Well I know that you know
That you've become the target of this hand
With never even asking
Well I know that you know
That you're the only thing that I can stand

So how could your hair
Have the nerve to dance around like that, blowing?
And how could the air
Have the nerve to blow your hair around like that?

I'm waiting for a ninety-mile water wall
To take me out of your home view
I'm looking for a trap door trigger
To drop me out of your home view

Yes I'm listening, I'm listening
I can tell that you are serious
Your looking for that hurt look around my mouth
The look of a steep fall
Oh, well, that's how Hersey put it

So you can make another claim
Well go ahead and make it
So you can make another claim
Well go ahead and make it

I'm just waiting for a ninety-mile water wall
To take me out of your home view
I'm praying for a trap door trigger

I'm just waiting for a ninety-mile water wall
To take me out of your home view
I'm praying for a trap door trigger

Yes I'm listening
I can tell you're serious

Lyrics submitted by SomethingClever

90-Mile Water Wall Lyrics as written by Matthew Berninger Aaron Dessner

Lyrics © BMG Rights Management

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90-Mile Water Wall song meanings
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  • +7
    General CommentThis may be the literary reference in the song, from John Hersey's My Petition for More Space: "It was not just my hurt look, it was not really a hurt look at all, it was the look of a steep fall: and she was seeing what was already, to her, at nineteen, an old, old sign, enabling her to make yet one more claim..." ISBN 0241891787. Thanks to books.google.com.
    Bob Steinon April 07, 2008   Link
  • +3
    General CommentI think this song is about a man who likes a woman he can't be with...or that he shouldn't be with.

    "You've become the target of this hand with never even asking", I think it means that she didn't do anything to make him like her, but she has become his "target".
    And when it says "So how could your hair
    have the nerve to dance around like that, blowing" I think it means that he likes that her hair does that, but that it shouldn't because it "tempting" him and he can't be with her... so he's waiting for a "90-mile water wall" and a "trap door trigger" to take him out of her view, so that he doesn't have to look at her hair blowing temptingly at him. And it says "90-mile water wall" because it's something impossible, something that it's not going to happen and he know that it's not going to happen so he's not going to stop looking at her and her hair.

    An I think the rest of the song is about him telling her how he feels, and the conversation that goes with that, like in the "Yes I'm listening I'm listening, I can tell that you are serious", they are argueing about it.

    Sorry if that was a bit long, but this is my favorite song of that album and this is what I think the lyrics mean :P.
    kony5669on May 02, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General CommentShame or sorrow may be here. He wants to disappear (trap door, "take me out of your view"). Her attention on him is unbearable either because of her disapproval, or his vulnerability ("hurt look", "steep fall"). He may be told-off or confronted by his love. Or she broke up with him and it's unbearable to him. The "90-mile water wall" is imagined relief, bordering on suicidal in its intensity. He also sought relief in humor, as told indirectly by "Yes I'm listening, I can tell you're serious," underscoring her impression that he is not.

    I can't place "target of this hand," possibly violence. Harsh to speculate on that, but also because it's a harsh idea, it could understandably be worded vague and obscure.

    Infidelity may be impled by "you're the only thing that I can stand" where he professes his ultimate loyalty to her.

    There's a breakdown of communication ("I know that you know" as part of a circular argument going nowhhere).

    And he's painfully (maybe ambivalently?) attracted to her, positively worshiping her hair, twice. I wonder if there's more than poetic significance to the inward and outward directions of her attractiveness: both her hair and the air are blamed.

    (Point of order, we all agree that dissection of a song and profaning poetry by interpretation can be consistent with deep admiration and deeper appreciation, right? That to distract one from a song's fierce effects, one might seek relief in clinical analysis. Especially when no tidal wave is handy.)
    Bob Steinon April 07, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General Commentwhen I read all the comments it struck me that people tend to interpret the love relation within the song in two different ways...
    some (like me) are seeing the speaker to be the one in love, the girl the one who does not love back. others consider the speaker the one who cannot love the girl back. looking at the lyrics neither of the theories can be contradicted... interesting... we might just see it the way we've last - or strongest - experienced it

    and this also reminds of how non-mutual love can be a tough thing for both persons involved... (not only for the person who does love)
    beaaaon September 04, 2008   Link
  • +1
    My InterpretationOthers have touched on this, but I think the narrator is in love with a girl that doesn't love him back, she's become the "target" of his affections but never asked for them. He wants to just disappear through a trap door and escape from this situation. He mentions how she tells him she doesn't love him, that she's being serious, but he's not really listening.
    mrnovember09on June 21, 2012   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI like the violin bit in this song. i also think that the way the song is played it conveys movement, as if moving through the countryside. I think the actual meaning of the song is that he's having an arguement with someone, probably his girlfriend ("you're the only thing that i can stand"). The last lines seem quite sad, "yes i'm listening, i can tell you're serious", which could suggest a break up, or something of the sort. He makes her sound as if she's angry at him "so you can make another claim". I think he wants to disappear, and that he wishes it all to be over-the arguing that is.
    well, thats my version of it, and it strikes me as quite a sad song really, but i really like this.
    aeonieon January 11, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentAnother Sad song. I assume it's about a girl, from the line about hair- such a telling line. How can your hair have the nerve to dance around like that.

    Lots of pent up feelings are behind this song, and the smallest thing can annoy you, such as her hair moving in the wind- somthing she can't control.

    I don't believe he loves himself. And if you can't love yourself, how can anybody love you? he's pushing her away, hurting the one he loves, she's the target of his hand.

    He knows it's over, she's serious. And he knows it his fault, because of who he is.
    sleep foreveron September 23, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General Commentso what is the 90-mile water wall? Sounds like a Hurricane? Or maybe jsut something impossible that doesn't exist
    lukewagoneeron April 24, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI have always wondered if that line is a reference to the Saint Francis Dam disaster... that was pretty much a 90 mile trek to the ocean and the wall of water was still 6 feet high when it hit the Pacific.
    EricLee31on July 27, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Commentgood call....That sounds pretty good
    lukewagoneeron August 25, 2007   Link

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