"The Trapeze Swinger" as written by and Samuel Beam....
Please, remember me
Happily
By the rosebush laughing
With bruises on my chin
The time when
We counted every black car passing
Your house beneath the hill
And up until
Someone caught us in the kitchen
With maps, a mountain range,
A piggy bank
A vision too removed to mention
But

Please, remember me
Fondly
I heard from someone you're still pretty
And then
They went on to say
That the pearly gates
Had some eloquent graffiti
Like 'We'll meet again'
And 'Fuck the man'
And 'Tell my mother not to worry'
And angels with their gray
Handshakes
Were always done in such a hurry
And

Please, remember me
At Halloween
Making fools of all the neighbors
Our faces painted white
By midnight
We'd forgotten one another
And when the morning came
I was ashamed
Only now it seems so silly
That season left the world
And then returned
And now you're lit up by the city
So

Please, remember me
Mistakenly
In the window of the tallest tower call
Then pass us by
But much too high
To see the empty road at happy hour
Leave and resonate
Just like the gates
Around the holy kingdom
With words like 'Lost and Found' and 'Don't Look Down'
And 'Someone Save Temptation'
And

Please, remember me
As in the dream
We had as rug-burned babies
Among the fallen trees
And fast asleep
Aside the lions and the ladies
That called you what you like
And even might
Give a gift for your behavior
A fleeting chance to see
A trapeze
Swing as high as any savior
But

Please, remember me
My misery
And how it lost me all I wanted
Those dogs that love the rain
And chasing trains
The colored birds above there running
In circles round the well
And where it spells
On the wall behind St. Peter's
So bright with cinder gray
And spray paint
'Who the hell can see forever?'
And

Please, remember me
Seldomly
In the car behind the carnival
My hand between your knees
You turn from me
And said 'The trapeze act was wonderful
But never meant to last'
The clown that passed
Saw me just come up with anger
When it filled with circus dogs
The parking lot
Had an element of danger
So

Please, remember me
Finally
And all my uphill clawing
My dear
But if I make
The pearly gates
Do my best to make a drawing
Of G-d and Lucifer
A boy and girl
An angel kissing on a sinner
A monkey and a man
A marching band
All around the frightened trapeze swingers


Lyrics submitted by dswmo456, edited by SlowestRunner

"The Trapeze Swinger" as written by Samuel Beam

Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc., Universal Music Publishing Group

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The Trapeze Swinger song meanings
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212 Comments

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  • +18
    General CommentOne of the most subtly beautiful songs I have ever heard. I have to keep repeating it. It speaks to the bittersweet nostalgic feeling of being alive to all of the joy and tragedy in the world, viewed through the lens of the effects of the passage of time on relationships and moments that we can never relive. I'm crying in my coffee and having a hard time drinking it through my smile.
    jcmcilwaineon March 18, 2005   Link
  • +12
    General CommentYou really have to read this through many times before it makes sense.
    He is the trapeze swinger in this song. Here goes:
    He's singing about a girl he is in love with. They have fond memories and were planning a life together.
    He hopes she'll remember the good times they had.

    He asks her to remember him fondly. He heard she was still pretty and longs for her forgiveness. He carries a great amount of guilt for the ways in which he ruined their relationship. He keeps referring to the notes on the pearly gates as being welcoming to sinners despite their wrongdoings. He refers to her as being the angel with the great handshake that seems to end in a hurry.

    He asks her to remember the time in their lives in which they seemed to forgotten their love for one another. He deceived her in some way and was ashamed afterward. "The season left and then returned" - their love seemed to have gone away, and when it returned, she was lit up like the city.

    He says to remember him mistakenly, not to remember his flaws. He again refers to signs at the pearly gates accepting sinners - "Lost and Found" "Don't look down" and "Someone save temptation." He obviously is so guiltridden over his actions that he does not feel deserving of a heavenly afterlife.

    He asks her to remember him like in the dream, when their love seemed invincible. All seemed perfect during this time - when she saw the trapeze swinger as high as any savior

    He asks her to remember his misery - how his wrongful actions cost him all her ever wanted - her love. He refers to dogs that love the rain and chasing trains and birds that run in circles around a well- refering to the impulsive things animals do whether it makes sense or not "Who the hell can see forever" - must be referring to how people lose touch with what is most important at times.

    He says to please remember me SELDOMLY - not to focus on this moment in their relationship. When she tells him the trapeze act was never meant to last - their relationship is ending. He responds with anger. "When it filled with circus dogs, the parking lot had an element of danger" Again referring to dogs and animalistic behavior - His anger toward her could have made the situation dangerous.

