"Sim Sala Bim" as written by and Robin Pecknold....
He was so kind, such a gentleman tied to the oceanside
Lighting a match on the suitcase's latch in the fading of night

Rufflde the fur of the collie 'neath the table
Ran out the door through the dark
Carved out his initials in the bark

Then the Earth shook
that was all that it took for the dream to break
All the loose ends
would surround me again in the shape of your face

What makes me love you despite the reservations?
What do I see in your eyes
Besides my reflection hanging high?

Are you off somewhere reciting incantations?
Sim sala bim on your tongue
Carving off the hair of someone's young

Remember when you had me cut your hair?
Call me Delilah then I wouldn't care

Lyrics submitted by casiopt10, edited by sicone1

"Sim Sala Bim" as written by Robin Noel Pecknold

Lyrics © Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd.

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Sim Sala Bim song meanings
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  • +10
    General CommentIn the beginning of the song, it's being sung by an invisible observer. A narrator and not a character.

    "He was so kind, such a gentleman tied to the ocean side
    Lighting a match on the suitcase's latch in the fading of night."

    The line, "tied to the ocean side," brings to mind an image of being chained. The man in this story feels "tied down" in his current state, probably a relationship, but up to this point he's masqueraded as the loyal, faithful type. Because of his commitment issues, he packs up and leaves while his girlfriend is sleeping.

    "Ruffle the fur of the collie 'neath the table
    Ran out the door through the dark
    Carved out his initials in the bark"

    The collie symbolizes a stable, "American dream" type life. You know, the house, dog and picket fence. So maybe these two are just married and he's had second thoughts. He carves his initials in the tree as a way of saying goodbye - implying he's too cowardly to say it face to face.

    "Then the Earth shook, that was all that it took for the dream to break
    All the loose ends would surround me again, in the shape of your face."

    Now we're in the voice of the girl he left. The "dream" of love and a family life is gone. She still loves him, though. Why?

    "What makes me love you despite the reservations?
    What do I see in your eyes?
    Besides my reflection hanging high?"

    She's questioning why she even cares about him. Despite the fact that he ran out on her, despite the fact that he left without warning, despite the fact that he shattered their future together, she's still in love anyway. "My reflection hanging high" is like...a soul mate. When you find someone that's so perfect you feel like you share the same soul. (yeah yeah yeah sappy I know)

    "Are you off somewhere reciting incantations?
    'Sim Sala Bim!' on your tongue?
    Carving off the hair of someone's young?"

    The only thing she can do is wonder where he is, what he's doing, and who with. I don't get the hair thing though.

    "Remember when you had me cut your hair?
    Call me 'Delilah' then, I wouldn't care."

    Now I'm reminded of the Samson and Delilah story, where hair is a source of strength. Remember that he saw marriage as being "tied to the ocean side," so maybe he also saw it as being stripped of his power. Now the "carving off the hair of someone's young" line makes sense! She's wondering if he's involved with another woman, "cutting her hair" meaning tying her down. Maybe he loves this other person enough to marry her.

    I reaaaallly need to learn how to summarize better but I'm too lazy :) Does anyone get what I'm trying to say?
    Aquarius121on June 13, 2011   Link
  • +1
    My Interpretation"Sim Sala Bim" is (a possibly fake) meaningless Indian phrase comparable to "Hocus Pocus". Delilah is from the Old Testament. For money, she coerced Samson to tell her the secret of his strength, which lead to his capture. A “Delilah” is a treacherous and cunning femme fatale.

    The narrator seems to be singing about someone who travels a lot, and is, therefore, away from him a lot. The line, "What do I see in your eyes, besides my reflection hanging high," indicates that he is the singer’s father; his reflection is hanging high above him in his father’s eyes. The singer loves him because he is his father, but he has reservations for good reasons. The guy is always travelling away from his family. He even leaves his family to go on spiritual quests, reciting, "Sim sala bim." At certain points the singer sees through his familial love and starts to realize that his father is far from perfect ("the dream to break"). "Cutting off the hair of someone’s young" could refer to the father having a second family. He should be cutting the singer’s hair, not someone else’s young.

