We sailed away on a winter's day
With fate as malleable as clay
But ships are fallible, I say
And the nautical, like all things, fades
And I can recall our caravel
A little wicker beetle shell
With four fine maste and lateen sails
Its bearings on Cair Paravel

Oh my love
Oh it was a funny little thing
To be
The ones
To've seen

The sight of bridges and balloons
Makes calm canaries irritable
And they caw and claw all afternoon
Catenaries and dirigibles
Brace and bouy the living room
A loom of metals warp woof wimble
And a thimblesworth of milky moon
Can touch hearts larger than a thimble

Oh my love
Oh it was a funny little thing
To be
The ones
To've seen

Oh my love
Oh it was a funny little thing
It was a funny funny little thing

Lyrics submitted by Mopnugget

Bridges and Balloons song meanings
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  • +6
    General CommentThe song is about wanderlust... she is an explorer at heart, and she is dreaming. Not only is she dreaming of vast and incredible imaginations, but she's sharing the moment with her Love...

    Sometimes life can become so predictable that it is tempting to take a jump from that little box, and it is fun to delve into the wideness of unknown depths. Joanna prizes that kind of exploratory spiritedness in her relationship. To sail away on a winter's day with fate as malleable as clay is to take a risk, not knowing where you'll end up, but jump out into the change... when everything stops for a while in the world, and the fireplaces are crackling, and people are huddling away from the bleakness and icy breezes, you are immersed in one of the most vivid and memorable parts of your life. It's one of those moments that the song catches.

    Though the moment is sure to end, and you'll get back to life and the pattern of winter's days, it is so richly worth capturing while it lasts. The memory itself is a treasure, and the little snippet of time it fills gives value and depth to living. It is good to do life with your eyes open...

    When she says "The sight of bridges and balloons/ Makes calm canaries irritable/ And they caw and claw all afternoon/ Catenaries and dirigibles", she's talking about that certain restlessness that makes her want to fly out there again. Can you imagine sitting on your lounge on the stillest afternoon, with the sun pouring in through the window and the clock ticking 'tick-tock-tick-tock' as time very slowly drips past, and the moments hang and merge together in the silence of the day's quiescent placidity? In the corner, a canary sits in a small antique cage, adorning the decor and complimenting the fine teacups sitting on the slightly dusty shelves. But for Joanna, an aura of adventure and open skies drops weightily on the moment makes her itch to get up and move. Birds have wings, and should be flying in worlds much larger than themselves...

    So what does she do? What would you have done when you were, say, five? If it's too cold and you aren't allowed outside, you make your tents and cubby-houses, and suddenly the living room is transformed - say, a pirate ship? A cosy and mysterious tea-house on a faraway continent? Worlds of fields and forests to explore for secrets too tiny to see and too large to hold, but so real all the same? Imagination gives you your wings.

    Though sometimes life does not let us go beyond its wallpaper and painted doors, there are worlds within the world so ready to explore. Doesn't matter if they're small, and their charm lasts just a moment. Doesn't matter if that world is across the chasm of decades. Doesn't matter if you know it's just a game. Because you know it's one of the realest parts of life. Your Love knows it too, and you can gallivant together till the sunset bids you goodnight beneath a twinkling universe... the moment is shared. Your schedule may have set your path as far as your eye can see... but stop for a moment... fill up just a thimble. Your heart does not have to be small for it to mean the world. Don't let the wisdom of years illuminate for you the smallness, and blind you to the potency and depth... wardrobes have in their time enclosed whole worlds, you must remember.

    So when she says "Oh my Love/ Oh it was a funny little thing/ To be/ The ones/ To've seen", it is affectionately linking it back to the relationship, and her wonder at the moment she has shared with her Love. It's easy to go through life with your eyes closed... but being together, even in that moment indoors, has let them see glorious things - as if they'd never even seen the world before. They are explorers, beholding their treasure... it is their secret. "Why should it be us," she asks, "that get to run through untrodden shores while the world goes on?" It's quite amazing.

    Very sweet really. I guess it can relate to many different facets of all sorts of relationships - the picture is malleable :-) I get the feeling this song is particularly romantic though... and I love how it mingles that with its innocent and childlike texture. It twinkles.

