I saw somebody who
Reminded me of you
Before you got afraid
I wish that you could've stayed that way

I saw a little girl
I stopped and smiled at her
She screamed and ran away
It happens to me more and more these days

And these songs that you sing
Do they mean anything
To the people you're singing them to
People like you

I saw a photograph
A woman in a bath
Of hundred dollar bills
If the cold doesn't kill her, money will

I read a magazine
That said by seventeen
Your life was at an end
I'm dead and I'm perfectly content

[Chorus: x2]

Lyrics submitted by bliznak

"The Songs That We Sing" as written by Jean Benoit Dunckel Jarvis Branson Cocker

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group, Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, RESERVOIR MEDIA MANAGEMENT INC, Warner Chappell Music, Inc.

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The Songs That We Sing song meanings
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  • 0
    General Commenti love this song and charlotte gainsbourg so much.

    as for a meaning, well, i'm not too sure. a few little anecdotes put together to question whether anything is really worth what it takes to actually do it.
    whether it's worth smiling.
    whether it's worth having all the money in the world.
    whether it's worth singing, if nobody's listening.
    and i think by the end and other lines like "..i'm dead and i'm perfectly content" show that really, she's just fine with it.

    regardless, i'm not good with song meanings. i do know that, to answer charlotte's question, this song does mean a lot to me. i just wish it was a lot longer.
    gman21on April 12, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI think the person percieve the world through a filter.
    Some sad things happens to her, but she maybe doesn't even notice the facts. I think she just had traumatic events in her life. She maybe tries to save herself talking to herself "that is life" repeatedly.
    Pozzion May 05, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI love this song which was at least co-written by Jarvis Cocker.

    The first verse makes me think that the song was written for a friend who lost the fearlessness she had when she had when she was young. Maybe that's the woman in the bath who is wealthy but has little real warmth in her life.

    It's hard to tell if the line about being dead and being perfectly content actually refers to the singer or to the person in the magazine whose life was supposedly over at 17.
    befuddledon November 25, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI'm not completely sure on the meaning, but I agree with Pozzi. I think she's had some bad some bad experiences and she's just saying, "Oh, well. Life goes on." She has an optimistic view of the world.

    "I saw somebody who reminded me of you before you got afraid; I wish that you could've stayed that way."
    She maybe saw a person who reminded her of a friend - they had some fearless, daredevil quality that her friend seemed to have lost (after possibly a tragic occurrence).

    "I saw a little girl, I stopped and smiled at her; she screamed and ran away; it happens to me more and more these days."
    I'm not too sure what that's about. Maybe when she stops to be polite and smile at a child, they are scared of her? I'm not sure, but that's the image I get.

    "I saw a photograph: a woman in a bath of hundred dollar bills; if the cold doesn't kill her, money will."
    I think the "cold" she's referring to is the stereotypical snobbish cold attitude wealthy people are depict of having. If her stuck-up personality doesn't kill her, the money eventually will (because money is the root of all evil).

    My favorite line,
    "I read a magazine that said by seventeen your life was at an end; I'm dead and I'm perfectly content."
    I think she's referring to her own age. She's over the age of seventeen, so she's "dead" (according to the magazine) but she's content with her life being "at an end".

    And the chorus, she's wondering if the music she (as well as others) makes means anything to their audience. The last line, "Tonight they do" can be her being optimistic.
    At the same time, I see it as a foreshadowing. Like, usually the songs won't mean much to anyone, but "tonight" someone will have something terrible happen and they will take comfort in her music.

    That's just my take on it. Beautiful song that stays stuck in your head.
    dahliablackon May 01, 2010   Link
  • 0
    My InterpretationI recognize so much in this song that I find it difficult to see other possible interpretations. Going through my mid life crisis I notice that people change, so does their attitude to me, and I change too. A person that once loved me doesn't love me anymore. She is now scared of me. And when I smile to a young person she will be wondering what I want from her.
    What is important in life? Bathing in money certainly isn't.
    What is important is that what we do, means something to others. In this case a song, but it could be anything.
    And if we have worked that out, it doesn't matter if we are getting beyond a certain age.
    davidmoon March 07, 2013   Link
  • 0
    General CommentAll beautifully valid interpretations. One more layer I thought I would add is that the style of the strings riff is reminiscent of her late father's song "Bonnie & Clyde", so perhaps her chorus is also a kind of tribute to her father's fantastic musical legacy, albeit not well known in the Anglo-speaking world. However, the song itself is indirectly famous as it has been used in electronic music. She is very clever and very talented. She is a superstar actress in France with many awards in her name. Her life story is fascinating and it shows in her creativity. I love her!
    roniPringleson June 12, 2019   Link

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