I seem to recognize your face
Haunting, familiar yet
I can't seem to place it
Cannot find the candle of thought to light your name
Lifetimes are catching up with me

All these changes taking place
I wish I'd seen the place
But no one's ever taken me

Hearts and thoughts they fade, fade away
Hearts and thoughts they fade, fade away

I swear, I recognize your breath
Memories like fingerprints are slowly raising
Me, you wouldn't recall for I'm not my former
It's hard when you're stuck upon the shelf

I changed by not changing at all
Small town predicts my fate
Perhaps that's what no one wants to see
I just want to scream hello

My God it's been so long
Never dreamed you'd return
But now here you are and here I am

Hearts and thoughts they fade away

Hearts and thoughts they fade, fade away
Hearts and thoughts they fade, fade away
Hearts and thoughts they fade away
Hearts and thoughts they fade, fade away
Hearts and thoughts they fade, fade away
Hearts and thoughts they fade, fade away
Hearts and thoughts they fade

Lyrics submitted by Trent, edited by Mellow_Harsher

"Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town" as written by Jeff Ament Dave Abbruzzese

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group, Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Warner Chappell Music, Inc.

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Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town song meanings
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  • +12
    General Comment"I just wanna scream 'hello'
    My god it's been so long, never dreamed you'd return"

    this part must be on a top 5 pj moments
    seba88argon November 13, 2008   Link
  • +9
    General Commentits written from the point of view of the elderly woman, who has some menial job behind a counter in a store, who has never left her small town. someone has just walked in who she recognizes from her past. the song is about the flood of feelings and memories (hearts and thoughts) that she experiences seeing this person walk through the door.
    PJ10on April 13, 2002   Link
  • +9
    General CommentThis song reminds me of someone I as a young girl wanted to have a relationship with. We met when we were kids and clicked from day one. Things never materialized into a relationship. He left town, went away got married, the whole nine. I thought of him for years. He had said when he left he had wanted me to be that girl. Finding out he was gone, with someone else... I decided it was not meant to be. Some years later he gets a hold of me. I never thought I'd see or talk to him again. We share a phone call. A few more years pass. He is broken up and living back in the area. We see each other and he can't recognize me as the same girl. We spend some time together, seems things are the same as far as spending time together. It means to me hearts and thoughts they do fade over time, but seeing someone in person once there is that recognition they can come flooding back.
    To me this song signifies change, sadness, what could have been and confusion.

    For me it is a lot about lost love and what could have been. Having grown, but not sure if you are changed so much that you cannot have what you once had, or even if that's what you really wanted all along. It's about regret for the past and hope for the future. Maybe even being too scared to admit you made a mistake or if you will repeat it. It's all about timing. Life leaves a lot of times for
    what ifs.

    drunkinterpretationon December 09, 2008   Link
  • +4
    General CommentThis always seemed, to me, about a couple in love as young people, and then the man walks into some nameless small town when he's like eighty, and recognizes his first love again but is afraid to say anything to her, and she recognizes him as well but due to being trapped in her small life, she doesn't say anything.

    It's a bit like my grandmother...married 50 years, then my grandfather died. Two years later, she runs into the boy she knew when she was 16 who she dumped to date my grandfather. They are now married.
    ramathesonon December 11, 2010   Link
  • +2
    General CommentI was led to believe by an online source that this title was chosen in response to the many critics of Pearl Jam's former use of short song titles, and to put it bluntly, "rip the piss" out of them; and was totally irrelevant to the actual meaning of the song. Whether or not this is true is of course debateable, and many users have already posted convincing arguments about it being written from the perspective of the mentioned elderly woman.

    What I feel cannot be disputed though, is that this song is about a person returning to a certain place they have visited, or re-establishing feelings they may have once had, in the past; and realising that deep-down, everything is the same as it ever was. "Hearts and thoughts" may fade away over time, but can be brought back in the picture from memories in an instant.
    chingy_don December 21, 2004   Link
  • +2
    General CommentI think this is about: like we all go through phases in life, teenager, college, adult. And like you separate them in your mind. Then you go back to a place and it brings you back to a time. And it's like "damn, I'd forgotten that whole period of my life and it meant something to me, but I've lived so many lives since I've lost it, and it's a shame that isn't still ingrained in me as part of the fabric of my soul." Even though it might be to a degree. I think it's like you go into this grocery store and there's this woman that always asked how you were doing and told you about her kids and you knew her name and her favorite cigarette and now you walk back in and it's like "Shit, that was a part of my life that completely fell away from my memory and I can't even remember her name." I think it's about wanting to live a lot of lives, but being sad that they couldn't all just be one, even though in a way they are.
    rbach48on June 30, 2012   Link
  • +2
    MemoryMakes me think of my 8th grade crush. Loved her to death. Would've taken a bullet for her. I knew her like a good friend and thats what we had been. Then she made other friends and, well, we just stopped talking. "Hearts and thoughts they fade, fade away" is how I felt day after day of trying to get her out of my head. This song really helped me through this as well as "One Man Army" by OLP. Heard this on the radio the other day and it brought these memories up again.
    NeonDiscoBrnon July 12, 2018   Link
  • +1
    General Commentneed4creed good agrument, your probably right. But Creed sucks, I'm so glad they broke up and I'll never have to change the radio station to avoid hearing their new one.

    I like what PJ10 said. I grew up in a small town, and I know the feeling of walking in the general store and seeing the same old woman behind the counter there. Every time you see her it's a little bit depressing, just that she spent her whole life doing that.
    MtterOFctItsAllDrkon September 25, 2004   Link
  • +1
    General CommentHahahahaha.. 'MtterOFctItsAllDrk' well summed up. need4creed, that's some very good analysis, but i just don't understand how someone who obviously knows his shit, can choose to have a favourite band that were one of the crappest going around!? Shame shame shame
    podson October 02, 2004   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThink about it muzac, this came out in 93'. Kurt Cobain was still alive, Seattle grunge rock was near its peak. How could this song be about the death of the seattle music scene?
    MtterOFctItsAllDrkon December 09, 2004   Link

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