"The State I Am In" as written by and Murdoch/colburn/cooke/geddes/jackson/campbell....
I was surprised
I was happy for a day in 1975
I was puzzled by a dream
It stayed with me all day in 1995
My brother had confessed he was gay
It took the heat off me for a while
He stood up with a sailor friend
Made it known upon my sister's wedding day.

Got married in a rush to save a kid from being deported
Now she's in love
I was so touched, I was moved to kick the crutches
From my crippled friend
She was not impressed
Cause I cured her on the Sabbath
I went to confess
When she saw the funny side, we introduced my child bride
To whiskey and gin
To whiskey and gin.

The priest in the booth had a photographic memory
For all he had heard
He took all of my sins and he wrote a pocket novel
Called The State That I'm In
So I gave myself to God
There was a pregnant pause before he said okay
Now I spend my days turning tables round in Marks & Spencer
They don't seem to mind.

I gave myself to sin, I gave
Myself to providence and I've
Been there and back again
The state that I am in.

I gave myself to sin, I gave
Myself to providence and I've
Been there and back again
The state that I am in.

Oh love of mine, would you condescend to help me?
Cause I am stupid and blind
Desperation is the Devil's work, it is the folly Of a boy's empty mind
Oh and now I'm feeling dangerous
Riding on city buses for a hobby is sad
Why don't you lead me to a living end
I promised that I'd entertain my crippled friend,
My crippled friend.

I gave myself to sin, I gave
Myself to providence and I've
Been there and back again
The state that I am in.

I gave myself to sin, I gave
Myself to providence and I've
Been there and back again
The state that I am in.

I gave myself to sin, I gave
Myself to providence and I've
Been there and back again
The state that I am in.

I gave myself to sin, I gave
Myself to providence and I've
Been there and back again
The state that I am in.

I gave myself to sin
And I've been there and back again
Oh yeah

Lyrics submitted by girlboyrevolt, edited by Mellow_Harsher

"The State I Am In" as written by Isobel Campbell Christopher Geddes

Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

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The State I Am In song meanings
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  • +5
    General Comment In the song “The State I am in,” the music group Belle and Sebastian sing of a struggle against a nihilistic attitude towards the concept of love and commitment. Lead singer Stuart Murdoch uses a poppy melody and sardonic lyrics to paint a picture of someone attempting, unsuccessfully, to understand the values and institutions that surround love.

    The first verse of the song Stuart sings of a situation where his brother confesses he is gay on the day of his sisters wedding. Stuart notes that this announcement “takes the heat off me for awhile.” This “heat” he is speaking of is the pressure his family puts on him to find love and settle down. The relief he feels is at the expense of his brother. This leads to the unfortunate idea that while his family is celebrating love at his sisters wedding they are also being judgmental over his brothers love with a “sailor friend.”

    The second verse he sings of his blasé attitude towards the institution of marriage when he tells of marring a young girl to save her from being deported. While this act may seem kind, the second line eludes that she falls in love with him, and this moves him to kick the crutches from his crippled friend. This is an example of the struggle he carries with wanting to be a caring person and his inability to be the kind of person who can maintain friendships.

    The third verse Stuart mentions the relationship he has with a priest that has the ability to remember every confession he has ever made and has even written a book about them. This line in the song signifies that the priest knows him better than anyone else and adds meaning to the pregnant pause that the priest gives after he gives himself to god. The pregnant pause is indicative of the priest thinking he was not capable of the love or the commitment necessary to give himself to god. Stuart is also mentioning here yet another institution he is struggling to understand and fully participate in. This is evident in the fourth verse when he sings “I gave myself to sin, I gave myself to providence, and I've been there and back again.”

    In the fifth verse the conflict leads to a sense of desperation when he calls on a love to condescend to help him. He believes he is stupid and blind for not truly understanding what it takes to commit to an ideal. He begs to be led “to a living end,” and promises to to entertain his crippled friend as almost a bargain to a higher power. This bargain is yet another example of his inability to make a deeper connection with people as this promise is based on a superficial exchange of an act of kindness for a sense of enlightenment.
    ericleighon October 23, 2009   Link
  • +3
    General CommentThis is an absolutely beautiful song. This is what pop music should be.
    young_jableson June 14, 2009   Link
  • +2
    General CommentI love this song. The line, "So I gave myself to god,
    There was a pregnant pause before he said ok" is just brilliant. I like the green card marriage reference, too.
    bottledlifeon December 13, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThe song title is supposed to be a title of a book and the lyrics are novelistic in their approach. Lots of characters and themes for a pop song. If pressed to encapsulate what it all means I would say that the song is about the tension people feel when they wrestle with dissappointing themselves, making mistakes, etc.. and the rather thankless moments when one knows they have done something good, honest or empathetic but will likely make further mistakes and/or continue to disappoint others/themselves.

    Also, Stuart Murdoch suffered from chronic fatigue I believe. It's possible the characters here all reflect himself. He was in a sense "crippled" and ultimately saved himself, became a rock star and went on to write a bunch of stuff about hyperliterate kids wrestling with good and evil.
    supposablethumbson November 26, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI see this song as describing a dream and how he interprets it. At the outset he says he is puzzled by the dream, but it made him think of being a child. To him, the story represents the cycle of his life over those years. His conclusion is that "I gave myself to sin. I gave myself to providence. And I'll be there and back again." The first verse alludes to being exposed to sinful behavior by his siblings, and then engaging in sinful behavior himself. All the while, the sinful behavior is performed in the context of good intentions: marriage, mutually beneficial relationships. "The State" he is in is being human. The dream is about being human: loving, caring, hurting, misunderstanding, abusing, hoping, idling -- falling. He knows he is fallen, and knows he has to reach out to God. The line, "there was a pregnant pause" is brilliant because it describes how he felt like, "God, please save me anyway. I promise to do my best."

    Perhaps he asked early on, perhaps for the first time in 1975...and didn't feel like he got his answer until 1995. The "pregnant pause" gives the listener a humorous visual image of a sinner asking for salvation and God kinda staring him down until he responds. However, to him the "pregnant pause" represents the twenty years since he first thought as a child, "How can I know there's a God?"

    Furthermore, I view this song as Stuart Murdoch's mission statement for Belle and Sebastian. He declares that humans are fallen, that he has chosen Providence, and had to do so more than once. In his lyrics he will describe human behavior on Earth as he sees it, but not as God wants it. He can't speak for God. Most of what he will write about will be of the Devil, but he must have you know from the outset he has chosen God. Hopefully this song has encouraged thousands of others to do the same.

    And the better version is Dog On Wheels.
    ZinbobDanon February 09, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI cannot believe no one has commented on this song. This is one of my all time favortie B&S song. The meaning, to me atleast, is just how someone always seems to do something good but it's always turning around and bitting him in the butt. A great song through and through and a great way to start off an all-in-all good album.
    cassiteaon August 23, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentLyrics are slightly wrong, you missed the 'that' for 'the state that I am in' in the 3rd paragraph (stanza...whatever) and there's a 'Why don't you' before 'lead me to the living end'.
    jesusaurouson January 31, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General Commentjesusaurous your point is (of course) only correct if you are talking about the version from Tigermilk. The lyrics are correct for the superior version from the Dog on Wheels EP.
    Whit0685on February 24, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentYeah, its the same version on "Push Barman to Open Old Wounds"
    And it does sound a whole lot better.
    bcontraton April 04, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI agree with Cassitea, and this song i just amazing
    Powdharon May 16, 2006   Link

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