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Bon Iver – Flume Lyrics 1 year ago
Andrea Gibson said something about this song that I haven’t been able to get out of my head: “I read an interview in which Justin Vernon said he doesn’t always know what his own lyrics mean. I love that, but I looked up maroon anyway, and it has three definitions. One is a color (crimson-ish). Another is a loud firework. And to be marooned is to be left, trapped and isolated in an inaccessible place, like an island. Throughout my life, love has been all of those to me.” And I just found that analysis really beautiful.

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Father John Misty – Chateau Lobby #4 (In C for Two Virgins) Lyrics 2 years ago
It's a song about the novel feelings of vulnerability and hope that come with really falling in love with someone for the first time.

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Neutral Milk Hotel – Two-Headed Boy Pt. 2 Lyrics 3 years ago
For me, this song is about loss. I heard this for the first time only months after losing my best friend to suicide, and a lot of this song's contents really resonated with my feelings about him.

I think that the first stanza is about the loss of a child.
"In your heart there's a spark that just screams/
For a lover to bring, a child to your chest/
That could lay as you sleep."

These lines tell us that the speaker imagines that this father figure aches with paternity, but then next line

"And love all you have left like your boy used to be..."

indicates that at some point, the father figure in this stanza had a "boy" that he loved deeply in a paternal sense. I think that the man described in this stanza is the first victim of loss that is introduced. His loss has caused him to long for the relationship that was sundered by death.

The next stanza, I believe, is addressing a deceased person in an appeal to remind them of what they left behind. The reference to a person with "wings in [their] spine" has an angelic/ethereal association. The speaker talks about how his brother would

"Love to find, your tongue in his teeth"

which I believe alludes to kissing. The next line:

"In a struggle to find/
Secret songs that you keep wrapped in boxes so tight"

Alludes to the character called "brother", likely searching for the reasons for his loved one's death. "Secret songs" may be a metaphor for the answers that "brother" seeks.

I find the next stanza especially potent because it speaks to the feelings I grappled with following my friend's death.

"In my dreams you're alive and you're crying/
As your mouth moves in mine soft and sweet."

This imagery is pretty self-explanatory. I often dreamed that my friend was alive and that we we're crying and hugging and kissing.

"Rings of flowers 'round your eyes and I'll love you/
For the rest of your life when your ready."

I think that the "rings of flowers" could refer to the tacky wreaths that they put atop coffins at funeral services. The "I'll love you for the rest of your life..." is still taking place in the speaker's dream I believe. When my friend died I would always retrospectively proclaim that I'd love him forever, because I felt that if I'd loved him enough when he were alive, he'd still be here.

I think that the next stanza is both about physical decay and the degradation of your memories of a person after they pass away. I think that:

"Brother see we are one in the same/
And you left with your head filled with flames..."

Is the speaker's confession that he too struggled with dark thoughts, but unlike the deceased, he worked through them. The person who the speaker mourns left this world restlessly.

When my friend died I often thought about how he was disintegrating in the ground and how he was looking less and less like himself as time went on. I think that the rest of the stanza discusses that jarring feeling that you have less and less of your loved one to hold on to as time goes on.

The next stanza,

"When we break, we'll wait for our miracle/
God is a place where some holy spectacle lies..."

Talks about how when people "break", they're willing to believe that any "miracle" can save them. I think that the line:

"God is a place you will wait for the rest of your life."

Confirms that there is no miracle in life that can bring your loved one back, and that the pain of their loss only ceases in death.

The last stanza is a bit more abstract than the rest of the song, but I think it refers to healing. I think that the "Two-Headed boy" is someone who is torn between life without his loved one, or death.

The line,
"She will feed you tomatoes and radio wires" suggests that his dreams and memories of his lost love one will be both good for him and bad for him. "Tomatoes" being what is helpful to his healing and "Radio wires" being what is detrimental to his healing.

The very last line:

"But don't hate her/
When she gets up to leave."

Likely cautions the subject of the song to work through his feelings of anger and guilt that surround the death of his loved one.


