"Zurich Is Stained" as written by and L S. Konnberg S. Malkmus....
I can't sing it strong enough:
That kind of strength I just don't have.
If you watch the lights change please
Don't hold them hanging.

You think it's easy but you're wrong
I'm not 1/2 of the problem
Zurich is stained and it's not my fault
Just hold me back or let me run.

What does it mean a mistake or two?
If it's the kind of mistake no one can trace
To the fountain where we sold it
And held them hanging.


Lyrics submitted by summerbabe

"Zurich Is Stained" as written by S. Malkmus L S. Konnberg

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Zurich Is Stained song meanings
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  • +5
    General CommentI always thought this song had to do with the time in a relationship when a couple is at the "maybe we should se other people" stage.

    Zurich (Switzerland) is neutral, designating the neutral position of the relationship.

    I am not one half of the problem...Just hold me back or let me run: This sounds very "end of the relationship."

    The fountain where we sold it and held them hanging also sounds like "well, were breaking up, but it's just the type of thing that happens inlife."
    s7rugg1eon March 12, 2005   Link
  • +2
    General CommentZurich.... Switzerland... watches. Waht's switzerland known for? Answer: Watchmakers, international banking and chocolate. Switzerland is the home of modern time pieces (hand held-"Hold" and grandfather and wall clocks "hanging" And hold me back or let me run... it's about time. You can't hold back time, it just runs on.

    Next, the reference to mistakes not being traceable... swiss bank accounts are untraceable in the us and are where many known criminals hide their money.

    Last, I think in general the reference to Zurich being stained is that it has this stigma bout being nuetral when it comes to alliances and extradition. And that all of Switzerland, but particularly Zurich, is tainted or "stained" as a den for theives and hustlers who hide out there with their money.
    huntmstron April 19, 2004   Link
  • +2
    General CommentThis song is incredibly ambiguous and I'm not sure exactly of the relevance of Zurich to this song, but I do know that not only is Zurich in Switzerland (it is the economic & banking capital in the northeast), but it is in the heart of the "German part" of Switzerland. German is spoken there and the local culture is very German.

    I think this song is about abdicating responsibility even when one is responsible and slowly coming to grip with personal responsibility. The chorus suggests "it's not my fault," however the last stanza refers to "mistakes" with reference to a "we" (this would incriminate the speaker of this song).
    herr_kon December 07, 2006   Link
  • +2
    Song MeaningSip this from her furry tea cup (hope it's contents don't stain your teeth)....

    Cabaret Voltaire was a Zürich nightclub founded in 196 by Hugo Ball, in the midst of the Great War. Some founding members were Marcel Janco, Richard Huelsenbeck, Tristan Tzara and Jean Arp. Events at the cabaret proved pivotal in the founding of the anarchic art movement known as Dada.
    Dada sprung out of WWI and the surrealist movement sprung from Dada.
    Malkmus sprung from the surrealist movement.
    Follow the gold nuggets people! It's not about Nazi's or the Holocaust - Jeaze! ... or is it?!?!

    Tristan Tzara :
    "Any work of art that can be understood is the product of journalism."

    "We [Dadaists] are often told that we are incoherent, but into this word people try to put an insult that it is rather hard for me to fathom. Everything is incoherent... There is no logic... The acts of life have no beginning and no end. Everything happens in a completely idiotic way. That is why everything is alike. Simplicity is called Dada. Any attempt to conciliate an inexplicable momentary state with logic strikes me as a boring kind of game... Like everything in life, Dada is useless... Perhaps you will understand me better when I tell you that Dada is a virgin microbe that penetrates with the insistence of air into all of the spaces that reason has not been able to fill with words or conventions."

    Hhmmmm...
    H. R. Giger (painter/sculptor/designer) is from Zürich. He's popularly known for his designs in such works as 'Alien' and 'Killer Condom'. He worked with Lynch on 'Dune' but thought 'Eraserhead' was a much purer Giger-ian vision than 'Dune'. 'Eraserhead' certainly had a "stained" cityscape!

    I feel I've gone too far.....
    ApesMaon January 13, 2011   Link
  • +1
    General Commentalright im an idiot
    damnit damnit damnit damnit damnit, i thought i might have had something going and im a fuckin idiot, cmon though, zurich sounds really german right? but uhh now my comment makes absolutely no sense at all. shit, damn swiss
    kharmapaymentmanon July 07, 2003   Link
  • +1
    General Commentas if stephen malkmus would write about the holocaust. i reckon its abou him having a wonderful experience with someone in zurich and then the person being a prick afterwards and ruining it or something like that
    christjesuson April 11, 2004   Link
  • +1
    General CommentSM has a fascination with Nazi war criminals on the lam. See Extradition. Maybe you're onto something.
    AtlasDruggedon February 02, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General CommentSomeone said something about switzerland being neutral, and i think that would play in here. With neutrality, which one could see as goodness being stained...IDK but I like it. Plus its a great phrase. Whenever something goes wrong I'll say "Zurich is stained." Or if money is involved "Zurich is $tained"
    What_I_See_Is_Meon November 02, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General Commentpavemoresongs.blogspot.com/2007/07/…

    should shed a lil' light on it. maybe.
    lonesomecrowdedon February 25, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General CommentTo me I feel like this song is about making decisions. in my opinion it could be about love

    I can't sing it strong enough
    Because that kind of strength I just don't have
    With a watch, the light changed
    To "hold" then "hanging"

    Someone lost hope in himself
    the watch symbolizes time and everchanging self
    hold and hanging are two different things
    holding is something where both parties hold together
    hanging is when only one party is hanging on to another


    You think it's easy, but you're wrong
    I am not one half of the problem
    Zürich is stained, and it's not my fault
    Just hold me back or let me run

    Deciding whether to stay home or move to Zurich
    In arguments, sometimes it feels like the person you are arguing with guilt trips you
    Zurich is stained, and it's not my fault could mean something irrelevant or running on a tangent
    to stay or letting go


    So what does it mean, a mistake or two
    If it's the kind of mistakes no one can trace
    To the fountain where we sold it
    And held them hanging?

    Everyone is prone to make mistakes and all we can ever do is learn and forgive
    There are times when we deny mistakes in order to defend our character we hide our faults through untraceable facts
    somewhere pretty like a fountain ever flowing water
    connecting held and hanging (two opposite words) now hold is past tense.

    wesleynobodyon August 04, 2011   Link

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