    He asks her to please remember him finally - and his uphill clawing - his desperate attempts to save the relationship. But if he does make it to the pearly gates, he'll draw a picture - god and lucifer, a boy and girl, an angel kissing a sinner. Again referring to just how devastated he is for the way he wronged her. - And how undeserving he feels for an afterlife. The world is a crazy circus and he's just a frightened trapeze swinger. - He feels as though he is constantly performing different acts in life, many of which are scary, dangerous, and can often lead to him falling.
    lbs0980on August 30, 2010   Link
  • +8
    My Interpretationvia YouTube comments: "the reconciliation of death. the miracle of life, the miracle of death. the marvelousness of the dance between the two. the rapidity, the brevity of it all. the smidgens we remember; the gaps which we forget. the afterthoughts, the foresights, the remembrances. the heights by which we are remembered as we pass through the lowest exits mortality drags us through. This is an expression beyond which the words of which it is composed can verbally express. This song is felt rather than heard."
    delar0chaon August 31, 2010   Link
  • +6
    General CommentThis is such an amazing song. If I die tomorrow this is what I want played at my wake. It would be the best way to go out, I know that's sad, but it makes sense. I love it.
    clumsy_childon February 17, 2005   Link
  • +6
    General Commentokay, this has been my favorite song for about a year, and I think I've finally figured out what it means. what it means to me, anyway, since the beautiful thing about it is the way it can be read in so many different ways but it never gets any less impactful.

    the first verse is fairly straightforward. it's a childhood memory, of playing together and plotting to run away together before they get caught. it's such an old recollection that it's "too removed to mention," in other words, it's both hard to remember and he's not sure if it has very much bearing on where he and she have ended up now.

    second verse- I know there's conflicting opinions on who is dead, the boy or the girl. this verse convinces me that it has to be the boy who's dead. he's in Purgatory, or a similar place, and he's striving to make it to Heaven. most of the song is his recollections of his time on earth with the girl, and he's glad to receive news of her from someone who has also died. they've seen the gates of heaven and now he knows that, even in the afterlife, people can't help the urge to leave their mark on things. I believe the graffiti was written by people who got to Heaven's gates but were rejected by St. Peter, so those messages are borne out of anger and frustration. "we'll meet again" suggests that two loved ones have been separated as one person got into heaven and the other did not. "fuck the man" is a frustrated rebellion against God for not letting the person in. "tell my mother not to worry" is a plea for those who did get in to tell her mother that she's okay, despite not getting into paradise. the part about the angels is confusing, but I think that the negative description of them- plus the graffiti- is meant to show that the afterlife is not the paradise he had expected before he died.

    3rd verse- another memory, probably teenagers by this time. their relationship was probably evolving from close friendship to something romantic at this point, so he beats himself up for his mistake a lot more than is reasonable. it seems to imply that the girl moved away or they drifted apart somehow, because the season 'returns' and yet she's not there. 'lit up by the city' I doubt is literal; I think it means the city lights remind him of her.

    fourth verse- I feel like this is an important one, but it also gets overlooked. through the whole song, he's asking the girl- still alive on earth, without him now- to remember him in a lot of different ways. but I think that he's warning her against remembering him 'mistakenly' and 'in a high tower'- idealizing him in her head to the perfect person who never did anything wrong, like we're prone to do with the dead. he doesn't want her to remember him as up too high, removed from the rest of the world, because he wasn't. the latter half is more graffiti from heaven's gates. "lost and found" suggests more separation, a reflection of his own feelings. "don't look down" -- fairly literal, I think, since heaven was traditionally supposed to be on a bunch of fluffy clouds in the sky. "someone save temptation" -- this phrase is fascinating, but I'm honestly not sure what it means, why temptation would need saving.

    5th verse- more memories from a young age, but much less literal and dreamlike, fittingly since they WERE dreaming. I think he may even be imagining what they dreamed about as babies- I take 'rug-burned babies' literally here- and a peaceable nature scene, where men and lions can coexist, is what comes to mind. now, people are indulgent to children, and I think the latter half of the verse is about how people would coddle the girl for good behavior. except I think the "gift" is an idea from the boy as an adult, a thing that would have made a good gift. I think the whole theme of the song, in regards to the "trapeze swinger", is balance. trapeze swingers swing back and forth in between two points, and their position is precarious. they're meant to symbolize people in general, who have to find a balance in their lives, and who are often caught between two places with the inability to fully reach either one- like a trapeze swinger. if someone would have explained this to the girl, it may have made her life easier, but I feel that neither she or the boy learned the lesson until it was too late. since the carnival is literal in the 7th verse, I believe it's real here, too. the gift- the physical one, not the gift of understanding balance- may have simply been taking the girl to the carnival.

