"Nemesis" as written by Robert Martin Malone, Neill Maccoll and David Gray....
Neath an avalanche
Soft as moss
I'm a creeping-in, intangible sense of loss
I'm the memory you can't get out your head
If I leave you now
You'll wish you were somewhere else instead

I'm the manta ray
I'm the louse
I am the photograph
They found in your burned down house
I'm the sound of money washing down the drain
I am the pack of lies
The baby that keeps you sane, hey

Gates of heaven are open wide
God help me baby I'm trapped inside
Feel like I'm buried alive

I'm, I'm the bottom line
Of the joke
I'm in ecstasy
Spilling like bright egg-yolk
I'm the thoughts you're too ashamed to ever share
And I am the smell of it
You're trying to wash out of your hair

Gates of heaven are open wide
God help me baby I'm lost inside
Feels like I'm buried alive
The possibilities limitless
Just give me something that's more than this
One shot and I'll never miss

I'm the babe that sleeps
Through the Blitz
I am a sudden and quite unexpected twist
I am your one true love who sleeps with someone else
I am your nemesis
Baby I'm life sweet life itself, yeah, yeah (yeah)

Lyrics submitted by th3gh05t

"Nemesis" as written by Neill Maccoll David Gray

Lyrics © Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd., HELENE BLUE MUSIQUE LTD

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Nemesis song meanings
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  • +2
    Song Meaningthis song is about the human condition. No matter how good we have it we will always want more. "possibilities limitless just give me something more than this" Also about all the experiences humans have i.e. ecstasy, humility,shame etc....but no matter what you are going through, this is life, and you should embrace it. I love david gray
    VictorWayneon September 19, 2012   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI think this song is quite simple, but brilliant. The song is about a man who is a memory of woman, but to some moment she does not realise that he's her one true love.

    "Gates of heaven are open wide
    God help me baby I�m trapped inside
    Feels like I�m buried alive"

    As far as i know David don't belive in god (example "Jumping Jesus, Holy cow, whats the different anyhow" or Ain't no love lyrics)

    So i thnk that for him the heaven on earth is this women, he want's her, but they're not together so he feels like he's burried alive.

    All song long he's a memory not exactly happy and at the end he's quite unexpected twist, he's her one true love that she never knew he is, but the're not together. He's her Nemesis - Nemesis was Greece god of destiney. He might be her destiney - as a One true love or He might be her Nemesis - as the one who will make her happy by being with her or make her miserble by being with someone else.
    Darren22on September 25, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis is a great song but I think it is unlikely to be number 1. It is a bit too downbeat for the commercial charts. Thats not to say that other songs on the album are more than capable of being number 1, Jackdaw for instance.
    georjefreeon October 15, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI'm not sure that David isn't speaking simply of the dissatisfaction of life and the inability to obtain happiness. So many of his songs deal with things not lasting, with relationships ending, with worlds falling apart, with change. In concert, this song lasts for nearly 20 minutes. It's amazing! David almost enters a trance-like state at the end of the song and repeats either the line "It's life itself" or "It's only life", I can't remember which, but I remember getting the distinct feeling that the character of the song had come to the realization that happiness and satisfaction in life were not obtainable without their opposites, their nemesis, sorrow, grief, and longing.
    Before playing this song in concert, David mentioned that this was a very "Special" song for him and that it was quickly becoming his favorite.
    lafdcookon November 11, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentStill trying to wrap my head around the "I'ms" that is referred to throughout the song
    Skylarkinon January 31, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General CommentAwesome song, my favorite of his right now. Without a doubt the best song on the album, although it may not be the best according to radio play (the radio sucks anyways). Very intersting that Nemesis is the Greek god of destiny Darren, and from what I heard I believe he is indeed athiest in some form.

    Lafdcook, I just saw him in concert Saturday and he played this for a long time at this concert as well. Very, very awesome. He said this song "seems to be growing wings". To be honest, I didn't even notice it at first on the new album cause I liked the others so much, now this one is my favorite. I believe it was this song where he kept yellin "nah na nah na nah na" over and over again. Just sounds, but I remember being so pumped. One thing about his concert is he is SO genuinely into it. I have been to a ton of concerts and have seen artist get into it, but this was even more incredible than the rest.

    "I remember getting the distinct feeling that the character of the song had come to the realization that happiness and satisfaction in life were not obtainable without their opposites, their nemesis, sorrow, grief, and longing." - I think you are right on Darren
    eazayon March 31, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI had to write an in-class essay on this song and these are my notes:

    David Gray’s song “Nemesis” can also be read as poetry because, like poetry, it uses imagery and rhythm to convey its themes and evoke emotions. This poem/song characterizes the nature of life; it explores the dichotomies of life in that life is described as “sweet” and with limitless possibilities, yet nevertheless necessarily includes loss, regrets, and shame. Gray uses the poetic techniques of metaphors, personification, and rhythm to convey meaning.

