I quit the carnival
It moved next door
I thought I'd had enough
But I want more
So now I'm sneaking out at night
I paint my face and shine my shoes
And go where I'm not supposed to

Cause I tamed a lion once
I stole his roar
I stripped his pride away
But he found more
So now he's back to take what's his
And shove my future in my face
And scare me back in my place
So soon, so soon
You've got it beat
'Til it eats you

I left my flaming sword
Beside your bed
I woke to find it pressed
Against my neck
You wept "Suggestion never works
So now I'm trying something else"
I shut my eyes, hold on, oh well

I felt a feather fall
A tree trunk split
Inside my lion laughed
Played violin
He said you should give up your voice
Before we both end up destroyed
I quit alright, he purred, "Good boy"

"Cause you'll believe anything"
And we went and copped
"And you'll fall for anyone"
And I said, "That's not exactly true"
Only you
I'll do what you do"

You wake in the hospital
In a thrift store suit
You hear your lover's voice
From the waiting room
You shut your eyes and pray for peace
Think, I'm not here, this isn't me
This isn't something I would do
I know the complicated truth
A make up mask, a lion's roar
A big top tent, a fire sword
But they're not real, they never were
And soon she won't be real either
This is the life you went and earned
Because you never fucking learn
And you could waste all of your years
Fixing the mess you're making here
So as her nervous breath draws close
Her dress heels click off their approach
You clutch your chest and whisper
"Oh no, what will I do?
What will I do?
My love, my love, oh, what will I do?" (Wake up)


Uh-oh-oho, oho-ohoh-oho
Uh-oh-oho, oho-ohoh-oho
Oh, no, no, no
No, no, no, no

Lyrics submitted by godphauther, edited by cybenddragon, krissy242

Carnival Lyrics as written by Kevin Devine


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Carnival song meanings
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  • +2
    General Comment

    I agree, I think it's about drugs, he's girlfriend is trying to get him to quit and maybe he has been clean for a while but he slips and goes back to the "carnival", I think the lion again represents drugs, saying he tamed it once but now he's loosing control of it, the flaming sword is a needle perhaps and he's lover catches him using it, soon he finds himself in a hospital bed perhaps with regret for what he did and tryings to think of how he's going to explain what he did.

    Cyberghoston June 05, 2009   Link
  • +2
    General Comment

    "Carnival is a nightmare song. It's a song about buckling under the weight of your bad choices, bad behavior, about loss of control and lost love. It's a conscience song about strain and about waking up from a kind of fever dream... to an even more frightening and absurd but actual set of circumstances." -KD

    AllChokedUpon August 13, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    My favorite new demo. No idea yet what it means to me, but the sound of this song is amazing. It's so dark and creepy...I imagine a really cool video of a dark creepy carnival with all this crazy shit. I mean, if Kevin made videos.

    rocksolidgurlon August 30, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    at least in the version i have, the 2008 demo, it says "i paint my face, i shine my shoes" "i shut my eyes, ho hum, oh well" "inside my lion laugh played violin" "only you, i do what you do"

    yeah, really only minor differences. absolutely amazing song though.

    jordynsaysrawron May 10, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    i totally agree. i can't stop listening to it. haunting.

    modest_ericon September 07, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    has everyone else heard the latest version of this song?


    deuxiemechanceon September 07, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    You mean the live version?

    Pi314on December 15, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    "...the hypnotic and ominous "Carnival" sets the tone its with spacious, swirling flares of psychedelia, its dynamic exploration of tension and release playing against a nightmarish hallucination about lost willpower and the fear of finally waking up to a real life that's even crazier than your dreams"

    Off the Favorite Gentlemen website

    awfulGoodnesson February 19, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    which version is this? The album version is a bit different.

    Antonskeyon March 01, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    on the album version, does anyone else hear the death cab - y sound to it? not so much the lyrics, but everything else..

    HomerunHenryon March 11, 2009   Link

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