    I adore this song. Aaaahhhhh... the sweetness, uniqueness and honey-rhythmed wildness of all its layers and all its intricacies open up a world of their own, and it makes me smile, and it makes calm canaries irritable...
    Anneliseon December 08, 2006   Link
  • +3
    General Comment"Cair Paravel" is the castle from Narnia.

    haha love weird references.
    jitteryjellyon January 01, 2011   Link
  • +2
    General CommentI know I'm late to this but I got the feeling that this is about childhood imagination. When you're a child, everything is possible because no one has told you its not possible. Children explore new territories, play new games and go to new worlds they only need their creativity and belief to take them to. But when children grow into adults, you're encouraged to put away childish things, you learn that not everything is possible and everything you learned as a child may not be true. But there are those people who've managed to keep that sense of wonder, even as an adult and they are the writers and the artists and actors and actressses. They never lose that ability to go into the fantasy, even for a litlte while. There are others who lose that sense of wonder and grow up way too fast.
    sangsueon November 09, 2010   Link
  • +1
    General Commentlord am i happy i bought this album... i was head over heels in love with joanna by "a little wicker beetle shell", teehee

    LittleUnicornBoyon January 30, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General CommentGreat opening song. Cair Parvel is a great C.S. Lewis reference and I image a cold rainy winter day being in the house curled up with the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, mentally sailing away on the Eatsern Sea to the castle Cair Paravel. It seems to portend much of the rest of the music with talking animals, fauns and magic.

    Eagerly awaiting Joanna's next work.
    eigenv1on January 31, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General CommentWell, going out on a limb, and I know I'm wrong, but I feel like the song is about someone that Joanna loved "My love", and how they were kind of someone who didn't quite have the lust for life that Joanna had, and so she took them out sailing, and how at first they didn't enjoy it but as time went on, "A Thimblesworth of Milky Moon can touch hearts larger than a thimble".
    myeh_manon August 16, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General CommentFor me it is about the little wonders of the world that can stun and stagger you, and eventually shape you. I like to think she's sharing all these tiny blessings with her "love" :)
    auxocromeon December 05, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThis song is one of the best songs to illustrate my own desperation to live wholly.

    Joanna is talking about daydreaming and then going after your dreams. When we are children, we are told we can be whatever we want to be. Beginning our journey of life, our fates are malleable; we really can become anything, we can create our own worlds, our own fates. But the methods of seeing our dreams come true are not always as sturdy as the longing. So Joanna's personal dream is represented by sailing. Being out in the wind and the air, feeling the world and experiencing it all fully. So her method would be a ship. But the nautical things, the ships and the anchors and sails, they are all material things that cannot stand up and brace the immense dreams of sailing. They cannot possibly have the same passion to support the dreams. Therefore, she must figure out how to live out her dream using only herself. Then she creates her own world in which sailing is not inhibited by the winter day or the fallibilty of ships. She finds the passion and the presence of a living dream inside her living room. She can lose herself in her imagination, in books, in love. The words she uses illuminates the fragility of such a dream: "a little wicker beetle shell" instead of "a rocking chair" shows how she embraces these belongings as if they are the heart of life.

    Oh my love! Oh! It was a funny little thing, to be the ones to've seen. She is joyous knowing she has found the secret to life, the meaning to hers at least, which is to pursue dreams through imagination and they will always come true. She is expressing her thrill at knowing she is in love and able to do exactly what she should to be happy. She realizes how miserable much of the world is, and her simple, beautiful interpretation of life is a gift that she is celebrating possesion of.

    My favorite part: "The sight of bridges and balloons / makes calm canaries irritable." Seeing the potential for dreams to come true but being unable to reach them absolutely irritates the seekers.I picture a canary sitting in a small cage by a window, watching people walk numbly over a bridge in their every day tasks, watching children with irritated mothers skip to a hot air balloon begging to take a ride. The canaries, who are birds representing domestic freedom (they should be able to fly as high as that balloon and to pass over the river, but being in a small cage, they cannot be content unless they can dream). Dissatisfied people too quickly overlook the treasures in their lives. Knowing that a dream really can come true makes the dreamers restless.

    These canaries caw and claw because they want to be outside with the air. I am not positive about the next few lines, but the milky moon touching hearts larger than a thimble really resonates. To someone who may appreciate it, who really feels the air on his/her skin, and who can really see the moonlight around them, one small dose of this wonder will fill one up. Life is really worth living when you can smell the honeysuckle and feel the dew beneath your toes.

    I am a dreamer, and this song is just so beautiful. It assures me that I can have anything I want if I appreciate what I get. Such a simple sound, but the lyrics are magical.
    HeyJude91on August 14, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI am absolutely in love with her voice, with all of its unique merciful sounds. She either sounds like a ninety year old woman, or a 6 year old child. I love how different this is, and i will continue listening to her music :)
    anill42on November 20, 2010   Link
  • +1
    Lyric CorrectionJust now reading "Moby Dick" by Herman Melville and stumbled into this in Chapter 47: The Mat-Maker:

    "Queequeg and I were mildly employed weaving what is called a sword-mat...As I kept passing and repassing the filling or WOOF of marline between the long yarns of the WARP... that it seemed as if this were the LOOM of Time, and I myself were a shuttle mechanically weaving and weaving away at the Fates."

    Joanna Newsom
    "A loom of metal, warp woof wimble"

    robcat26on March 06, 2011   Link

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