"Pale Shelter" as written by and Roland Orzabal....
How can I be sure?
When your intrusion is my illusion
How can I be sure
When all the time you changed my mind
I asked for more and more
How can I be sure

When you don't give me love (You gave me pale shelter)
You don't give me love (you give me cold hands)
And I can't operate on this failure
When all I want to be is
Completely in command

How can I be sure
For all you say you keep me waiting
How can I be sure
When all you do is see me through
I asked for more and more
How can I be sure

When you don't give me love (You gave me pale shelter)
You don't give me love (you give me cold hands)
And I can't operate on this failure
When all I want to be is
Completely in command

I've been here before
There is no why, no need to try
I thought you had it all
I'm calling you, I'm calling you
I ask for more and more
How can I be sure

When you don't give me love (You gave me pale shelter)
You don't give me love (you give me cold hands)
And I can't operate on this failure
When all I want to be is
Completely in command

You don't give me love
You don't give me love

You don't give me love
You don't give me love

You don't give me love
You don't give me love


Lyrics submitted by ruben

"Pale Shelter" as written by Roland Orzabal

Lyrics © BMG Rights Management

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Pale Shelter song meanings
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23 Comments

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  • +1
    Song MeaningRegardless of what Curt and Roland say about this song, I think essentially it is meant as a direct appeal to God. Let's take a look:

    "How can I be sure? When your intrusion is my illusion..." The first line is just a question of whether or not to have any faith at all. How can we be sure there is a God? The intrusion/illusion line sort of suggests that his experience has led him to believe that God is merely an illusion. The next couple of lines reinforce this idea: "How can I be sure? When all the time you changed my mind..." Changed my mind meaning that while he might have started out with faith, repeatedly witnessing the darker side of life on Earth makes it difficult to keep believing.

    I asked for more and more (repeated throughout the song) is probably a reference to our never-ending dissatisfaction with what we have, regardless of how much we have been given. Also, it's possible that this dissatisfaction makes it difficult to believe that God is really looking out for us in the way we hope.

    "When you don't give me love, You gave me Pale shelter, You don't give me love, You give me cold hands..." Again this sort of references the entire first part- God just puts us on Earth and puts the burden of "free will" on our heads, leaving us feeling alone and without real guidance. We are struggling to make our way in the world, surrounded by all of the unavoidable pain and suffering that comes with reality, just trying to get by, and we don't even know why.

    "And I can't operate on this failure, When all I want to be is... Completely in command" This could mean several things. One possibility is that he's saying that God is a failure for leaving us in this situation and he himself would like a chance at "calling the shots" of the Universe instead. A more likely possibility, I think, is that while he'd like to help the souls on Earth to solve their problems, due to the inherent greed of humanity, he instead just wants to have ultimate control like everyone else (which, fittingly enough, is actually a root cause of many of the these problems). Notice how the drawn out note here gets kind of atonal and creepy too, as if to reinforce this point.

    From here on, I can see that the point just seems to be rehashed again and again in new ways. "For all you say you keep me waiting" - God has left us an undeniable moral compass that we are internally aware we are supposed to follow, but we are still left waiting for convincing evidence of God's existence. "When all you do is see me through" - again, similar to the idea behind the chorus. "I've been here before, There is no why, no need to try" - this might suggest a belief in reincarnation, and wondering the point in putting forth any real effort in life when we're just going to be thrown back into the cycle again anyway. "I thought you had it all" - it's God, he's supposed to be all-knowing and all-seeing, so why is God putting us through this existence, what else does God want from us, again what is the point?? Then my favorite part of the song "I'm calling you, I'm calling you" - this is our desperate call to God, please, please give us a sign, some answers, a path to follow, ANYTHING!! The harmonized vocals are just perfect here, and really sort of emphasize our deep longing for acknowledgement from God.

    All of this, in a funny way, actually sort of fits in with what other people mentioned about the "rebellious teen" theory, in a general sense - humanity is basically like a rebellious teen, and God is sort of our virtual parent/authority figure. What's so great about this song is that the music fits the lyrics so well, there's a sort of bittersweetness to it, and an epic, vast quality about it (which fits well in an appeal to the creator of the entire Universe). To me, the bass and guitar parts almost remind me of the mechanical passing of time, cycles repeating over and over, stretching into the infinity of this mad mystery of existence. The harmonic analysis is actually quite interesting also, with the character of of the E changing from a maj 7th to an added 6th from the F to the G, and the nice switching between the root minor and relative major. I don't know if there's as much genius in this song as I've mentioned in this review, but for me this is just pure music magic, all the way. It's a shame we don't really get songs like this anymore from the current group of "pretend musicians."






    Zegoniteon July 21, 2011   Link
  • +1
    General CommentJust realized something that reinforces the interpretation I wrote two years ago- the "cold hands" line could well be referring to unanswered prayers, the only provable result of taking your hands out of your pockets to clasp them together in prayer.
    Zegoniteon April 08, 2014   Link
  • 0
    General Commentthis is so cool. it doesn't sound particular eighties, which is wonderful, but it's so angsty and angry, i just love it. anyways, that's what i think...
    xpankfrisston June 19, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General Commentsweet song
    shoultes3on March 06, 2003   Link
  • 0
    General Commenti love the guitar strums in the chorus
    granola brinkon April 04, 2003   Link
  • 0
    General CommentIn a concert Roland said this song was about being a rebelous teen or maybe the parent of one cant remmber. It does sound cool though. This is definitely an underrated band.What do i think? I think it can apply to anyone whos not getting what they deserve although im sure its deeeper than that. hmph.
    fasternuon December 23, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General CommentYeah this song is cool.
    Nick Tonicon December 31, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis song is amazing! Even though it's apparently about rebellious teens, it sounds to me like someone playing games with his head. I love the music video for this.
    tay-parkeron March 15, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis songs follows and links to the "Mad World" on the Album The Hurting. Mad world was highlighting the sadness of the world (a very deep philosophical song) whilst this song continues a similar theme of rejection. The whole album is very much underrated and I would recommend listening to it.
    CharmingManon February 22, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentRoland and Curt say this was a plea to a girl's parents or something like that.

    Beautiful lyrics - how much can you relate to them when you are in a relationship, especially when one side feels more strongly about the person than the other.

    I was in a similar past relationship where my ex was cold hearted and unaffectionate and these lyrics just fitted how I was feeling superbly

    I love the guitar in this as well and the handclaps at the end
    Mrs_Orzabalon September 14, 2006   Link

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