Michael Stipe was known for lacking narrative in his earlier songs (that's a bit of an

understatement). He would sing words (or fragments thereof) that felt or sounded right,

independent of any literal meaning. Further, as songs were composed, scrapped, and re-

composed, unrelated themes might get smashed together into one song.

The verses of Sitting Still are inspired by Stipe's sister, Cindy (or Cyndy?) who taught

deaf children. Her name is abbreviated to "C" in the second line. Also, there are

versions of the song where the full third line is "We can bind it and the sister's where

your children learn"; in most versions Stipe abbreviated the whole line, stopping at the

first syllable of "sister", leaving the rest off. So it's not "cyst" or "scythe", but


Further, the chorus quite probably is an unrelated lyric referring to the origin of the

phrase "Katy bar the door". Background: back in 1437 a posse had gathered to murder the

King of Scotland. The bar was removed from his chamber door ahead of time to allow the

assassination. A member of the court, Catherine Douglass, put her arm in place of the

missing bar to prevent the murder of the king. Her arm was broken and the king was

murdered. Hence the reference to "the big kill" and wasting time sitting still.

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