"New Madrid" as written by and Jeffrey Scott Tweedy....
All my daydreams are disasters
She's the one I think I love
Rivers burn and then run backwards
For her, that's enough

They all come from New York City
And they woke me up at dawn
She walked with me to the fountain
And she held onto my arm

Come on, do what you did
Roll me under New Madrid
Shake my baby and please bring her back
'Cause death won't even be still

Caroms over the landfill
Buries us all in its broken back
There's a man of conviction
And although he's getting old

Mr. Browning has a prediction
And we've all been told
So come on back from New York City
Roll your trucks in at dawn

Walk with me to the fountain
And hold onto my arm
Come on, do what you did
Roll me under New Madrid

Shake my baby and please bring her back
'Cause death won't even be still
Caroms over the landfill
Buries us all in its broken back


Lyrics submitted by myeyesareopen, edited by neonpeachie

"New Madrid" as written by Jeffrey Scott Tweedy Jeff Tweedy

Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.

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New Madrid song meanings
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9 Comments

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  • 0
    General CommentWould love to know what this song means...or even what the references are from.
    sunbenon July 24, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThe New Madrid fault, south of St. Louis where Uncle Tupelo is from (Belleville Illinois across the river actually) is the location of one of the most powerful earthquakes to strike the U.S. in recorded history. Anyway an earthquake could do some of the things described here. Mr. Iben Browning predicted a massive earthquake would strke the fault in December 1990.
    zephyrboy64on December 23, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThere's an actual town of New Madrid in Missouri as well. I spent a great deal of time there as a child, and this song conjures up memories of all kinds of greatnesses from my past. That's why this song holds a paticular meaning for me far beyond the lyrical meaning.
    DustyMurphyon January 18, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentIsn't there a fountain in downtown Belleville? I've always imagined Jeff, in high school, walking around downtown Belleville with some girl from out East who was in town for the summer on his arm. And then she leaves.

    And like the New Madrid earthquake, it seems shattering for a little while. And it kind of is. And it kind of isn't. It's getting your heart broken for the first (or second or third, but not the last) time.

    The death imagery, I suppose that's about the death of innocence, so to speak.

    For what it's worth, when the New Madrid fault DID move in the 1800s, the Mississippi River DID run backwards for a little while, thus the first couple lines.

    Great song.
    crazybillyon September 04, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentYes, there is a fountain in the center of the main intersection in Belleville. The NYC "trucks in at dawn" line is because the national news media (TV trucks)came to St. Louis and New Madrid in the days before Browning's prediced earthquake date.
    jbruneron September 17, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis song to me is about a love he had with memories of the earthquakes. "All my daydreams disasters" - talking about the earthquake (New Madrid fault line is where they were from - belleville, Ill. Im from Granite City, Ill - lots of earthquakes). "Rivers burn then run backwards" - i think there was an incident where there was an earthquake that made a river literally run backwards for awhile. "they all come from new york city" - talking about all the news trucks that came, tons of them. Mr. Brownings predictions were usually right. Im sure it stirred up this little town and maybe jeff and his girlfriend took a walk down to the fountain in the middle of bellville to see what all the commotion was. Probably being sort of frightened, im sure she held onto his arm.

    They must have broken up, she moved away or maybe even she died. "C'mon do what you did" - he wants the earthquakes to bring her back, although it was a scary tragic disaster - he had a good memory tied up in it with this girl. He sings about Mr. Browning who is the person who stirred up all this commotion with his predictions. He wants the big news trucks to come back and wake him up at dawn. But what he wants most is his girlfriend back "shake my baby and please bring her back". I dont know what "carom" means, but he makes some references to death and "buries us all in its broken back" which makes me think that maybe she died.
    kjoyoon April 02, 2009   Link
  • 0
    Lyric CorrectionI'm certain that "'Cause death won't even be still" should actually be "The stiff won't even be still."
    Goofon October 17, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI think the story is about a girl who came to Belleville whith a group of people from New York because of the New Madrid Fault and Iben Browning's prediction of a major desaster (like the one in 1810 when the river flew backwards for a short time). Maybe she is a geologist or a journalist.

    He fell in love with her. But she returned to New York after seismic activity has failed to appear. He is wounded because she only seemed to be intested in the possible desaster ... ("for her that's enough").

    So he daydreams of desaster ... to bring her back - or to bury him and all things in the fault

    I dont't understand "caroms over the landfill"

    I'm no native speaker - does carom mean something like bounce? - and does landfill mean the fault in this case?
    caspar64on April 24, 2012   Link
  • 0
    General CommentIt's cairns, not caroms.
    neonpeachieon July 15, 2015   Link

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