The phone slips from a loose grip
Words were missed then, some apology
"I didn't want to tell you this
No, it's just some guy she's been hangin' out with
I don't know, the past couple weeks, I guess"
Well, thank you and hang up the phone
Let the funeral start, hear the casket close
Let's pin split-black ribbons to our overcoats
Well, laughter pours from under doors
In this house, I don't understand that sound no more
It seems artificial, like a TV set

Well, haligh, haligh, a lie, haligh
This weight, it must be satisfied
You offer only one reply
You know not what you do
But you tear and tear your hair from roots
From that same head you have twice removed
A lock of hair you said would prove
Our love would never die
Well, ha ha ha

And I remember everything
The words we spoke on freezing South Street
And all those mornings watching you get ready for school
You combed your hair inside the mirror
The one you painted blue and glued with jewelry tears
Something 'bout those bright colors
Would always make you feel better
But now we speak with ruined tongues
The words we say aren't meant for anyone
Just a mumbled sentence to a passing acquaintance
But there was once you

You said you hate my suffering
You understood, you'd take care of me
You'd always be there
Where are you now?

Haligh, haligh, a lie, haligh
The plans were never finalized
But left to hang like yarn and twine
Dangling before my eyes
As you tear and tear your hair from roots
From that same head you have twice removed
A lock of hair you said would prove
Our love would never die

And I sing and sing of awful things
The pleasure that my sadness brings
As my fingers press against the strings
Another clumsy chord
Haligh, haligh, an awful lie
This weight will now be satisfied
I'm gonna give you only one reply
I know not who I am

But I talk in the mirror
To the stranger that appears
Our conversations are circles
Always one sided, nothing is clear
Except we keep coming back
To this meaning that I lack
He says the choices were given
Now you must live them, or just not live

But do you want that?


Lyrics submitted by PLANES

Haligh, Haligh, A Lie, Haligh Lyrics as written by Conor Oberst

Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

Lyrics powered by LyricFind

Haligh, Haligh, a Lie, Haligh song meanings
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267 Comments

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  • +4
    General Comment

    the only good thing that comes from falling out of love is the amazing poetry.

    skies are grayon May 24, 2002   Link
  • +3
    General Comment

    <i>...a lock of hair you said would prove our love would never die. well ha ha ha.</i>

    conor oberst owns your soul.

    dying in new jerseyon April 05, 2002   Link
  • +3
    General Comment

    thats true. this song pulled me in... ive been listening to bright eyes pretty much every day since

    skies are grayon June 01, 2002   Link
  • +3
    General Comment

    "So now we speak with ruined tongues and the words we say aren’t’ meant for anyone. It’s just a mumbled sentence to a passing acquaintance, but there was once you said you hated my suffering and you understood and you’d take care of me. You would always be there, well where are you now?"

    that part makes my heart heavy. the whole song makes my heart heavy, actually. time and circumstance makes you jaded - things change, and people let you down.

    failurebydesignon January 18, 2005   Link
  • +2
    General Comment

    greatest song ever.

    greatest album ever.

    the end.

    hilbyon June 01, 2009   Link
  • +2
    General Comment

    This is the first Bright Eyes song I've listened to and I am impressed with the lyrics. I'm a lyrics person. I'll soon scour youtube for more of their songs then maybe download a few albums if I like what I hear.

    Haligh, what does that mean? This was my thought at first. Upon googling the meaning I found this analysis of the song that stated: 'The first line (of the chorus) “Haligh, Haligh, a lie, Haligh” is a creative way of describing a disguise; the ‘a lie’ sounds a lot like “haligh” and you often think that’s what he’s saying at first, but he’s really saying “a lie” as if the “a lie” was disguised as something else.' And just like that the song got even better. I love the writer's use of malapropism. Generally I'm not fond of people just making up words, but this is an exception.

    You can read the rest of the analysis by following this link:

    quizilla.teennick.com/stories/7846346/haligh-haligh-a-lie-haligh-bright-eyes-song-analysis

    (This is my first comment on this site. I sure hope the link works).

    avrylfon December 20, 2013   Link
  • +1
    My Interpretation

    This is what I gathered from listening to this song about 500 times... haha I love it way too much. I wrote this essay on it for personal enjoyment so I'll post parts of it here...

