Milk thistle, milk thistle
Let me down slow
Help me go slow
I've been carrying on
I'm not scared of nothing
I'll go pound for pound
I keep death on my mind
Like a heavy crown
If I go to heaven
I'll be bored as hell
Like a little baby
At the bottom of a well

Fair child, fair child
How are you man?
Did you fix that storefront?
Did you start that band?
Don't be scared of nothing
You go pound for pound
You bring peace to midnight
Like a spotted owl
I'll be rooting for you
Like my favorite team
If somebody sweats you
You just point them out to me

All the sights and sounds
This little world's too crowded now
And there's only one way out
An elevator ride
Through the tunnel towards the light
And I'm nowhere bound
Keep going up and down
Up and down

Newspaper, newspaper
Can't take no more
You're here every morning
Waiting at my door
I'm just trying to kiss you
And you stab my eyes
Make me blue forever
Like an island sky
And I'm not pretending
That it's all okay
Just let me have my coffee
Before you take away the day

Lazarus, Lazarus
Why all the tears?
Did your faithful chauffeur just disappear?
What a lonesome feeling
To be waiting around
Like some washed up actress
In a Tinseltown
But for the record
I'd come pick you up
We'll head for the ocean
Just say when you've had enough

All the light and sound
This little world's too fragile now
And there's only one way out
But if you let me slide
I'll do my best to make things right
And I'm nowhere bound
Just going up and down
Up and down

Milk thistle, milk thistle
Let me down slow
Just help me go slow
I've been hurrying on
I was poised for greatness
I was down and out
I keep death at my heels
Like a basset hound
If i go to heaven
I'll be bored as hell
Like a crying baby
At the bottom of a well


Lyrics submitted by tester2586

Milk Thistle song meanings
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43 Comments

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  • +2
    General Comment

    “This has got to be the most amazing song ever produced by any artist!” Yes I always knew Conor would be the first one to make the sentence leak from my finger tips!

    Gaz xx

    gazsafaon June 18, 2008   Link
  • +2
    General Comment

    "All the sights and sounds This little world's too crowded now And there's only one way out"

    This part makes me cry every time, Conor Oberst has written the only two songs ever to have elicited real tears from me. So genius.

    xArienetteon August 18, 2008   Link
  • +2
    General Comment

    I always thought this song was about Conors infamous suicide attempt (mentioned in lets not shit ourselves - "weak from whiskey and pills, in a Chicago hospital")

    The milk thistle is obviously for the alcohol poisoning The elevator ride and tunnel towards the light is a near death experience "Lazarus... why all the tears?" is Conor as he regains consciousness in hospital (Lazarus - back from the dead) The newspaper verse is about him being depressed, as is the "death on my mind" line.

    I have no idea about the second verse - but if I had to guess I would say its his dad talking to him. "fair child...did you start that band" etc. I only say this because looking at it as Conor speaking to a friend doesnt really fit in with the mood of the rest of the song (as I interpret it anyway). I cant see him offering these words of encouragement if he's so depressed.

    Thats my two cents anyway...let me know what you think.

    michaelatdion June 29, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    Milk thistle is used to treat alcohol-inflicted liver damage. Perhaps it has something to do with that.

    chlorophyllbloodon June 19, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    This was in a interview with Conor about the slightly religious aspect of this song in Paste Magazine (pastemagazine.com/high_gravity/2008/07/conor-oberst-on-religion-and-politics.html):

    Article: One of the songs on the album, "Milk Thistle," contains the lines "If I go to heaven / I'll be bored as hell /like a little baby / at the bottom of a well." I asked him about that song.

    “Well, I guess it’s, to me, you know, pretty much commonsense. You can only really understand good if you have bad, so the idea of heaven or anything that happens for eternity, even if it’s nice, I can’t imagine it being nice forever. Even the idea of forever is kind of ridiculous, which is unfortunate because it’s kind of a nice thing to say, you know. I think it softens the blow of mortality and having to say goodbye to everything you know and everyone you love and all that kind of thing. I think it’s a nice concept, and I wish it made sense to me, but I guess it doesn’t.”


