At the center of the world
There is a statue of a girl
She is standing near a well
With a bucket bare and dry

I went and looked her in the eyes
And she turned me into sand
This clumsy form that I despise
It scattered easy in her hand

And it came to rest upon a beach
With a million others there
We sat and waited for the sea
To stretch out so that we could disappear

Into the endlessness of blue
Into the horror of the truth
You see, we are far less than we knew
Yeah, we are far less than we knew

But we knew what we could taste
Girls found honey to drench our hands
The men cut marble to mark our graves
Said we'll need something to remind us

Of all the sweetness that has passed through us
(Fresh sangria and lemon tea)
The priests dressed children for a choir
(White-robed small voices praise Him)

But found no joy in what was sung
The funeral had begun in the middle of the day
When you drive home to your place
From that job that makes you sleep

Back to the thoughts that keep you awake
Long after night has come to claim
Any light that still remains
In the corner of the frame
That you put around her face

Two pills just weren't enough
The alarm clock is going off but you are not waking up
This isn't happening, happening happening
Happening, happening
It is


Lyrics submitted by PLANES, edited by X321CA, ghostyyy

The Center of the World Lyrics as written by Conor Oberst

Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

Lyrics powered by LyricFind

The Center of the World song meanings
Add Your Thoughts

86 Comments

sort form View by:
  • +3
    General Comment

    i think this song is about suicide. a girl seperates herself from the world (and connor tries to connect with her.. but she ignores him and "turns him into sand") . she seperates her picture from the worl by putting a frame around it. then she ends it with a pill overdose.

    the denver methodon July 27, 2002   Link
  • +3
    General Comment

    I often applied this song to my personal life, specifically one relationship, and this is what I can up with.

    "At the center of the world There is a statue of a girl She is standing near a well With a bucket bare and dry"

    This is depicting his absolute infatuation with this girl. She is the kind he thinks about daily, before he sleeps, right when he wakes up. She is an unmoving presence in his life, and he just wants to be with her.

    "I went and looked her in the eyes And she turned me into sand This clumsy form that I despise Scattered easy in her hand"

    She allows him in, they have a relationship. He just melts before her, transforms into sand, because he obsesses over her so much, she means so much to him that he will do anything for her. In hindsight, he hates how helpless he is about her absolute control over him.

    "And it came to rest upon a beach With a million others there We sat and waited for the sea To stretch out so that we could disappear"

    The relationship is over, and he now sits with ALL the other guys she has been with. He thought he was special, and his love with her was a special thing, but he realizes now he's just with the others he thought he was better than. Now he just wants to disappear, be swallowed by the sea.

    "Into the horror of the truth We are far less than we knew"

    He hates that he is not special to her, he is just like everyone else, but he is faced with this truth. He isn't special to her.

    "But we knew what we could taste Girls found honey to drench our hands Men cut marble to mark our graves Saying that we will need something to remind us"

    He knew what he was getting into, this girl obviously had tempted many men before. The grave being marked is his want for his past love with her to have meant something. He thought it was quite special, and he wants it remembered.

    "The priests dressed children for a choir But found no joy in what was sung The funeral had begun"

    At the "funeral" of his and her love, he listens to the events of their relationship being recited. Instead of feeling good and proud of it, he just felt bad and bitter.

    "In the middle of the day When you drive home to your place From that job that makes you sleep Back to the thoughts that keep you awake"

    His life has moved on. His exhilarating love with her is over and he has moved on to the mundane of an everyday job, but its her he still thinks about every night.

    "Long after night has come to claim Any light that still remains in the corner of the frame That you put around her face"

    He put a frame around her face, he had completely idealized her and treasured every moment he had with her. He still clings to those memories, but the night is coming. He is realizing that him and her is truly over, and he hates that his perfect woman and love is fading from his life.

    "Two pills just weren’t enough The alarm clock is going off but you are not waking up This isn’t happening It is"

    All his attempts of coping with this heartbreak have failed. He is in utter denial. I know a lot of people interpret this ending as suicide, but I think of it more as a final death to the relationship. He screams "THIS ISN'T HAPPENING HAPPENING HAPPENING HAPPENING HAPPENING!" as a final protest that the most important relationship to him simply cannot end this way. But the last line provides closure. He realizes that it is over, and he must move on, as tough as that may be.

    DaThinkeron July 13, 2012   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    Personally I feel this song isn't really about love at all...i mean in some aspect it is but only bc I think the song is about life in general and what our world has turned us into. Does anyone else think that when he says, "At the center of the world There is a statue of a girl..." it refers to the Statue of Liberty?!?

    I mean idk right off the bat that is what I envisioned bc i think this song deals a lot with things people do on a day-to-day basis without thinking...what is programmed in our minds at a young age...what we are told to do....and our inability to see passed what is "expected" of us. I think that maybe it does refer to the statue of liberty bc she is supposed to be the symbol of "freedom" and the greatness America has to offer.... these are the reasons people come to america but in all actuality "we are far less than we knew" and we are all really just blinded by the bullshit. we don't want to see the real truth so we just live our lives according to the all too familiar plan.

    when he says:

