This cocoon, caught in Vesuvius' shadow
Only the ashes remain
And I waited there for you
Why couldn't you?
Here we lie waiting for something to startle
To shake us from gravity's pull
And so the sleeping hours are through
What can we do?

The tainted election, the low dirty war, it happened before you came to
But this is solution, and this is amends
The joke always tends to come true
But there on your windowsill over the unmoving platoon
Written in paperback, the key to the quarterback's room
Under waning moon

This quiet serves only to hide you
Provide you
What I knew: it'd come back to you

Take this palm, follow the lines here are written
And script out the rest of your life
And feel your fingers falling slack and all folding back

The sorry conclusion, the hole in the sky
Command what is tried, what is true
But without solution, with feet on the ground
It won't make a sound 'til you're through
So loosen your shoulder blades
'Tis is your hour to make due
Because there on the timberline
Deep cold November shines through
Soft and absolute

Lyrics submitted by Hunter

Cocoon Lyrics as written by Colin Meloy

Lyrics © BMG Rights Management

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Cocoon song meanings
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  • +4
    Song MeaningThis song is about the shock in the aftermath of 9/11, metaphorically feeling as if you're in a cocoon.
    "Caught in Vesuvias' shadow/only the ashes remain" making a parallel between the destruction of that historical eruption and the destruction of 9/11.
    "Here we lie waiting for something to startle/To shake us from gravity’s pull"...trying to come out of that shock.
    "The sorry conclusion/the low dirty war/it happened before you came to...". The government rushed into the war before the people were even aware of what was going on and it was a bad solution for the attack.
    "this quiet serves only to hide you/provide you/what I knew It'd come back to you". The "you" being the Bush administration. The American people are quiet, so you're able to get away with rushing into the war, but it'll back to haunt you.
    "the tainted election" -- the controversy over the 2000 election.
    "the hole in the sky" -- the absence of the twin towers.
    "Command what is tried, what is true...So loosen your shoulder blades/This is your hour to make due." a call to action. we were so shocked and scared after 9/11 we let the government take over but now we need to "command what is tried was is true" and stand up for what's right.
    bittereluctanceon May 26, 2011   Link
  • +1
    General Comment"script out the rest of your life" is in the liner notes, "tracing the bends and the shapes" is in the song.

    I miss these songs and I wish Colin would write more like them, because they're absolutely wonderful.
    DTOon October 25, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General Commenti love this song.

    "...the lengthiest (and most abstruse) track of the album (discounting the final track's double entente), undulates along slowly. Vesuvius, a volcano in southern Italy sets the scene for the saga of love during a time of war and strife. During World War II, Naples, which is not far from Vesuvius' location in the Bay of Naples, was repeatedly bombed by Allied forces until its capture in 1943, as well as being heavily damaged by the retreating Germans, who learned a trick or two from the Russians. The protagonist waits under the great volcano, but 'only the ashes remain,' he/she says--in essence--he/she has been stood up. The character then jumps forward to the present, lying with a lover, both of them 'waiting for something to...shake us from gravity's pull.' They are in a state of immobility, sleeping away the days, asking, like the mother of 'Odalisque', 'What can we do?' The protagonist is jolted out of his stagnant state by the 'low dirty war' but his partner was not: 'it [the war] happened before you came to.' The lines following are ambiguous, which is not helped by the line sung 'view to the quarterback's room' written as 'key to the quarterback's room' in the liner notes. Possibly an allusion to an illicit affair? Nevertheless, the devotion the main character shows to his partner is incessant in spite of idolatries--it's a protection, a cocoon."…
    knowthyselfon July 05, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General Comment"and script out the rest of your life"

    ..not sure, is that in the liner notes? in the song it says "tracing the bends and the shapes (could be shades? I'm not sure)"

    "the sorry coclusion, the hole in the sky
    command what is tried, what is true"

    ^ makes me think of the ozone layer, the hole in the sky being the damage we've done.
    meggganon June 21, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General Commentthis song makes me too sad. it's my favorite song of theirs.
    teamninjaon August 28, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentBelieve it or not, it's my favorite Decemberists song, too.

    It's all over the place. There are so many feelings and so many images it'd be hard to extract one meaning from it.

    "waiting for somethig to startle...
    to shake us from gravity's pull"

    LittleUnicornBoyon January 20, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General Commentmy generation
    yo mamma!on October 05, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentNow, perhaps I am not as well learned as the person who wrote the above article, and maybe they know for a fact that that is what the song's about, but to me this draws some serious parallels to the story of Pompeii.
    Pompeii was a city directly in Vesuvius' shadow, of which only the ashes remain (it was destroyed by a huge volcanic erruption in AD 79), everything, including the people, were encased in cocoons(woo!) of ashes for hundreds of years. I won't go through a throrough song analysis 'cause I'm lazy, but trust me, if you look up Pompeii, you will see what I mean.
    Also the characters in this sort of remind me of Pliney the younger/older but don't mark me on that.
    Cellyon October 23, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis song is great. Obviously.
    But what I find really depressing is the "cocoon"- the bodies turning to ash inside their little coffins of volcanic crap.
    And I always hoped they would play this song at a show...
    jxnarcoticzon February 03, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis song is so calming, listening to it now, I can breath deep and I feel relaxed. I'd make an input as to what I think it means, but I'm too in dream land to concentrate, so I'll just enjoy the song.
    Scream on rooftops*on February 20, 2007   Link

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