"The Prescience of Dawn" as written by and John Paul Sutton John K Samson....
The sirens woke me up again
I know they're coming for me someday, just a matter of when
Count to 25 and yawn
Touch the clock and turn my back against the dawn

And hope for that one dream
Of hardware stores with checkered floors
And buckets full of nails

Or floating effortless
Over the apartments in a boat
And rowing past the office windows

Mother, mother, may I cry?
Father, will you teach me how to die the right way someday?
I don't want a second chance
To turn my stuttering reluctance into romance

With these documents
And kindergarten anthems with my drunken liturgies
Tune the FM into static and pretend that it's the sea

But four words fumble for the microphone
"You should have known"

"You should have known"

Lyrics submitted by lakeoffire23

"The Prescience of Dawn" as written by John Paul Sutton John K Samson


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The Prescience of Dawn song meanings
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  • +1
    General CommentThe line "I don't want a second chance to turn my stuttering reluctance into romance" is one of my favorites ever.

    Does anyone have any interpretations for this song?
    Anopheleson October 04, 2004   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI think the person speaking has obviously been forced to come to terms with the idea of death. It's not quite something they're comfortable with - but something they know is coming, sooner than they had ever planned.
    ... it's kind of like the 'you have three months to live' kind of things... but not quite that cliche or maybe not even that drastic.
    loveinvincibleon October 30, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI didn't understand the "with these documents and kindergarten anthems, with my drunken liturgies" part for the longest time, but like most Weakerthans songs... meaning came with time. I think these Anopholes was pretty close. "I don't want a second chance to turn my stuttering reluctance into romance.." What does one, especially a writer, do if he is in love but reluctant? writes documents (poems, songs.. etc), kindergarten anthems = childish announcements of love (?)... and my personal favorite.. drunken liturgies = when you're boozed up, no inhibitions, hyperbolically confessing your love or whatever else it is. More so though, as said above, the focus isn't just relationship romance necessarily. The main point is a surrender to life. a withdrawal. Selador, your comment added such a deeper meaning to this song for me. thank you.
    weakerthan17on June 29, 2011   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI get the impression that this song is describing a protagonist that feels overburdened by the stress of trying to live up to what society expects of a modern man. I think there our themes of escapism and defeatism vying for attention here.

    I feel like the sirens aren't literal, rather the protagonist is likening the sound of his alarm clock to that of ambulance sirens, as he feels his alarm brings him closer to death. He hits the snooze button, reluctant to start his day at his mundane office job. He would rather dream of a more romantic (but ultimately less impressive to greater society) job as a hardware salesman in a rural setting. That, or dream of being free from that job (hence rowing past the office windows).

    The idea that our protagonist is trying to live up to society's expectations of a successful modern man is further explored with the next two lines, where he rhetorically asks his mother if its okay for a man to show weakness,and asks his father to show him what he should be achieving before death.

    The next couple of lines have always eluded me somewhat, but I think I agree with weakerthan17's comment above that the guy might be a failing writer of sorts. He is perhaps reaching the point where he realises he isn't going to achieve what he set out to do, and maybe he should just succumb to a more conventional adult life (hence "I don't want a second chance...")

    Going back to the theme of escapism, our protagonist wants to drown everything out and relax, but is haunted by his defeatist attitude as he (again not literally) hear through the noise of the static "you should have known", suggesting that he believes that he could never have achieved greatness, that he was always destined to live in the predestined path that society has carved out for him.

    I'm probably a little off the mark with a lot of that, but in a nutshell, I think the song is concerned with the idea of free will versus fate.
    slovibondon August 15, 2016   Link
  • 0
    General Commentit is dreamy.

    it kills me.
    dorkyoubeon April 08, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General CommentOk, then i will start. It seems to be about that time when you're lying in bed, trying to sleep but unable to ("count to 35 and yawn") , and thinking all those existential thoughts that come to you when you're waiting for sleep, such as the idea of death.

    Perhaps it's just because of my own nighttime death thoughts, but it seems as though this song has a lot of thinking about death in it, and the fear or reluctance to die.

    The part I don't get is the end, starting at "with the documents and kindergarten anthems..." up till the end. I don't quite get the meaning of it or how it relates to the line preceding it. And I'm obsessive about this kind of stuff, so if anyone could help me out, i would appreciate it.
    Anopheleson October 31, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General CommentIt's about him confessing that he's done trying with relationships and just wants to live his life out calmly and quietly on his own.

    The first half is about him wanting a reoccuring dream, spawned from a memory he wants to relive and a time of his life he wants to go back to. Because now he's all torn and weathered and he just wants a simple life of working in a hardware store of being a construction worker, so he could sail through life and through his apartment and office windows and everything, just live easy. I don't think the sailing part is a metaphor though; he does dream it, but the dream of him sailing is spawned out of that desire.

    The last half is him asking his mother if it's okay to cry because he feels like he goes to her when he's sad, and he goes to his dad when he's toughened up and ready to present himself. He wants to learn how to live life the right way, so he asks his dad since he admires his dad.

    He doesn't want another relationship, a second chance at romance, even though all his songs say that he does. The FM radio part could either be him sitting in his car with the radio on but just zoning out and realizing all of this (music fading to static), or it could be him using FM radio as a way of meaning the songs he writes that blur into static. But either way, he realizes "he should have known". He knows he's different and not like everyone else, so he should have known he wouldn't end up happy like they all do. The intensity of this realization explains why the song is so emotional and is also sort of the closer to the album.
    gun left behindon March 06, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentSometimes I just put this song on repeat and let myself fall asleep listening to it and losing myself in the visuals and feelings the lyrics give me.

    That's one amazing song. This is one amazing band. They make amazing songs over and over...they're unstoppable. In a quiet way.
    Rie-mixon March 03, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI mostly agree with gun left behind. Also, listening to static (white noise) is a way to help you sleep. Another thing. When you're sleep deprived everything seems to be more pressing, more urgent, and closer than it accually is. Important things, like death, and going crazy. I think he's talking from the state you're in when you haven't slept in weeks.

    I love their music, but don't know too much about them. Can anyone tell me where the reoccuring themes of hospitals and the artic come from? Not in this song, just in general. They seem to mention those two things in a lot of their songs. Thanks.
    FutonRevolutioniston April 27, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentPretty much what everyone said. And to FutonRev: they are from canada 1(the arctic references), and 2 John is a very smart man. The hospital references could have just been an experience he's had or just the symbolism of someone passing away. And to Anapholes: the documents part could be him saying that he feels his songs are "childish" (kindergarten anthems) and that he prefers those aspects of his life over romance?
    queshirazon December 27, 2006   Link

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