Sunday Quotes: The Trapeze Swinger

I don’t often put songs in here, so when I do you know it’s incredible. This week is a ballad composed by songwriter Samuel Bean (better known as Iron & Wine). This song has been around for years, so it’s hardly a discovery but I’ve recently fallen for the way in which it combines nostalgia, youth, wanderlust, love, loss and hope all in one wonderful story, no small feat in music.  After you check out the lyrics below, go ahead listen to a live version here. Oh, then tell me what the song means- there’s an interesting discussion to be had.

Please remember me, happily
By the rosebush laughing
With bruises on my chin, the time when
We counted every black car passing
Your house beneath the hill and up until
Someone caught us in the kitchen
With maps, a mountain range, a piggy bank
A vision too removed to mention

But please remember me, fondly
I heard from someone you’re still pretty
And then they went on to say that the Pearly Gates
Had some eloquent graffiti
Like ‘We’ll meet again’ and ‘Fuck the man’
And ‘Tell my mother not to worry’
And angels with their great handshakes
But always done in such a hurry

And please remember me, at Halloween
Making fools of all the neighbors
Our faces painted white, by midnight
We’d forgotten one another
And when the morning came I was ashamed
Only now it seems so silly
That season left the world and then returned
And now you’re lit up by the city

So please remember me, mistakenly
In the window of the tallest tower
Call, then pass us by but much too high
To see the empty road at happy hour
Gleam and resonate just like the gates
Around the Holy Kingdom
With words like, ‘Lost and found’ and ‘Don’t look down’
And ‘Someone save temptation’

And please remember me as in the dream
We had as rug burned babies
Among the fallen trees and fast asleep
Beside the lions and the ladies
That called you what you like and even might
Give a gift for your behavior
A fleeting chance to see a trapeze
Swinger high as any savior

But please remember me, my misery
And how it lost me all I wanted
Those dogs that love the rain and chasing trains
The colored birds above there running
In circles round the well and where it spells
On the wall behind St. Peter
So bright on cinder gray in spray paint
‘Who the hell can see forever?’

And please remember me, seldomly
In the car behind the carnival
My hand between your knees, you turn from me
And said the trapeze act was wonderful
But never meant to last, the clowns that passed
Saw me just come up with anger
When it filled with circus dogs, the parking lot
Had an element of danger

So please remember me, finally
And all my uphill clawing
My dear, but if I make the Pearly Gates
I’ll do my best to make a drawing
Of God and Lucifer, a boy and girl
An angel kissin’ on a sinner
A monkey and a man, a marching band
All around the frightened trapeze swinger

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2 thoughts on “Sunday Quotes: The Trapeze Swinger

  1. This is one of my favorite songs. It’s so soothing, despite some darker images. I don’t have much to say about the meaning (I just let the words flow over me) – but I do think a woman the singer once loved, but wasn’t with, has died at a young age.

    1. I also don’t have too much insight into the meaning; the song itself is just powerful. Some of the images (graffiti at the pearly gates, getting caught in the kitchen with maps and a piggy bank, the night at the circus) are just simply nostalgic and so well depicted, it’s hard not too relate. I can’t decide if its about someone he loves dying, or it its almost written as a final goodbye…”heard from someone your still pretty” and the final image of him approaching heaven. Makes me wonder…

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