I leave the house as soon as it gets light outside
Like a prisoner breaking out of jail
And I steal down to business fifteen-five-oh-one
Like I had a bounty hunter on my tail

And somebody stops to pick me up
But he drops me off just down the block
And along the highway where the empty spirits breathe
Wild sage growing in the weeds

Walked down the soft shoulder and I count my steps
Headed vaguely eastward sun in my eyes
And I lose my footing and I skin my hands breaking my fall
And I laugh to myself, and look up at the skies

And then I think I hear angels in my ears
Like marbles being thrown against a mirror
And along the highway where unlucky stray dogs bleed
Wild sage growing in the weeds

And some days I don't miss my family
And some days I do
Some days I think I'd feel better if I tried harder
Most days I know it's not true

I lay down right where I fell cold grass in my face
And I hear the traffic like the rhythm of the tides
And I stare at the scrape on the heel of my hand
'Til it doesn't sting so much and until the bloods dried

And when somebody asks if I'm ok
I don't know what to say
And along the highway
From cast-off innumerable seeds
Wild sage growing in the weeds.

Lyrics submitted by mdon06, edited by gifoverit, AliRhea

Wild Sage song meanings
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  • +4
    Song MeaningIn an NPR Music performance this year, John Darnielle spoke briefly about how this song portrays the day-to-day struggles of mental illness (around the 51 minute mark: npr.org/event/music/148782993/…). "When you work every day in hospitals, you can become numb to the struggles of the people you're working with... [so] you try to keep that feeling with you, so that when you work, you never forget that you're trying to help people who have a hard time helping themselves."
    argellaon May 22, 2012   Link
  • +2
    General CommentBefore playing this song, Darnielle prefaced it by saying it was about a person going insane. Not in the theatrical sense... but in the real way that he saw as a psychiatric nurse. Where someone just slowly loses touch with everything and can no longer handle daily life.

    In this way, it's an introduction to the feeling on the album that follows losing someone.
    Fypaston September 12, 2006   Link
  • +2
    Song MeaningIn that concert mentioned below, he said that this song was his first real attempt at writing about mental illness, so that confirms that it is at least about something related to that field.

    For me, this is all about someone who is struggling with the differences between reality and fiction. They are constantly wavering between the two worlds, and gain life experiences along the way...for better or worse.
    OctaVariuM8on July 24, 2012   Link
  • +1
    General Commentfifteen-five-oh-one = highway between Durham and Chapel Hill, right?
    higfaceon August 31, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI heard him perform this back in June '06. When I heard it, it was just so powerful to me. Definitely one of my favorites off of "Get Lonely."
    inmotionagainon May 17, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentTo me this song is cool because sage could mean just the plant sage growing in the weeds or, the alternative definition for sage is "having wisdom that comes with age"
    there is wisdom amoung the weeds.
    I like the concept, whether it was on purpose or not is another story.
    Jenna_Bennaon December 06, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General Commentperson going insane. yes, definitely and clearly:

    first verse...at the start, you think if you move or change surroundings everything will get better. after all, it's all situational, right? you're not really going crazy, you just need a change of scenery.

    second verse...you think maybe if you find someone to be with (i'm reading it as a metaphorical romantic relationship or a close friendship) they will save you, right? i mean, getting away didn't work, but clearly the next relationship will "fix" you. but oops, no, wrong again.

    third verse...the spiral really begins. fixation on the little things ("counting steps"), losing your balance both literally and metaphorically ("lose my footing"), you can't really see where you're going ("sun in my eyes"), and then the voices...

    bridge...the moments of lucidity in the madness that only make the madness more overwhelming.

    fourth verse...giving up/giving in.

    "and when somebody asks if I'm ok, i don't know what to say..." the line between sanity and insanity is no longer clear to you, you are totally gone...
    noondayon December 14, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentCorrect. I live in Durham, as does John Darnielle. Business 15-501 is where you can find places like Target and Office Max, among other things.
    poopnuggeton September 09, 2006   Link

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