Sorry that
I could never love you back
I could never care enough
In these last days

Her tears
Fell on her pages found me out
On her words I don't know what
To do or say

Wading through
Warm canals and pools clear blue
The Tuscarawas flows into
The prairie land

Riding back
To where the highway met
Dead end tracks
The ground is now cement and glass
And far away

Heal her soul, carry her, my angel, Ohio

Lingering in
What about the sweetness we knew
What about what's good what's true
From those days

Can't count to
All the lovers I've burned through
So why do I still burn for you
I cannot say

Sorry that
I could never love you back
I could never care enough in these last days

Heal her soul, carry her, my angel, Ohio

Children blush
And gather round the home she rests
So poor and gold with their Midwest
Moon and sun

Flashes bringing on
My open eyes the lightning storm
The tortured mist felt soft, felt warm
On my face

Craving dreams
A million miles ago you see
And the star that I just don't see

Words long gone
Lost on journeys we walked on
Lost are voices heard along the way

Sorry for
Never going by your door
Never feeling love like that

Heal her soul, carry her, my angel, Ohio

Lyrics submitted by mab, edited by timbertime, PMWilson, phcfo

Carry Me Ohio song meanings
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  • +6
    General Comment

    "Carry Me Ohio" by Mark Kozelek

    Sorry that I could never love you back. I could never care enough in these last days.

    Her tears fell on her pages found me well. On her words I don't know what to do or say.

    Wading through warm canals and pools: clear blue. The Tuscarawas flows into the Great Lakes.

    Right in back, where the highway met dead tracks, the ground is now cement and glass, so far away.

    Heal her soul. Carry her, my angel, Ohio.

    Green, green youth, what about the sweetness we knew? What about what's good, what's true, from those days?

    Can't count to all the lovers I've burned through. So why do I still burn for you? I can't say.

    Sorry that I could never love you back. I could never care enough in these last days.

    Heal her soul. Carry her, my angel, Ohio.

    Children bless, gather round the bed, she rest. So pull and go to her Midwestern moon and sun.

    Flashes bringing on, my open eyes to lighting storm. The touch of mist fell soft, felt warm on my face.

    Graven dreams, a million miles ago, you seem. A star that I just don't see anymore.

    Words long gone, lost on journey's we walked on. Lost her voices heard along the way.

    Sorry for, never going by your door. Never feeling love like that anymore.

    Heal her soul. Carry her, my angel, Ohio.

    I am pretty sure these are the correct lyrics. You can listen to the live version on his "7 Songs Belfast" live CD for a very clear rendition of these lyrics. He changes a couple of words in the live performance which I changed back to reflect the LP recording.

    I'm also feeling like this is a NOT love song about a girl, but instead about a hometown that he didn't appreciate enough when he had the chance, and can't love the same way now that he's older and that childhood place is gone.

    First of all, the town is not how he remembered ("Right in back, where the highway met dead tracks, the ground is now cement and glass, so far away."). Second, there is a clear "distance makes the heart grow fonder" undertone to the lyrics. But distance not just geographically, but across time. This is evidenced here: "Graven dreams. A million miles ago, you seem. A star that I just don't see anymore."

    There is also the sense that he wants someone, somehow, some way, to fix her. Make her how she used to be ("Heal her soul. Carry her, my angel, Ohio."). But the tragedy is that it is probably too late. He's remorseful that he didn't visit home more often, I believe ("Sorry for, never going by your door. Never feeling love like that anymore.")

    Along this line of thinking, other lines take on a new meaning when placed into this context ("Can't count to, all the lovers I've burned through. So why do I still burn for you? I can't say."). It actually feels like he is talking about all the places he has lived and been to. Maybe he wonders why, given all of the places he has experienced (ugly and beautiful), he should long for this barren hometown that time forgot? He doesn't seem to have the answer.

    If you follow his catalogue and his lyrics, Mark loves to sing about geographical places: "Neon signs and Silver Lakes"; "Going past Golden Gate, elementary every day"; "I don't need a house on Lake Michigan"; "Saltwater taffy, the Jersey Shore", "A rare and blistering sun shines down on Grace Cathedral Park". I could go on and on.

    The nostalgia for his hometown memories is palpable at times in this song ("Green, green youth. What about the sweetness we knew? What about what's good, what's true, from those days?"). Innocence lost is probably another valid sub-theme here.

    What is very "Kozelek" about this interpretation, and why I think I am correct in my assumption, is that this wouldn't be the first time he has made a love song about an unexpected thing. Remember when he tricked us into thinking a song was about a girl he loved but it was really about his cat ("Wop a Din Din"), where a line like "She's got big green eyes, and a long Egyptian face. She moves across the floor, at her own pace," is flipped upside down after you realize this isn't a typical love song whatsoever.

