who lies beneath, what is at the core of who he is. I think the bloodsuckers are other people and powers in his life, maybe even his own friends, so close to him and hiding their true intentions right in front of him. the cat represents his own depression, a sort of emotional weight that settles on his heart and makes it hard to live. he's trying to kill that version of himself, with it's many problems and so much sadness, to hopefully emerge as a happier man.
    setsunamudou732on January 19, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThe pennies in the eyes reference is (imho) not speaking to the fact that he sees only money. I accept your theory of the song being about leaving behind one's past (or childhood, if you will), but the pennies reference is definitely an allusion to the ancient tradition of placing coins in the eyes of the recently departed (side note: this tradition was shared among many of the ancient cultures with different variants on the specifics of the reasoning for doing so).

    Also, it's not about reincarnation, although I understand the logic behind that theory. The real key to understanding that point is knowing where he is speaking literally as opposed to figuratively. His "return" is not the symbolic or metaphorical part of the statement, but rather the "bones" (as a symbol for memories, which he goes on to clarify.) Plus, none of the rest of the song has a d--n thing to do with reincarnation.

    "I held my hand in the fire, burned me down to the wires" basically means he has knowingly put himself in an uncomfortable situation, but didn't realize it would reveal his true colors, expose his bare inner makings.

    Also, another note about the pennies in the eyes thing: the monkeys are not necessarily placing the pennies on his eyes. These lines simply say that the monkeys (which I contend are the connections to his old life -- friends, habits, things that we attach ourselves to) will "fly" (flee, scatter, run off), and leave him (or his old self) dead and ready to pass to the next completely different life (or stage of life).

    The second verse I've always had a little trouble deciphering, mainly because the images differ so much from those in the rest of the song. My best guess is that he's simply trying to convey a feeling or way of seeing things here. Blood suckers and black fumes sound scary, but the bleeding of the skin with a leech in non-western medicine is sometimes the only remedy (particularly for toxins transmitted in the bloodstream, i.e. a snake bite). The cat on his chest (and I can see the cat as a symbol for every-day pressure, possibly) while he's sleeping would seem uncomfortable and unbearable at first, but to me he seems to take comfort in it being there (or else he would be sleepless with a cat on his breast) and in the fact that it shortens his breath, calms his heart, keeps him grounded perhaps.

    HopeSoForYouon June 07, 2009   Link

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