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Iron & Wine – Flightless Bird, American Mouth Lyrics 3 years ago
For me, this song is about a first love and the profound sentimental value attached to it.

It opens with:
"I was a quick wet boy
Diving too deep for coins
All of your street light eyes
Wide on my plastic toys"

For me, the significance of being "quick/wet" and "diving too deep" is based in the speaker's reckless behaviors. He's quick to jump into things and the dangers of doing to aren't really that important to him. Perhaps this mirrors his attitude about relationships at the time. "Street light eyes" describe someone who is alight with youth and possibility, a person who still looks at the world with wonder. But the "plastic toys" that fascinate this person indicate some level of childishness/preoccupation with material objects.

He goes on to say:
"Then when the cops closed the fair
I cut my long baby hair
Stole me a dog eared map
And called for you everywhere."

The cops closing the fair coincides with the speaker "cutting [his] long baby hair", which suggests that his world is becoming a more serious place and he can no longer blame his carelessness on his youth. He steals a "dog eared map" and "called for [his young love?] everywhere", because along with the fair and his long hair, his first love and all of its beautiful simplicity falls away. He is attached to his lover and his own fleeting youth, so he begins his search for meaning in a scarier, more adult world.

He asks himself:
"Have I found you?
Flightless bird, jealous, weeping
Or lost you?
American mouth
Big bill looming."

He likely "found" love again, but it's not the same as his first love. It is like a "flightless bird" that envies the lightness and freedom of other birds. Even though he found new love, he feels "loss" for his old love, as he reflects on more adult concerns, like being swallowed by the "American mouth", a metaphor for consumerist society, and the "big bills" that he has to pay.

He goes on to describe himself as:
"...a fat house cat
Cursing my sore blunt tongue
Watching the warm poison rats
Curl through the wide white fence cracks"

His being "fat" represents the way in which he feels weighed down. He curses his "sore blunt tongue", which has been made so by the "warm poison rats", and watches them "curl through the white fence cracks", although he can't chase them, since he's weighed. The scene overall is a greater metaphor for his adult responsibility and the way it prevents him from chasing "poison rats", or exciting, but dangerous vices, as he once did with his young love.

"Pissing on magazine photos
Those fishing lures thrown in the cold and clean
Blood of Christ mountain stream"

I'm unsure about the first line, but I think that "magazine photos" represent the idealizations of young love, and how they act as "fishing lures" for the "blood of christ mountain stream", for the actual, unglamorous sacrifices needed to be in a relationship.

The last lines:
"Have I found you?
Flightless bird, brown hair bleeding
Or lost you?
American mouth
Big bill, stuck going down."

Pay a final homage to his first love. Has he found her/someone like her again? Even if it's far less glamorous and far more complicated than it was initially? Or has he lost her/any other chance at love in the "American mouth" of consumerism/adult responsibility, and the impossible escape from it?






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The Front Bottoms – Historic Cemetry (Featuring GDP) Lyrics 3 years ago
I think that this song is about coming to terms with a failing relationship. The opening lines are casual, even humorous, as the speaker recounts memories of his reckless youth. He felt free of obligation and he, and the subject of the song, spent their time together getting high and ignoring their responsibilities.

The first stanza sets up a completely different scene involving a pagan sacrificial ritual. In this context, I think that the "sacrificial ritual" is a greater metaphor for the speaker letting down his gaurd for a loved one, because sacrificial rituals usually entail giving something up to gain something else--in this case, the speaker gave up his cool and collected façade to build a relationship with someone.

The speaker then discredits himself by saying that "it wasn't as serious" as he was making it out to be, and that there was no real sacrificial ritual, just him and his loved one getting high and hanging out. The speaker describes a "sacrificial ritual" in order to try to make sense of some great revelation he had while doing something mundane, in this case, while getting high.

The next stanza describes the speaker struggling to get from one place to another, as his feet are "tired". But his loved one's face is all he needs to get him through the ordeal, which suggests that the person in question is very important to him. He's thinking about how "the world mocks [his] magic" because they don't believe in it. The "magic" he's referring to is love, I believe, because he goes on to say that it was "all for [his lover]".

