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The Microphones – Lanterns Lyrics 3 years ago
To me it seems to use lots of analogies with how lanterns are used to express loneliness and the attempt to reach out to someone else.

A more overt and childish version of this would be Let Your Little Light Shine, perhaps.

So just to throw out some ideas (and maybe get the discussion started more)

Don’t go out
Don’t blow out
Don’t smother me, lantern

Here it seems like he is doing some self-coaching to keep going and not give up. Maybe the lantern could be interpreted as hope, perhaps as inner drive. Or he himself could be the lantern. At any rate, we are introduced to a fear/concern that the light could be extinguished and if it is then the singer will be "smothered" (in darkness, literally, figuratively perhaps dead?)

Don’t reach out, Phil
Don’t extend
Don’t try to touch nothing

As Phil is the singer it is interesting to see the use of his name in the format that lantern was used previously. Are they one and the same? Phil is being cautioned to not take risks, and thus to not connect. To reach out is a friendly gesture or a grasping one. To touch something is very much a connection phrase, either literally or emotionally. It is unclear how this caution is related to extinguishing the lantern, but so far in the song we have fear of loss of hope or death and a caution to not risk yourself emotionally.

I’m afraid I’ll see you out on a date
And it’ll send me camping

This explains the caution above. Phil likes someone but is concerned that the interest is in a different direction. It is possible that this is post breakup, but considering that the caution was to not try to touch nothing it seems more likely that this is referring to a new love interest who he has never approached. It sending him camping is a reference to a use of a lantern, and it sounds/feels similar to send me running, but whether intentionally or not, is a stationary version. If he sees his love interest is with someone else he will not make a move or express interest.

Don’t steal my show
That lantern light
Not linger nowhere
Not on your life
Leave alone don’t try to hold nothing
Don’t answer the phone
Leave alone be a darkened figure
Sinking slow
Have your fort glow
Have your lit up lantern

This whole section makes me think that the singer is greedy about his lantern light and is concerned that someone is not worth sharing it with. If his lantern light lingers somewhere then his show is stolen. The solution is to go into a tent alone and surround yourself with the glow. It is again a caution to not get emotionally entangled with someone else. Most clearly in the command to leave alone, don't try to hold nothing, don't answer the phone. This section makes me think that perhaps the lantern is an analogy for love. Another interpretation is that he is warning off a rival, but considering that he just stated that he would not take action if a rival were there it seems unlikely.

How did you know to come over tonight?
Your blazing lamp was blinking up the sky

If I recall correctly, the first line is sung by a female voice, and the second line by a male voice. He is trying to keep his light to himself but he could not help but be drawn to her light.

What’s that you hold and
Why is it so bright?
My heart of snow
Must leave alone
This blizzard white

The first part again expresses attraction to someone else's light. My heart of snow must leave alone is again expressing caution of becoming emotionally close to someone. A lantern emits heat as well as light, so if a heart made of snow gets close it would melt. A heart melting indicates good emotions, but it sounds very risky if taken literally. This blizzard white is a reference both to a use of a lantern (in a blizzard when the power is cut) and suggesting that the lantern is shining out so much light that it is like a blizzard of white.

What’s that you hold and
Why is it so bright?
When I walk away
I’ll leave a shade on your glowing doorway

Same start/meaning as the last part. This is suggesting that in the case of a breakup part of the light will be hidden/blocked. I believe that lanterns can have shades that are pulled over them to target the light better or dim it. A shade might also help to protect a lantern from wind.

What’s that I/you hold and why is it so bright?

You look good
In my light
But my life flame flickers
Leave alone
Let cold lakes lie
Let me and my light leave

Again the attraction in the opening, followed by concern about steadfastness. Or perhaps suggesting that his concerns about his lantern going out are ongoing and he is worried about the implications for the love interest. In the end he is begging the right to practice the caution recommended in the opening of the song.

I’ll hang it high
On antlers wide
Let bloom like sunrise

Let go of everything

The singer has decided to abandon the caution and let his light shine on everything and let go of his fears. This seems like a positive outcome, but the way it is sung highlights the fact that he is also letting go of what was keeping his light safe.

Dar Williams – What Do You Love More Than Love? Lyrics 6 years ago
And I thought about the Buddhist King
He said, "You can keep your superpower
It just short circuits my country"

I think Dar might be singing about Tibet and how the non-violence practiced there is an example of selfless love. They are not actively fighting China (who wants to be a superpower) even though they are suffering for it. They wish it were not that way, but they won't selfishly put their own needs/lives above those of the Chinese. That sounds like love to me, and it seems to fit with the lyrics!

