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If You Could Save Yourself


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Well everyone knows I love me some Ween and that means spending way too much time thinking about their songs and lyrics. You usually can't get a straight answer out of any of their fans off the ween.net message board (you think I'm harsh!) but recently a thread came up about the song If You Could Save Yourself. The fans didn't have that much insight but the great thing is that Aaron (Gener) comes on the board from time to time and posts as GW (papa). He added this thought:

ok guys, I'll just post Pat's analysis of the song she'd sent me a while back. I think she's pretty dead on. Here goes...

Dear Aaron,

In regards to "If You Could Save Yourself...

The first verse sets the scene. A man is talking to the darkness (put many possible interpretations for darkness here, I'll let you pick one) about a vision he had, and just can't shake. The vision has been with the governer" so it obviously affected him deeply. In this verse you first hear the recurring paradox "the sound of brown", here used to represent his thoughts (i.e. they are given sound by him, but otherwise they are formless)

He then begins to describe his vision (or his "cumming in the mouth"); as he walks down a dark, lonely, cold street he suddenly sees the "vultures circling around Phish". I think this shows that the vision is one of contemporary culture, used to represent commercialism and flashiness (think Las Vegas). Had it been a candle light, the songs meaning would bevery different. The sound of silence here could be the quiet calm of the night (whihc is split by the light) or it could still be his thoughts (which are "touched" by the light)

The light brings him a vision of thousands of people, all caught in paradox; They are "Saving themselves, thus saving us all", "the wanting" and "knee burns". These people are going through the motions of life, but not really experiencing it. They can speak and hear and write songs, but they don't get the full effect of "listening" or "speaking". I bet you know people like this... the kind of people who talk and talk and talk, but never speak anything meaningful. They are shown in the neon light, reflecting that modern society helps these people go on with their senseless lives quite easily. Here the "sound of brown" is the detached rut that these people have put themselves in that no one dare break (by "speaking" or "listening")

The singer tries to reach these people, telling them that this unspeaking, unhearing silence will consume them like a cancer. He wants to reach them, so that he can teach them how to "listen" and "speak". But the choice is theirs, they must "make it good again, make it strong" and accept his help. Instead his attempt fails, the people obviously do not want to be reached. They are happy in their rut. His words fall like "wide open windows"; barely felt, not even heard. Here the words "echo in the wells of brownness". The echo makes a lasting impression of his words, but it's made in "a well of silence", where no one can hear it.

The final verse is preety eerie in my opinion. The people begin to "draw with invisible ink" to a "note a mother would never read". I think this represents the people's general concensus of modern society that places technology and progress above everything else. But the sign seems to warn them against their unwavering worship. It tells them that there are wise, prophetic words written on "walls of John and Peters" and "tenement halls", places where this modern society wouldn't expect deep thoughts to be. These words are also "whispered in the sound of brownness". If the people only look for these silent words they may learn to "speak" and "listen" and truly live life to the fullest.

Love, Pat

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