"Set the Fire to the Third Bar" as written by Gary Lightbody, Nathan Connolly, Jonathan Graham Quinn, Tom Simpson and Paul Wilson....
I find the map and draw a straight line
Over rivers, farms, and state lines
The distance from 'here' to where you'd be
It's only finger-lengths that I see
I touch the place where I'd find your face
My fingers in creases of distant dark places

I hang my coat up in the first bar
There is no peace that I've found so far
The laughter penetrates my silence
As drunken men find flaws in science

Their words mostly noises
Ghosts with just voices
Your words in my memory
Are like music to me

I'm miles from where you are
I lay down on the cold ground
And I pray that something picks me up
And sets me down in your warm arms

After I have traveled so far
We'd set the fire to the third bar
We'd share each other like an island
Until exhausted, close our eyelids
And dreaming, pick up from
The last place we left off
Your soft skin is weeping
A joy you can't keep in

I'm miles from where you are
I lay down on the cold ground
And I pray that something picks me up
And sets me down in your warm arms

I'm miles from where you are
I lay down on the cold ground
And I pray that something picks me up
And sets me down in your warm arms


Lyrics submitted by blinxbcr, edited by TokyoKitten

"Set the Fire to the Third Bar" as written by Gary Lightbody Nathan Connolly

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

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Set the Fire to the Third Bar song meanings
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  • +3
    General CommentWhen this song closes, I still sense a deep yearning so I don't believe that the two lovers are reunited. Everything makes sense as written until the second half.

    "After I have traveled so far"

    I agree that the lyrics are looking forward, the two lovers haven't been reunited yet.

    "We'd set the fire to the third bar"

    Is not a literal fire but is saying that nothing else would matter once they find each other. The search would be over. The fire as an image is important because the heat of a fire is in contrast to the cold he is enduring to reach his love.

    "We'd share each other like an island
    Until exhausted, close our eyelids
    And dreaming pick up from
    The last place we left off"

    This reinforces that nothing else in the world matters but reaching her and being with her. The island image is brilliant. Note that an island is another warm image.

    "Your soft skin is weeping
    A joy you can't keep it"

    This is where I'm lost... "skin is weeping" could mean sweating (which again suggests warmth) but I don't understand "a joy you can't keep it." I wonder if she's dead or otherwise gone to him forever and his journey to find her will never end. Either that, or even if they find one another they can't stay together and he will be forced to return home but I feel like it's the former.

    I watched a recording of a live performance of this and both Lightbody and Wainwright sing with such passion. Lightbody is shaking when he sings. So haunting and beautiful, tinged with desperation and yearning.

    * * *
    Not related to the meaning, but here is info from Snow Patrol's MySpace page: "Lightbody wrote the song towards the end of the album sessions and thought it would fit Wainwrights voice perfectly. By chance she was touring Ireland at the time. "Im not a great believer in fate." Says Lightbody. "But when someone called to say "Shes here, in this country and she wants to sing it, that was definitely "a moment."
    kidleoon September 05, 2006   Link

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