    That is my interpretation though, and could be off base. Just here to share my feelings. Hope they helped.

    I will share one last fun fact. The Tuscarawas doesn't actually flow into any of the Great Lakes. At least not directly. It flows into the Ohio River.


    invertebraeon July 04, 2012   Link
  • +2
    General Comment

    I have listened to this song many many times and I can really connect with it as I'm also from Ohio. I'm also a big fan of Mark Kozelek. As for the meaning I think a few of you hit it on the nose it's about loss of a love but I think he is using it as a metaphor. You need to be from Ohio to understand the subtle meaning of his feeling of no longer connecting with his love for a women as well as the place he was born which is in Massillon Ohio. It's the feeling everyone has for the places in our past that only the other people who where there can you relate with. It's the loss of a time in his past as a youth. Ohio was once a thriving boom town area where there where lots of jobs and promise as well as dreams where a young middle class family could be raised and many childhood memories where made there. Now Ohio it is nothing like that it's just another depressed area of the county that has been abused and forgotten. In interviews he talks about hanging out at friends houses getting high and listening to Neil Young and Pink Floyd. I think he has better sweet memories of his time in Ohio. In interviews he does not seem to have ever made a connection with Ohio and he almost feels about that he does not even do concerts in Ohio. He said at a recent concert I attended in Pittsburgh when a fan yelled out "come do a concert in Ohio?" he replied "Ohio was way to close to family he has there". I think the song has two meanings. I think the women reference is fiction and the Ohio references are his real feelings of a place forgotten and unable to connect with.

    musichealson April 06, 2009   Link
  • +2
    General Comment

    Well, I've read through the other comments, but I think I take it a little differently. I don't think it's about a literal person, but rather a personification of Ohio. I think the author of the song is grieving the death of "green green youth" of the midwest by the modern destruction of the land and communities i.e "riding back/where the highway met dead end tracks/the ground is now cement and glass/so far away." He's singing about leaving and how, unlike other lovers, he still "burns" for her, however can't love her back in the same way anymore. The metaphorical use of an intimate relationship to describe his love for what is presumably his home town, illustrates how everything is relative and that places, just like people, change over time, but it's the memories that keep you bonded. It was a part of who you became, but the romance cannot last forever because ultimately lovers grow apart. Which pairs nicely with the morose tone and weeping inflections in his voice.

    krisssteeon January 13, 2010   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    this song i basically the most depressing/uplifting song there ever was.

    thisboyistocotronicon May 08, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    I think the girl in the song commited suicide. He keeps using words that conjur up images of death-"dead end tracks," "gather round the home she will rest," "graving dreams," etc. He asks for her soul to be healed, and for her to be carried by his angel. He also refers to "these last days." Things like this make me think she has died, like btmilligan said. The verse:

    her tears fell on her pages found me out on her words i don't know what to do or say

    really makes me think it was suicide. "Her tears fell on her pages/found me out/on her words" sounds like he is describing a suicide note to me, and "I don't know what to do or say" seems a fitting reaction to him reading the note. Also, he is so full of regret the whole song, and keeps saying sorry that he didn't love her or care enough, like he feels that is the reason she died.

    camberon April 27, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    I'm not sure this song is about death literally, as it is about the death of a relationship -- and his home. Neither the place he once knew personally or geographically is still there. If his girlfriend really were dying, would he apologize for not loving her back, for not caring enough in "these last days?" It seems more like a reference to a relationship that is dead that he just can't revive, because the love has gone. And the town he once knew, that seemed so heaven-like, obviously has withered. Obviously, the town is still there. It's simply not what it once was -- just like that old flame. Still, it it heartache personified. It would be hard to find a more haunting song.

    grahamdaltonon May 28, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    I think this song is about his ex-girlfriend Katy. In the preface to his book of poetry, Nights Of Passed Over, Mark says the following: "There have been some changes in my life since the first edition of this book. The most difficult is the loss of a friend. Nine months after I wrote the first edition's preface, Katy of "Katy Song" - the inspiration between songs of mine too numerous to mention - was diagnosed with cancer, and died two months later at the age of thirty-five... For me, Katy wasn't only the inspiration behind "Summer Dress," we shared four life-changing years together. She was my introduction to San Francisco and took me on a journey worthy of a book of its own. Though Katy and I had been broken up for several years, if there is such a thing as a soul mate, she was mine. Katy was a waterfall of inspiration for me, and she was, and will always be, my biggest muse."

    sullengrrlon May 29, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    great song. i wish there were more lyrics by this band, but mark is so unintelligble on some of the songs! any one with lyrics to duk koo kim?

    sean7711on April 27, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General Comment


    glentiptonon December 16, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    I like the fact that this band has some actual lyrics, some nice, meaningful, lyrics.

    beatseekeron January 09, 2005   Link

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