    But we knew what we could taste Girls found honey to drench our hands Men cut marble to mark our graves

    i think it refers to the cyclic process of life and what ppl succumb to in order to get by........idk i could go on analyzingg but im way too lazyy hahahh

    jewfro90on February 20, 2009   Link
  • +1
    My Interpretation

    I understand the song as, He fell deeply in love with a girl; who he refers to as a statue which i find interesting as the female body throughout time has been sculpted and painted as it is considered one of the beauties of nature. but anyway. she has such power over him with her beauty she can leave him helpless with just one look 'turning to sand' the sorrow in the tone of the lyrics tells me it didn't end well. and reference to him being 'one of million' is perhaps an analogy of past conquests she has left feeling the same or more likely the worlds unloved, those left broken hearted; all feeling hopeless hoping to be washed away into the calm of closure. I intemperate the 'we are are less than we know' to be the mass of people he finds him self with finding the closure perhaps not fully but at least realizing that in the grand scheme of things their lost love and pain is a minute problem and doesn't matter. The Girls and honey thing i think is just saying how women; to him bring the sweetness to his life and haven't really gotta clue about the men and vicars but again i think the remembering the good times bit is literally that, don't dwell on the bad parts just reflect on the memories that make you smile. I think he begins writing as though it were to the others he was left washed up on the beach with or maybe to the woman ..... probably completely wrong but meh. doesn't matter ^-^

    Brightonon November 19, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    genious.

    vexedon May 30, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    It is interesting to note that in "When the curious girl realizes she is under glass" he talks about returning to the water with his brother and how he won't desert him (this time). And in this song he is at a beach and he turns into sand...

    popnoiron June 29, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    what is this song about, anyway?!?

    brighteyes4750on July 06, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    well I was thinking about it...this song is really really complicated...to me anyway. The first part of the song, his point of view is first person. So he's talking about himself or whatever, and when I read it, the first thing I thought was he faced something that made him weak and insecure (like sand). He felt ruined. Parts of him were scattered and he just waited to die (disappearing into the sea). But then I don't know how that would have to do with anything at the end of the song. So I don't really know...

    tylenolon July 12, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    i see the first verse happening as he sings it; a girl by a well and myself approaching and her turning me into sand, and then the wind and sea and everything. i think this about how the pain one experiences in a relationship isn't different or unique, everyone has the same damn thing happen to them.

    i assume every grain of sand is a boy who is now a grain of sand(meaningless, one in many, longing to belong somewhere)

    while in the relationship, it was sweet. (the girls found them honey) the men cutting marble sybolizes that the boys could tell that no matter how much they loved thier girls, the relationship would end and there would be nothing left of them. the preists are dressing children because of the upcoming 'funerals'.

    the next portion is about life after their breakups (symbolized as funerals) everything is just dull and meaningless.

    two pills just werent enough(trying to forget pain through drugs, maybe connor is referring to pills he takes for his depression >all these pills that i take to try and balance my brain from when the curious girl... song

    antisoapon July 14, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    the girl in the first verse is the only thing that matters in his life, but when she left him he was turned into sand, only to realize he was the same as every other guy who had been dumped.

    antisoapon July 14, 2002   Link

Add your thoughts

Log in now to tell us what you think this song means.

Don’t have an account? Create an account with SongMeanings to post comments, submit lyrics, and more. It’s super easy, we promise!

More Featured Meanings

Album art
Son Şansın - Şarkı Sözleri
Hayalperest
This song seemingly tackles the methods of deception those who manipulate others use to get victims to follow their demands, as well as diverting attention away from important issues. They'll also use it as a means to convince people to hate or kill others by pretending acts of terrorism were committed by the enemy when the acts themselves were done by the masters of control to promote discrimination and hate. It also reinforces the idea that these manipulative forces operate in various locations, infiltrating everyday life without detection, and propagate any and everywhere. In general, it highlights the danger of hidden agendas, manipulation, and distraction, serving as a critique of those who exploit chaos and confusion to control and gain power, depicting a cautionary tale against falling into their traps. It encourages us to question the narratives presented to us and remain vigilant against manipulation in various parts of society.
Album art
Cajun Girl
Little Feat
Overall about difficult moments of disappointment and vulnerability. Having hope and longing, while remaining optimistic for the future. Encourages the belief that with each new morning there is a chance for things to improve. The chorus offers a glimmer of optimism and a chance at a resolution and redemption in the future. Captures the rollercoaster of emotions of feeling lost while loving someone who is not there for you, feeling let down and abandoned while waiting for a lover. Lost with no direction, "Now I'm up in the air with the rain in my hair, Nowhere to go, I can go anywhere" The bridge shows signs of longing and a plea for companionship. The Lyrics express a desire for authentic connection and the importance of Loving someone just as they are. "Just in passing, I'm not asking. That you be anyone but you”
Album art
Gentle Hour
Yo La Tengo
This song was originally written by a guy called Peter Gutteridge. He was one of the founders of the "Dunedin Sound" a musical scene in the south of New Zealand in the early 80s. From there it was covered by "The Clean" one of the early bands of that scene (he had originally been a member of in it's early days, writing a couple of their best early songs). The Dunedin sound, and the Clean became popular on american college radio in the mid to late 80s. I guess Yo La Tengo heard that version. Great version of a great song,
Album art
Just A Little Lovin'
Dusty Springfield
I don't think it's necessarily about sex. It's about wanting to start the day with some love and affection. Maybe a warm cuddle. I'm not alone in interpreting it that way! For example: "'Just a Little Lovin’ is a timeless country song originally recorded by Eddy Arnold in 1954. The song, written by Eddie Miller and Jimmy Campbell, explores the delicate nuances of love and showcases Arnold’s emotive vocals. It delves into the universal theme of love and how even the smallest gesture of affection can have a profound impact on our lives." https://oldtimemusic.com/the-meaning-behind-the-song-just-a-little-lovin-by-eddy-arnold/
Album art
Head > Heels
Ed Sheeran
“Head > Heels” is a track that aims to capture what it feels like to experience romance that exceeds expectations. Ed Sheeran dedicates his album outro to a lover who has blessed him with a unique experience that he seeks to describe through the song’s nuanced lyrics.