A friend of mine grows his very own brambles
They twist all around him 'til he can't move
Beautiful, quivering, chivalrous shambles
What is my friend trying to prove?

The booze turns a tall gentle boy to a terrible totem
And the kids gather 'round trying to see what's inside
I think when he's drinking he's drowning some riot
What is my friend trying to hide?

Cause it's breaking my heart, it's breaking my heart
And it's breaking my heart to pull on the reigns
Brother of mine, don't run with those fuckers
When will my friend start singing again?
When will my friend start singing again?

Lyrics submitted by toadtws, edited by BuffaloGhost, aterribletotem

"Some Riot" as written by Guy Edward John Garvey Craig Lee Potter

Lyrics © Warner Chappell Music, Inc.

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Some Riot song meanings
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  • +2
    General CommentI cannot believe that you can misinterpret this song. Admittedly the lyrics here are wrong - it is not "bruise" but "booze" - this , along with references to "drinking" and "pour like the rain" (another misquote above) all very clearly indicate that this is specifically about somebody drinking themselves into oblivion. It really is that specific - very painful and very beautiful.
    jezfishon August 27, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThis song is about seeing someone you love and care for totally changing character and becoming their own worse enemy by hanging around with the wrong crowd.

    "The bruise" could be drugs, alcohol (the most likely) or simply the emotional scarring this person has as a result of his upbringing or some event in it, and background. Whatever it is, it's turned a previously good, gentle boy into an aggressive, unpleasant individual (a terrible totem).

    This person clearly drinks too much, and has become this character in an attempt to escape whatever trauma it is that has turned him;

    "What is my friend trying to hide?"

    In the end Guy wants his friend to go back to being his mate who sang along with him and implores his friend to stop mixing with these low-lives, the brambles, and not "run with those fuckers".

    There's another meaning to the end of this song, I suspect the lines;

    "When will my friend start singing again?"

    ....are aimed slightly at the band's departed best friend, Bryan Glancy. The Seldom Seen Kid.
    niteflite01on March 16, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General CommentWhat an mind-blowingly, earth-shatteringly, brilliant, brilliant song
    MorrisseyGotHardon July 30, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI lost 6 of the best friends anyone could wish for through excessive drinking. I turned into that 'terrible totem' too many times. It's easy to feel sorry for oneself, but not often easy to see it from a friends perspective. The friends who's hearts break as they watch yet another booze induced transformation of character. Spare a thought for your best friend who 'pulls at the reigns' repeatedly. Although i never felt all that beautiful, i have often since felt like a quivering, chivalrous shambles of a man. This is such a tragically beautiful song. To Guy Garvey, i applaud you. To my friends, I am sorry.
    Listenproperlyon March 16, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General Commentthe "Beautiful quivering chivalrous shambles" line sounds so, so beautiful. Garvey knows the beauty and brilliance of his friend, but the alcohol is turning him into a quivering shambles - a shadow of the man he used to be. Says so, so much in just a few words that sounds so effortless.
    prettyvisitoron September 18, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThis is about a person who is socially isolated.
    He drinks, of course. Most people in that situation do.

    My neighbour Patrick was this person. People here thought he was a shambling, old drunken Irishman but I knew better... oh I did know a lot better. I tore down the brambles! and wow I uncovered a real person... genuine, funny, loving... honest and loyal.
    I loved him as a friend & neighbour... there was nothing he wouldn't have done for me.

    He said, that when he met me, he started living again.

    I knew him for 18 months and his life changed. He started to be a real person again, only because I took the time & trouble to befriend him.

    Patrick died about 6 weeks ago through no fault of his own. He went next door to complain about the noise of a party and a young bloke hit him. We still don't know if he died from the injury or if he had a heart attack.
    This is his song.

    6 days before he died he took on a rescued dog, his new best friend that he had planned for over a year.... and he started singing again. I still can't believe how happy he was and yet someone else took his life at that moment when the brambles were finally gone.

    It's all yours, Pat.

    MsTemeraireon December 07, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis is about the band's friend, Brian Glancy, who died while they were working on the album.

    I think this is about Glancy being dead, but there are multiple meanings to anything.

    A bramble is a shrub, so I thought of it as Glancy being buried and shrubs growing around.
    wilsoncseanon April 26, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General Commentfriends are friends for ever :(
    Falconeton July 03, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General Comment"A friend of mine grows his very own brambles
    They twist all around him 'til he can't move"

    are opening lines of pure poetic brilliance. His friend doesn't just walk into the brambles, he grows them himself, gets himself into trouble. Eventually they twist around him and stop his movement entirely. And I guess the narrator just wishes he could cut them (though that obviously isn't a line).

    "Beautiful, quivering, chivelrous shambels"

    is simply a great description of the shambling movements of someone who is drunk, of course.

    "What is my friend trying to prove"

    seems something of an odd line to me, because I doubt alchoholics are trying to prove annoying, the narrator is questioning why the hell his friend is doing this.

    "The booze turns a tall, gentle boy to a terrible totem"

    of course means that the narrator's friend becomes a dark totem, a looming and ugly object that is a horrible transformation from the original "tall, gentle boy".

    "And the kids gather round trying to see what's inside"

    probably means that the narrator's friend has become low, so obsessed with alchohol that children are now making fun of him as he shambels around, completely drunk and a wreck of his former self.

    "What is my friend trying to hide?"

    I guess is once again asking why he is drinking, what it is that he is hiding from the narrator that has made him into this alchoholic.

    "Cause it's breaking my heart, it's breaking my heart"

    is a quite obvious lyric, and that bit always tugs at my heart-strings, for it's so simple and yet so powerful. Guy's voice compliments it brilliantly.

    "And it's breaking my heart to pull on the reigns"

    is the correct version, according to the album, and it seems to mean that the narrator is trying to pull on the reigns to command his friend, but it's incredibly hard, not working, and simply breaking his heart even more.

    "Brother of mine, don't run with those fuckers"

    is the narrator telling his friend that he can do better, that he doesn't have to go around with these "fuckers" and get drunk, he can be perfectly happy without alchohol, as he once was.

    "When will my friend start singing again?"

    is a reference to Bryan Glancy, who was a singer, and died in 2006, but in the context of the song it may just mean when his friend will finally be a happy man and not a slave to alchohol.

    I love this song, and it is one of my favourite Elbow have ever written. Continue being BLOODY AWESOME, even if you never get fame your fans still love you.
    mariosuperlativeon April 13, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI wonder if when he refers constantly to his "friend" he is actually referring to himself. Kind of like an admission to somebody about your own problems or negative thoughts, but don't want to make it too personal.
    zerobobon August 21, 2009   Link

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