"From a Balance Beam" as written by and Oberst....
There is a man holding a megaphone
So he must have been the voice of God
The bystanders claimed they saw angels
Flying up and down the block
Well, they must have been attached to wires
I saw one laying in the lawn with a broken arm
So I called 911
So that's one less founded opinion
One more cause for a dispute
So the street filled like a basin
Up with cameras and their crews
And they washed away the rumors
Leaving just the concrete truth
It was a spectacle
No, I, I mean a miracle
So then I fell like that girl from a balance beam
A gymnasium of eyes were all holding on to me
I lifted one foot to cross the other and I felt myself slipping
It was a small mistake
Sometimes that's all it takes

Now I'm staring at my wrist
Hoping that the timing is right
When the planets will align
There will be no planets to align
Just the carcass of the sun
And those little painted marbles
Spinning senseless through an endless black sky

(And so it never started and it will never stop just like I am and you are)

It was in a foreign hotel's bathtub
I baptized myself in change
And one by one I drowned all of the people I had been
I emerged to find the parallels were fewer
I was cleansed
I looked in the mirror and someone new was there
Still I was as helpless as a chess piece
When I was lifted up by someone's hand
And delivered from the corner
My enemies had got me in
But in all of my salvation I still felt imprisoned inside
That holding cell that is myself
So I wait for the day when I'll hear the key
As it turns in the lock and the guard will say to me
"Oh, my patient prisoner, you have waited for this day and finally
You are free! You are free! You are freezing"

Now I'm staring at the sun waiting for it to explode
Because a day is gonna come
Don't know when but it will come
And then we will finally know the way out of here

And I will throw away this wrinkled map
And my chart of stars and compass, cracked
And I'll climb that tree all wet with sap
To avoid the hungry beasts below
I'll cut out my lover's tongue and sing
Of a graveyard gray and a garden green
And then we won't have worry no more
No, we won't ever worry again
About how this song or story ends
About how this song and story will end


Lyrics submitted by iddonuk

"From a Balance Beam" as written by Oberst

Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

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From a Balance Beam song meanings
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80 Comments

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  • +1
    General CommentI listen to this song and read my torn up paperback copy of "The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy". Repeatedly.
    EyesSoBrighton March 05, 2003   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThis song always amazes me. I can hear the whole thing and it will pull me out my chair, lift me up and lead me around the room only to set me back where i was when it started. i start the epiphany mid-way through and in the end he asks how the song or story will end and i'm just back where i was. great.
    morose i supposeon June 25, 2004   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI don't really interpret this song as hopeful. I think it's more of a cynical song about religion. "there was a man holding a megaphone, it must have been the voice of god" and all of the references to angels, and then one has a broken arm. I think it's about how no one really knows if their is a god, and if there will be salvation for us. How we're all just lemmings waiting for death to find out, and how faith really is just that, faith in the fact that there might be something outside of the physical being. When he says "i mean, a a miracle" thats a crack on people who call such things miracles rather than just being chance. HE's waiting for his chance to find out the truth. He wants to change, so he did, he didnt wait for divine intervention. I also think he may have attempted suicide at one point, and i know he's thought about it. no lies just love states that he thoughta bout it.....all in my opinion...
    jvenrickon February 05, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General CommentTo me this song is about waiting for death. It was put directly at the end of "Waste of Paint" because that song has him desiring to "believe in (his) soul" or God and this one is about a situation where an angel falls on the earth and he is shown that God exists. Conor wants this to happen so he'll know that there's a meaning or truth to this life and although he doesn't expect it, he's still desiring to die so he can find out and get free. He basically is saying that religion is not enough to prove God and it's gonna take death (a good thing) to make sure.
    XianSnakeon July 24, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI'm seeing, as Conor does every so often, a use of Christian imagery in a combination of truth and satire. The first verse is intensely cynical of Christian ideology, and the line "there's a man holding a megaphone, he must have been the voice of God" is a sarcastic dismissal, in my mind, of anyone who claims to speak for God. The angels references seem to symbolize people being duped. The broken armed angel is the collapse of the illusion... but then he almost goes back on this. "It was a spectacle, no, a miracle." The rest of the song seems to involve death literally as well as figuratively the death of past personalities and the birth of the new. The last verse confuses the fuck out of me... clearly he's describing a solution, but I have no clue what it means.
    peacelovenconoron January 03, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General Commentthis is one of the best songs i've ever heard. to me it's about going through the process of questioning god and religion after a life of simply accepting it without question. it's such a tough thing to handle... when you want to believe in a god but something in you is unable to accept it. It's liberating at first to feel free of those beliefs but then it is depressing. so much so that you hope for the end of the world to prove yourself wrong.

    but i love that so many people interprete this song in different ways. that is half the brilliance.
    fattyjoanon January 24, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General Commentthis is another brilliant song by conor.. this leaves me gasping.
    kris xxxon May 11, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General Comment"Still I was as helpless as a chess piece
    When I was lifted up by someone's hand..."
    wow
    brighteyes4750on May 27, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General Commentguys i can't find this song anywhere!! :( i 've been looking for it and i can't find it. do one of ya'll have yahoo messanger and willing to sent it to me maybe:(?? plz
    baskettball babe 23on July 10, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General Commentyeah anyone with AIM send me this song please. im sick of listening to it on the saddle creek website.. IM "the jucer"
    vacantjoshson July 22, 2002   Link

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