I'm usually pretty good at deciphering Tyler's lyrics, but this song always throws me off.
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Posted to the Taxi Cab thread because someone requested it, reposting here because it's more relevant. Warning, it's one of my trying to go line by line as much as possible interpretations, and long.
I'm going to call this an interpretation, because it's a bit less explicit in its metaphors than Taxi Cab is. It's a song that I'm particularly fond of, because I have my own anxieties (and prior suicidal thoughts, struggles, major depression, etc.), thankfully mostly in hand these days, but I can feel very fragile myself, still, and yet I'm one of those people that others come to for advice and someone to listen when they have problems with their head, and I've got a lot of experience and advice but I feel both unqualified and like running away from it sometimes. At the same time, people have done it for me in the past, and more, and it's something I'm called to do as a person and as service/sacrifice to another as a Christian. If people come to me I tend to think God has a hand in that, and so I have a responsibility to help them, as I can, remembering that I'm not God, can't actually save anyone, and have my own limitations. That last bit took a while and some hard lessons to learn!
SO, that probably colours my interpretation a bit, but I'm not sure I'm too far off with it.
The air begins to feel a little thinAs I start the car, and then I beginTo add the miles piled up behind meI barely feel a smile deep inside meI think this describes his own emotional state. He's anxious and fragile himself, barely smiling, and it's hard to breathe in air when it's thin (like up high), as it also is in anxiety. He's driving wherever he's supposed to drive, and he has the heart of a person with him - he's responsible for that. So he's going somewhere, with a purpose, but he isn't that happy.
And I begin to envy the headlights driving southI want to crack the door so I can just fall outThe headlights driving south are visible to him, so they're headed the opposite direction to him. He wants to go away from whatever his task is, not only in direction but also out of the car. You can also take a darker interpretation and say he wants to fall out of the car onto the highway with the consequences that brings, too...
South has connections with 'good' in The Judge, so maybe he's envying the people who are going somewhere easier, happier, when he's headed into sadness.
But then I remember when you packed my carYou reached in the back and buckled up your heartFor me to drive away withBut he doesn't do any of that, because he remembers he has the task. He has the person's heart and a responsibility to help them. If he's driving with their heart, it's because they've given it to him for him to help them, however that's possible.
Alternately, the heart he has is that of God, which is with him as a gift, but also a reminder of what God's done, but I think the first is more likely.
I begin to understand why God died.I think that this line is the key to the song. It's also where the music picks up.
For me the whole song is about understanding both the responsibility of the individual to help the people who come to them for help, and also understanding some of the motivation behind what we hear of in the Bible and what Jesus did. Jesus is a member of the Trinity, therefore God, so that's who Tyler is talking about here. Essentially when it boils down to it, Jesus came and died to save us from our fate of death and darkness and despair, all of which are the consequences of sin, with a kind of love that means the giving of oneself for the other. Not just helping people, but going beyond what is reasonable. In the case of God, this went to the point of death in the worst way anyone had figured out how to do at the time. If God died out of love for us that way, then Tyler's wanting to help the person out of love mirrors that, and gives him an idea in some small way of the love God has for humanity.
Here's a verse which I think the line might be alluding to in concept:
"By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? " - 1 John, 3:16-17.
So he's understanding love, because he understands why God died. And understanding the situation and the love he has on a small scale, and the small scale laying down of his life in service reflects the large scale laying down of God's life.
The demons sat there waiting on her porchThe demons, in her mind or literal, are there waiting for the girl he's supposed to be helping.
It was a little dark so we held a makeshift torchI'm not sure. Light comes from God, so God illuminates the situation? Or he prays for guidance (light), hence makeshift?
And when my car was far out of sightIf he doesn't help, isn't there...
He crept in her room and stayed there for the night...then the bad stuff in her head gets to be there overnight. With the consequences of a demon that's been sitting on your porch now hanging out in your room (come deeper into you)...not good. The bad thoughts and desires have got deeper into her because she's alone.
And then I felt chills in my bonesA chill comes over him with realisation of what's going to happen to her, and also that...
The breath I saw was not my ownHe's reminded that the breath he can see in the cold (which is a metaphor for life, in Christianity, and you can also see about him 'finding the breath he was searching for' in Taxi Cab) is not his own. The life he has is from God, and specifically in Christianity we say that we're not alive (spiritually) but Jesus is alive in us.
I knew my skin that wrapped my frameWasn't made to play this gameThis is soooo not what he's meant to be doing. He's a fragile human being. Not God. Not strong enough to be dealing with demons and death.
And then I saw Him, torch in handHe laid it out, what He had plannedEvery lyric site I've seen (including some really old ones from the dark ages) has the capital for Him, which makes me think it's an official part of the text. Capitals in Christianity for pronouns = God. He/Him/His. So the following assumes that it's correct:
"I saw Him" = He sees Jesus standing there, with a torch, light and illumination. Jesus is often associated with light - "I am the Light of the World". The light in this case is giving Tyler the ability to see what God's plans are for him and the people he's called to help.
On the off chance that the 'him' refers to the demon, although demons are not at all associated with light, the demon's laying out his plans for the night. Either way, Tyler is faced with something he has to act against.
And then I said I'll take the graveHe says to God "I'll die for them. I'll lay down my life (will, desires, time, energy) for them"
Please just send them all my wayI'm not going to run, send them to me for me to help.
I began to understand why God diedAs mentioned above, now he understands even more deeply - not only does he want to help this one girl, but also all the other people God will send him. And if God died for him (and the world), how can he give anything less than his whole self to help others?
The air begins to feel a little thinThe anxiety is still there, but...
As we're waiting for the morning to beginThe night will have an end. And he's with someone else, the 'you' of the song, presumably the girl. The morning coming brings light, hope, and end to the darkness.
But for now you told me to hold this jarAnd when I looked inside I saw it held your heartHe's been given the heart to hold and protect and care for. He's got a responsibility to her and the people he helps.
For me to walk away withI think it's interesting that he starts off driving, but now he's walking. I tend to think of Taxi Cab here in that both vehicles in the song are things he's in and they carry him, but he isn't the one controlling where it's going in either case. Walking takes agency. He's choosing to carry her heart. He's choosing to walk. I began to understand why God died And so that is the 'death'. Him laying down his life in reflection of God's actions.
A car: the car he's driving at the beginning. His way of being carried to where he needs to go, life.
A torch: the illumination God gives
A death: his own surrender to God's will, his sacrifice of himself despite his fragileness, despite his anxiety, his own sadness, for other people.
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If people have comments on this or disagree with stuff, please tell me, because I'm not as confident with this one as Taxi Cab because the metaphors are less direct. But I think I might be close.