The past is a grotesque animal
And in its eyes you see
How completely wrong you can be
How completely wrong you can be

The sun is out, it melts the snow that fell yesterday
Makes you wonder why it bothered

I fell in love with the first cute girl that I met
Who could appreciate Georges Bataille
Standing at Swedish festival discussing "Story of the Eye"
Discussing "Story of the Eye"

It's so embarrassing to need someone like I do you
How can I explain, I need you here and not here too
How can I explain, I need you here and not here too

I'm flunking out, I'm flunking out, I'm gone, I'm just gone
But at least I author my own disaster
At least I author my own disaster

Performance breakdown and I don't want to hear it
I'm just not available
Things could be different but they're not
Things could be different but they're not

The mousy girl screams, "Violence! Violence!"
The mousy girl screams, "Violence! Violence!"
She gets hysterical because they're both so mean
And it's my favorite scene
But the cruelty's so predictable
It makes you sad on the stage
Though our love project has so much potential
But it's like we weren't made for this world
(Though I wouldn't really want to meet someone who was)

Do I have to scream in your face?
I've been dodging lamps and vegetables
Throw it all in my face, I don't care

Let's just have some fun
Let's tear this shit apart
Let's tear the fucking house apart
Let's tear our fucking bodies apart
But let's just have some fun

Somehow you've red-rovered the gestapo circling my heart
And nothing can defeat you
No death, no ugly world

You've lived so brightly
You've altered everything
I find myself searching for old selves
While speeding forward through the plate glass of maturing cells

I've played the unraveler, the parhelion
But even apocalypse is fleeting
There's no death, no ugly world

Sometimes I wonder if you're mythologizing me like I do you
Mythologizing me like I do you

We want our film to be beautiful, not realistic
Perceive me in the radiance of terror dreams
And you can betray me
You can, you can betray me

But teach me something wonderful
Crown my head, crowd my head
With your lilting effects
Project your fears on to me, I need to view them
See, there's nothing to them
I promise you, there's nothing to them

I'm so touched by your goodness
You make me feel so criminal
How do you keep it together?
I'm all, all unraveled

But you know, no matter where we are
We're always touching by underground wires

I've explored you with the detachment of an analyst
But most nights we've raided the same kingdoms
And none of our secrets are physical
None of our secrets are physical
None of our secrets are physical now

Lyrics submitted by delial, edited by riddlenet, ciotog

The Past Is a Grotesque Animal Lyrics as written by Kevin Barnes


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The Past Is a Grotesque Animal song meanings
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  • +8
    General CommentThis song is fucking EPIC. I listen to it atleast 5 times a day.
    Clap Your Handson September 14, 2006   Link
  • +5
    General CommentI don't think it's "Paul Hellion" or "poor hellion". It's probably "parhelion" (see…). Given Kevin's tendency to use obscure references, it wouldn't surprise me if this was the case.
    SakAttakon December 29, 2006   Link
  • +5
    General Commentif i could only listen to one song for the rest of my life, this would be it.
    ERmco23on August 25, 2010   Link
  • +4
    General CommentThis is without a doubt the most powerful song Of Montreal has ever created.
    heroinhotwateron February 08, 2007   Link
  • +4
    General Comment"Things could be different, but they're not."

    Hit me harder than Neutral Milk Hotel's "How strange it is to be anything at all"
    eturner24on March 07, 2007   Link
  • +4
    General CommentFrom Wikipedia. The last paragraph sheds some light on the song meaning...

    In his review for Pitchfork, Dubbin suggests that "'Heimdalsgate' takes up the drugs-as-artistic-inspiration vs. drugs-as-personal-ruin dilemma and plays it out with equally conflicted musical gestures." The interpretation of the song's subject matter as drug-related is not uncommon [2] -- but according to Barnes, neither is it valid. Asked "Are you a stoner?" by The Stranger's Christopher Frizzelle in direct reference to the song's "chemicals", Barnes says, "Yeah, that has nothing to do with drugs. That's the chemicals in your mind." [3]

    FRIZZELLE: Serotonin?

    BARNES: Yeah. I went through this chemical depression, and that's when I was writing a lot of the songs for Hissing Fauna. They're all songs about that experience. And I was experiencing it in the moment that I was writing the songs, and sort of asking myself: What the hell is going on? Why are you all of a sudden totally paranoid and plagued by these anxieties? And why is everything so distorted and confusing and fucked up? My lifestyle hadn't changed that much. And then I realized, well, there's something going on inside of me that I don't have control over, and then you realize how vulnerable you are to these things, these elements that you can't understand, or unless you go on medication and get it under control. It's like you're being betrayed by your body.

    FRIZZELLE: Sometimes if you just put on a dress or something your whole mood can change.

    BARNES: To some degree. I'd gotten to that point where nothing was working. I was borderline suicidal, and my relationship with my girlfriend had totally eroded and she'd gone back to Norway with our daughter and everything was totally fucked, and I was just like, What can I do? "The Past Is a Grotesque Animal" is about that. The lyrics tell the story of what was really going on and the music sort of represents this other emotion that I wish existed. The music was really happy because I wanted to make something that would lift my spirits
    somerainfellon February 23, 2009   Link
  • +3
    General Comment"how can i explain i need you here and not here too?"

    perhaps my favorite line in an of montreal song EVER.
    so true and correct and everything i ever thought about any person I ever loved.

    terrible and magnificent in one breath.
    definitely the saddest of montreal song ever.
    ieatseedson March 08, 2007   Link
  • +3
    General Commentbowie talks about a girl with mousey hair in 'life on mars' and the "It's my favorite scene/they're both so violent" really remind me of that song
    gabrieleadeson May 02, 2007   Link
  • +3
    General CommentRed Rover is a game where a group of children divide evenly into teams and each team joins hands in a chain. One team shouts out "Red Rover Red Rover send (a name of another team's player) right over". That kid has to run and try and break the bond between to children. If the kid breaks the chain he/she can grab one of the kids who's hand let go and take them to their team. If not, they have to join the other team.

    parhelion is a large halo or glare created by the sun's rays passing through clouds (or something). they're really neat.
    laurelmon September 21, 2008   Link
  • +2
    General CommentI don't think this has been mentioned yet...

    But since "fauna" [from the album title Hissing Fauna] means in one sense "The species of animals that existed in a certain period of time in a certain place"... it fits perfectly with the title "The Past is a Grotesque Animal".

    Also, its a mythological name, which fits in with the lyric of this song "Sometimes I wonder if you're mythologizing me like I do you".

    Haha, man I love this CD...its full of so many suprises.
    souljamikeon February 20, 2007   Link

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