"Pittsfield" as written by and Sufjan Stevens....
I'm not afraid of you now, I know
So I climbed down from the bunk beds this low

I can talk back to you now, I know
From a few things I learned from this TV show

You can work late till midnight, we don't care
We can fix our own meals, we can wash our own hair

I go to school before sunrise, in the cold
And I pulled the alarm, and I kicked up the salad bowls

Since that time we meant to say much
Unsaid things begin to change
After school we shoveled through the snow
??? stayed inside with silence in the cold

You can remind me of it
That I was lazy and tired
You can work all your life as
I'm not afraid of you anymore

If I loved you a long time, I don't know
If I can't recall the last time you told me so

Here in this house in Pittsfield
The ghost of our grandmother works at the sewing machine post
Hiding the bills in the kitchen on the floor
And my sister lost her best friend in the Persian Gulf War
There was a flood in the bathroom last May
And you kicked at the pipes when it rattled oh the river it made

Stand there, tell me that I'm of no use
Things unspoken break us if we share
There's still time to wash the kitchen floor
On your knees, at the sink once more
You can remind me that I was tired
You can work late and give yourself up
Now that I'm older, wiser, and working less
I don't regret having left the place a mess

You can remind me that I was lazy and tired
You can recall your life as
I'm not afraid of you, anymore
Anymore


Lyrics submitted by learn2kneel, edited by studaman, lovingthealien

"Pittsfield" as written by Sufjan Stevens

Lyrics © BMG Rights Management

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Pittsfield song meanings
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  • +1
    General CommentThis is what I can gather from the second-to-last verse:

    Stand there, tell me that I'm of no use
    Things unspoken break us if we share
    There's still time to wash the kitchen floor
    On your knees, at the sink once more
    You can remind me that I was tired
    You can work late and give yourself up
    Now that I'm older, wiser, and working less
    (??? I can't get that last line...)
    thegreatpaninion May 20, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General CommentVery little information is available about Sufjan's own past and personal life...but I do know he has a creative fascination with dysfunctional parents, especially mothers. See this song, "Romulus", and his previously published short story, "My Mother, King Tut."

    So does anything have any insights on his facsination with poor, unloving, bad mothers? Or do they just make for good songs? (because this one sure is)
    NostalgicBlueson June 08, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General Comment“Pittsfield is probably the most personal song on The Avalanche. It’s based on a lot of my life growing up in a big family where there were a lot of chores and we were always being asked to contribute to the household. To do work and wash the dishes. Work was an important factor in our life, and now that I’ve grown up I have a different understanding of work. It’s not so much about physical exertion but about applying skills to particular tasks. It can be an abstract task…I don’t want to get too Marxist on you, but that song is kind of a rumination on work in the house, you know and chores - that was really important growing up. I wrote a series of verses for that song and then sort of transplanted them in this little town in Illinois that’s very similar to the small town where I grew up in Michigan, after we moved out of Detroit. It’s still very self-conscious because it’s a song about how much work we had to do and how much I rebelled against that. But then I realized that as an adult and as a songwriter, that I have somehow, in me, the inclination to overwork myself that my father had. And I’m just applying it differently. So he would spend five hours mopping the floor and I spend five hours on a vocal line in the studio.”
    -Sufjan Stevens
    tamagotchitownon February 03, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General CommentCan anyone decipher the parts with the question marks? Everyone's singing mixes together. Still great song...
    learn2kneelon May 16, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThe song is so amazingly pretty until the electric guitar gets ridiculously ugly, crazy and chaotic and then... beauty again.

    It's like a perfectly sunny day that concludes with a violent evening storm at dusk. And then there is calm again.
    musicforlife!on May 18, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI live in pittsfield haha
    Nick187on May 19, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General Commentthat last line is, "I don't regret having left the place a mess."
    Thief-on May 24, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentAnd as for meaning, this song is exactly my childhood. The resentment of a neglectful temperamental parent and adapting such that you get to a point you aren't afraid to stand up for yourself, where they don't scare you anymore. Of course, being a softie, I also sympathize some with the parent in this song with the "you can work all your life". It scared me how accurate this song was when I first heard it, Mr. Stevens I congratulate you. This is definitely one of my favorites on this album along with The Mistress Witch from McClure lyrics-wise.
    lostpencilon June 01, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General Commentthat's the beauty of sufjan stevens (Molly :)!). His songs mean so much even without lyrics. He is a brilliant composer. Brilliant. But also a brilliant lyricist.

    As far as what the song means to me? I think he's talking about his parents. maybe his mom. maybe no one real in his life. But, it seems hes sung negative things about a mother, or a mother like woman in some of his other songs, so, maybe he's trying to say something like "you abandoned me, and as a child that scared me, but now I can walk on my own two feet. I don't need you; I'm not afraid of you." But the song still has an undertone of sadness... like he's saying that stuff to try to convince himself more than convince her.

    And I agree, lostpencil. it fits all too scarily with my own life.
    karawesomeon June 07, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentFrom a Pitchfork interview:

    "The most personal one is "Pittsfield". That one's based on a lot of memories from my childhood, and I sort of transplanted them into this miserable little town in Illinois. Pittsfield is very similar to some of the small towns we grew up around in Northern Michigan."
    thegreatpaninion June 12, 2006   Link

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