    sixth verse- god, this is my favourite verse. now, the first three lines are interesting, because they're the opposite of what is expected- he didn't become miserable because all his dreams were crushed, his dreams were ruined because he was miserable. I have to admit I'm not sure what situation that implies. it seems almost like a suggestion to not let yourself get dragged down and to wallow in the negative, because while you're down there, everything you want escapes your reach. the 'dogs' and 'birds' lines seem like more memories from earth, quietly beautiful things that he's lost after dying, while people still living view them as mundane. St. Peter, traditionally the gatekeeper to heaven, stands in front of heaven's walls and admits people out of his book of sins and virtues. so I think "who the hell can see forever", my favourite graffiti of the song, is indeed that- yet another inscription of the walls of heaven, in spray paint, a gritty thing you don't expect to see just outside paradise. I believe it's a remark made in bitterness and wonder, a person frustrated with the limited scope of human beings, the small amount they're really able to see. it might be someone turned away from heaven who was frustrated that he couldn't see into the future, or "forever", and he's regretting a life that wasn't moral enough to get him into heaven. but that seems too literal for me.

    7th verse- the last memory. older teenagers now, maybe in their 20s, in a parked car behind a carnival. throughout the song the metaphor of "the trapeze swinger" weaves in and out, and here it's made literal. there's a real carnival with people who are actually swinging on trapezes, and it's a visual to correspond with what the boy has been finding out about life as he grows older. while they're in the car alone, the boy tries to make an advance on her, but she pushes him away and explains that their trapeze act- the balancing of the friendship in childhood with what they feel for each other now- is over. it was wonderful, while it lasted, but she doesn't seem to return the romantic feelings with the same strength he has them in. the carnival ends and the clowns and dogs are going through the parking lot when a rush of anger hits him, frustration that things won't work out the way he wants them to. now, I've always thought the 'element of danger' is probably their sense that something bad was about to happen, maybe even the accident that causes him to die. but the car scene has a young feel, and these lyrics feel more like a middle-aged man, one with maturity- enough time has passed for him to look back on these years clearly. so, instead, I think the 'danger' is the sense that their relationship is splintering.

    last verse- he's finally making his last struggle to get into heaven. it's his final plea for the girl to remember him, and he's explaining to her that if he does make it into heaven, he's going to add to the graffiti on the walls. the things he lists are all opposites- opposites that human beings, as "trapeze swingers", are constantly caught between. humans have such struggle finding that balance and knowing how to maintain their lives in a world where things can topple so easily and quickly.

    this song is so immensely beautiful that I feel almost bad for taking apart. at the same time, it feels amazing to finally get my thoughts down on how I've interpreted it. overall, I think it's a song about a boy and a girl, who knew each other for all their lives and loved each other more than anyone else. I'm not the kind of person who believes love doesn't count when it doesn't last forever. I don't think theirs did. I think they drifted apart before he died, and that makes it no less beautiful. I think, on a more subtle level, it's a song about people and all the choices they have to make.
    Nightlarkon August 30, 2008   Link
  • +5
    General Comment"I heard from someone you're still pretty..."
    God whenever I hear that line I'm never sure whether I should smile or break down- it's just so perfect.
    madman885on May 18, 2009   Link
  • +5
    General Commentshortest 9 minutes of my life
    Duckson September 30, 2009   Link
  • +4
    General CommentPlease remember me fondly
    I heard from someone you're still pretty.

    I mean seriously, Sam, what the fuck? It's just so simple but it says so damn much.
    madman885on October 19, 2009   Link
  • +3
    General Commentthis, between my girlfriend and i, is "our song", i think. it has yet to be decided haha. we started dating after talking at a music festival june 2004. we dated over the summer, but, as i'm a year ahead of her in school, i left for college in mid-august and did the most assholish thing i've ever done: i stopped calling. my feelings for her were there, but i wanted to move on, even though i went to college in the same town. upon hearing this song, i think it was on christmas day of 2004, i started crying upon hearing the line "someone told me you're still pretty", it just hit me that way. we started talking and soon began dating again once 2005 came around, and i know now i'm in love with her, despite my past mistake. but now it's her turn to leave me behind; she's heading off to college in washington state in august as i continue my education here in kansas. we won't stay together, that's obvious, but we both really love each other. this is our song for that line, for the "please remember me" motif, for holding her tightly when sam beam played it as the final song when he came through my hometown, for every reason.

    it's the most beautiful, and at this point heart-breaking, song i've ever heard in my life.
    tyrerbankson June 09, 2005   Link
  • +2
    General CommentPhenomenal lyrics
    smallwonderroboton April 07, 2005   Link

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