    Tri_Ton July 23, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    Some minor corrections:

    Milk thistle, milk thistle Let me down slow Help me go slow I've been carrying on I'm not scared of nothin' I'll go pound for pound I keep death on my mind Like a heavy crown If I go to heaven I'll be bored as hell Like a little baby At the bottom of a well

    Fair child, fair child How are you man? Did you fix that storefront? Did you start that band? Don't be scared of nothin' You go pound for pound You bring peace to midnight Like a spotted owl I'll be rootin' for you Like my favorite team If somebody sweats you You just point 'em out to me

    All the sights and sounds This little world's too crowded now And there's only one way out An elevator ride Through the tunnel towards the light And I'm nowhere bound Keep going up and down Up and down

    Newspaper, newspaper Can't take no more You're here every morning Waitin' at my door I'm just tryin' to kiss you And you stab my eyes Make me blue forever Like an island sky And I'm not pretending That it's all okay Just let me have my coffee Before you take away the day

    Lazarus, Lazarus Why all the tears? Did your faithful chauffeur just disappear? What a lonesome feeling To be waitin' round Like some washed up actress In a Tinseltown But for the record I'd come pick you up We'll head for the ocean Just say when you've had enough

    All the light and sound This little world's too fragile now And there's only one way out But if you let me slide I'll do my best to make things right And I'm nowhere bound Just going up and down Up and down

    Milk thistle, milk thistle Let me down slow Just help me go slow I've been hurrying on I was poised for greatness I was down and out I keep death at my heels Like a basset hound If i go to heaven I'll be bored as hell Like a crying baby at the bottom of a well

    let uss be freeon August 05, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    I didn't know what milk thistle was used for but now that I do, I think it really fits with all these other stanzas, as though, the narrator -- and all that we know about his apparent alcoholism from his other songs -- is sort of suffering and rooting for the underdog, in a sense. I love the image of this herbal remedy sort of aiding him on, just as, in another stanza, he supports Lazarus.

    Someone asked who Lazarus was in the Bible -- I think there were two, but in this one he's referring to the parabal of beggar, not the one raised from the dead. There was this beggar that this rich guy in the Bible doesn't help, as he sits at his door step asking for assistance day after day, and in the afterlife Lazarus goes to heaven and the other guy goes hell for not helping someone in great need.

    So that certainly fits with the stanza about Lazarus where Conor compares her to a washed up actress in LA.

    My favourite line, aside from Conor saying he'd be bored as hell in heaven, which I love, is this stanza:

    All the sights and sounds This little world's too crowded now And there's only one way out An elevator ride Through the tunnel towards the light And I'm nowhere bound Keep going up and down Up and down

    I love how he compares death and the descent or ascent to either heaven or hell to an elevator ride. I guess it just really strikes me because I can relate to the exhaustion and there only being one way out. But the whole "nowhere bound" just going up and down from heaven to hell on an elevator is just a stunning picture.

    mytwohandson August 07, 2008   Link
  • +1
    My Opinion

    Well, Oberst & Dylan are both kind of "beat" if you know what I mean, but there are significant differences. I think Conor is far and away more emotive than Dylan. I also think Dylan captured the popular imagination in a more significant way (i.e., more famous)(then & now) Anyway, it's kind of stupid to compare them just because they were both from the Midwest, short, slight, folk/poetic... I think Dylan was more of an actor with these things; I think Conor is more of the real thing. But I might be biased. Dylan was also more incisively political; Conor, when he is at all, it's sporadic. They are both very deep and have significant things to offer, but Conor is like a flower-child to Dylan, the radical. Well, maybe that's just what their respective generations needed... a voice in the wilderness telling us to resist and/or to love. It's a heavy mantle to be compared to Dylan, and I don't think C.O. completely deserves it, even though I'm the bigger Oberst fan by far! It's just that they have very different functions in society as we know it. I mean, you might as well say Zach de la Rocha is the "New Dylan" but no one's going to say that are they? hmm.

    williambleakon November 19, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    Milk thistle is used to treat alcohol-inflicted liver damage. Perhaps it has something to do with that.

    chlorophyllbloodon June 19, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    Milk thistle is used to treat alcohol-inflicted liver damage. Perhaps it has something to do with that.

    chlorophyllbloodon June 19, 2008   Link

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