    My only guess on the last lines are that the singer is actually his daughter. She perhaps feels that she is betraying her father by feeling that he is not a good person. If he would accuse of her of this she could finally break away from him. I guess everything above works pretty well if the singer is actually his wife.
    clovuson May 04, 2011   Link
  • +1
    My InterpretationIn short:

    Husband leaves because he feels suffocated in his marriage. When he leaves, his wife has no clue as to what drove him away because there was a lack of communication. She wonders what he is doing, and think about how she might be the problem but she doesn't care. In the end, he was too "kind" and never spoke what what truly in his heart so why should she be upset.
    poetogethron August 07, 2012   Link
  • 0
    Lyric Correctionexcellent except "are you off somewhere reciting incantations?"
    Havenspearon March 28, 2011   Link
  • 0
    My InterpretationMaybe this song is about unrequited love or love that has ended.

    The person, though he (or maybe she) is desperately and loyally in love with another, can't understand the feelings (or even doesn't see them) of this "another" anymore. And the object of his/her love has found someone else, but afraid to tell the truth.

    chalovakon April 14, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General Commentbeautiful song.
    Whiteclefon May 05, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General CommentWhat do I see in your eyes?
    Besides my reflection hanging high?

    Maybe this means that he thinks that his love is just too far above him, and reflects what he wants to be?
    historicallineon February 20, 2012   Link
  • 0
    Song MeaningAbout the "besides my reflection hanging high"---

    It's an ego thing. Being with this (attractive/hard to get) woman made him feel good about himself (in her eyes he sees his reflection hanging high, e.g. he's a badass for having this woman's attentions), but besides that, what else does he see in her? Why is he so stuck on her?
    GasHedon October 02, 2012   Link
  • 0
    General CommentIts about a man leaving a woman and absolutely devastating her. The "Delilah" line is great. It symbolizes his betrayal of her. He recalls "cutting her hair" once (symbolically of some other act he was comitting under the veil of something of benefit to her), which at the time was an innocent act in her eyes, but he was secretly betraying her (as Delilah did to Samson). He feels bad of her being unaware of this betrayal and therefore would like to be called "delilah" as retribution.

    I think the questons of "reciting incantations/sim sala bim/carving off the hair" are questions coming from the betrayed girl. She is wondering if he is off doing this to someone new, impressing another girl with his smoothness (incantations). "sim sala bim" i believe refers to the magician Harry August Jansen who would say this as thanks to applause from the audience. She sees him as desiring praise and self fulfillment from someone and then coldly moving onto the next...
    andrewS11on July 11, 2013   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI was kinda wondering if this song has to be about a man and a woman. I'm gay so i guess naturally I think of male relationships when there aren't gender pronouns to say otherwise. On my first listening, "you were such a gentlemen" made me think the singer was expressing appreciation and then later, romantic feelings "what makes me love you?" and while it's not required, the actual singer is male so it just makes you think at first that the figurative singer is male too. Fleet Foxes song have had some valid same-sex interpretations before iirc.

    I guess the meaning of the "collie 'neath the table" might challenge a same-sex interpretation as it does sort of suggest family life, but of course, the singer could just own a home with a dog by himself (or even with children for the gentlemen to have cut their hair). This would deviate from the other interpretations so little, however, that it would seem to suggest it doesn't matter what the gender of the singer or the lover is, which is just as likely tbh. When searching for meanings on my first listening, i had also thought it could have been a pederastic relationship like with an uncle, and while a lot of people would dismiss for the subject of a song because it would seem too unsuitable, at least 1 other song's prevailing theory is that it has to do about remorse concerning murder, and another song describes a close and possible romantic relationship between actual or figurative brothers; however, none of the other lyrics do much to support that picture so I find it unlikely.

    On a different note, "my reflection hanging high" could be a way of describing a difference in height, whether because the song is just about a child an absent father, or simply a more normal difference of height (I picture classic movies where a shorter women as to look upwards in order to gaze lovingly in her taller lovers eyes). The height difference could also be a poetic way of describing an intimate act like kissing someone's stomach.
    tim1010348on November 13, 2015   Link

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