"Abattoir Blues" as written by and Warren Ellis Nicholas Cave....
The sun is high up in the sky and I'm in my car
Drifting down into the abattoir
Do you see what I see, dear?

The air grows heavy, I listen to your breath
Entwined together in this culture of death
Do you see what I see, dear?

Slide on over here, let me give you a squeeze
To avert this unholy evolutionary trajectory
Can you hear what I hear, babe?
Does it make you feel afraid?

Everything's dissolving, babe, just according to plan
The sky is on fire, the dead are heaped across the land
I went to bed last night and my moral code got jammed
I woke up this morning with a frappucino in my hand

I kissed you once, I kissed you again
My heart it tumbled like the stock exchange
Do you feel what I feel, dear?

Mass extinction, darling, hypocrisy
These things are not good for me
Do you see what I see, dear?

The line the God throws down to you and me
Makes a pleasing geometry
Shall we leave this place now, dear?
Is there some way out of here?

I wake with the sparrows and I hurry off to work
The need for validation, babe, gone completely berserk
I wanted to be your Superman
But I turned out such a jerk

I got the abattoir blues
I got the abattoir blues
I got the abattoir blues
Right down to my shoes

Abattoir blues
Abattoir blues
Abattoir blues
Abattoir blues

Lyrics submitted by littleRoom, edited by smallwonderrobot

Abattoir Blues song meanings
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  • +4
    General CommentStart with abbatoir: It's a slaughterhouse. Initially, allusions to the stock exchange made me think that the abbatoir in question could be Manhattan and the stock exchange or the entire capitalist market itself.

    This led me to imagine the speaker is one of those suited wall-street boys making a killing and losing his scruples because of it. He now sees it for what it is; a charnel house full of death and pestilence. "Do you see what I see...?". Specific mention of Starbuck's brand name product, "Frappucino", led me to think it represented that same mega-corporate culture that the speaker has sunken into.... Cellphone headset permanently attached, expensive coffee always in hand . You know who I'm talking about.

    I feel that the speaker has become someone they had not intended to be (the 'jerk' in question). They have prioritized some kind of trade over other things or people in their life. He's up early and his "need for validation" has gone "completely berserk". Not only this, but it is a trade which has triggered the worst in this person, scrambling his "moral code" and making him immune to the horror suffered downstream from his position.

    Here, he realizes it and seeks to make amends to the addressee ("dear").

    warmPhaseon July 18, 2006   Link
  • +2
    General CommentI agree mostly with what's been said, but just thought I'd add a little extra tidbit i picked up on

    I always read this song as a bit closer to Nick Cave's own position, though transposed into the centre of todays world--the economy. I think the character speaking is a man who, as several people have mentioned, had good intentions, but was slowly drained of them along the way. Suddenly, the focus sharpens again and he realises where he is and what he has become. He can see that everything around him is dead and decaying, yet he does nothing about it, and he doesn't k ow why. He even finds himself sinking deeper into it. I feel this is akin to Cave himself, who started out as this crazy man with so much to say about the terrible condition of the world, but as he has gotten older finds himself more and more at home. He watches himself go docilely into the abbattoir that kills everyone. The song perfectly captures the modern malaise, even musically, as it is repetitive but entrancing, with a slowly driving beat propelling it to its conclusion, "I've got the abbattoir blues" and there's not much we can do about it. Which is a fucking awesome line to go around singing or whistling.
    daseinsameon August 14, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentIn context with the explanations others said, I think "The line God throws down on you" is maybe "For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil" 1 Timothy 6:10.
    Sifon June 19, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General CommentSomething makes me think we are all crammed in the car heading down to the abattoir.
    HeathenChildon June 05, 2015   Link
  • 0
    General CommentWhy are there no comments! This is probably one of my faves on the album. Maybe my very very favorite... Fuck, I never know what Cave is on about though. Arrgh..
    __AwwSugaron January 23, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI suppose that would make sense with the whole "kissed you once kissed you again.. my heart it tumbled like the stock exchange" thing but.. I dunno, I woulda thought maybe it was about society or something. Or having a shit job.. At the end he feels like a fuck up.. I wonder what Cave means by "The line the God throws down to you and me makes a pleasing geometry" ..Bla
    __AwwSugaron February 17, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General Commenti think it's definitely more about the modern world than love.
    dri-fton September 10, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI think warmPhase is pretty much right, although I don't believe the protagonist has to be a trader. It's just saying that the world is like an abattoir, based on torture and slaughter.

    It's great though, because whenever I'm in a mood for no obvious reason, I can just say I have the abattoir blues!
    Ad_Nauseamon January 01, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentAlso agree with warphase. I'll just add that he started out with good intentions. He just wanted to give himself and his partner a good quality of life. Now he realises what he has become "I wanted to be your Superman but I turned out such a jerk".

    I think it is saying that increasingly more people are turning into the mobile headset wearing, frappucino drinking corporates. It is becoming what is expected.

    If you ask anyone they will say that money is not the most important thing in their life. But society is dictating it so that it has to be. It seems that it will just get worse as well. I have no real answer for it.
    jpfennigon June 10, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI only have a vague understanding of this song. I interpreted it this way- This man in the song, he has a rather bleak outlook on life. He sees it as pointless, he feels like everyone is just aimlessly drifting towards death- "Drifting down to the abbatoir". He sees himself as a part of this awful world, a "jerk". His only comfort appears to be this woman, who means the world to him, and he desperatly wants her to see the world through his eyes, "Do you see what i see dear?". He wants her to save him from his reality, which scares him.

    It's a beautiful song, so melancholy. I'm hooked on it right now.
    Bexz0ron July 08, 2007   Link

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