Raise up, shake them lazy bones
Read the T-shirt but still don't understand
Comin' home with a little apocalypse
It comes, now do you have time for this?

A 3-tone carpet and a Jackie Chan spear
Lookin' at a hairdo and a belly full of beer
Well I ain't no poet, ain't got no rhyme
Well I got me a car and I don't know how to drive

In the event of a pressure loss
All our lines are busy now
I will be laughing out loud anyhow

Everyday, a little apocalypse
Lay down, lay down next to this
Lookin' at the body well I don't even know his name
Call me in this morning was a friend of mine

Well the wind so strong, it's blown us all around
Wind so strong, nobody settle down
Ev'ryday another apocalypse
Had a TV but I don't know how deep it is

Please read the print advisory
Would you like to go ahead?
Dancin' wherever she goes tippytoes

Rhetorical
Memorial
Invisible
Incredible
Unstoppable
Emotional
Illogical
Sensational

Little sister gotta take her medicine
Baby brother, gonna do it all again
Runnin' fast but cannot catch the bus
Funny feelin', this is part of us

And you must take your medicine
Getting better everyday
Good for a limited time feelin' fine

We will return your things to you
When it's time for you to leave
So quiet nobody knows tippytoes


Lyrics submitted by josephthelevite

Tiny Apocalypse Lyrics as written by David Byrne

Lyrics © Warner Chappell Music, Inc.

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Tiny Apocalypse song meanings
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4 Comments

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  • 0
    General Commentsomething new and different happens everyday that may not amount to anything the day it happens but sooner or later will.
    grateful26guitaron December 19, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI cream my pants everytime I hear this song. Poetic. Visceral. Sobering.
    CosmicStewon September 23, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis is an incredible song, I'm suprised there aren't more comments on it.
    dharmaartiston June 26, 2009   Link
  • 0
    My InterpretationI think this song (and this is also a list of the cw's for my interpretation) is a description of the experience of repetition and monotony from severe depression and panic disorder; self harm thru alcohol, impulsive sexual behaviors, possibly a suicide attempt; and hospitalization of any type - mental or physical.

    "Comin' home with a little apocalypse
    It comes, now do you have time for this?"
    Seems to describe a mental health (imo a panic attack) event happening and the protagonist having to just deal with that regardless of their exhaustion or anything else they may be doing at the time.

    "A 3-tone carpet and a Jackie Chan spear
    Lookin' at a hairdo and a belly full of beer
    Well I ain't no poet, ain't got no rhyme
    Well I got me a car and I don't know how to drive"
    The protagonist sits in their bare living room, thinking about how, [reading between the lines, they're in or approaching middle age] but have very little in terms of possessions or education. They decide to go driving while drunk, potentially as a [semi-]suicidal impulse.

    "In the event of pressure loss
    All our lines are busy now
    I will be laughing out loud anyhow"
    There is no feeling more lonely, nor more shocked-into-laughing absurd, than calling a suicide hotline and getting a busy signal.

    "Lay down, lay down next to this
    Lookin' at the body well I don't even know his name
    Call me in this morning was a friend of mine"
    Compounding the breakdown are habits of sexual impulsivity, leading further down the spiral of self hate, especially if the protagonist is a man (or on any part of the trans spectrum etc.) and feeling internalized shame for being queer.

    "Well the wind so strong, it's blown us all around
    Wind so strong, nobody settle down"...
    "Little sister gotta take her medicine
    Baby brother, gonna do it all again
    Runnin' fast but cannot catch the bus
    Funny feelin', this is part of us"
    I think these lines are recognizing the weather-like inescapability of mental illness (re: you can't stop the wind) and that it is happening to like every person in this world, as well as viewing sufferers of it as younger siblings that we should feel the need to protect.

    "Please read the print advisory
    Would you like to go ahead?"
    I think this is the protagonist checking into a hospital and having to read a brochure and/or read through the intake forms to consent to inpatient treatment.

    The word list has meaning I can't quite parse into words but I think also lends itself, like the consistent beat of the song and melody of the piano, just repeating, speaks to the monotony of every day feeling the same - I believe this describes living in the general world with mental illness but even more so describes the experience of living in a hospitalized setting with such intense repetition and controlled routine to your every day, as well as chemical sedation.

    "And you must take your medicine
    Getting better everyday
    Good for a limited time feelin' fine"
    Mental health medication which, if the above lines about a "tiny apocalypse" is about panic attacks, would make sense as things like Benzos are only helpful for a short period of time, after which the depression and general anxiety returns (versus SSRIs don't have any peaks and valleys). The more you stop panic attacks the less chemicals (adrenaline, norepinephrine, cortisol, etc) are in your bloodstream to cause further panic attacks to be more likely.

    "We will return your things to you
    When it's time for you to leave
    So quiet nobody knows tippytoes"
    The protagonist will eventually feel better enough to leave and will be checked out very subtly so as not to overly disrupt the routine of other residents. This connects to me with the earlier line "Dancin' wherever she goes tippytoes" which may describe another resident the protagonist views when checking in who, for whatever reason, is also trying to be quiet - either a hospital policy or a resident who is very sensitive to sound. Or could be a parallel between joyful tippytoeing and the kind that comes from shame or trying to make yourself smaller, more invisible. The repetition makes me feel it's significant but I guess I haven't fully figured out how haha.

    Sorry for so many words but I was surprised no one else had any version of any of this as a possible interpretation and wanted to fully explain my thoughts on it so it would make sense because it's a fully different approach instead of just contributing to similar theories which needs less thorough explanation to make sense
    merlionson March 14, 2021   Link

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