Some said the local lake had been enchanted
Others said it must have been the weather
The neighbors were trying to keep it quiet
But I swear that I could hear the laughter
So they jokingly nicknamed it the porridge
Cause overnight that lake had turned as thick as butter
But the local kids would still go swimming, drinking
Saying that to them it doesn't matter

If you just hold in your breath til you come back up in full
Hold in your breath til you thought it through, you fool

The genius next door was busing tables
Wiping clean the ketchup bottle labels
Getting high and mumbling German fables
Didn't care as long as he was able
To strip his clothes off by the dumpsters
At night while everyone was sleeping
And to wade midway into that porridge
Just him and the secret he was keeping

If you just hold in your breath til you come back up in full
Hold in your breath til you thought it through, you foolish child

In the morning the film crews start arriving
With donuts, coffee and reporters
The kids were waking up hungover
The neighbors were starting up their cars
The garbageman were emptying the dumpsters
Atheists were praying full of sarcasm
And the genius next door was sleeping
Dreaming that the antidote is orgasm

If you just hold in your breath til you come back up in full
Hold in your breath til you thought it through, you foolish child!


Lyrics submitted by lemonjuice

Genius Next Door Lyrics as written by Regina Spektor

Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

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Genius Next Door song meanings
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    My InterpretationOk so Regina writes a lot of her songs poetically, full of double meanings and allegories. So basically, if you're picking up on something, or you have a faint idea that she might have meant something, that's probably part of the meaning, or one of the meanings.

    My interpretation is all conjecture here. So I may be way off. (Like for instance, her Samson song has a very specific reference, it's about a bible/Torah story, and about cancer. You wouldn't know that unless you were told that, or have experience with those two things. Probably to most people, it's just a love song). Anyways here's my interpretation of genius next door

    To me, I think this song is about the struggle of life in modern society, for intellectuals. Regina is an intellectual. She's an artist, a writer, a pianist, and many other things. So I think she sees herself very much in the "genius next door". Like for instance, her song about rowboats. That's very much a nerdy person song.

    I think the mystery of the song is whether he kills himself or if he does something else nightly at the lake.

    Im going to look at the song backwards, starting at the end, because I think that's when she tells us what happens, and the puzzle pieces all fit into place from there.

    "And the genius next door was sleeping"

    I think at this point he is passed away, aka "sleeping," but his spirit remains in the lake "next door".

    "Dreaming that the antidote is orgasm"

    It's hard to translate this meaning into words. Basically, the song is about depression. And he's searching for anything that could cure it, and thinking that maybe it is orgasm, love, a relationship. But at this point he has died. So it's actually his ghost, dreaming that, from his long sleep in the lake. I think this is an allegory on life and death. We don't know why we're here. We don't know why we suffer. And even a genius has simple needs.

    "In the morning the film crews start arriving
    With donuts, coffee and reporters"

    At this point, people are showing up to report on his dead body. Life is going on as normal for everyone.

    Now, this is where it gets murky. Are they reporting on his dead body? Are they reporting that the lake changed to normal? Or is this the point that the lake changes to porridge?

    So maybe he didn't kill himself. Maybe he was going to the lake nightly, and casting some kind of spell, to fix the lake, or he is the one who caused it to change to porridge.

    Or, maybe he did kill himself, and that's what changed the lake back to normal? Or more likely, he killed himself, and the porridge is an allegory for how the lake was changed forever at that point.

    "And to wade midway into that porridge
    Just him and the secret he was keeping"

    Ok so it was already porridge. So I think after he died, or whatever he did that night, it changed the lake back to water, and that's why all the reporters showed up.

    "Getting high and mumbling German fables"

    I think this is a key to the meaning. There is probably a fairy tale that this is inspired by. I did a quick Google, and Grimm's Fairy Tales was first published in Germany. So maybe there's a fairy tale about this. Or, maybe Regina just thought this sounded kind of like a fairy tale, a lake turning into buttery porridge.

    "If you just hold in your breath til you come back up in full
    Hold in your breath til you thought it through, you fool"

    This is the allegory of struggling, and drowning. It's not an uncommon theme in poetic writing. I think it's the basic meaning of the song. And the verses are just a clever story she wrote to bring us around this message, that sometimes life is terrible, but, just hold your breath until you come back up. She's a very kind person, at least she is in her writing, and so I think this is intended as a kind message to everyone who is feeling low.

    SunnyPeeon December 05, 2020   Link

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