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Undertow Lyrics

The curtains are drawn
Now the fire warms the room.
Meanwhile outside
Wind from the north-east chills the air,
It will soon be snowing out there.

And some there are
Cold, they prepare for a sleepless night.
Maybe this will be their last fight.

But we're safe in each other's embrace,
All fears go out as I look on your face -

Better think awhile
Or I may never think again.
If this were the last day of your life, my friend,
Tell me, what do you think you would do then?

Stand up to the blow that fate has struck upon you,
Make the most of all you still have coming to you, [or]
Lay down on the ground and let the tears run from you,
Crying to the grass and trees and heaven finally on your knees

Let me live again, let life come find me wanting.
Spring must strike again against the shield of winter.
Let me feel once more the arms of love surround me,
Telling me the danger's past, I need not fear the icy blast again.

Laughter, music and perfume linger here
And there, and there,
Wine flows from flask to glass and mouth,
As it soothes, confusing our doubts.

And soon we feel,
Why do a single thing to-day,
There's tomorrow sure as I'm here.
So the days they turn into years
And still no tomorrow appears.

Better think awhile
Or I may never think again.
If this were the last day of your life, my friend,
Tell me, what do you think you would do then?

Stand up to the blow that fate has struck upon you,
Make the most of all you still have coming to you, [or]
Lay down on the ground and let the tears run from you,
Crying to the grass and trees and heaven finally on your knees

Let me live again, let life come find me wanting.
Spring must strike again against the shield of winter.
Let me feel once more the arms of love surround me,
Telling me the danger's past, I need not fear the icy blast again.
Song Info
Submitted by
Submitted on
Apr 01, 2001
10 Meanings
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I think this is one of the most moving songs ever! The music is just brilliant. As for the lyrics, I actually find them very uplifting:

Telling us that everyday we should remind ourselves that life is a treasure and therefore we have to seize the day (instead of waiting for a tomorrow that never appears). The chorus with the description of how we'd react to our last day is just beautiful.

I don't think the person in the song is really ill or going to die. To my mind, it seems more like someone - averagely happy, averagely wealthy - is suddenly struck by the insight that life is precious. In the first stanza, the thought of other (poor) people not surviving the night starts him thinking about "the last day". In the second stanza, he realises that a day spent with drinking wine and doing nothing is a wasted day and that he wouldn't do so if he knew his time left on earth was limited.

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I believe this song is inspiring and beautiful enough to be considered magical, or used in a magical way. I'd like to memorize the chorus and use it frequently as a spell to give me and others extra energy and love and optimism and fortitude when fate blows those cold chilly nights into our lives. Or/and, it feels like these lyrics are being whispered from my soul to my heart to give me Life Life Life and all the incredible courage it implies, for just to stay alive at all implies great courage. So here's what it made me think/feel as I listened: Here's what I'd be hope to be contemplating if it were indeed the last (or current) day of life;

So have I stood up to the blows and challenges that my semi-self-chosen fate has dealt me? Have I made the most of the gifts I've been gifted with? Can't I open my heart wider to this sacred wondrous and terrifyingly surprising and mysterious universe, and let the immensity of it bring me to my tearful knees? Shall I live on, and on again, as the waves of shadow and light wash through my life, the summer fall winter spring of it all, picking me up one more time than it drops me, rebirthing me one more time than it kills me, waking me up one more time than it puts me to sleep? Can I feel the arms of love around me, even if right now there are only memories and hopes and intuitions of unpresent arms? Can I feel love and loved anyway and finally give my heart trustingly to the Universe, and once and for all fall into foolish love with Life not because I'm sure that it won't break my heart, but rather because I'm sure that it will, again, over and over, and mend it one more time than it breaks it, helping me grow grow grow ever onward toward forever, or at least as long as i care to? While deeply appreciative of the warm sweet breezes, in this ever-changing dancing universe, can I, as i think I must, withstand the icy blast again? Can I admit safety is nicer, bit not let my desire for it stifle my willingness to try new things and risk it all sometimes, can I risk it all now, knowing life becomes a crazy caged animal if I lose my sense of adventure. Can I refine my sense of adventure, crafting ingenious risks that pay off nicely if they go well, and teach meaningful lessons on how to do it better next time if things don't go well?

My Interpretation

@zorbhead just brilliant, thank you.

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In 1976 I knew a young girl of 18 (I was only 19 myself) who lost her father to a heart attack and her mother to cancer both in the space of a year. That left her to look after her older sister who had mental health problems. A few months later she found out that she too had the same strain of cancer as her mother and had only a few months to live. We struck up a relationship (platonic) and I used to spend a lot of time with her. One day I bought Then there were three and as we listened to Undertow it took on real meaning for us. It was winter and the illness meant she couldn't sleep but one evening she said she wasn't frightened anymore. We'd said that when she was better we go out and visit different places with each other and then realised at the back at our minds there would be no tomorrow. The end of this story is told in the last two verses

@fudgepanda wasn't "And Then There Were Three" released in 1978?