    The intro to “Haligh, Haligh, A Lie, Haligh” by Bright Eyes starts with “call ended” phone tone faintly in the background, implying someone is not answering the narrator’s calls. The narrator then calls a friend and is nervous; therefore he has a “loose grip” on the phone handle (l. 1). “Words were missed” because the narrator is worried and deep in thought about the situation (l. 2). The friend confirms the narrator’s suspicions: his girlfriend has been with “some guy” for the past while and she is indeed unfaithful (l. 3-5). Immediately after the phone call, the narrator is extremely distraught. The “funeral” is for himself because he is dead inside sadness, and he implies he is in a closed casket (l. 7-8). On the other hand, the situation did not upset his girlfriend enough to kill her too, so she is a visitor to this funeral and wears “split-black ribbon” (l. 9). The narrator implies that he helps her put the ribbon on, meaning she did not care to show sympathy by herself; the ribbon is merely for show. The narrator is in such a depression that he does not understand happiness anymore. He hears laughing in his house and compares it to the unrealistic ideas of television (l. 10-12).

    “Haligh” is an exclamation; a religious word the narrator calls out through his extreme emotion, and “A lie” refers to the continuous lie that she will be faithful (l.13). The words “a lie” are cleverly disguised between the words “haligh” as they sound the same when spoken together. There is a burden on his chest from all the sadness she has caused. That burden must be “satisfied”, meaning he is going to eventually break down and release his feelings (l. 14). The narrator tells her his depressed feelings to brings but she only tells him she “know[s] not” about the suffering she causes him (l. 15-16). She does not realize her effect on him. The tearing of hair from roots aggressively represents the girlfriend trying to offer a promise that their love is forever, but she has “twice removed” the figurative hair already proving she cheated before and such promise was indeed a lie (l. 17-20).

    The narrator is nostalgic now; thinking back to the times he spent with her. He remembers watching her comb her hair everyday for school in a mirror that she decorated in “blue and glued with jewelry tears” and remembers how those colours made her feel better (l. 25-26). It is ironic that the tears make her feel better when tears represent sadness, therefore suggesting she is not mentally stable herself and gets pleasure from pain.

    The narrator and his girlfriend now communicate with only anger and sadness in their voices (l. 29). The words they say are not “meant for anyone” because they are only spoken out of grief (l. 30). Neither of them are getting through to the other, so his words have the same value as words someone is mumbling while another uncaring person walks by (l. 31) The narrator then states that she said she understood and hates his “suffering” and is always there for him. He then wonders this, because he is currently suffering but she is not comforting him as promised (l. 32-37)

    Their relationship was never stable; therefore any future plans were not “finalized” and were merely longing thoughts to the narrator (l. 39). These thoughts of the two of them teased him. They were right before his eyes but he could not achieve them, like a cat being taunted with dangling string. The “yarn and twine” are metaphors. The “yarn” represents his girlfriend: still lively and comfortable, whereas he is the “twine”: now dull and worn down (l. 40-41).

    Again, there is irony in the narrator’s words. He creates songs using his miserable experiences as inspiration, yet his listeners get enjoyment from hearing them (l. 46-49).

    The narrator is now going to satisfy the burden on his chest of sadness by telling her his true feelings (l. 51). He only gives her “one reply” because she did the same to him on other accounts (l. 52). His reply is he doesn’t know himself anymore due to the sadness she caused him (l. 53). He now looks into his mirror only to see a “stranger”. His thoughts are “circles” because he can’t make up his mind in what way he needs to solve it, and has come to the same sad place so many times from staying with her. The narrator knows his best choice is to leave her, because if he chooses to stay he won’t “live”, therefore saying he will never be happy (l. 54-64).

    britneylambon May 11, 2014   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    Here is the final copy of my essay I just posted.

    The phone slips from a loose grip Words were missed then, some apology I didn’t want to tell you this No, it’s just some guy she’s been hanging out with I don’t know, the past couple weeks I guess Well, thank you and hang up the phone Let the funeral start Hear the casket close Let’s pin split-black ribbon to your overcoat Well, laughter pours from under doors In this house, I don’t understand that sound no more Seems artificial, like a T.V. set

    The intro to “Haligh, Haligh, A Lie, Haligh” by Bright Eyes starts with “call ended” phone tone faintly in the background, implying someone is not answering the narrator’s calls. The narrator then calls a friend and is nervous; therefore he has a “loose grip” on the phone handle (l. 1). “Words were missed” because the narrator is worried and deep in thought about the situation (l. 2). The friend confirms the narrator’s suspicions: his girlfriend has been with “some guy” for the past while and she is indeed unfaithful (l. 3-5). Immediately after the phone call, the narrator is extremely distraught. The “funeral” is for himself because he is dead inside from sadness, and he implies he is in a closed casket (l. 7-8). On the other hand, the situation did not upset his girlfriend enough to kill her too, so she is a visitor to this funeral and wears “split-black ribbon” (l. 9). The narrator implies that he helps her put the ribbon on, meaning she did not care to show sympathy by herself; the ribbon is merely for show. The narrator is in such a depression that he does not understand happiness anymore. He hears laughing in his house and compares it to the unrealistic ideas of television (l. 10-12).

