Just last night I woke from some unconscionable dream
Had it nailed to my forehead again
To keep this boat afloat
Well there were things you can't afford to know
So I save all my breath for the sails

But you'll find those lingering voices
Are just your ego's attempt to make it all clean and nice
And make a moron out of you
Walking a bridge on weakening cables
Huddled up in fear and hate because we know our fate
And it's a lot to put us through

Most ideas turn to dust
There are few in which we all can trust
Haven't you noticed I've been shedding all of mine?
So let's abandon that track
And leave our fathers fighting in a sack
'Cause we are way too wise-assed for that

You might find some fools at your doorstep
Hustling the latest changes to the book that's the strangest
In an attempt to multiply
Marionettes on weakening cables
Huddled up with fear and hate
Because they know their fate and it's a lot to put them through

We've taken on a climb
And it's long enough to put the best of us on our backs
Walking up a slide
And there are those we know who'd have us five miles off the track

You'll find those lingering voices
Are just your ego's attempt to make it all clean and nice
And make a moron out of you
Crossing the bridge on weakening cables
Huddled up with fear and hate because we know our fate
And it's a lot to put us through


Lyrics submitted by doobeydoobeydude, edited by smallwonderrobot, Raven95

Fighting In A Sack Lyrics as written by James Russell Mercer

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

Lyrics powered by LyricFind

Fighting In A Sack song meanings
Add Your Thoughts

30 Comments

sort form View by:
  • +2
    General CommentOk, here's my verse by verse interpretation:

    "Just last night I woke from some unconscionable dream
    And had it nailed to my forehead again
    To keep this boat afloat
    There are things you can't afford to know
    So I save all my breath for the sails"

    I think this verse is saying that, for most people, there are things you just cannot think about and/or realize if you're going to keep going. In his "unconscionable dream," he saw what people "can't afford to know." Going along with the atheism theme that was mentioned previously, perhaps what people can't afford to know is that there is no supreme being (or that life is absurd/meaningless)--things of that nature.

    "But you'll find those lingering voices
    Are just your ego's attempt to make it all clean and nice and make a moron out of you
    Walking a bridge with weakening cables
    Huddled up in fear and hate because we know our fate and it's a lot to put us through "

    I'm not so sure about the chorus. Perhaps he's saying that the lingering voices are the religious types-- the ones who look for "clean and nice" explanations about the world around them. Then again, the lingering voices he's talking about could be the opposite. They could be the existentialist thoughts people have--but I certainly don't think existentialism is "clean and nice." In my opinion, he's referring to the former, not the latter. The dogmatically religious voices are those that are huddled up in fear and hate.

    "Most ideas turn to dust
    As there are few in which we can all trust
    Haven't you noticed I've been shedding all of mine?
    So let's abandon that track
    And leave our fathers fighting in a sack
    We're way too wise-assed for that"

    I love the first few lines of this verse. The narrator is clearly distancing himself from dogmatic beliefs by "shedding" his own. By extension, he's also distancing himself from the religious. The last three lines suggest that we should abandon fighting over dogmatic beliefs/ideas like those in the past always have, because it's like fighting in a sack(bloody, violent, and pointless).

    "You might find some fools at your doorstep
    Hustling the latest changes to the book that's the strangest
    In an attempt to multiply
    Marionettes on weakening cables
    Huddled up with fear and hate because they know their fate and it's a lot to put them through "

    This verse is clearly focused on religion and the bible ("the book that's the strangest"). More specifically, it focuses on dogmatic types ("fools") that go around trying to convince others that their beliefs are the correct ones. They are puppets (marionettes) on a weak foundation ("weakening cables") who are trying to turn as many non-believers as possible into puppets too-- perhaps to further convince themselves that they are right (the more people on their side, the more right they think they are). They are "huddled up with fear and hate," perhaps because on some level they know they're going to die ("their fate") and there's no aferlife. Or maybe it's just that they know deep down that they really know nothing about what will happen to them when they die. In that sense, it's also about fear of the unknown--which is probably why many need to create and adhere to dogmatic beliefs (in order to convince themselves there are no unknowns).

    "We've taken on a climb
    And it's long enough to put the best of us on our backs
    Walking up a slide
    And there are those of us who'd have us five miles off the track"

    I guess the gist of this verse is that life is hard for everyone, no matter what you believe and no matter how strong ("the best of us") you are. Something like that, I guess.
    EnidCaulfieldon June 20, 2004   Link
  • +2
    General CommentFighting in a Sack...I get the image of someone trying to break free from "the sack", aka trying to understand life and relgion, but not breaking free, and wearing themselves out fighting a losing battle.