Ani DiFranco – Self Evident Lyrics 7 years ago
9/11 was not the first time the Twin Towers were attacked. It is referring to the first time, and how the towers did not fall (the towers are like the stacks of mattresses and the explosion was like a pea). It had seemed like a hilarious joke to her and her friends; as if anyone could ever take down two mammoth buildings like that.

I think that "it does not take a weatherman to tell the weather" is a common phrase.

Ani DiFranco – Self Evident Lyrics 7 years ago
I think that planes are about rushing around and getting from point A to point B as quickly as possible to her. She talks about the experience of a train ride almost as if it is a chance to connect with every house you pass. It is about being grounded and staying connected with people and communities instead of flying above them with grand plans.

Ani DiFranco – Educated Guess Lyrics 7 years ago
I have always interpreted this as living life the best you can - you can never have all of the answers, but you can make an educated guess based on what you do know.

I think there might also be something in the heavy use of color terms, especially in the first half.

Ani DiFranco – Educated Guess Lyrics 7 years ago
I have always interpreted this as living life the best you can - you can never have all of the answers, but you can make an educated guess based on what you do know.

I think there might also be something in the heavy use of color terms, especially in the first half.

Ani DiFranco – Glass House Lyrics 7 years ago
To me this song is about having made a mistake in a relationship and preparing for a fight. It is all a play on the cliche "Don't throw stones in a glass house." Meaning that if your shit is not 100% together, by attacking someone else you end up attacking yourself.

Anyway, the imagery in the lyrics in fantastic. Good job Ani.

Ani DiFranco – Tamburitza Lingua Lyrics 7 years ago
To me this is the most beautiful song ever... with the exception of Pulse.

It is about the impermanence of life and the craziness of the world we live in. It tells the story of a woman in NYC who is disillusioned with life and depressed. She is beaten down and between moments of just getting by she tries to figure this world out. She listens to the homeless man's crazy rambling and she keeps one eye seeking out answers to life, the other on actually living life. Ani ends on a line about how life is over quickly, and asking about actions. I think that it means that the things woman focused on, living her day to day life of misery and figuring out why she was alive, were not important and that what matters is the action you take. This makes the protagonist's life all the more tragic, because not only was she unhappy and did not really have an answer for anything, but even if she had been happy and figured out the meaning of life it would not have mattered because it would have gone with her death. Only things you do to change the world give life meaning.

Ani DiFranco – Kazoointoit Lyrics 7 years ago
I used to hate this song. I could not get over the annoying Kazoo and intro. Listening to the lyrics for perhaps the first time since I first heard it in (2003???) I bumped it up from 1 to 2 stars. The intro is still super annoying, but there are pretty decent lyrics in there.

I think it is about two people who love each other but are really bad together. Ani is singing from the perspective of someone who submerges who she is to the other person in the relationship.

The more I stare at the lyrics the less certain I am that it is there, but I also feel like there is a bit of a nod to cultures not properly compromising as an analogy. Objectively it looks like the bit about Chinese medicine is not phrased like that, but it calls it to my mind anyway.

Tori Amos – Marys of the Sea Lyrics 7 years ago
This song can also be interpreted about slavery and voodoo. (She does like voodoo too.)

When slaves were brought to the Americas they were forced to give up their religion and adopt Christianity, specifically Catholicism by the Spaniards. Since you can't actually force someone to give up their beliefs the slaves gave their gods corresponding saints, and the Virgin Mary became Mami Wata, the female god who is shaped like a mermaid and rules the sea. I think she could very easily be called a "Mary of the sea"

Anyway, some of the other verses can fit very easily as well - for example being hunted down, along with any babies you will have.

After reading tchgrif's comment I think that is what Tori meant it to be about, but until I thought to that other Mary it all seemed to fit for me.

Tori Amos – Witness Lyrics 7 years ago
It is a song about betrayal... expecting a witness for the defense who shows up on the side of the prosecutor (or the other way around) is used as a channel to describe feeling lost and betrayed when you are shocked to find someone you relayed on is fighting against you.

Fiona Apple – Please Please Please Lyrics 8 years ago
I have always thought of this song as being about a relationship, more specifically about a breakup, but as I was listening to it again I got a radically different take.

Someone in the relationship cheated, and the other person suggests an open relationship. In addition to reading the song through from that perspective, a couple of lines really click with this idea.


Steady, in addition to meaning stable, is an older term for an exclusive relationship.

Crying out is a term for orgasming

Dar Williams – Beautiful Enemy Lyrics 9 years ago
I have always thought this was about either the US and Russia, China, or North Korea.

Dar Williams – Empire Lyrics 9 years ago
My first impression was that it was about the US (terrorist/torture as a reference to the current wars, and strawberry fields to the war in Vietnam), then I realized that it was intentionally vague and applicable to every empire. It describes the flaws, motivations, and practices that are common in all empires. The second to last verse is a statement that after one empire falls another one will rise to fill the void.

