They hook you up
To a fentanyl drip
To mitigate the pain a little bit
I flew in
From Pennsylvania
When I heard the hour was coming fast
And I docked in Santa Barbara
Tried to brace myself
You can't brace yourself
When the time comes
You just have to roll with the blast
And I'm an eighteen-wheeler headed down the interstate
And my brakes are going to give
And I won't know till it's too late
Tires screaming when I lose control
Try not to hurt too many people when I roll

Find the harbor freeway
And head south
Real tired
Head kind of light
I found Telegraph Road
I'd only seen the name on envelopes
Found the parking lot
And turned right
I felt all the details
Carving out space in my head
Tropicanas on the walk way
Neon red
Between the pain
And the pills trying to hold at bay
Stands a traveler going somewhere far away
And I am airplane tumbling wing over wing
Tried to listen to my instruments
They don't say anything
People screaming when the engines quit
I hope we're all in crash position when we hit

And then came to your bedside
And as it turns out
I'm not ready
And as though
You were speaking through a thick haze
You said hello to me
We all stood there around you
Happy to hear you speak
The last of something bright burning
Still burning
Beyond the cancer and the chemotherapy
And you were a presence full of light upon this earth
And I am a witness to your life and to it's worth
It's three days later when I get the call
And there's nobody around to break my fall

Lyrics submitted by brandontheinnocuous, edited by songy44447, Mellow_Harsher

Matthew 25:21 song meanings
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  • +4
    General CommentThere's an interview with JD about the new album on Pitchfork, in it he explains the meaning behind a few of the songs - this one is autobiographical, and is about breaking off a tour to fly back to visit his mother in law who is dying of cancer
    Yer_Maon September 09, 2009   Link
  • +4
    General CommentHaving recently had two people I was extremely close to pass away, when I heard this song I broke down crying because it is just heartbreakingly honest and describes the pain and uncertainty and suddenness of death so perfectly. Even when you see death coming it feels like a car wreck, a trainwreck, a plane crash. It tears you apart. I didn't think it was possible to explain that feeling of such deep pain and sadness, and yet John does it so simply and eloquently here. This is the most gut-wrenchingly beautiful 5 minutes and 50 seconds of song I have ever heard.
    starrydynamoon May 18, 2010   Link
  • +2
    General CommentIt might interest people to know that the lyrics on the version of this on the bonus album "The Life of the World in Flux" differ slightly.

    The last line is "I wish you were still around to break my fall", in case this song wasn't heartbreaking enough. Also, "Between the cancer and the chemotherapy".

    When I saw him perform this live, he sang "demerol" for the first line in place of "fentanyl".
    sparklenighton November 02, 2009   Link
  • +2
    General CommentThis is truly one of the most heartwrenchingly sad songs ever penned. John, I'm so sorry for whatever caused you to write this. It's just pure, unfiltered sadness. So beautiful in it's desperation and honesty.

    I just listened to this for the hundredth or so time, and I broke down for the first time, like it was the first time I'd ever heard it.
    OctaVariuM8on October 19, 2012   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI think this line makes the most direct connection to the Bible verse:

    "And you were a presence full of light upon this earth
    And I am a witness to your life and to it's worth"

    The "good and faithful servant" has taken what "the master" has given him and increased it, so the Bible verse is meant to encourage us to use our talents, whatever they may be, to make a positive difference in the world. The lyric seems to say that the person John is singing to (his mother-in-law, based on yer_ma's post) has been the good an faithful servant who has used her talent to make the world a better place. Which is about the best thing you can say about someone, when it comes right down to it.
    crackityj0neson January 05, 2010   Link
  • +1
    General CommentMore importantly, fentanyl is the opiate of choice for cancer patients, or the terminally ill.
    mlemreon September 08, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General CommentIn that same interview he mentioned he was particularly fond of the Young's Literal Translation. shows this verse as:

    His lord said to him, Well done, servant, good and faithful, over a few things thou wast faithful, over many things I will set thee; enter into the joy of thy lord.

    I guess it makes slightly more sense considering the context of the song.
    geckoisredon September 10, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentOk so this is my first time posting lyrics so please be kind. Also I totally have no idea what John says at the end of that second line.

    About the song itself it is obviously about dealing with someone's death but I really don't know how it relates to the bible verse:

    "His master replied, 'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!'
    brandontheinnocuouson September 04, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThey hook you up to a fentanyl drip.

    It's an extremely powerful painkiller. One of the two drugs that have an effect in microgram quantities, the other being LSD.
    mlemreon September 08, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentFentanyl - It is approximately 100 times more potent than morphine, Fentanyl is often used in cancer therapy and other chronic pain management due to its effectiveness in relieving pain. There is no known opioid better than Fentanyl in reducing cancer pain - Wikipedia
    Obomanon February 08, 2010   Link

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