    Living life itself is difficult. Why interpret it and further complicate things?
    classact714on July 05, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General Comment"You might find some fools at your doorstep
    Hustling the latest changes to the book that's the strangest
    In an attempt to multiply
    Marionettes on weakening cables
    Huddled up with fear and hate because they know their fate and it's a lot to put them through"

    that little part really stood out cause yeah, i think he's talking about crazy bible ("the book") people who are fools and such? i think this record has a reoccuring athiesm theme to it.. haha woohoo!
    sanscosmon June 04, 2004   Link
  • +1
    General Commenti also think this song is amazingly awesome. i think it is anti-religion, and i geuss many of us can relate
    yo mamma!on May 06, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General Comment^^^ i like that last line classact.
    i agree. fighting in a sack means fighting for stupid things that can not change and do not need to be overanalyzed.
    EndlessSummeron October 02, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General CommentGr... I guess adding >'s messes up the comment... let me try again.

    "But you'll find those lingering voices
    Are just your ego's attempt to make it all clean and nice and make a moron out of you"

    You guys interpretted it differently, but coming from a religious background, this could easily be talking about the Holy Ghost or the Holy Spirit, which is usually voices in one's head interpretted as from God. And, I hold the same views as Mercer regarding this.

    "You might find some fools at your doorstep
    Hustling the latest changes to the book that's the strangest
    In an attempt to multiply"
    Missionaries, anyone? Well, one person guessed that, but thought it was referring to JW's. Well, by far the biggest missionary program is held by the mormons, or the LDS church. Not only this, but they also carry a "book that's the strangest" called the Book of Mormon. But it could easily be referring to the bible as well, since they go by that in their religion.

    "Huddled up in fear and hate because we know our fate and it's a lot to put you through."
    Death is our fate, and fear is often the thought that comes with that idea. And since it's so much to put them through, theories and ideas have been made to decide what's going to happen in the afterlife. But I think anyone can agree that MOST if not ALL are still just theories. (If you're religious, you would think MOST)
    heyheyhey111on April 13, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General Commenti'm a massive shins fan and i love this song. i'm not going to interpret it or anything, but i don't see why so many people can beileive that it's about religion (whether they agree with the themes or not)
    In so many shins songs, mercer explains his (almost)* atheistic views, on not just religion but all/most structured philosphy.
    in saint simon he says that he "values them (these taught belief) but i wont cry everytime ones wiped out"
    in "young pilgrims" he says "if your able (as in, able to believe anything: christianity, hari krishna, marxism, harry potter) i suggest it/ cause this modern thought can get the best of you" (the modern biological thought of being dead equals nothingness for eternity.)
    and finally in "A comet appears" he says "we can blow on our thumbs and postures but the lonley are such delicate things." ( as in, we might, he might, not be able to belive these many theories and religions, and as 21st century people we can take solice in evolution (opposable thumbs and upright postures are evidence of evolution) yet if we can fake a belief and truely force ourselves to belive it then we'll basically be happier (and not waste life worrying about death). that why i think people have created religions where you have to sacrifice something (sunday mornings, adultery lol) so these beliefs seem more real to them and they can therefore create "heaven on earth"
    sorry for getting all philosphical in a lyrics blog.

    * i persoanlly think mercer is not an atheist he just lives in a time where you can go to your local religion and philosophy supermarket and chose from a choice of belief or even make your own. so he's not atheist, he just can't MAKE himself "buy" one.
    lucywhaton September 30, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI agree with Enid, except the lingering voices are most likely the voices in your head, a.k.a. your conscience. probably.

    good song.
    subterranean_summeron November 10, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General CommentPerhaps this is just my own take on it, but i see this song as not only an anti religion rant, but also an anti philosophy one. The Shins, in this song, and also somewhat in Saint Simon.. sound like disgruntled college philosophy majors.
    "To keep this boat afloat, there are some things we can't afford to know, so i save all my breath for the sails"
    He is saying that it takes enough effort just to survive ("keep this boat afloat"), so why waste your breath talking about what it all means?

    The anti-philosophy tack sticks out again in "most ideas turn to dust".. showing skeptism of any new explanation for our lives, religious or otherwise, because there will always be newer, "better" philosophies to come and take their place. So why bother? Let the philosophers, religious leaders, and gurus fight it out.. cuz we're "way too wise ass for that".
    essereeon January 18, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentWow I'm a little surprised more people had not heard of the Shins long before Garden State. Actually I was the one person in the theater that heard the song and almost screamed THE SHINS! NEW SLANG! Started singing in the theater, it was sad. Anyway, I can see how it might mean both an unrequited love as well as an older generation unhappy about the changes taking place.
    evapor8edon March 08, 2005   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!

Back to top