"The Difference in the Shades" as written by and Conor Oberst....
Now that it's June, we'll sleep out in the garden
And if it rains, we'll just sink in to the mud
Where it is quiet and much cooler than the house is
And there is no clocks or phones to wake us up

Because I have learned that nothing is as pressing
As the one who is pressing would like you to believe
And I am content to walk a little slower
Because there is nowhere that I really need to be

I find that life is easier when it is just a blur
With no details to confuse who or what or where I was
So when the ending comes the full regret will be obscure
But these are days we dream about when the sunlight paints us gold

And this apartment could not be prettier as when we danced
up there alone
This TV is old, the color is fucked, do you see the difference in the shades?
But the green is still close to green, my love

And I believe we are the same
And we'll stay like this, all gold and green
The light collects and projects your heart on a movie screen
And if you close your eyes

We will always be the way we were that night
You crawled inside of me
And you slept in my blood the way you sleep now
The quietest hush has consumed this house

And when the doctors are gone and you sweat through the bed
With all these pictures and pills they piled around your head
Just rest now, and in a moment you will know everything
Was it just a dream?

It's too vague now to recount
And outline of the one you loved in a life that was not longer
Will be standing above you as you sleep

Lyrics submitted by PLANES, edited by nested

"The Difference in the Shades" as written by Conor Oberst Oberst

Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

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The Difference in the Shades song meanings
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  • +2
    My Interpretation"This TV is old, the color is fucked, do you see the difference in the shades?
    But the green is still close to green, my love
    And I believe we are the same
    And we'll stay like this, all gold and green"

    I'm in awe.
    I think that the green on the TV relates to their love. Like his lover is dying and everything is messed up and difficult, but the love is still there despite everything.
    Also I see a connection to Robert Frost's Nothing Gold Can Stay:
    "Nature’s first green is gold,
    Her hardest hue to hold.
    Her early leaf’s a flower;
    But only so an hour.
    Then leaf subsides to leaf,
    So Eden sank to grief,
    So dawn goes down to day
    Nothing gold can stay."
    They're both about death and impermanance, and obviouslt there's a connection with the colours.
    lkittenon January 18, 2010   Link
  • +2
    General CommentI really love Bright Eyes and I consider myself a pretty big fan. For the past year or so, I've been listening to 87% bright eyes/conor oberst and 13% other music. Unfortunately, I just started liking them about 4 years ago and they were kinda idle during that time and so I've never gotten the chance to go to one of their showings (I'm going to the People's Key though!!!! :DDDDDD) I've listened to quite a few of their songs, all amazingly beautiful, and by this point have come to see the band's history/discography as a story of Conor and his journey from early teenage years to what he is now, a grown up, well-rounded, matured person. The name of the band came from a Baby Ruth show from the '90s or something like that. I've yet to watch it (it's in my netflix queue). I think Conor got inspired from this and his first love, possibly his neighbor or a girl that went to the same school as him, tied the two together, and bright eyes was born:

    Puella Quam Amo Est Pulchra (collection of songs '95-'97):
    "You have beautiful, beautiful eyes/so bright and alive and enchanting/I want to be with you all of the time" also, the title translates to "the girl i love is pretty"

    Emily Sing Something Sweet (collection of songs '95-'97)
    "Emily sing something please/ I want to taste the life behind your eyes"

    Supriya (collection of songs)
    "while her bright eyes burn through my exploding heart"

    the album in general is basically about his early teenage years, his experiences with it, his take on it, falling in love with this (maybe imaginary/made up/sculpted. this girl might not be real because her name goes from emily to amy to haligh to arienette [though i'm not exactly sure if arienette is bright eyes girl] to a whole lot stuff. but maybe he just wants to keep her identity secret.) girl.