Fiona Apple – Shadowboxer Lyrics 12 years ago
Shadow Boxing is what Westerners used to call Tai-chi. It is what gave the name "Boxer" to the Boxer Rebellion. I am not sure how this relates to the meaning of the song, but with the pace of it I can easily imagine someone doing Tai-Chi.

Jill Sobule – Tel Aviv Lyrics 12 years ago
I love this song - but I think that the meaning is fairly apparent.

Tori Amos – The Power of Orange Knickers Lyrics 12 years ago
I think that this song is about a young girl and relationship that she is not supposed to have... say with a teacher or someone who is over 18.

The power of orange knickers under her petticoat refers to how empowered she feels to have this secret and the sexual influence on him. She has this bright and shocking thing hidden away under very proper petticoats, and only she and people who she allows know about it. Having a secret provides power over people who do not know it.

I think that the power of listening to what you don't want me to know could refer to a number of situations, but just think about the powerful feeling it gives you to know someone else's secrets. In this case I think that it is probably what most people have suggested, she finds out that she does not mean anything to him - it could be that he has another woman, has no intention of leaving his wife, or simply denies that he has a relationship with her.

The matter of complication is of course her age in my interpretation - especially because of the transitioning line

Being alone in this kiss I think has to do with both what other people have suggested about her being emotionally "in" the kiss, but also that a kiss is never just one person. There is someone else involved

Now as to who the terrorist is, it is the singer. She has the power over him sexually, and she has his secrets. She can "rip his life to pieces" and she has the pill in her hand. In a way the situation is a suicide mission because she will be ruined by it, but he will suffer more damage.

Well anyway, even without this specific case of a girl and a much older man is not exactly on the money I am quite sure that she is the terrorist, not the other woman if there is one. Mostly why I feel like that is because over and over again it explains how the singer has the power.

Dar Williams – Southern California Wants to Be Western New York Lyrics 12 years ago
One funny thing that I just noticed is that the reason the Disney France failed is because they ignored the culture of France - or rather stereotyped and misinterpreted it and set it to the side after pretending to acknowledge it. This new theme park for SoCal where they sell it another culture without really getting to know what it wants and what motivates it is very similar to Disney marching into France and selling them the American culture. Maybe this song was just a parody of Disney France the whole time.

Liz Phair – Girls' Room Lyrics 12 years ago
This song reminds me of girls in a sorority sitting around gossiping. I think the singer was supposed to have "experimented" with Tiffany.

Dar Williams – Flinty Kind Of Woman Lyrics 12 years ago
When I first listened to it I pegged it as just a fun song and pretty much ignored the lyrics... for some reason I had thought that the "singer" was male. Well after a while I decided to listen to the lyrics... turns out it means something. I still love this song, but I don't know that I can really have fun listening to it anymore.

Dar Williams – Flinty Kind Of Woman Lyrics 12 years ago
When I first listened to it I pegged it as just a fun song and pretty much ignored the lyrics... for some reason I had thought that the "singer" was male. Well after a while I decided to listen to the lyrics... turns out it means something. I still love this song, but I don't know that I can really have fun listening to it anymore.

Dar Williams – The Great Unknown Lyrics 12 years ago
This song is about growing up during the development of the atom bomb. It mirrors the changes in society and the splitting of the atom to the changes in families. Divorces are the splitting of the atom; there is no way to "put the atom back together" in an atom bomb, and she feels that there is no way to regain what our society has lost in its marriages. Thinking about how her verses are playing off of each other to create this beautiful analogy has really helped me grow as a writer.

Eiffel 65 – Hyperlink (deep down) Lyrics 13 years ago
A sexual browser is indeed what is said. As myselftermination said, it is about cybering - how else would you interpret a hyperlink into you?

Eiffel 65 – Living in a Bubble Lyrics 13 years ago
I personally like it better bible, so when I listen to it I always choose to hear bible.

Regina Spektor – Daniel Cowman Lyrics 13 years ago
I agree that this song is prolly a post death song in the exact way it has been interpreted above, but for some reason when I was listening to it another way it could be interpreted came to mind.

When I heard the part about Daniel being sentenced to death it brought to mind Daniel in the bible who was also sentenced to death. I take the heroin boy to be a reference to the writing on the wall - rather that he is the righting on the wall which no one understands. The part about drowning, burning, and hanging brings to mind both the part about the furnace, and the lions den, as well as the how Daniel came to be in Babylon in the first place. There were a number of times that Daniel could have died, but did not for some reason. I take the "I don't exist" to be said by God, but Daniel refuses to stop believing no matter what.

It is kinda a far fetched interpretation, but it kept popping into mind while listening to the song so I thought I would tell it for amusement if nothing else.

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