Leaf by Leaf, page by page
Throw this book away
All the sadness all the rage
Throw this book away
Rip out the binding, tear the glue
All of the grief we never ever knew
We had it all along
Now it's smoke

The things we've written in it
Never really happened
All of the people come and gone
Never really lived
All of the people have come have gone
No one to forgive smoke
We will never write a new one
There will not be a new one
Another one, another one

Here's an evening dark with shame
Throw it on the fire
Here's the time I took the blame
Throw it on the fire
Here's the time we didn't speak
It seemed for years and years
Here's a secret
No one will ever know the
Reasons for the tears
They are smoke

Where do all the secrets live
They travel in the air
You can smell them when they burn
They travel

Those who say the past is not dead
Stop and smell the smoke
You keep on saying the past is not dead
Come on and smell the smoke
You keep saying the past is not even past
You keep saying
We are, smoke

Lyrics submitted by kevin

Smoke Lyrics as written by Anna Goodman Ben Folds

Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

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Smoke song meanings
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  • +3
    General Commentyou know, i don't think this is about a break up or even the holocaust, i think it's about the Bible.

    yeah, it seems weird, but if ben and robert and darren don't beleieve in that stuff, it's very possible that this song is about them tearing up the Bible and burning it!
    that's weird!!
    commonmaryon April 25, 2002   Link
  • +3
    General CommentI agree with the other comments, it's the perfect metaphor, and it also illustrates what you often go through when you lose a friend or significant other... you sometimes need to get rid of diaries with entries about them, photographs, and old letters, just so you don't stumble over them again later and relive all of the pain, thus, you "burn" it all.

    the smoke tends to get stuck in your clothes, though.

    Edited by delial on November 29 2007, at 05:09AM

    delialon May 18, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General CommentNAlmost this entire album is about romantic relationships and breakups, so I think that the song is indeed about a breakup, or at least, one specific aspect of one.

    You know how when you are in a long term relationships there are all these moments that you share that are just between you two and no one else? They seem so important and fundamental to shaping your personality and identity. But after you break up with that person, you have no one to talk about those memories with. No one else can really understand how those moments felt at the time, or what they meant, except the two of you. In fact no one else would ever really care. And now, without that person in your life, there's nothing to those moments but your own memories. Without the ability to ever again talk about those moments with someone who truly understands their personal meaning they loose some of their substance: as if they "never really happened", like they are just "smoke".
    gravitonon August 12, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General CommentIt's about the end of a relationship; all the things the couple savoured and would share with no-one else is now just history and no-one else could ever appreciate the love. It might be talking about a photo album but any of you who thinks it's about the holocaust clearly don't get Ben or Anna.
    benfoldsfanon January 30, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI've got this song stuck in my head at the moment.
    anna118kon April 10, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI agree with BenFoldsFan here, sorry commonmary, its about a person tryin to forget a past relationship, by trying to forget it, and cause they will never be together again there will never be a new "book"
    derby411on May 02, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI have to agree, it's definitly about a bad break-up. Haven't you ever heard o people burning pictures and other things that remind them of relationships?

    The Bible thing does work in a sense, but the other meaning has more to back it up.
    Emo_ezraliteon May 28, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General Commentmy first instinct was that this song was about book burning and the ignorance behind it, but once i sat down and read the lyrics, i think what made me see how it was about the end of a relationship was the very last line: we are smoke. it has such a sense of finality. its wonderful that this song can make so much sense on a literal or symbolic level, and that the symbolism doesnt hit you over the head. its subtle.
    PJ10on June 07, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI think this song is about the South. I think the book could be seen as a history book of sorts. The grief and pain of slavery and the Civil War and the KKK and all the other bad stuff the South desperately wants to deny ever happened. The South, and in fact the entire nation, also want to deny that slavery's reprecussions are still very much alive in today's society. The South wants to simply forget about all the blood on its hands; all the lynchings, etc. "All the people come and gone never really lived." All the people's lives ruined by that society they would just deny. Even the part about "here's the time I took the blame . . . Here's the time we didn't speak for years and years" I think is about the South in relationship to the North, and about Reconstruction. Maybe it's a little far-fetched and not as literal, but it hit me instantly when I first paid attention to the lyrics of this song. I'm sorry this isn't articulated very well, but I think if you go through and read the lyrics with that idea in mind it will make sense. And just to clarify, I think Ben is criticizing the idea that we can just pretend the past never happened and move on.
    I love this song.
    goodmorningmisterbenon March 14, 2003   Link
  • 0
    General Comment(to me) it's about a break up. it's painfully true, too.
    Virrrrgoon May 11, 2003   Link

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