"The First Song" as written by and Doug Martsch....
My thoughts are commodities
My lies are me
My price is a compromise
My pay is peace
And words just make it worse
They're misunderstood
See just like there
If you can't spell it out
If it's just understood

Then you think it isn't there I make my mind up
Convince my brain
I lie on accident
Trying to explain
But all the things that I was told
All the people that told me
How can I not believe in things that
Everyone else sees

Lyrics submitted by prod

"The First Song" as written by Doug Martsch

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

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The First Song song meanings
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    General Commenthow beautiful..
    smython July 08, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentAgeed. Wonderful song. Doug Martsch is easily one of my favorite musicians. Here's how I see the song:

    my thoughts are commodities / my lies are me / my price is a compromise / my pay is peace

    I think here he's talking about how it's very difficult to be an honest person -- a truly honest person. The way we live is by using our thoughts to our advantage (thoughts = commodities). But there aren't many people who SPEAK their minds, for whatever reason (not wishing to offend/hoping to manipulate people by pretending to be pleasant). Thus, they are true to themselves, but not to anyone else. So it is the outward actions/appearance (which are lies) that other people will see you as. Hence, "my lies are me". Living this way is a compromise; by presenting a false persona to the world, you are able to live an easier life than if you were honest in all things (sacrificing honesty for peace).

    and words just make it worse / they're misunderstood / see just like there / if you can't spell it out / if it's just understood / then you think it isn't there

    This part seems to me to be about how honesty can be misconstrued. Think of how much trouble people have gotten into by being honest. I'm reminded of when John Lennon said the Beatles were bigger than Jesus. He honestly felt that pop culture had a greater influence on the world's youth than religion. He wasn't saying the Beatles were better than Jesus or anything like that. In fact, he wasn't even talking about the Beatles themselves (John, Paul, George, Ringo) but rather the iconic "Beatles" -- how people viewed them as not really individuals but as cultural idols (which kinda ties into what I said earlier). When John said that, he was talking to a friend of his and (if I remember right) had no idea it would even go to print. Because it was such an intimate discussion with a friend, he didn't have to spell out what he was saying, no elaboration was necessary for them to understand what he meant. But outsiders who didn't know him personally took it wrong and felt the true meaning wasn't there. It just really shows how isolated we all are from each other; it takes someone really close to you to understand you because of the falsity we present to most of the world.

    I make my mind up / convince my brain / I lie on accident / trying to explain

    This illustrates the process. When he says he makes his mind up, I think it's a sort of misleading phrase. It's actually referring to make-up, you know, cosmetics. "Making up your mind" in this case means you're trying to pretty up what you say compared to what's really going on underneath in your mind. You have to convince your brain to be courteous and whatnot rather than living on impulse at the possible expense of other's feelings. So when you try to explain something to someone (for example, suppose you didn't go to see a movie with a friend because you straight didn't want to see them that day), you might lie or make up an excuse to spare their feelings (like saying you were too tired or had already seen the movie or something). Afterwards, you might wonder why you did it (almost like it was an accident). You're friends with this person, right? Why not just be honest? It's because we become so accustomed to being dishonest in our lives that lying is almost routine. It can seep into other parts of your life and totally fuck up your relationships with even people to whom you're very close.

    but all the things that I was told / all the people that told me / how can I not believe in things that / everyone else sees

    Here he's just wondering why he's so cynical. It's kinda clever really, because he probably really knows the answer to these questions in the back of his mind -- it's because everyone else is full of shit too. Up until now he's pretty much kept the lyrics on a personal note, but this stanza suggests that perhaps this is a universal experience and it's not just him who puts on a day to day act. But it doesn't actually SAY it -- only suggests. And that's what's clever: even with these words, he's still not explicitly stating his true feelings, thereby demonstarting everything else he just said in the song.

    No idea if that's what he really meant, but it makes sense to me.
    Ximon June 26, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Commentthis might be off, but indulge me...

    "and words just make it worse / they're misunderstood / see just like there / if you can't spell it out / if it's just understood / then you think it isn't there"

    when Doug says "see just like there" perhaps he is referring to the "they're" in the previous line. it is really quite clever and true. if you cannot spell out the various forms of "there" (there, their, they're) you could possibly miss the true meaning of the word.
    I think this song is speaking to the difficulties/frustration we face with morals and character when we realize how conniving we really are even when we try to be genuine.
    magicgason April 16, 2011   Link

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