    This poem is a series of metaphors and almost every line carries a different image. Even though the reader does not yet understand the meaning of the poem, the effect of so many metaphors moves the poem forward quickly and creates a tone of unyielding momentum. The term “I am. . .” is used consistently. For example, “I’m a creeping and intangible sense of loss” (3-4), “I am ecstacy,” and “I am the thoughts you’re too ashamed to share.” The overall effect of these metaphors is to create an atmosphere of both loss and hope and to show that these two opposing feelings are inseparable. For example, “I am the photograph/They found in your burned out house” creates an image of devastation with the burned out house, and yet the photograph retrieved from the ruins gives back happy memories. Some images are strictly dark, such as “I am the thoughts that you’re too ashamed to ever share”. Another metaphor seems to be positive but then takes a cruel turn: “I am your one true love/Who sleeps with someone else.” However, one metaphor does suggest peace: “I’m the babe that sleeps/Through the Blitz.” Here Gray juxtaposes the image of a baby (a symbol of life) with the Blitz (a war image, suggesting destruction and death). Hope is promised because the baby actually sleeps through and survives the destruction.

    These metaphors may seem almost random and unrelated, and the reader is left to wonder, who is the speaker, who is this “I”? Like a classical sonnet, the key to understanding this rich and complex poem is found in the last two lines: I am your nemesis/Baby I’m life sweet life itself.” The reader now realizes that the speaker is the personification of life. Life is talking to someone and characterizing itself in various ways. The loaded title “Nemesis” further explains meaning. A nemesis is commonly used to describe a force that cannot be overcome or defeated. In popular culture, a nemesis is an arch enemy that cannot be overcome. In Greek mythology, Nemesis is the goddess of retributive justice. In Classical works, Nemesis was there to punish those who were guilty of hubris, meaning they thought they were like gods. In this poem, life the speaker serves to remind the reader that happiness is always accompanied by suffering. The two together make life.

    It is important to note, however, that stanzas 3 and 5, which are also the song’s refrains, deviate from the established “I am” form. The music and the rhythm of the words in these stanzas stands out as markedly different from that used in the other stanzas containing the “I am” metaphors. For example, in stanzas 1, 2, 4, and 6, Gray uses triplets to create a sense of quick movement in the music. In Stanzas 3 and 5, the music falls back to a more conventional rhythm. As well, instead of stating “I am. . .”, Gray begins each refrain with “Gates of heaven are open wide”, and there is no longer personification used. These changes suggest there is a second speaker in stanzas 3 and 5, who is replying to and questioning life. This speaker calls out to life, saying although “the possibilties are limitless,” he or she feels “trapped” or “buried alive” and asks life to “Just give me something that’s more than this”.

    Life responds in the final stanza by asserting that good can never be completely separated from evil; the two always co-exist and one can even arise from the other. Life presents itself as “a sudden and quite unexpected twist” and demonstrates this characteristic in the last two metaphors of the poem. Both metaphors begin with peaceful, positive images (a sleeping baby and one’s true love), but conclude ironically with sad or disturbing images (the Blitzkreig, suggesting death and the lover with someone else, suggesting abandonment and loss).
    rps315on April 27, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThe key line of this song is the last one..."Baby I'm life...sweet life itself."

    He's basically telling us what his Nemesis is (not necessarily David himself, but the song's protagonist. Songwriters often get confused with their own protagonists, which is odd because often they are the songwriter's friends, or family...or even fans.)

    The 'gates of heaven' he's trapped inside are the days of everyday life - the normalcy of it. The overwhelming

    The references to the 'sound of money washing down the drain...' and 'the creeping intangible sense of loss' are things we all experience in life true life itself.

    dumbasrockson May 27, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General CommentMy ex emailed just the word nemesis. I am still trying to figure it out. I don't know if he realizes he made a huge mistake by leaving me or is it that he wants me to be miserable because we are no longer together. Who knows?? Its funny bc my friend was like that is an awesome song by David Gray.....it really is nice regardless of what it means.
    caroljaneon December 14, 2013   Link
  • 0
    General CommentSimple song, but definitely one of the best I've heard from Gray. It describes a lot of the human experience, how everything- feelings, money, possessions, people - are transient and changeable. I like the interpretation earlier of the line "possibilities limitless / just give me something that's more than this" speaking about how people are never happy with what they have, always looking for something more.

    My interpretation which I'll add is of the line "Gates of heaven are open wide / God help me baby I'm trapped inside". After reading this again in the context of the stuff I wrote above it seems to me to be about people's expectations. Heaven is perceived as this wonderful, perfect, unchanging place. And the line is kind of saying that people are trapped in heaven - that they're trapped in this conception of the way life should be as this perfect, unchanging thing when it's simply not. How people expect life to be constant progress, a march towards the gates of heaven, when really they're setting themselves up for disappointment that way.
    sam1011703on September 07, 2015   Link

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