    It seems like this girl wasn't such a good person/lover and influences him into doing things like smoking/drinking/drugs. OR sometimes it seems like he was already involved so she might've just dug him deeper into it (i think we all know he would've probably ended up there sooner or later anyway though haha):

    Nothing gets crossed out (Lifted):
    "like when i fell under the weight of a schoolboy crush, started carrying her books and doing lots of drugs"

    I Will Be Grateful for This Day (noise floor):
    this is my absolute favorite song. "we used to roll the windows down and play the music loud/smoking out in her car, lost in west omaha/and we'd get drunk and kiss, our bodies twist like shoelaces"

    This girl gets a little freaked out by how much Conor loves her, and he was quite an odd guy at the time as well. Also, she probably wanted to grow up and be a normal person whereas he's always talking about how love is depicted in books (Kathy with a k's song, "love is real, it is not just in novels or the movies" and weather reports, "i left my baby for…. a love that's only in the books i read" ). He's a dreamy person at the time, wants to be in love and not grow up just yet. But she, it seems, is ready to spread her wings and move on to newer and better things:

    Touch (letting off the happiness):
    "touch, lying on the floor / wishing this could last / but knowing that it can't/ soon you will leave.."
    there's two ways to interpret this song. the 1st and the way i first thought about it is that this is about LSD: when you're tripping (as i've heard, i've never tripped), you feel really numb in a strange way so that when someone/something touches you, you feel it ripple/echo through your whole body. sometimes you won't feel like doing anything "trying hard to find a reason to move", "i'm frozen in one place". he's just really broken and depressed (maybe it was a bad trip..?) later in the song.
    then i sort of changed my mind when i read some of the comments in songmeanings..lots of them said it was about first love (which would actually fit into the storyline better as well). and so i looked at the song more closely and the line "you are the promise of the love you will probably never find". since then i'm really considering the 2nd take on it but i still strongly believe the first part's about LSD haha. But maybe it's a mixture of both.

    I will be grateful for this day (noise floor):
    "i had a girl i knew, she grew, became a woman/now, i think that she teaches at one of the schools down town"
    "we never came untied, i guess you were just my type/ you know that summer never stopped, i still pretend i'm there"
    "and so you got ahead of me, and i guess i'm still dragging behind"

    June on the west coast (letting off the happiness):
    "and i wouldn't have to bring up my so badly broken heart / and all those months i just wanted to sleep"

    The upcoming album(s) is/are, for the most part, sad. they're this certain worn out, quiet, tired type of sad. conor is really emotionally exhausted. the girl uses him, and he's aware of it, yet he can't help but be okay with it.

    It's Cool, We Can Still Be Friends (noise floor) :
    "yeah you even sleep over but we stay in our clothes/ I'm only there so you're not alone."

    I've been eating for you (noise floor):
    "so i'm just a medicine/you take when you're sick/ you get well and that's it. i'm put back"

    Then the next albums are generally angry and fast-paced (sometimes sad like above album(s)), which makes me think he resents what this girl has done to him (a lot). At this point he tries to cover up his feelings for bright eyes girl by hook ups, sex, drugs and alcohol (Bright eyes girl was not depicted in an overly sexual manner (with the exception of pull my hair and, even then, it's a sweetish song) that i remember, and he tends to describe sex with these new replacement girls more detailed and precisely, like.. he doesn't respect them much):

    The Calendar Hung Itself (mirrors and fevers):
    "and i kissed a girl with a broken jaw that her father gave to her / she had eyes bright enough to burn me, they reminded me of yours" I'd like to believe this girl is the same one as the one in amy in a white coat but i'm not sure.. "..where a secret lay concealed.." Anyhow, the telephone episode sounds like something that really happened between bright eyes and conor. It's also mentioned in spent on rainy days..i think this might've been the incident where she broke up with him (on the phone or he called her and beggedddd her with no dignity, no shame). In this song, it also seems that she's dating another guy (adding to i've been eating for you^), and he points out all these things he knows about her that the other guy doesn't know about her. he questions the other guy and tries to make her seem..that he's not as good as conor at being conor.

    It's Cool, We Can Still Be Friends (noise floor) :
    "I'm pouring some whiskey, i'm gonna get drunk…that i pass out and forget your face by the time i wake up.." in this song, conor is really destroyed about this girl telling him they can still be friends. he says that she sleeps over but they stay in their clothes. though it is sexual, (it's been a while since childhood when the songs were nice and sweet), it's not a lusty type of reference..it's kind of quiet, soft.

    Haligh, Haligh, A lie, haligh (fevers and mirrors):
    "you said you hate my suffering and you understood and you'd take care of me/ you'd always be there/where are you now?"

