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Far From Any Road Lyrics

From the dusty mesa
Her looming shadow grows
Hidden in the branches of the poison creosote
She twines her spines up slowly
Towards the boiling sun
And when I touched her skin
My fingers ran with blood

In the hushing dusk under a swollen silver moon
I came walking with the wind to watch the cactus bloom
And strange hands halted me, the looming shadows danced
I fell down to the thorny brush and felt the trembling hands

When the last light warms the rocks
And the rattlesnakes unfold
Mountain cats will come to drag away your bones

And rise with me forever
Across the silent sand
And the stars will be your eyes
And the wind will be my hands
Song Info
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Submitted on
Apr 25, 2008
19 Meanings
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Generally, the song tells about protagonist's fascination with Selenicereus Grandiflorus and his intention to watch it bloom, which is a unique occurrence by itself. Namely this species of cactus blooms only on a single night once every 2-3 years, and it(the bloom) withers within hours. There are also legends about people losing their minds while witnessing this rare event. Rennie stated this at a live performance of the song at Castle Douglas.

The symbolic meaning of the act and the cactus itself apparently reflect protagonist's affection towards the esoteric, the unfeasible and the beauty of strangeness embodied in the cactus.The cactus may also represent a person with such characteristics who the author loves or feels for, which is implied by the use of the words "her skin" and his being tempted to touch it. It is located in a most foreboding place, a sweltering desert filled with dangerous animals and poisonous plants, and the cactus itself is spiny and allegedly induces insanity with its blooming, but nevertheless he/she is determined.

In the second stanza the night has fallen and the lyrics become more ambiguous and foreboding. There is a commotion of ominous shadows (which can be interpreted either as the onset of the overwhelming madness or as actual unearthly phenomenon) and also a reference to strange hands halting the character (from witnessing the blooming in entirety perhaps?), but still he/she collapses and feels his/her hands trembling from the trauma. The protagonist(s) may even have died, as the following lines describe the natural course of things in the desert: predators will come at night to feed on his/her corpse and tear it asunder.

The final lines suggest the only tragic possibility of bonding with such a horrific and astounding thing:

eventual union in a different, unknown mode of existence, when his/her body has dissolved into particles and literally become a part of the desert which the cactus belongs to, a part of the still life, then his/her life essence will be able to relate to the morose beauty and ethereal being of the otherworldly cactus in an incomprehensible way(seeing each other with "stars" and touching each other with "wind").

Although Brett and Rennie take turns singing, I think they both represent the voice and mindset of the same character, or at least two characters with identical destinies.

Song Meaning

the cacti species referred to in the song is not Selenicereus Grandiflorus as stated above, as this species is not native to the US. Rather it is most likely Peniocereus Greggii which is native to Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas. It blooms once every summer for one night from sunset till early morning, hence its colloquial name - Queen of the night. It produces a white flower with a scent reminiscent of vanilla. Where there are a number of plants, they all blossom at the same time, which is indeed an amazing spectacle.

@svarog989 Regarding Selenicereus Grandiflorus.

According to Rennie as quoted here, washingtonpost.com/blogs/style-blog/wp/2014/03/05/a-conversation-with-the-handsome-family-the-band-behind-the-true-detective-theme-song-far-from-any-road/, it is Jimson weed, Datura stramonium. Not even a cactus as widely and quite reasonably presumed.

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This is a love story, albeit a dark and tragic one.

The first verse, sung by Brett, describes a man who goes into the desert in the heat of the day to find the elusive cactus, Queen of the Night. He finds it, among a poisonous creosote plant, and collapses there, eventually to die.

The second verse, sung by Rennie, depicts a woman who sets out on the same quest at dusk. She finds the same cactus and when she "falls down in the thorny brush" she feels the man's trembling hand.

The 2 characters die there and their bones are dragged away by desert scavengers. They are forever joined by their common fate. The tragedy is that if they'd found each other sooner, perhaps they could have found what they were seeking in each other and not in this dangerous quest.

Thanks to everyone who answered before me. You helped me play detective and find my true meaning for this amazing song!

My Interpretation

Was just reading an interview with Brett & Rennie on Washingtonpost.com and she mentions that the blooming cactus is a Jimson weed. It's used as an analgesic, but is also a strong hallucinogenic.

Great interpretation! Also, I see what you did there.