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a plea to someone that has seemingly been told that they're coming to the end of their life, telling them not to give up living. the mid part of the song suggests that whtever is goin to kill the person involved hasnt done it quickly and that they really should carry on living as tho' they didnt know their time were running out. infact it could even be a case of hypochondria whereby the person isnt ill at all but had resided themself to bein on the decent toward oblivion for the sake of it... i think its more likely just telling people not to let their situation stop them living every day to the fullest and to fight back against the innevitable.

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Obviously, the song is about the end of Autumn - vacillating between the choice between allowing oneself to 'dread Winter' or 'taking solace' in 'the hope of Spring'. Naturally, one can infer whatever 'metaphor' they wish. Everything in the universe 'ends', same-same everything in the universe must 'begin' as well - and many things, especially things that are part of 'life', are cyclic in nature; the seasons, for example.

For you, this song 'could' be about facing one's own mortality - or, perhaps that of a loved one. Then again, another might simply see this as a song about a fond relationship that they know is about to end - perhaps, even if only for a short while. It is a beautifully written song... It reminds me very much of the stuff I used to write.

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This is an important song for me. For me who suffers from depression it is about not taking your own life. When things are bad I listen to this song and it helps “lay down on the ground and let the tears run from me. Crying to the grass and trees and heaven finally on your knees”. To me this is despair. “Let me live again…” is the cry for help.

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First of all ,sorry for my poor english. I haven't listened this song for more than 30 years. One month ago , i 've been told that my cancer was back, and surprisingly ,it was not only a bad and unexpected new because i always knew since the beginning of my disease ,that it could happen again. Early February ,i felt something like impossible to resist to look backward in the past when i was a teenager and a young adult .And naturelly ,i began to search songs to hang on . The one that hit my mind was" undertow".Never before ,i have tried to understand the meaning of it .It was only a song that i use to listen when i was young .I loved the atmostphere close to sadness at the beginning and all along the song grows something like serenity and hope . That's exactly what my inconsciousness is looking for now . If i 've been asked to find a song about my actual feeling ,never that song would came in. It came to me naturally. I think we have different level of perception .Not only Ears and Eyes To me ,this song is one of the treatment of my recovery.

My Opinion

@xatou I was moved by your message. I hope you are doing well!

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I type this as my beloved wife lies dying on an infusion pump next to me. She has had brain cancer which is spread all down her spine - on the surface of her brain - and also within her brain causing a blockage which will end her life very soon.

She is at peace and no longer in pain and we have chosen this song for her funeral.

For me it typifies this journey

-the curtains are drawn - now the fire warms the room -

This is where I am now - the fire warming us up

but were safe in each others embrace - all fears go out as I look at your face-

She has been my soulmate - a love that has and will endure forever - she will be by my side and I shall never love another

  • stand up to the blow that fate has struck upon you

SO we both took the view that we were going to love our way through this and she has had the best year of her life - she looked this in the eye and laughed

On the day that she was told that she had metastatic disease - we came home and sang karaoke.......

Let me live again - this is when we will be reunited when I will join her - and we will roam around the planets together -

true love is everlasting.

I am sorry for the sentimental nature of my interpretation - as I type tis with all the pain that I have been through - it has helped

My Opinion

@Counterclockwerk Beautiful interpretation. I can only imagine playing a set up funeral. Are you and your wife find peace

@Counterclockwerk What a beautiful tribute to your late wife & lovely interpretation of this song. Very sorry for your loss.

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Tears running down my face reading your story. I am so sorry for your precious loss of your wife. Across our lifetimes, it seems that life relentlessly tries to wear us down, break us. I lost my most precious one and only daughter last April 5. She was 29. She took her own life... Like you, this song perfectly describes my baby’s journey and my own.

Memory
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Such a beautiful Genesis song. I would argue it's in the top 10, and reminds me of something from their earlier output, like Firth Of Fifth, except not as long and out there.

My interpretation is a bit wordy, sorry.

The subject is reflecting on their mortality. They realize there are people out there who have had it much worse than they have. If this is Phil talking about himself, he realizes he has made a ton of money, but that in the end he will die just like the poor people. He tells the listener that whatever life has given you, you need to make the best of it, because we all have a limited time on this planet. No matter what we do, that final curtain is drawn and inevitable. I still have all of these riches, but for what.

The man has a long life (days turn into years), but he knows the older he gets that final moment is still coming.

Even then, he says f**k it, I'm still alive gosh darnit. I still have life left and I'm going to take advantage of that. Simple.

"Stand up to the blow that fate has struck upon you, make the most of all you still have coming to you."

Even the title is appropriate. We all get taken out by the undertow, er undertaker.

[Edit: addtnl thought. ]

My Interpretation
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