    A Perfect Sonnet (fevers and mirrors):
    the whole song but especially "once you knew a girl and you named her lover, danced with her through the greenest summer…she disappeared & you don't remember where she said she was going to". (we know this is the bright eyes girl because of the summer that never stopped in I will be grateful for this day and he talks about warm nights and stuff in a collection of songs '95-'97.) The whole song just shows how angry he is at love and how he wishes all lovers a tragical yet romantic death.

    In the next upcoming albums, the memory of bright eyes pops up less and less. mostly, it's just heartbrokenness, not specifically by bright eyes. he's just lonely and sad but not devastated by what bright eyes has done to him.
    Landlocked Blues (wide awake) :
    "laura's asleep in my bed.."
    "we made love on the living room floor..in that deafening pleasure, i thought.."
    this is really descriptive, it doesn't talk about love or her eyes or anything nice and pretty or sweet. he says that a good woman will pick you apart with suggestions and that you may be offended or afraid. this goes to show that he doesn't really like her..he just likes the deafening pleasure and the fact that she's most likely hispanic (he has a thing for hispanics haha).

    Lover I don't have to love (lifted):
    "your hands on me..pressing hard against my jeans..you didn't care to know who else may have been you before"
    this is probably the strongest example of the hook up usage to forget about bright eyes. he goes to a bar and meets up with a complete stranger and hooks up with her. she keeps it all very anonymous & he doesn't mind, still hooks up with her. "i asked your name/ you asked the time"

    Lua (wide awake):
    "but me i'm not a gamble, you can count on me to split/ the love i sell you in the evening by the morning won't exist"
    besides his voice sounding extremely lazy and weak in this song, he sings and plays with no energy. it's like this dumb bright eyes girl took it all….but, anyway, he's with this other girl (guessing her name's lua) but the bond is very weak and they're both really not into it. again, he tries to cover stuff with drugs "yeah we might die from medication but we sure killed all the pain".

    June on the west coast (letting off the happiness):
    "and there was a girl i knew there, one more potential lover..and as i walked along the beach and drank with her..i thought about my true love, the one i really need. with eyes that burn so bright they make me pure / they make me pure..i long to be with you."

    After he kind of gets over bright eyes, references to her and mentions of her fade away and very rarely come up. However, the drug/alcohol involvement remains and prevails more than ever:

    Down a rabbit hole (digital ash):
    "sun turns us to stone / it's a cloudy day but we still can't go home. i've been out that cellar door.."
    "you're thirsty but your appetite gets chased away"
    this song is also one of my favorites right up there with i will be grateful for this day. it has no mention of bright eyes whatsoever but it's all about a drug….i'm not sure which.

    Time Code (digital ash):
    "drink liquid clocks until i see god"

    Arc of time (digital ash):
    "and all those while lines that sped us up/we hurry to our death"
    "and the smoke came out our mouths on all those hooded sweatshirt walks / we were a stroke of luck/ we were goldmine and they gutted us"

    most songs from digital ash sound much more sophisticated and are more involved with politics and real life situations than ever before. (Light Pollution..). his voice is smootherrrr

    The next album is Cassadaga, and this is basically the cleansing album. Conor does some traveling and is completely, love wise and drug wise, sobered up:

    Cleanse Song (cassadaga):
    "and if life seems absurd, what you need is some laughter / and a season to sleep an a place to get clean.."
    this whole song feels very clean and fresh and all about sobering up and starting over, it contrasts perfectly with Down in a rabbit hole and gold mine gutted.

    The next and last song is The People's Key. This is the last bright eyes album which is really nostalgic. no more bright eyes…..:'( but the album's mainly him looking back at what bright eyes was etc.

    Of course, a lot songs weren't mentioned and of course this is not the only theme in bright eyes lyricism. however, it's be safe to say that it's the main theme where different stories and songs branch out of. I'm of course not conor and so i have no idea if everything i typed is true or not..but that's what i think/feel is about right. some things may not be accurate and i might've not analyzed everything as well as someone else might've buttt hey i'm only 15. But i do love bright eyes and everything that it is and has been for the past years. It's a huge deal of my life, it's what i listen to the most. Bright eyes inspires me, takes my breath away, makes me laugh…everything! though bright eyes will now come to an end this year, i'm so very glad for what it once was….

