What gives this mess some grace
Unless it's kicks, man
Unless it's fiction
Unless it's sweat or it's songs

What hits against this chest
Unless it's a sick man's hand
From some mid-level band
He's been driving too long

On a dark windless night
With the stereo on
With the towns flying by
And the ground getting soft

And the sound in the sky
Coming down from above
It surrounds you at times
And it's whispering, oh

What pulls your body down
That is quicksand
So we climb out quick, hand over hand
For your mouth's all filled up

What picks you up from down
Unless it's tricks, man
When I been fixed, I am convinced
That I will not get so broke up again

And on a seven day high
That heavenly song
Punches right through my mind
And pumps through my blood

And I know it's a lie
But I still give my love
And my heart's all alive
For your hands to pluck off, oh

What gives this mess some grace
Unless it's fictions
Unless it's licks, man
Unless it's lies or it's love

What breaks this heart the most
Is the ghost of some rock 'n' roll fan
Exploding up from the stands
With her heart opened up

And I wanna tell her, your love isn't lost
Say, my heart is still crossed
Scream, you're so wonderful
What a dream in the dark

About working so hard
About growing so stoned
Trying not to turn up
Trying not to believe in the light on your own
La, la, la, la, oh, oh, oh, oh

Lyrics submitted by smileforthecamera

Unless It's Kicks Lyrics as written by WILL ROBINSON SHEFF

Lyrics © Hipgnosis Songs Group

Lyrics powered by LyricFind

Unless It's Kicks song meanings
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  • +4
    General Comment

    I think tinydancer has been most accurate so far in deciphering the meaning. In an interview of Will Sheff I read recently, he spoke of fandon:

    "I think that in a lot of ways the album is about fandom. Or that's one of the things that it's about. And it's motivated out of fandom. I'm a tremendous fan of pop music, and art, and all of this stuff. I think there's kind of a tragic element to being a fan, where you believe it. You know what I mean? You believe these people are your friends. I've often felt as a child growing up that I was closer to writers that I had never met or that were dead than I was to my friends-- well, I really didn't have that many friends-- but the people that I was hanging out with and seeing everyday. There's something very beautiful about that, but there's also something really pathetic about it. I've been on both sides of it, because I know, also, that sometimes people will come up to me and they'll talk to me and many of the fans are very, very sane.

    But there is a kind of fan that will come up to talk to you and they're crazy and it becomes clear after a little bit [laughs], and you start to realize that they have an idea of you in their head that has nothing to do-- well, it actually has something to do-- with who you are, but it isn't who you are. And all you are is a star in their solar system...symbols and things that are personally significant to them but would be inscrutable to anyone else...Being a groupie is, in some ways, just an extreme form of fandom. I think that everyone has experienced, on some level, the emotion that motivates you to be a groupie. Groupies are also regularly disrespected, but all it is is somebody who loves something so much that they get involved with it sexually. Or maybe it doesn't even have to do with sex. I have felt a sense of fandom for things that I have loved that is so intense that it starts to bleed into spirituality, bleed into sexuality, and bleed into all kinds of areas of your life that love for a simple rock album should not be occupying."

    raconteuron August 21, 2007   Link
  • +3
    General Comment

    Some artists seem to pretend that they don’t care about their fans, whether to give them a certain attitude or an air of authenticity. What Will Sheff addresses here is the fact that the whole give-and-take between a “mid-level band” and their fans is not a concrete economy; it’s an unstable, uneven relationship, but, in truth, neither would exist without the other. And this often goes unrecognized.

    Will Sheff is an absolute nobody to the bank teller and the checkout clerk. He’s just a guy. He’s his parents’ son. He’s just another one of his landlord’s tenants, and he has to pay rent on time. What he does on stage and on a record doesn’t matter to most people in this world, but it means everything to some people, and that’s what he’ll leave behind when he leaves this earth.

    and I know it’s a lie
    but I’ll still give my love
    hey, my heart’s on the line
    for your hands to pluck off

    Sheff understands that art is about making something that resonates with other people, and that’s his legacy. He also understands that these people might be relatively few and scattered, but that only makes it more meaningful. He understands that the people who love his music the most also have plenty of people in their lives who won’t get it.

    what breaks this heart the most is the ghost of some rock and roll fan
    exploding up from the stands
    with her heart opened up
    and I want to tell her, “your love isn’t lost”
    say, “my heart is still crossed”
    scream, “you’re so wonderful”
    what a dream in the dark!
    about working so hard
    about glowing, so stoned
    trying not to turn off
    trying not to believe in that lie all on your own

    And it’s a little depressing (and sort of liberating) to think of it that way - the “lie” that all of this music we love is actually important. It’s just faith that these things have some greater consequence. I love the schism that exists here - the sheer amount of commerce we have around something that isn’t tangibly important, something that doesn’t even place in our “hierarchy of human needs.” I love it because it reminds me of faith, or at least in the way that I believe in God.

    Can I prove empirically the existence of God? Can I make a compelling case as to why music matters so much to me? No. Neither make even a little bit of sense on paper, but I’m trying not to believe in the “lie” all on my own.

    mr.sozeon April 28, 2011   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    could it be "my heart's on the vine"? It makes sense within the context of the verse.

    graskingon August 11, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    By the way it's "hums through my blood"

    LeSerpentMascaraon January 18, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    I can't believe nobody's mentioned this yet... the main reason the words are so catchy is Sheff's consonance.

    I'll capitalize every 's' sound:

    What giveS thiS meSS Some graCe unleSS it'S kickS, man UnleSS it'S fiction UnleSS it'S Sweat or it'S SongS?

    spikdboyon October 03, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    I've only listened to this song once and I'm already fucking in love with it. I want to listen to it over and over and over again. And just dance. It's a dancing song.

    smileforthecameraon June 24, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    Yeah this song is amazing! damn, the whole album is amazing. Thank you for posting all the lyrics, I really appreciate it

    soCtraon June 24, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    holy fucking shit, this song makes me explode with ;lKSDJFlkjsdfj'lsdk/.fjs'kjDL"FKJ". It's been on repeat since I downloaded the new album, which was like.. an hour ago, BUT STILL HOMG THIS SON G IS COMPLETELY FUCKING AMAZINg.

    On a side note: Will Scheff's voice may not be the best, but it puts so much emotion in the song its fucking incredible, no other singer could give Okkervil the intensity of emotion you feel when you listen to them.

    fedorkmeon June 28, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    And on a seven day high That heavenly song Punches right through my mind And pumps through my blood --> That's more logical, but for some reason i hear "and it comes through my blood".

    And, oh, it's a lie --> i think it's "And I know it's a lie" But I still give my love And my heart's all alive(?) --> Not sure about this one either For your hands to pluck off

    Also, I imagine this song would be AMAZING live. i haven't heard the rest of the album yet, but like everyone else said, this is a really great song and I REALLY can't wait to hear the rest of the album!

    jadedgypsyon June 29, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    And my heart's on the line (is what i hear)

    Such a great tune, love it.

    mychaosdreamon August 01, 2007   Link

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