Why are you here?
Couldn't you tell him?
Were you afraid he'd hear?
You should have been thankful to be alone

You took off your shoes
Said anything further
Would be bad news
'Cause you'd already started to disappear

And he couldn't complain
Just looked at your lyric
And crossed over to play
A record of quiet instrumentals

Said I like what you wrote
This a record
full of sour notes
Should have been thankful to be alone

Said I like what you wrote
But don't say you mean it
When you know you don't

You should have been thankful to be alone, you know (x2)

You should have been thankful to be alone

Lyrics submitted by Da_Goat

Antonio Carlos Jobim song meanings
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    General CommentI have noticed that a lot of times in Elliott's writing, "you" and "I" both refer to himself, and "he or she" refer to others. He seems to switch back and forth between referring to himself as "you" as if he's talking to himself, or "I" for effect.

    So my take on this song is that Elliott has gone to visit someone he never expected himself to visit, to show them his lyrics and get their response to his music. I think this person features heavily in his lyrics, that that by writing the songs he was able to "tell him" something that he was unable to say otherwise [Why are you here?; Couldn't you tell him?; Were you afraid he'd hear?]. He takes off his shoes, but not his coat, or anything else because that "Would be bad news" (because he was leaving soon [disappearing] anyway?) So the man looks at his lyrics, "couldn't complain" and went and put on a different record, importantly a record without lyrics, a record "of quiet instrumentals" (presumably by Antonios Carlos Jobim). The man lies and tells him he liked his lyrics, his music, his collection of sour notes (painfull moments?). Elliott knows it's a lie, the man knows it's a lie.

    Knowing a little about Elliott's history, it's easy to think this is about him showing Roman Candle to his step-father, who did feature heavily in the lyrics of that album and it's B-sides. But who knows, and unlike the songs which actually mention his step-father by name (Some Song, No Confidence Man, Flowers for Charlie), I don't want to make too many assumptions in this case, but it makes sense to me.

    My one question: Who should have been thankful to be alone, the man or Elliott?

    frejaon June 13, 2010   Link

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