    Well, haligh, haligh, a lie, haligh This weight it must be satisfied You offer only one reply You know not what you do But you tear and tear your hair from roots Of that same head you have twice removed now A lock of hair you said you prove Our love would never die Well ha, ha, ha

     “Haligh” is an exclamation; a religious word the narrator calls out through his extreme emotion, and “A lie” refers to the continuous lie: that she will be faithful (l.13). The words “a lie” are cleverly disguised between the words “haligh” as they sound the same when spoken together. This hints that the narrator does not want her to realize he knows her fault. There is a burden on the narrator’s chest from all the sadness she has caused. That burden must be “satisfied”; meaning he is going to eventually break down and release all his feelings (l. 14). The narrator tries to tell her about the hurt she causes him from cheating, but she only replies that she “know[s] not” about it, implicating she does not realize its effect on him (l. 15-16). The tearing of hair from roots aggressively represents the girlfriend trying to offer a promise that their love is forever, but she has “twice removed” the figurative hair already proving she cheated before and such promise was indeed a lie (l. 17-20). 

    I remember everything The worlds we spoke on freezing South Street And all those mornings watching you get ready for school You combed your hair inside that mirror The one you painted blue and glued with jewelry tears Something about those bright colours Would always make you feel better

    The narrator is nostalgic now; thinking back to the times he spent with her. He remembers watching her comb her hair everyday for school in a mirror that she decorated in “blue and glued with jewelry tears” and remembers how those colours made her feel better (l. 25-26). It is ironic that the tears make her feel better since tears represent sadness, therefore suggesting she is not mentally stable herself and acquires pleasure from pain. 

    But now we speak with ruined tongues And the words we say aren’t meant for anyone It’s just a mumbled sentence to a passing acquaintance But there was once you You said you hate my suffering And you understood And you’d take care of me You’d always be there Well where are you now?

    The narrator and his girlfriend now communicate in tainted, unfeeling manners because of the circumstances that happened (l. 29). The words they say are not “meant for anyone” because they are only spoken out of heartache (l. 30). Neither of them are getting through to the other, so his words have the same value as words someone mumbling while another uncaring person walks by (l. 31) The narrator then states that she claimed she understood and hates his “suffering” and is always there for him. He then wonders this, because he is currently suffering but she is not comforting him as promised (l. 32-37)

    Haligh, haligh, a lie, haligh The plans were never finalized But left to hang like yarn and twine Dangling before my eyes As you tear and tear your hair from roots Of that same head you have twice removed now A lock of hair would prove Our love would never die

    Their relationship was never stable; therefore any future plans were not “finalized” and were merely yearning thoughts of the narrator (l. 39). These thoughts of the two of them teased him; they were right before his eyes but he could not achieve them, like a cat being taunted with dangling string.  The “yarn and twine” are metaphors. The “yarn” representing his girlfriend: still lively and comfortable, whereas he is the “twine”: now dull and worn down (l. 40-41).  

    And I sing and sing of awful things The pleasure that my sadness brings As my fingers press onto the strings In yet another clumsy chord

    Again, there is irony in the narrator’s words. He creates songs using his miserable experiences as inspiration, yet his listeners get enjoyment from hearing them (l. 46-49).

    Haligh, haligh, an awful lie This weight would now be satisfied I’m gonna give you only one reply I know now who I am But I talk in the mirror To the stranger that appears Our conversations are circles Always one sided Nothing is clear Except we keep coming back To this meaning that I lack He says the choices were given Now you must live them Or just not live But do you want that?

    The narrator is now going to satisfy the enduring burden of sadness on his chest by telling his girlfriend his true feelings (l. 51). He only gives her “one reply” because she had done the same to him on other accounts (l. 52). His reply is he doesn’t know himself anymore due to the sadness she caused him (l. 53).  He now looks into his mirror only to see a “stranger”. His thoughts are “circles” because he can’t make up his mind in what way he needs to solve it, and has come to the same sad place so many times from staying with her (l. 54-60). The narrator knows the only right choice is to leave her, because if he chooses to stay he won’t “live”, therefore saying he will never be happy (l. 61-64).
    britneylambon May 11, 2014   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    i love this song...which i stupidly typed in, "haligh haligh haligh haligh" instead of "haligh haligh a lie haligh..apologies...but did anyone ever read "the rape of the lock?" anyways, its this lame short story i had to read in brit lit about a woman who gets a lock of her hair cut off and it just reminds me of that lyric that dying in new jersey just said..ok this is a lame comment..haha sorire

    PLANESon April 05, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    why does this song understand so well.

    takeourcarson April 14, 2002   Link

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