Counting all different ideas drifting away
Past and present, they don't matter
Now the future's sorted out
Watch her moving in elliptical pattern
Think it's not what you say
What you say is way too complicated
For a minute, thought I couldn't tell how to fall out

It's twenty seconds 'til the last call, going, "Hey, hey, hey, hey, hey, hey"
Lie down, you know it's easy like we did it all summer long
And I'll be anything you ask and more, going "Hey, hey, hey, hey, hey, hey"
It's not a miracle we needed, and no I wouldn't let you think so
Fold it, fold it, fold it, fold it
Fold it, fold it, fold it, fold it

Girlfriend, oh, your girlfriend's drifting away
Past and present, 1855-1901
Watch them build up a material tower
Think it's not gonna stay anyway
Think it's overrated
For a minute, thought I couldn't tell how to fall out

It's twenty seconds 'til the last call, going, "Hey, hey, hey, hey, hey, hey"
Lie down, you know it's easy like we did it all summer long
And I'll be anything you ask and more, going "Hey, hey, hey, hey, hey, hey"
It's not a miracle we needed, and no I wouldn't let you think so
Fold it, fold it, fold it, fold it
Fold it, fold it, fold it, fold it
Fold it, fold it, fold it, fold it
Fold it, fold it, fold it, fold it

Lyrics submitted by benk0202, edited by salazar21angel

1901 Lyrics as written by Frederic Moulin Christian Mazzalai

Lyrics © Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd.

Lyrics powered by LyricFind

1901 song meanings
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  • +18
    Song MeaningPhoenix says its a fantasy of Paris at end of the 19th century, but the lyrics don't lend themselves to a strictly historical interpretation. At the same time, it's hard to justify that this song is simply about a relationship a girl. I take Phoenix's comment as a hint. The intended meaning somehow merges the two themes, so here's my attempt at a synthesis.


    Take an image of a couple in confrontation about their relationship. The song is portrayed from the man's perspective, and he his thoughts are detached from the moment and drifting away as she's speaking. She's talking about things that have happened between them in the past and what they have to do now to fix it. He doesn't care and is not even following her logic, because to him it all doesn't matter -- the future's been sorted out. He knows the relationship is not going to work out and has no illusions over it.

    She grabs his attention, "Hey, hey, hey, hey, hey, hey." This is urgent for her -- she's on the verge of breaking up. He's still not taking it seriously. To him her troubles are trivial. He's thinking that they should just fall back to bed, have sex, and enjoy themselves like they have before. He knows the relationship won't last and won't even bother give her the impression that it will. He's going to fold this one and move on.

    In between her protests, his thoughts drift away again. He's relating his situation to that of Paris in the late 19th century. Paris was bustling and great then when they built the Eiffel Tower, which they thought was an eyesore that would eventually go away -- but it didn't. Now Paris is stuck in the past while the world is moving on. In the same way, his relationship with his girlfriend was great in the past, but he knows better now. Rather than investing to build an Eiffel tower of their relationship and glorify their past, he's going avoid the fate of Paris and move on.


    This is a historical metaphor for a decision about not investing in a present relationship! Wow Phoenix! Cool.
    Frznfyeron December 31, 2010   Link
  • +4
    General CommentI found a website that explains a lot of the historical references in Phoenix songs. I took the part about 1901 and pasted it here, I found it very interesting. Here is a link to the website though:,29021/

    Song: “1901”

Sample lyrics: “Girlfriend, oh your girlfriend is drifting away / past and present, 1855-1901 / watch them build up a meteor tower / think it's not gonna stay anyway / think it's overrated.”

    A reference to: A time period in French history that included the famous Exposition Universelle of 1900 and the Art Nouveau movement. The “tower” most likely refers to the Eiffel Tower, completed as an entrance to 1889's Exposition Universelle and loathed at the time by many Parisians.

    Historical lesson: Memorable World's Fairs demand timeless symbols. The Eiffel Tower was one of many iconic structures built for a World's Fair, like the Crystal Palace in London, the Unisphere in New York, and the Space Needle in Seattle. This means we can expect Knoxville’s Sunsphere from the 1982 World’s Fair to become a global monument and the undisputed symbol of America any year now, right?

    Song’s actually about: A nostalgic look at Paris at the turn of the 20th century, when Jules Verne’s sci-fi tales were regarded as the approaching future. Lead singer Thomas Mars calls the Exposition Universelle of 1900 the "most futuristic moment" for Paris, so when the fair is over, all of Paris is stuck “counting all different ideas drifting away.” In the spirit of Verne, somebody should’ve built an idea-catching machine.
    lifted to the skyon September 08, 2009   Link
  • +4
    General CommentI just bought their CD last night and the lyrics are in the booklet. They are listed as "Fold it" and not "Fallinn'". And
    Shanderson24on October 23, 2009   Link
  • +4
    General CommentTo piggyback off the comment made by Frznfyer, the song does seem to merges Parisian history with that of a current, dwindling relationship: both are complicated. Both are weak, decadent.

    The ambition, or some may argue gall, of the Eiffel Tower, reaching high toward the heavens, was a symbol of not just human reason and technical expertise, but of "unlimited" and "unchecked" human abilities (per the Age of Enlightenment). In short, it is hubris. This mindset is not all unlike the Tower of Babel in the biblical account. When this ambition or hubris takes place, past and present becomes meaningless and the future is all that matters; building ourselves a determined, cozy fate is all that matters. History wishes to control and guarantee future outcomes... Sound familiar???

