I wish that we could talk about it
But there, that's the problem
With someone new I couldn't start it
Too late, for beginnings
The little things that made me nervous
Are gone, in a moment
I miss the way we used to argue
Locked, in your basement

I wake up and the phone is ringing
Surprised, as it's early
And that should be the perfect warning
That something's a problem
To tell the truth I saw it coming
The way you were breathing
But nothing can prepare you for it
The voice on the other end

The worst is all the lovely weather
I'm stunned, it's not raining
The coffee isn't even bitter
Because, what's the difference?
There's all the work that needs to be done
It's late, for revision
There's all the time and all the planning
And songs, to be finished

And it keeps coming
And it keeps coming
And it keeps coming
Till the day it stops

And it keeps coming
And it keeps coming
And it keeps coming
Till the day it stops

And it keeps coming
And it keeps coming
And it keeps coming
And it keeps coming
And it keeps coming
And it keeps coming
And it keeps coming
Till the day it stops

I wish that we could talk about it
But there, that's the problem
With someone new I could have started
Too late for beginnings
You're smaller than my wife imagined
Surprised, you were human
There shouldn't be this ring of silence
But what are the options?

When someone great is gone
When someone great is gone
When someone great is gone
When someone great is gone

When someone great is gone
When someone great is gone
When someone great is gone
When someone great is gone

We're safe, for the moment
Saved for the moment

Lyrics submitted by someonegreat, edited by janeaparis1

"Someone Great" as written by James Jeremiah Murphy

Lyrics © Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd.

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Someone Great song meanings
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  • +6
    General CommentThis song is about a loved one dying. You argue with loved ones & they drive you crazy, and then they die & you miss even the dumb things like that. You suddenly think of all these things you wish you could have said to him/her.
    It seems in this case, there was an unresolved argument that kept them apart & now that the loved one has died he is regretting never resolving it with that person, but now it's too late to start over with him/her. It's late for "revision".

    The person was ill for a little while, ("To tell the truth I saw it coming, The way, you were breathing.") and that sort of was a warning, but you still can never be ready to lose a loved one. It's always a shock. Also, that kind of news often comes at odd times, like early in the morning when you don't normally get a phone call.

    It's weird to him that weather is nice & that coffee tastes good because when something tragic happens you almost expect everything else to reflect it. Like, how can the world go on like nothing happened when this amazing person has just died? The weather should be grieving also.

    The line about his wife being surprised at how small this person is & that he/she is human is describing how he thought so much of this person & probably talked so highly of him/her (hence the title of the song & line "when someone great is gone.") that people who had never met this person before would expect them to be almost more than human.
    I think it is a really sad & sweet song at the same time. It really hits on some feelings you have when someone you love dies.
    voodoodollyon April 18, 2007   Link
  • +5
    General CommentI actually have a connection to the singer of LCD Soundsystem through a great friend. He happens to be this friends uncle and I decided to ask her what the song was about. Apparently he went to a therapist in New York for around 10. My friend couldn't remember the name, but she says he was noted for creating group therapy. Anyway, the therapist decided to keep his sessions in a basement setting. Hence, "I miss the way we used to argue. Locked, in your basement." Needless to say, the singer developed a strong relation with this man. Unfortunately, the therapist suddenly died of a heart attack. This song is about dealing with his death.

    Hope this helps. I am not making any of this up. I heard it from his niece.
    epiphony11on January 17, 2008   Link
  • +4
    General CommentSorry folks, you don't get an early morning phone call with bad news when it's a miscarriage or abortion. As to the comments about smaller than expected or how do you meet a dead person, have any of you been to an open-casket funeral? Particularly for old folks, sometimes the stories you hear about them without meeting them make them seem larger than life, and when you see them physically it can really be different than the persona you imagined. As to therapist or loved one or old friend/flame, I can't say, but I think it's beautiful that there are so many different interpretations of this great song.
    okonkoloon April 01, 2011   Link
  • +3
    General CommentWhether or not Murphy will answer the question, this song is about losing someone you love. Not to a breakup, as everyone on this site seems to think a potentially sad song is about, but to death. The line, "But nothing can prepare you for it / the voice on the other end." Sounds like someone in the hospital. It's a beautiful tribute to someone.
    therevival44on May 27, 2010   Link
  • +2
    General CommentI definitely think this song is about a death rather than the end of a relationship, the line about the phone ringing early seems to be more fitting with this idea.
    I always interpreted it as the death of someone who he was having an affair with,
    "with someone new I could have started" is refering to how he could have left his wife to be with this person. The lines about arguing with his wife seem to fit in with the idea that he wasn't happily married.
    "You're smaller than my wife imagined
    surprised you were human" for some reason the surprised you were human part always suggests to me the idea of an affair.
    walrusgumboots1on September 29, 2009   Link
  • +2
    General CommentWhen asked at the LCD Soundsystem - "Backlash" Press Conference what the song was about, writer James Murphy would not answer the question. He claimed he promised his wife he would not divulge that information, due to the obvious personal nature of the song.