After the chorus, the speaker describes "putting his wrong finger in the hot wax", which I think symbolizes him putting all of his faith into a doomed relationship. The last thing he needs is "a reason to fight back" because he realizes that this relationship is only hurting him, and not really worth salvaging. In the last lines, he confesses that he doesn't have words for the absolute devastation he felt when things with his lover went south--which speaks to the extreme anguish he feels at present while reflecting back on the relationship.

The spoken part at the end describes a relationship that was riddled with infidelity and drug use, and failed, indirectly, as a result of those things. It can be inferred that on some level, this is the kind of relationship that the speaker had with his loved one before things dissolved.

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Sufjan Stevens – Romulus Lyrics 3 years ago
On the surface, this song is about a mother who is transient throughout her sons' lives. We are definitely made to feel like she is deeply flawed. But if you look into it, there's hints that the song is also about the speaker's own emotional immaturity at various stages in his life.

The first stanza describes "last year's cough" in the mother's voice. This description doesn't cast her as a cruel or dismissive person, but rather, a sick or weak one. This suggests that the speaker's view of her compulsion towards fugue is an "illness" rather than a character flaw in his youth when he idealizes her. When it comes time for him to speak to her, he is ashamed, perhaps towards his own inability to stay angry at her for abandoning him.

When the speaker moves away from her into a more permanent living situation, she visits their community, which is called Romulus, which references the Roman myth of Romoulus and Remus, brothers who were raised by wolves because their birth mother was persecuted. The allusion to this myth suggests that the speaker relates to Romulus' abandonment and feels as if his existence were accidental and unwanted. Despite this, his mother's Chevy breaks down and neither he nor his brother want her to leave. They touch her hair because they need to relate her memory to something tangible, as children often do.

Then, unshockingly, the mother leaves again, this time with a new family--one that doesn't include the speaker or his brother. To distract from this traumatic event, their grandfather buys them a VCR to entertain themselves. Even though the VCR occupied their attention, they still harden and grow up too fast, since they are confronted by the conscious reality that they are not valued by their mother. All of this is merely implied, however, because the speaker never directly relates his mother's leaving to growing up too fast. The events are presented as two parallel events that happen at the same time, but are unrelated--but the listener makes that connection automatically.

The present day speaker then goes on to make note of the last time he saw his mother, which was in the wake of his grandfather's death. The assertion that his grandfather died in a hospital gown hints that he had been sick for awhile, and that the speaker's mother had not made any attempt to visit him. The speaker explains that his mother appeared largely apathetic and, instead of greiving loudly, she smoked and colored her hair in the bathroom. Of course this behavior seems totally out of place, but the speaker, reflecting back on the incident, describes how he felt ashamed of her response.

...But he does it in a way that is made out to be highly subjective and emotionally-driven. Taking closer look at the chosen diction, it is important to make not of the use of the words "seem" and "I". She didn't "seem" to care, rather than "she didn't care", highlights the present-day speaker's newfound ability to consider that just because she didn't "seem" to care doesn't mean that she didn't care. He also says "I was ashamed of her" "those actions were shameful". The "I" pronoun accentuates his reiteration of his feelings as largely subjective, and thus, not necessarily representative of the whole story.

In short, the final stanza is more about the speaker's own misunderstanding of the complexities of greif than it is about the mother's failure to find an conduit to channel her greif.

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Sufjan Stevens – The Only Thing Lyrics 4 years ago
This song is probably the most beautiful and sorrowful song ever written and I have a lot of love for it.

The first stanza describes a suicide that the speaker imagines himself committing. Sometimes, his mind wanders and he fantasizes about intentionally crashing his car to end his life. BUT, he then references the myth of Medusa and Perseus, and how, in his triumph, Perseus was eventually immortalized in the stars with his lover Andromeda. The speaker refrains from suicide because he hopes that he may one day make it into heaven and be immortalized with his lost lover in the same way.

The second stanza reverts back to his battle with suicidal thoughts. He wonders if it even matters whether or not he lives, or more importantly, where he goes when he dies. In the "veil of great surprises", which I believe is a symbol for fates role in what we perceive to be chance, he wonders if his lover truly loved him, or whether they just served as a pawn in the greater scheme of things.