    Some special songs I really like that weren't included:
    Padraic My Prince (Letting off the happiness) :
    This song, i've noticed, receives a lot of criticism. Conor mentions it in the mirrors and fevers interview (which i've heard was fake so i don't even know anymore), and he seems to me like he was mocking those who took the song so literally, he says "I actually had 5 brothers that drowned..they were all named Padraic.." so to me he's just being totally sarcastic about the whole thing. What the song actually refers to about the brother drowning is himself, the old him. the 1st time he did drugs, his "brother" drowned…..
    it's kind of odd though because he would've been 13 at the oldest..
    and i just can't imagine cute little lava monster singing conor doing drugs?
    but yeah.

    some bright eyes recurring symbolism:
    --Blue skies- loss of innocence.
    padraic my prince: "babies turn blue when they're ignored, like the sky on summer days"
    amy in the white coat: "i saw you walking once under powder blue skies.."
    milk thistle (conor oberst and the mystic valley band): "newspaper..newspaper..i'm just trying to kiss you and you stabbed by eyes, make me blue forever like an island sky."

    --grass- somewhere were you can hide from everything and where no one notices you
    amy in the white coat: "you walk so near to the lockers, you lay so low in the grass"
    the calendar hung itself: "and they found me here and pulled me from the grass where i was laid…"

    --Television- a distraction, something that keeps your mind off things.
    The difference in the shades: "this tv is old, the color is fucked, do you see the difference in the shades?"
    Touch: "watching the tv, trying hard to find a reason to move"
    Amy in the white coat: "the tv's waiting to talk to you"

    --Gold and green- intellect??
    I will be grateful for this day: "and i will color in the meaning, it will be gold and green and shrewd"
    the difference in the shades: "and i believe we are the same and we'll stay like this, all gold and green"
    GratefulForThisDayon February 12, 2011   Link
  • +1
    General Commentthis song is one of the most beautiful most amazing songs I've ever heard in my life
    merigoldon May 08, 2003   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThe last line is the best, I'm not going to write it here.

    It makes me think of being drowsy and falling into that sleep you'll never see again, seeing the face of the your boyfriend, girlfriend, wife... Lover... Standing there staring down at you, and how when you close your eyes and take yourself away from the world you will never be able to see them again, ever... It's sad, I guess the only way you can get away with suicide and not really be sad is if you never met anyone at all and there is no one there to miss you, or... If you truly believe it.

    But I've always thought there are people out there who even if they haven't met you would hate to see you go, I cry at funerals that aren't of anyone I know, and I when I look through the paper and flip passed the obituaries I always feel pretty sad, mostly just for the people who are still around that knew them, it's tough.
    Suicidecandyon April 09, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General Commentthe way he describes everything in this song is really very amazing. i am only jealous that i can't take images from my head and put them into words so that i can share them with other people, too. simply beautiful.
    SiberianKissedon May 26, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI think the lyrics in this song are one of his best ever. It is so poetic and there is so much truth held in the lyrics. I love the line, "i have learned that nothing is as pressing as the one who is pressing would like you to believe and i am content to walk a little slower because there is nowhere that i really need to be." Mmmmmmmmm.
    popnoiron July 02, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General Comment"and this tv's old, the colors fucked, you see the difference in the shades/but the greens still close to green my love and i beleive we are the same"
    That has to be the greatest analogy I've ever heard.
    negatyveon July 28, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General Commentto you it might be easy to understand but im stupid. care to explain his analogy?
    blue black aboveon August 21, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General Commenti don't know if it's necessarily about AIDS, but the ending definitely makes me think of someone who is ill, and going to die. you know how they say your whole life passes before your eyes before you die? i always think of that when i hear him sing, "and in a moment you will know everything, was it just a dream?"
    also, he is singing to a lover, it seems, through the entire song, and ends it with, "and outline of the one you loved in a life that was not longer will be stands
    above you as you sleep", which also makes me think the person is going to pass away, simply because he says "a life that was, but no longer will be."

    regardless, this is one of my favorite Bright Eyes song, i'd say it's written very well, but they all are, so...
    chloroformxxperfumeon August 28, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General CommentAbout the TV analogy. I think he means that their relationship or lives are f***ed up, distorted, irreversibly changed, perhaps due to the lover's sickness. His image of the two dancing is merely a memory, since he speaks in present tense throughout the song.
    Lunetiaon September 05, 2002   Link

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