    and it is not
    "There shouldn't be this ring of silence" but
    "There shouldn't be this radio silence"

    source: wikipedia
    zoksyon May 24, 2010   Link
  • +2
    General CommentI heard that the song has to do with a miscarriage that James Murphy and his wife experienced. Not sure if that's true though and I kinda feel bad posting that b/c it's such a personal matter.
    muddy1981on June 15, 2011   Link
  • +2
    General CommentI think voodoodolly is essentially correct, but let me expand: I think the song is about George Kamen, a pychiatrist practicing in NY, to whom the album is dedicated to and to whom I would speculate the songwriter went to for therapy.

    I think the first stanza describes speaker's funny problem of talking about a death with his therapist when the death is that of the therapist:

    I wish that we could talk about it, But there, that's the problem

    ;and his belief that seeing a new therapist about this would be futile and unsatisfactory compared to the length and quality of his relationship with Mr. Kamen. Clearly, something beautiful has come to an end. I think the songwriter expresses his appreciation of the therapist and the therapeutic process (sometimes antagonistic) by saying,

    The little things that made me nervous,
    are gone, in a moment
    I missed the way we used to argue,
    Locked, in your basement.

    I think voodoodolly is on target with second and third stanzas. I would add that the line

    Your smaller than my wife imagined
    Surprised, you were human

    could also refer to diminutive,perhaps, dwarf-like, stature of the therapist as many, at least in my experience, are quite short. The line about the 'ring of silence' has a double meaning. First, the grief that numbs a person when someone passes away and it also, I believe , refers to the exclusive, private and unique relationship between Mr. Kamen and the speaker where things not uttered to others (including the previously mentioned wife) are shared. By virtue of Mr. Kamen's death this 'ring of silence' is sealed forever and the issues are no longer to be talked about in the previously unique format ("But what, are the options?").

    The chorus "Someone great is gone", of course, refers to the speaker's attachment Mr. Kamen and his professional stature in his field (check his bio).

    The last two lines are interesting:
    We're safe, for the moment
    for the moment

    I like to think it's an acknowledgement of death and perhaps, the healing nature and redemptive nature of therapy where the word 'moment' refers back to the word 'moment' in the first stanza.
    But I could be overnalyzing ....
    jeanfragon June 16, 2012   Link
  • +1
    General CommentHuh.

    I always thought it was about someone dying.
    tjwellson March 19, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentDr. George Kamen - noted psychiatrist who invented group therapy. Bulgarian born, moved to the United States in 1980 to avoid persecution. I don't see it being about him. I think this is clearly about a past love.

    "I wish that we could talk about it, But there, that's the problem. With someone new I couldn't start it, Too late, for beginnings."
    - Their relationship has communication issues. He doesn't want to leave her, it's "too late for beginnings" and wants to just work it out with her.
    He knows they have had their differences, so he has seen it coming when she does call him early in the morning to break up with him. I think he is expressing how ok he is with the ending when he makes the comments about the weather and the coffee "because what's the difference". He knows they have been on life support for quite some time and isn't shocked or too upset, it's an amicable breakup. Now he has to get on with his life "There's all the work that needs to be done". This is the love of his life but sometimes love isn't enough.
    He just had this huge earthquake in his private life but life "keeps coming til the day it stops" and he must carry on. He later meets another girl and gets married and has told his wife of his previous love and talked her up quite a bit and that is why the wife sees her as someone more than human. Simple a myth to her.
    The "ring of silence" is the awkwardness when he introduces his wife to the love of his life. What do you say in that situation?
    TheSoundOfCarpeton July 03, 2007   Link

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