As I sat sadly by her side
At the window, through the glass
She stroked a kitten in her lap
And we watched the world as it fell past
Softly she spoke these words to me
And with brand new eyes, open wide
We pressed our faces to the glass
As I sat sadly by her side

She said, "Father, mother, sister, brother,
Uncle, aunt, nephew, niece,
Soldier, sailor, physician, labourer,
Actor, scientist, mechanic, priest,
Earth and moon and sun and stars
Planets and comets with tails blazing
All are there forever falling
Falling lovely and amazing"

Then she smiled and turned to me
And waited for me to reply
Her hair was falling down her shoulders
As I sat sadly by her side

As I sat sadly by her side
The kitten she did gently pass
Over to me and again we pressed
Our different faces to the glass
"That may be very well" I said
"But watch the one falling in the street
See him gesture to his neighbors
See him trampled beneath their feet
All outward motion connects to nothing
For each is concerned with their immediate need
Witness the man reaching up from the gutter
See the other one stumbling on who cannot see"

With trembling hand I turned toward her
And pushed the hair out of her eyes
The kitten jumped back to her lap
As I sat sadly by her side

Then she drew the curtains down
And said, "When will you ever learn
That what happens there beyond the glass
Is simply none of your concern?
God has given you but one heart
You are not a home for the hearts of your brothers

And God does not care for your benevolence
Anymore than he cares for the lack of it in others
Nor does he care for you to sit
At windows in judgment of the world he created
While sorrows pile up around you
Ugly, useless, and over-inflated"

At which she turned her head away
Great tears leaping from her eyes
I could not wipe the smile from my face
As I sat sadly by her side


Lyrics submitted by aj2828aj, edited by Mellow_Harsher

As I Sat Sadly by Her Side song meanings
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33 Comments

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  • +6
    General CommentAD: "As I Sat Sadly By Her Side" is the first single taken from "No More Shall We Part". Can you tell us about the song and why it was chosen as the first release from the album?

    Well, I just really like that song. It's got a bit of pace to it. Quite a few of the other songs were quite slow and we didn't want to do that again, really. So it does have a bit of pace to it. The song itself is a philosophic kind of discussion between two people, which happens to be myself and my wife looking out through a window at the nature of the world and of our internal worlds. She's seeing everything as wonderful and beautiful and I retort with the other side of the story about humanity and (in) the third verse she admonishes me for being such a miserable old bastard and that's pretty much what that song's all about.

    atomicduster.com/interviews/nickcave05_01/…
    solemn_eyedon February 17, 2008   Link
  • +3
    General CommentI'm not sure why it's thought the the male in the song wins the argument. She has the last word, kitten in hand, and her point is quite right.

    We are - each of us - trapped in our individual consciousness. We are to be judged (by god, others, the force, whatever) on what WE do in life, not what happens external to us.


    ""When will you ever learn
    That what happens there beyond the glass
    Is simply none of your concern?
    God has given you but one heart
    You are not a home for the hearts of your brothers"

    The rights and wrong of other people's actions have no bearing at all on what we do in life. So long as your own actions are right, all is well.


    "And God does not care for your benevolence
    Anymore than he cares for the lack of it in others"

    Morality isn't about going out of your way to help others, it's about not doing wrong things or making bad decisions. Helping others is good, but it's not what's important.


    "Nor does he care for you to sit
    At windows in judgment of the world he created"

    In other words: get your own ship in order before looking over that of other people!

    If anything she makes his argument look stupid. her tears are probably because he doesn't get it. His smile may be because actually he does. He's just enjoying being depressed. lol
    matt2971on September 25, 2007   Link
  • +2
    General CommentThank you so very much for posting this amazing song aj2828aj! I am not as familiar with the music of Mr. Cave as I plan to be. I saw the music video for this song and fell in love. Now that I have read the lyrics, I am only more enthralled. Mr. Cave speaks of a balance one can only hope to achieve. Yet he lends sympathy to those who dwell on the darker side, the outside. Those, like myself, who see the beauty and pain of this world and often become "ugly, useless, and over-inflated" for no damn good reason... smiling all the time.
    cannibaloxon April 25, 2002   Link
  • +2
    Song MeaningI think everyone's got the "winner" and "loser" of the argument in this video reversed.

    He's sitting above everything, looking down on it. He thinks he's better than everyone below. He sees everyone else as looking out for only themselves.

    I hear sarcasm when she talks about his "benevolence." Then she talks about all the ugliness he lets pile up around him.

    He's self-righteous and useless. He keeps himself apart. He only speaks of the evils of the world. And all the time, he does nothing to make the world any better.

    But he doesn't hear her. He takes a macabre comfort from the pain and suffering of others. This is why he smiles as he sits sadly by her side. He can't even see that he's sitting in his own grave.
    LograyXon September 16, 2012   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThere are hints in this song that the woman he is speaking to may be ill or dying, or perhaps that she has attempted suicide. For instance, he sits 'sadly by her side' as though sitting with someone very sick, and he brushes the hair from her face as though she were unable to do so herself. She is sitting looking out of a window with a kitten in her lap too, which makes her seem like an invalid.

    I think this song has a rather nasty ending. When the woman becomes angry with the protagonist and tells him not to sit in judgment on the world and starts to cry he can't stop smiling - as though he knows he's convinced her that there is evil in the world and has somehow 'won' the conversation. In the context of her being sick or otherwise the weaker participant in the conversation this is a particularly black ending.

    An absolutely amazing song, anyway.
    caitsith01on April 14, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentHe convinces a naïve believer that there are unexplainable evil in the world, from a believers perspective. It is partly about the teodecie problem.

    The hair is something that blocks her eyes, here ability to see clearly. But he finally reaches here with his argument and then she attacks him with a tantrum and says that he is wrong, but the very tantrum is the evidence of him being right, thereby smiling.
    JASGripenon April 16, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI don't agree with you guys, the lady is not sick or diseased, He smiles at the end because the women has contradicted herself between what she has said to him, and he sees the irony and can't keep the smile off his face...also key to this song is the kitten
    icweineron October 05, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General Commentthis song blows me away... really, any of his songs do...
    imoveritfoshoon January 12, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI concur: the woman is not remotely indicated to be invalid or ill as I hear the song. That would not be necessary to this story and Cave doesn't really bandy words.

    Hair? I see it as a common gesture of those already intimately acquainted. One could say it is also a symbolic inquiry: reaching out to test the reaction.
    remember: "with a trembling hand..."
    I would buy into the 'barrier' symbol mentioned above, except that in this tale, the barrier does not come up until After he has had his say.

    Kitten: Always stood out to me and I think that it can represent this woman's heart which she gives to him and retracts just as quickly in reaction to his world-view.

    Cave is a fantastic poet, one of my favorite, and I too, will appreciate his outlining of those dark things that permeate any good and whole human life.

    -phase
    warmPhaseon July 16, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI still think that it is valid what I wrote above. But I also imagine her to be the church and he being just Cave or any other person. It is a discussion between Cave and the Church. The Kitten could be God, passing between them two, finally staying by the church, symbolising the pair of them loosing the argument to the other side.
    JASGripenon September 21, 2006   Link

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