"Ship in a Bottle" as written by and Conor Oberst.
I want to be the surgeon that cuts you open
That fixes all of life's mistakes
I want to be the house that you were raised in
The only place that you feel safe
I want to be your shower in the morning
That wakes you up and makes you clean
I know I'm just the weather against your window
As you sleep through a winter's dream

Something's churning the earth, something's stirring the sky
And the colour at once in column of light
Bacteria breeds on a microscope slide
The worm in my heart's the apple of your eye

Don't adore what is impossible
We have built this ship in a wine bottle
But oh, but if you knew how it worked
We would have to grow old

Something's eating at you, wakes you up in the night
If you dig in the past, who knows what you'll find
Read the newspaper print off the microfiche slide
And your holding your breath for the rest for of your life

Don't you love what is intangible
I have built this ship in a wine bottle
But if you knew who I was
You would never grow old

Lyrics submitted by apocalypse84

"Ship in a Bottle" as written by Conor Oberst

Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

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Ship in a Bottle song meanings
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  • +2
    General Comment"i have built this ship into one bottle" should be "i have built this ship in a wine bottle"


    "with the newspaper..." should be "read the newspaper print off the microfiche slide"
    Mopnuggeton November 19, 2004   Link
  • +2
    General CommentI see the crying not as innocence and purity, but more as a loss of those things in a move toward responsibility. While I think the crying isn't essential, I think it works well.

    The line "We have built this ship in a wine bottle," seems to be a metaphor for a baby growing inside of the womb. Makes sense, right?

    And then "I want to be the surgeon that cuts you open, that fixes all of life's mistakes," suggests his longing to rid himself of responsibilities. The "mistake," if you buy the whole baby thing, is conception, and the "surgeon" is an abortionist.

    With "The worm in my heart . . ." it seems that the speaker realizes the responsibility and change that a baby will bring, but the girl wants to keep it. Then "Don't adore what is impossible," and "intangible" can also be seen as a demand to get rid of the baby (don't get too attached). "If you knew how it worked, we would have to grow old," finally, seems to say that if the girl knew the negative consequences of having abortion that she wouldn't, and then they would both have to be responsible and grow old.

    While the parallels I pointed out are significant, ultimately I think that this song is about growing up, growing old, having responsibilities, being a slave to circumstances, and so on.
    jesibesion April 19, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General Commentabout things that have limits, things that are limited and things that do the limiting. we hanker for the absolute yet the infinite lives in us all.
    Wilsonon December 04, 2004   Link
  • +1
    General Commentyeah right along with what Gråvejr said. i saw bright eyes at the grand olympic last summer and he said something to that effect.

    so going along with that, i think its about that type of "fantasy" relationship that we all dream of having but we know we could never have it because nothing in this world is perfect.

    like the first verse, you just wanna be this everything for the one you love. you want them to feel perfect and safe. but you know all you can really be is this type of disruption ("the weather against your window...").

    then i believe snipets of the song talk about the different types of chaos in the world that keep the world in order. like "bacteria breeds on a microscope slide". we normally view bacteria as a harmful thing but the truth is we need it to survive.

    then i think its also about this girl who wants this perfect and beautiful relationship and she's being kinda naive about it. but the guy is warning her not to wish such things because they'll only happen in your head. and even if we could get it to be perfect, we could prolly figure out a way to get alot of other things perfect and we would never grow old.

    and as for the ship in the bottle metaphor... i think some magnificent and complex thing put in such a small and confined area so that it can never be disrupted by the impurities of the world.

    also i guess the last prechorus of the song im guessing talks about how the girl used to be disappointed in this lack of "perfect" relationships but she then realizes, shes had them all along. and shes holding her breath for the rest of her life.

    thats really all i can pick apart... and i dont even think alot of it is right. i kinda wanna take it to my english teacher because she can decipher any damn poem in like 3 seconds.

    merry christmas kids.
    luderetragicuson December 25, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General Comment"I want to be the surgeon that cuts you open
    That fixes all of life's mistakes
    I want to be the house that you were raised in
    The only place that you feel safe
    I want to be a shower in the morning
    That wakes you up and makes you clean
    I know I'm just the weather against your window
    As you sleep through a winter's dream"

    best part of the whole song!!!
    BnaHvkx11on August 04, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General Commentwell its 4am and i can't sleep and i've got this song in the brain.. so here is how i've interpreted it..

    He wants to be so much more for this girl than he is, he wants to be the one person who can provide her with comfort and security, he wants to be loved and needed but instead he is like background noise - he may be there with her now while she is sleeping but she is not dependent on him, she could get by without him.

    I see the ship in the bottle as representing the metaphorical shell he's built around himself.. the real him is this delicate easily damaged complicated ship, made up of imperfections, but he's created this outter stronger 'bottle' in hope that she will love him and feel secure and safe with him for it.
    But she is searching for this perfect love which is impossible, digging into his past, thinking and analysing things too much and theres this fear that she will find these imperfections and find out how he has built this 'bottle' and as she is looking for this impossible/intangible love she will leave him and they will never grow old together..
    But on the otherhand if she ever 'knew who he was' and discovered this vulnerable, fragile yet beautiful ship within the wine bottle, maybe she could learn that she mustn't adore what is impossible, or love what is intangible, and that she actually loves this person for who he is, for his imperfections, and recognises that he has built this ship in the bottle to try and protect her
    and that if she can understand this and love him in spite of this, their love will never grow old.

    Hmm. whether any of that was comprehensible i don't know,
    but that's my take on it.
    lilxlivson December 26, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General Commentthis is is absolutley amazing. this new album is better than i expected.
    float on OK?on November 20, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General Commentfixed
    apocalypse84on November 20, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General Commentvery nicely said Wilson
    singmeanythingon December 27, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General Commentlol
    apocalypse84on December 29, 2004   Link

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