The third stanza introduces an alternate, yet highly specific suicidal fantasy, indicating that the speaker is somewhat invested in it. It is now more of an active thought than a daydream. He then references the book of Daniel, which prophecizes an apocalyptic scenario. Through this we can infer that the speaker feels like it is the end of his world.

He goes on to reference the illusion of coincidence and struggles to "live with" the haunting memories of an impermanent figure in his life.

He then ask himself if he should harm himself in ways that would help him erase his pain. Should he tear his eyes out so that he doesn't hav to face his lover's absence? Should he tear his heart out so that he doesn't feel it? He doesn't know

The next stanza focuses on faith, or lack thereof, in the face of tradgedy. From what we can gather, despite all his greif, the speaker has found reasons to hold onto his faith, likely because he can now recognize its role in destiny.

His tone then shifts back into his previous despair. He wants to be drowned for a chance to reconnect with his lost loved one. He wants to remove his sight before he finds another reason to live. He wants to remove his arms so that he can avoid feeling the physical emptiness of his lover's absence. He ends with a series of questions, which implies that he remains unresolved in his current state.

Tragic and beautiful.


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Sufjan Stevens – To Be Alone with You Lyrics 4 years ago
Obviously this song has a lot of biblical illusions, but I think it would be a mistake to take them at face value. I don't think that the subject of the song is Jesus himself, but a Jesus-figure archetype that serves as a vehicle for the underlying story.

The first few lines are from the perspective of the narrorator. He's expressing that he would go to extreme lengths for the subject of the song--specifically to be alone with him. But aside from the narrorator's devotion, there's an underlying current of regret. Specifically in the phrase, "I'd give my body to be back again, in the rest of the room." Giving his body is a reference to Christ giving his body up, but in this context it means that the narrorator would give his life to be able to be present again. In other words, he is unhappy and would rather be dead than exist so detached from his own life.

The second stanza references the Jesus figure directly. Like Jesus, he gave his body to the lonely. Only in this context, it refers to an action that is perceived as ironic and "unholy". He gave his body in the form of various affairs throughout his marriage. Like Jesus, they took his clothes. But in this context it refers to the removal of clothes in the rapture of a sexual pursuit.

But then the narrorator reveals the nature of his relationship with the Jesus figure/subject. The subject left his life in order to live a more authentic existence with his lover, the narrorator. Unlike Jesus, he didn't likely do it out of selflessness, but rather, out of desperation. He also surrendered his goals as he realizes the stigma of homosexuality will have a damaging effect on all facets of his life.

The third bit is interesting. Like Jesus being nailed to a wooden cross in an act of persecution, the stigma of homosexuality drives the subject to suicide, likely by hanging. He couldn't live his life under the pretenses of being a straight man, and he couldn't be with his lover without suffering in a homophobic society, so he kills himself to be alone with his lover, someday in heaven.

In the last line, the narrorator reacts to the whole allegory he just describe in one line: "I'll never know the man who loved me." Like Jesus, the subject is now deceased and detached from the world of the living. But the narrorator's claim that he will never know him suggests that he will never understand his reasons for committing suicide, and grieves the loss of somebody who he loved regardless of whether or not he understood his motives.

I rearlier that this is an uncommon interpretation, but it's what I need to believe that this song is about. It's a beautiful song anyways.

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Angel Olsen – Creator, Destroyer Lyrics 4 years ago
This song is heartbreakingly beautiful and I've always interpreted it as an essay on the darker, more sinister parts of love that people don't like to drag into the light. It's about the relationship between human attachment and pain, and it's really beautifully done.

The first stanza starts as the speaker remarks that they are watching from a "tower" in the back of their mind. This suggests that they are very much living in their own head, likely because there is some pain or reality that they aren't yet prepared to face. It continues to note that the speaker is watching "the living walk by". This purposeful separation that the speaker makes between themself and "the living" indicates that they no longer feel real or human. In a sense, they are "dead" and floating above the world of those who are "alive".

