A gardener told me some plants move, but I could not believe it
Til me and Hannah Hunt saw crawling vines and weeping willows
As we made our way from Providence to Phoenix

A man of faith said hidden eyes could see what I was thinking
I just smiled and told him that was only true of Hannah
And we glided on through Waverly and Lincoln

Our days were long, our nights no longer
Count the seconds, watching the hours
Though we live on the US dollar
You and me, we got our own sense of time

In Santa Barbara, Hannah cried amidst those freezing beaches
I walked into town to buy some kindling for the fire
Hannah tore the New York Times up into pieces

If I can't trust you, then damn it, Hannah
There's no future, there's no answer
Though we live on the US dollar
You and me, we got our own sense of time

Lyrics submitted by SongMeanings, edited by sn0rkle, criket527, alaskanwonder, dodgerblue

Hannah Hunt song meanings
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  • +21
    My InterpretationBrilliant song, perfectly paced, and very sad.

    It's about a relationship breaking up.

    "A gardener told me some plants move, but I could not believe it

    When they first met and started a relationship, he saw them as being fixed, a lovely couple that couldn't change. Someone more knowledgeable about relationships warned him that people can change, and he didn't believe them

    "Til me and Hannah Hunt saw crawling vines and weeping willows"

    But then things did start to change in their relationships.

    "As we made our way from Providence to Phoenix"

    A nice alliteration that references them moving out towards the west coast and away from New York area. However, it has a second meaning.
    Providence- in the Godly sense, meaning all knowing, a sense of knowing the future.
    Phoneix- a mythical greek bird that rises from the ashes of it's predecessor.

    Their relationship is moving from this solid bond, that the protagonist thought would last forever, towards a new stage when it ends.

    "A man of faith said hidden eyes could see what I was thinking
    I just smiled and told him that was only true of Hannah
    And we glided on through Waverly/Lincoln"

    Here I think the protagonist's friends or people around him can start to see the affect the cracks are having on the relationship/protagonist. He is willfully ignoring them. The perfect use of the smile and "gliding" capture that feeling you have when you think everything's rosy in a relationship and don't want to wake up and see what's going on.

    "Our days were long, our nights no longer
    Count the seconds, watching the hours
    Though we live on the US dollar
    You and me, we got our own sense of time"

    Time went by, they were caught up in the relationship, and even though they were still living lives like everyone else, they were kind of oblivious to the outside world.

    "In Santa Barbara, Hannah cried amidst those freezing beaches

    Hannah was not happy with the relationship, she did not feel warm anymore. This could either of happened out west, if they literally traveled there. Or following on from the first verse, Santa Barbara is at the end of their Journey, the phoenix is ready to be reborn, and the relationship is over or nearing an end.

    "I walked into town to buy some kindling for the fire"

    The protagonist tries their best to make hannah happy and comfortable. Kindling is a metaphor for this cause of the use of freezing in the last line

    Hannah tore the New York Times up into pieces"

    Hannah did things her own way and made herself comfortable (perhaps had an affair). I think the new york times carries the metaphor of kindling on- she tore it up for the fire. It also may reflect their relationship.
    As before, the protagonist saw it as this concrete object that was indestructible, like the new york times. But just like the paper, it is easily destroyed.

    "If I can't trust you, then dammit, Hannah
    There's no future, there's no answer
    Though we live on the US dollar
    You and me we got our own sense of time"

    They can't continue and the protagonist finally realizes it's at an end.

    That's my interpretation anyway.

    Such great use of metaphors and very moving.
    psychoticlon May 21, 2013   Link
  • +15
    General CommentThis song is even more sad, when you realize that when he sings about "New York times", he isn't talking about the newspaper.
    Latmeyon May 14, 2013   Link
  • +11
    General CommentHannah Hunt was a girl who sat next to Ezra in a Buddhism class in college.
    She also happens to be a vocalist in the San Francisco indie pop group Dominant Legs. The band had been working on a version of the song since the time of their first album, but it wasn't until now that they felt they got it right
    menanoon May 08, 2013   Link
  • +6
    My InterpretationThe interweaving of time and money is a huge theme of this song.

    "Counting seconds, watching hours" - Using a monetary comparison, this seems like watching and stressing 'nickel and diming' away money, while observing a bank account, racking up rent from loans, bills, etc.

    "Though we live on the US dollar, you and me, we've got our own sense of time" - Shifts time and money onto a level, comparable playing field.
    eryicon May 18, 2013   Link
  • +5
    General CommentJust a disclaimer. I haven't done interpretation of lyrics since high school. I left that behind a long time ago along with my interest in music in general. Just recently started to listen to music again and came across this band's work. I had long ago thought that there was not much meaning in modern music, and never really even tried to seek meaning within it. I'm now realizing that meaning is what you make of it, whether the artist intended it or not. And the very act of finding meaning in art is an end in itself and makes our lives so much richer. I wanted to thank all of those who contribute here for opening my eyes to this.

    This is such a beautiful song. Made even more beautiful with contemplation of its lyrical meaning. Great analysis by psychoticl which really opened up this song for me.