I think your interpretation is mostly correct, but the female voice must be a spirit being akin to Mother Nature because:

1) She came "...walking with the wind", which indicates a spirit being. 2) She states "Mountain cats will come to drag away YOUR bones", not hers. 3) She says "...the stars will be your eyes", indicating the man's spirit will be of the heavens, while "...the wind will be my hands", indicating she will stay earth bound.

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The song blended well the the show true detective

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First line:

"From the dusty mesa"

You are correct - I fixed it. :)

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Yes, the correct lyrics are "A strange hunger haunted me" and "I felt a trembling hand" Svarog989 and Skyzophrenyk are onto it. The first verse describes the setting-"a dusty mesa." It's a cactus, it grows slowly-"her looming shadow grows". The seed that it grew from took root under a creosote plant- a nasty, poisonous desert pant whose oil was, and still may be , used to preserve wood for outdoor use such as railroad ties. If you have ever burned wood soaked in creosote by accident in a camp fire you know how bad this is. But, it protects the young plant and up it grows.

Then, when he touches it, he bleeds. Duh, it's a cactus. But it's also a 'she'-something more, a spirit within perhaps?

Next verse the first two lines are straight forward but the third is key- "a strange hunger haunted me" that is the urge to watch it bloom, even though it will lead to madness and death out in the desert. The viewer falls to the ground and feels a hand-the spirit embodied in the cactus?

Next verse has my favorite line. He's singing about sunset-but he gets there in such an clever and spooky way. If you have grown up in the desert, at some point you were told to never stick your hand under an overhanging rock during the day. Rattlesnakes, which can't autoregulate their body heat, coil up and hide under rocks out of the sun during the day. But as the sun sets, they unfold and come out to hunt, and at night they lie on the rocks and stay warm from the heat the rocks retain-there can be a 50-60 degree swing in temp, and they have figured out how to handle it. But what a great line to describe the sunset, and make it ominous. Then of course, another nocturnal creature-the mountain lion (cat, cougar, puma-all the same critter) comes and drags off the body of the viewer. And finally her soul is taken up and joins with ....the spirits of other victims, the cactus, whatever. Such a great, concise, evocative bit of songwriting!

In the first verse a man goes into the desert when the sun is boiling hot. He is drawn there by the spiney cactus clinging to a poison tree. When he touches the cactus it cuts him and he bleeds. In the second verse we learn he falls to the ground, perhaps poisoned by the cactus. In the second verse a woman goes into the desert when the moon is full. She is drawn there by a strange hunger. She is overcome and falls down into thorny brush where she feels the trembling hand of the man who came...

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II think the meaning is a bit simpler: it's just about traveling to the desert to watch the Selenicereus Grandiflorus bloom, becoming completely transfixed by it, dying there as a result and being left behind as a ghost to forever haunt the place.

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it Is A Beautiful Haunting song

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As someone mentioned earlier, 'tis a subjective perspective. My guy, last night watched season one of True Detective (again!) and as I worked from my computer, I heard this beautiful , haunting song, opening each episode. I searched on YouTube and listened to a version with the lyrics. It struck a chord in a personal way. I came to this page wondering about the meaning of the song. All posts were interesting but my interpretation is sad, personal one.

Shortly after the new year, 2012, I was contacted via Facebook by a detective (bit of irony) asking me if I was related to William *** and if so, asked me to contact him. My heart sank with dread. I knew my brother was gone. They discovered his skeletal remains scattered in a field in Florida, where he lived for about a dozen years. Before this, I had not heard from him in a while but this was not unusual, although he was my best friend growing up.

We are both addicts. I have been clean and sober for fifteen years but unfortunately Billy's addiction progressed. Until a year or so before his death, Billy was a functioning addict, meaning he went to work each day, rarely taking time off.

But some drugs, imitate beauty (euphoria) can cause madness and death. Especially crack cocaine. I speak from experience. There is a phrase amongst crack addicts, "chasing the dragon." This means you want the euphoria of the very first hit. But as the addiction progresses, you become horribly paranoid and I ended each binge in a fetal position with a death wish. But withdrawal is minimal and the next day you search for more and the cycle continues.