They then "hit the streets in search of the self that left [them lying]". Not only does this line reinforce the motif of detachment from oneself and reality in the face of extreme pain, but it uses the word "lying" as a double entendre. Not only is the speaker "lying" incapacitated by their greif, but they are also "lying" to themself about their remaining attachment to a person who broke them down.

The speaker doesn't notice that the "love inside has been empty" and the "world [they] made has been ending" in time to greive it or prepare for it. When the person they love abandons them, the rug is pulled out from underneath them, and they collapse.

The next line is probably my favorite. "Like a ghost that hangs around, and won't forgive it's earthly sins, I've carried on this love for you, it's how my body lives." In their weakened state, the speaker confesses that they feel like a "ghost" that is anchored down to the physical world by unresolved issues from its previous life. The speaker, like a ghost, only continues to exist by holding onto that unresolved pain, in this case, that pain is their love for the person who "killed" them.

The speaker then notes the shallow conversation that takes place between themself and the person who they shared a profound love with. They view the other person as a "creator", in that they give life and purpose to the person, but also a "destroyer" in that their abandonment damaged them, possibly beyond repair. They are "starved" of this person's affection purposefully. Through this imagery, it is revealed that the person being idealized by the speak is actually abusive, manipulative, and fully aware of the harm that they are doing--but some part of them gets off on inflicting that pain.

After the speaker's confession of this mistreatment, they admit that there are many things they still can't say out loud. They are "stripped of their pride" but to the point of losing themself in this relationship. Even after all of this, the speaker maintains that there is a place for their lover to "crawl inside"--in other words, some part of them will always want to protect the person that hurt them.

The last part is really powerful. The grieving speaker suddenly changes their tone. They become angry, hostile, and bitter--not at their lover, but at themself. They are "murderous" and fanatical, and they feel no control over the love they feel for their lover, and potential abuser.

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You Won't – Television Lyrics 4 years ago
I feel like the meaning of this song is fairly straightforward--it's about growing up gay in an environment that isn't accepting. Let's analyze the first few lines:

"Back when I was young enough to know from where I came,
I saw my love be spat upon and shouted down in shame."

The first two lines describe the realization that you feel differently than the people around you. More specifically, it's the realization that you're attracted to people who you've been told you shouldn't be attracted to. The second two lines introduce the conflict: This unique kind of "love" is being "shouted down in shame", meaning that it is being condemned by a likely religious community.

Then, the subject of the song is told by "his honor"--likely a legal figure, that there's nothing to fear because "it always ends the same." This line suggests that the persecution that the subject faces in this life is insignificant, because we all end up in the same place eventually: dead.

The second stanza plays with the same themes introduced in the first stanza: The fear instilled in gay people that they are somehow damned for their feelings. As the subject battles with these emotions he seeks spiritual guidance from a preacher who assures him that "it always ends the same". In this case, that means that it doesn't matter what congregation members think about his sexuality, because only God can make judgement.

Then the first two lines in the third stanza stand out to me. I think that the "fishes" that are "terrified by what they can't explain" are actually the people that are vehemently anti-gay. They are flying in "circles" and they refuse to break that "circle" and go against the current. BUT "when the suburb and the sky are both awash in flame/the television won't survive.", meaning that when the world ends, the suburban ideals of what is good/bad that are conveyed on television won't matter anymore because everyone will die.

Then, the last stanza is a captivating thing to chew on. I'm not entirely sure what it means and I think that it's intentionally open to interpretation. The first line about "being old enough" to "learn to play the game" likely refers to living inauthentically in order to protect oneself from the hatred of queer people. But then it goes on to say that when he is able to do that--to live a false existence, then dinosaurs will roam the earth again. The combination of these lines indicates that the prospect of living inauthentically is highly improbable--much like the resurgence of dinosaurs on earth. He has decided to be true to himself. There's not a chance in hell that he will live a life that isn't authentic. The "victory song" that the dinosaurs would "hum" is likely a symbol for triumph over man and it's unkind and ugly influence on the planet. Then, the theme of "it always ends the same" is reiterated one last time. Human created ideals don't matter because everything we've created will cease to exist one day.

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