Her body is a difficult sister and she loves her
And hides her somewhere in herself, safe from harm
She's barely coasting into a paycheck, stuck on empty
Her blue eyes frozen green in the low-lit ATM

I need a way to measure the distance
I need a way to say why
Out of breath or out of key
Her voice resonated in me

Wish on everything
Pray that she remains
Proud and strange and so hopelessly hopeful

Her body is a difficult sister and she loves her
And hides her somewhere in herself, safe from harm
Her night shift is over, she's writing you a postcard
To say that she's okay and it's raining there again

My fury's rising faster than bus fares
Could someone clarify why
There's no structured narrative?
No neat storyline to explain

Wish on everything
Pray that she remains
Proud and strange and so hopelessly hopeful

(Wishes and prayers are the way)
Wish on everything
(That we leave the lonely alone)
Pray that she remains
(And push the wounded away)
Proud and strange and so hopelessly hopeful

She shoplifts some Christmas gifts and a bracelet for herself
And considers phoning home, has some quarters in her hand
But she sits down on the sidewalk and bites her bottom lip
And spends the afternoon willing traffic lights to change


Lyrics submitted by sockmonkey, edited by Crossark

Exiles Among You Lyrics as written by John P. Sutton John K Samson

Lyrics © MOTHERSHIP MUSIC PUBLISHING

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Exiles Among You song meanings
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14 Comments

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  • +4
    General Comment

    To me, this song is about a girl who leaves a small town to find herself. She blindly chases her dreams but the world just didn't pan out the way she thought it would. She ends up working at some dead end job that can't even pay the rent.

    Her body is a defense mechanism that protects her real self. The real self that has been disappointed and let down by the real world. To get her through the day, her body has to be that "older sister" that protects her.

    She writes a postcard to her best friend, a boy she's known forever, still living in her small hometown. He loves her and knows that she's hopefully hopeful. She's a dreamer and an idealist, but when he reads her postcard, he gets angry because the words are dreary and painful. He realizes that the world has let her down by reading between the lines.

    The song leaves us at a phone booth. She's at the end of the road. After some shoplifting, she thinks about giving up and calling home and admitting defeat. Her protective body tells her to wave the white flag, but her true self still believes in the world. So she sits there, watching the colors of the street light blink, wondering where she went. She thinks about her best friend and what she left behind, and where it got her.

    Pocketmoonlighton June 10, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    "Her body is a difficult sister, and she loves her and hides her somewhere in herself, safe from harm." Basically, the girl's body loves the girl and hides the girl in the body. In other words, the girl is "hidden" inside her body, and doesn't let herself reach out to anyone for anything, so that she won't be harmed.

    "Could someone clarify why there's no structured narrative, no neat storyline to explain?" She's just existing and trying to get by. Her life doesn't have any greater meaning or purpose. She still has hope, but it doesn't seem like she's going anywhere (no structured narrative or neat storyline).

    talkingtotherainon November 06, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    I have had the 'Left and Leaving' CD for many years and have always loved the 'Exiles among you' track. I personally feel that this song is about a girl who has run away from home to obtain the independence she craves from her parents. Part of her still wishes that she was back home where she was secure and safe from harm but her pride prevents her from admitting that. As a father of two girls now living away, I can relate to this story line and I get a lump in my throat every time during the passage where 'she sits on the sidewalk biting her bottom lip'. Great song, great lyrics by a great band.

    joe15kirkon November 14, 2013   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    Bluexmaslights has a good point about the title. I would take it a step further though. The "you" I think the narrator is referring to is all of us. This is a vividly sad portrait of one of the many "exiles" that in one way or another, we as a society have let down. They're mostly invisible to us, just clinging to the fringes of acceptable. This song brings them front and centre. It ensures we can't possibly ignore the beautifully bleak reality of this girl.

    And it refuses to let us let ourselves off the hook for our part in the scene. The narrator sees this girl, empathizes with her and then claims to "wish on everything" and "pray that she remains proud and strange and so hopelessly hopeful". He acknowedges that she is "strange" and "hopeless" and though he doesn't want her to lose hope, he sympathizes from a safe distance.

    The narrator (and all of us) participate in her exile by passively accepting the situation. He doesn't actually DO anything. We like to think of ourselves as charitable and kind but not at the expense of our own comfort.

    "(Wishes and prayers are the way that we leave the lonely alone and push the wounded away)."

    In the end, we are aware of her fragile existence, yet she still "spends the afternoon willing traffic-lights to change". Just as alone as ever.

    eww2006on September 03, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    this is one of the most beautiful songs i've ever heard. the whole song is just...amazing. i love it. and i love these guys live. anyone see them about a year and a half ago when they were touring with cadillac blindside? one of my favorite shows. i'd liked them previous to seeing them live, and it was positively beautiful.

    thePIXIEprincesson July 11, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    "She shoplifts some Christmas gifts, and a bracelet for herself, and considers phoning home. Has some quarters in her hand. But she sits down on the sidewalk and bites her bottom lip, and spends the afternoon willing traffic-lights to change."

    The end part is phenominal. That feeling of being lost and needing guidance, and almost admitting that she needs help... and in the end, she just sits back and does what she wants to.

    Unarmedon August 26, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    girls like that i live for, for some reason it makes them more attractive.

    lonelysoulon October 15, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    This was on a cd someone made for me, and I absolutely adore this song. I hope that I get to see a show sometime soon.

    "My fury's rising faster than bus fares. Could someone clarify why there's no structured narrative? no neat story-line to explain? Wish on everything. Pray that she remains proud and strange and so hopelessly hopeful."

    JennyMayKayon March 05, 2003   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    They never play where I live.

    Sigh. <3

    thursdayisthecureon March 09, 2003   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    When I first heard this song, I immeadiately was reminded of Jawbreaker. Thats the sort of literary brilliance on display here. The image of the ATM, the sense of surging hope equaling out the cold-water splash of the reality he's portraying.

    Dynamics-wise, I love how they take it down to a single guitar line and then explodes. Failure has seldom sounded so triumphant.

    syurixon April 22, 2004   Link

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