From the dusty mesa Her looming shadow grows Hidden in the branches Of the poison creosote

She twines her spines up slowly Towards the boiling sun And when I touched her skin My fingers ran with blood

These two verses define drugs in a near perfect way and the active addict will satisfy their cravings, knowingly or ignorant of the risks but the after effects are horrid, in either a physical way (fatigue) or mentally, (deep depression) usually both.

To partially quote swarog989, "...and it(the bloom) withers within hours." My translation of this is the crack (euphoria) is the bloom and as your addiction progresses, the high withers from hours, when you first use, to minutes as your addiction advances and your chemically induced nirvana wilts away hence, you continue to frantically pursue the cerebral allure turning to an unforgiving, toxic beast.

The desert does not represent the field where Billy died. No, 'tis a wasteland, a desolate place with dangers lurking. An addict will go to any lengths to obtain their next fix. Ghettos in the early morning hours where the dealers swarm around your car. Wicked places with wicked people.

A strange hunger haunted me The looming shadows danced I fell down to the thorny brush And felt a trembling hand.

This is addiction. The trembling hand is the wish to come clean, to escape the shadows of addiction or the horror when your realise no more is available that night.

When the last light warms the rocks And the rattlesnakes unfold Mountain cats will come To drag away your bones

This is the sorry end of life of an active addict. Yes, 'tis ironic that my brother's bones were scattered from the natures predators.

Then rise with me forever Across the silent sands And the stars will be your eyes And the wind will be my hands

The first line I like to think as my brother and I, in different ways, rose from addiction hell, forever.

Across the silent sands symbolise the journey from addiction to recovery.

And, yes, his eyes are in the stars..the only visible part heaven is the sky and my hands are the wind, an unseen force, like thoughts, which is the only way I can touch him from the earthy plane to his realm.

They ruled out homicide after a forensic anthropologist examined his remains. I do not believe Billy took his own life. Perhaps he unintentionally overdosed..he was also on opiates and alcohol. My hope is he fell asleep into peaceful death. His date of death is the day they discovered him in the field. 29 December 2011. I will never know the true date when he crossed over.

Now this is my personal interpretation but most importantly how does the song relate to the show, specifically the characters and their lives, past and present?

My analysis of the song's meaning makes it special to me. Thanks for reading.

Song Meaning
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WOW - some academic approaches below :)

Why do people read so much into songs? I guess that's what makes them great songs.

It's simple for me, the man sings about how he finds the love of a woman, to be not just nice, but also a little scary and downright bloody scary!

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I have a different interpretation based on ethnobotanical knowledge. I do not assume that I'm right, probably I am not, but there are some few things that points me in some psychedelic / entheogenic direction.

Oh, I almost forget to say that I'm not native at English, but I'll do my best. :)

"Creosote" is a plant, exactly "Larrea tridentata, which is known for a symbiosis (supply, nursemaid...) with Lophophora williamsii, also known as "Peyote". Peyote contains Mescaline, a psychedelic alkaloid from the family of phenethylamines. Peyote grows slow and his flowering is also slow. It takes more than 10 years to get ripe and at this time the cacti usually starts to flowering. That's the point when the alkaloids are in a huge concentration and can be eaten. In fact, Huicholes (native americans who used peyote from thousands years ago) go in a pilgrimage through the desert to collect it. <<To watch the cactus bloom>>

The effects of mescaline change the normal status of mind, altering perception and realizing that everything is language in such a form, from empathy to fear, from visuals to nightmares, you also can feel how you become part of the everything. There's no sensation of time, so the idea of "forever" become stronger when you're part of these "everything" which also explain, the stars becoming his eyes and the wind his hands. All that poetry is a way to describe the "other world", not the world of the deads, but the "totally other".

There's also something like a metronome that sounds all along the song. This maybe can a "wink" to a the Icaros, songs and rhythms created to perform and guide the one who's under the influence of the substance.

There's only one thing that does not match with the explained above, and that is that Peyote does not have spines. Well, that's not true at all. Peyote have spines, but only the first months of life. He can't make someone blood, or something like this, but there's also other cacti, "San Pedro " (Echinopsis pachanoi) who also contains mescaline and flower by night, this one have huge spines and thorns

Maybe the "Selenicereus grandiflorus" explanation is a correct / political way to refer to these sacred plants, like a metaphore.

Psychodelic drugs can make feel "like you're mad", but you can't go mad by just seeing a thing, you must also eat it...

My Interpretation
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