    Likewise, his girlfriend wishes understand all the complex parts of a relationship and build an edifice of it, so to guarantee it stands in the future. But, really, continued diligence and maintenance is the key to any relationship, as it is a dynamic thing in nature. You can't hold and see and feel "love." The narrator gets this. "It's not a miracle we needed." He tries to remind her of the simpler things, like making love and laying down to have sex --- literally, being horizontal with the earth rather than trying to transcend the heavens in vertical fashion, you might say.

    -- But what really struck me about this song is the honesty of the narrator in the first stanza, where he almost falls for this elaborate blueprint of his girlfriend: "For a minute thought I couldn't tell how to fall out." I know in past relationships, I was willing to believe anything my gf said because you want to be one with your significant other --- hell, I even began to believe in the claims she made that I was cheating on her (when I wasn't in reality).

    Being in a relationship is by definition a sort of weakness because we suddenly need to give up our sheer independence and become co-dependent with the other. In other words, we need to build something but it need not be so big and complex. Like an arch. If you have a cornerstone to hold it together, like "joy" or "love" or whatever, then it can be stronger than isolated, individual blocks. It also needs to have a function.

    The trick, I guess, is building something strong enough to weather all the storms that WILL ensue.. Tricky formula that is. But in the end, returning to the earth, laying flat with another is a good way to start..
    TheWhereon March 18, 2012   Link
  • +2
    General CommentCan we just pretend it's falling, falling, falling, falling?

    Fold It sounds dumb.
    jackmcgrewon July 25, 2009   Link
  • +2
    General CommentWhen singing, accents rarely come into play. This controversy over fold it versus fallin' has only been magnified by the fact that whoever is maintaining Phoenix's and social media sites has erroneously reported that the lyric is fold it. You REALLY have to stretch to HEAR fold it, let along make sense of the lyric. The line is fallin' fallin' fall in. Considering the way the words are formed throughout the rest of the song, you don't hear him sing "counting ol' different ideas". Clearly we hear him sing "counting ALL different ideas". And "what you say is way too complicated", you can hear the hard endings of what and plicated, so clearly the singer can annunciate properly. He's not singing whoa you say it way to complicatah". LOL. It's fallin'. "For a minute thought I couldn't tell how to fall out" ... now, if he was singing "fold out..."
    TheJoboon September 21, 2009   Link
  • +2
    My InterpretationI think the song is about a guy and a girl who are on the rocks.
    "counting all different ideas drifting away." - they are trying to figure out what to do.
    "past and present don't matter now the future's sorted out" - they have come to a conclusion finally
    "watch her moving in elliptical patterns think its not what you say what you say is way too complicated" - she's talking in circles because she isn't sure. He thinks its not what she says because what she says isn't making sense its what she feels
    "for a minute thought i couldn't tell how to fall out" - for a bit he didn't think he would remember how to live without her.
    "its twenty seconds til the last call" - he's fed up he wants an answer. he's done playing games
    "you're going hey hey hey hey hey hey" - she's asking him to wait and not leave
    "lie down you know its easy" - give up its easier
    "like we did it over summer long" - maybe their relationship was kinding fading
    "fold it fold it fold it fold it" - give up throw your cards its done.
    "girlfriend, oh your girlfriend is drifitng away" - she's leaving
    "past and present 1855-1901" - the time it took to build the Eiffel tower
    "Watch them build up a material tower" - it has no meaning except to impress (as material items do)
    "think its not gonna stay anyway think its overrated" - they think the tower was just to show off for the world fair and that its just an overrated eye sore possibly like his failed relationship

    well anyway thats what i got from the lyrics hope this helped anyone who wasn't sure
    jsant942on December 13, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI think it's talking about a relationship too. Like "counting all the different ideas drifting away", i think he's talking about trying to think of a way to solve the problem between them.

    "Past and present they don't matter": this situation has never happened before so the past can't help them and they'll get over the present so "the future's sorted out".

    But she just keeps going in circles (Watch her moving in elliptical patterns), trying to explain her thoughts, but she's just being really confusing (What you say is way too complicated).

    And he's giving her a last chance, but she's got to make up her mind fast, but he knows she'll just do it, like she did all summer , but that's not what they need to get through it, and they know it. And they watched the problem build up (the meteor tower) and think that it will just go away.

    It still doesn't make that much sense, but breaking it down line by line kind of helps......

    indierocknroll4meon June 03, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General CommentCould the "meteor/material tower" be a reference to the Eiffel Tower?
    It seems logical seeing as Phoenix is from Paris and the Eiffel Tower was seen by many of the French as an eyesore that is/was "overrated" and would be eventually taken down ("think it's not gonna stay anyway").
    And for the record, it does sound a lot more like "material" than it does "meteor".
    themountainman14on July 11, 2009   Link
  • +1
    My InterpretationBuilding off of the relationship interpretation...

    It sounds like the relationship is getting complicated, and the two are trying to work out any issues, but their ideas are getting convoluted and nothing seems to work. The chorus seems to be the singer saying, "Calm down, we don't need this. Just lay down, that's all we need."

    "Fold it" reminds me of folding a poker hand. Perhaps he means something like "put away the cards, let's stop this gamble."

    I might have this backwards or something.
    mrwonderron August 23, 2009   Link

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