    Ultimately this is about a relationship that failed to change and adapt in order to grow stronger. Instead, one person attempts to hold onto the past while the other ultimately realizes that she must move on. The journey begins in Providence (what better place to begin a relationship, all filled with religious overtones of hope and blessing), transitions to Phoenix (another place suggesting the potential for transformation of a relationship into something better through exposure to hardship/"fire"), but comes to an untimely end in Santa Barbara (named for the patron saint of those constantly exposed to combustibles!)

    Couple of thoughts. A gardener told me some plants move, but I could not believe it--what a beautiful opening line. I agree with others that this is a reference to human relationships. The fact is that ALL plants move, some faster than others. The protagonist simply chose to disbelieve a self-evident fact of nature and of relationships, that change is inevitable. He begins to see problems in their relationship as the journey continues, but doesn't directly acknowledge them. The references to moving plants are foreboding and dark--"creeping" (vines have potential to destroy/choke off what they attach to) and "weeping" (willows grow downward, not up)--not full of life or energy or suggesting growth in any positive sense.

    Religion, represented by a man of faith, often claims that god ("hidden eyes") knows our innermost thoughts. The protagonist laughs this off, stating that only Hannah knows his true feelings; he's right, since he himself doesn't understand his own heart. Just as he ignored facts of nature, he also ignores his own innermost feelings as we all often do. The protagonist failed to acknowledge to himself or anyone else his own misgivings about the relationship, which the partner had already picked up on.

    The New York Times reference is particularly compelling for me. The protagonist has traveled from one coast to the other but holds onto a tangible vestige of that former life, the newspaper, something he can't even fathom destroying (would rather go out and buy kindling). This is certainly a common theme for travelers in general who try to bring reminders of their past city/country with them--newspapers transport us back to our former place. Similarly, he's holding onto the relationship (as others have suggested, the times they had in New York) despite the fact that things have changed. He has failed to adapt to change. The partner, is in a very different place, and though likely missing how it once was, prepared to put the paper/relationship into the flame.

    This couple has attempted to resurrect their relationship by trying to make a move from the east to the west coast, a distinctively American journey that has always symbolized hope and new beginnings. Upon getting to their destination, Hannah realizes that this was all in vain. Notably, despite finally arriving in Santa Barbara (a land that promised warmth), the weather is ironically cold enough to require a fire--the relationship hasn't changed at all in spite of the long journey. Despite the change in scenery, Hannah still misses those "freezing beaches"--the weather was cold, but their relationship was alive and warm once--now it is lifeless and interminable. This is the major pivot in the dynamics of the relationship--from a self-sustaining one to one that requires external source of sustenance. You an imagine a scene of the couple on a cold East Coast beach where his presence alone would have been enough to keep her comfortable--they were a couple that could "weather" anything just with their own company. The changes now are stark, he actually leaves her in a cold house to buy kindling to make them warm. The "fire" of the relationship is clearly gone. This realization which she comes to before him, leads her to literally and figuratively end the relationship.

    The juxtaposition of time and money has been commented upon. I find this somewhat difficult to interpret. Just a few VERY random thoughts:
    1. Time has accumulated, but money/love has dwindled
    2. Though we live on the U.S. DOLLAR you and me we have our own CENTS. The word dollar is often followed by the word cents. The word "sense" is creatively substituted as money converts to time.
    3. They moved from New York, the capital of American financial life where the pace of life is fast. Now time ticks slowly as their relationship winds down.
    vinc71on January 12, 2014   Link
  • +4
    My InterpretationBeyond the relationship, I think the lyrics seem to indicate a distrust for things that are strictly American. Like the U.S. dollar and the New York Times. Maybe the song has something to do with living independently from the mainstream of things, and creating a path independent from a culture.
    dmadzzon June 13, 2013   Link
  • +2
    General CommentLove this song, might be the best on the album
    Quitered91on May 13, 2013   Link
  • +2
    General CommentI just picture a(nother broke old) couple leaving freezing Rhose Island to Arizona, where they will live and make their best until they run out of their meagre unemployment wages / insurance / whatever dollars....
    rblon February 05, 2014   Link
  • +1
    General CommentOne thing to add is that on VW's official album lyrics, "In Santa Barbara, Hannah cried, ' I miss those freezing beaches.'"

    This distinction is important here since Hannah is not only unhappy, but also missing the way things were back at their relationship's earlier days (perhaps back on the East Coast where they visited a beach on a cold day). Hannah is realizing the turning point of the relationship and unwilling to remedy it, tears up the New York times up into pieces, where as the narrator is eager to nurture it by buying kindling for the fire.

    A truly beautiful song and one of my favorites from the new album.
    tomatosoupon July 27, 2013   Link
  • +1
    My InterpretationI don't think this is necessarily about a break-up.

    It's obviously about a couple or two friends who live outside the society. They travel across the country, possibly on the run from something, and sleep next to a campfire.

    Hannah seems to be faltering, and conforming to her old life, wishing she could just forget their life philosophy and live a normal life with a job and a house and everything. Hence:

    "Damn it Hannah if I can't trust you.."

    Ezra Koenig has apparently stated that the narrator in this song could be the same narrator as in their song "Run", which depicts the pains of living with a dull job and an average life. The narrator in that songs dreams about "running away", so this could be the story of that escape from society.

    A lot of room for interpretation here though, and I think it's cool how everyone can find their own way of seeing it. Great song.
    Rutuboion April 14, 2014   Link

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