Lyrics and Meaning

On the drive up from Sacramento (Why was I driving to Sacramento? Find out here), John and I spent some time listening to the album “Sign No More” by Mumford & Sons. We were listening carefully to the lyrics and discussing them. John and his friend, Zach, had previously been talking about the album and thought that every song had the word “heart” in it, but they weren’t sure. So, we were also listening for the word “heart.”

One song that struck me as particularly meaningful was “Timshel.”

Here’s a video of a performance of this song:

Here are the lyrics:

Cold is the water
It freezes your already cold mind
Already cold, cold mind
And death is at your doorstep
And it will steal your innocence
But it will not steal your substance

But you are not alone in this
And you are not alone in this
As brothers we will stand and we’ll hold your hand
Hold your hand

And you are the mother
The mother of your baby child
The one to whom you gave life
And you have your choices
And these are what make man great
His ladder to the stars

But you are not alone in this
And you are not alone in this
As brothers we will stand and we’ll hold your hand
Hold your hand

And I will tell the night
Whisper, “Lose your sight”
But I can’t move the mountains for you

The harmony and beauty of this song strikes me every time I hear it, but also the meaning behind it. I was puzzling over the meaning, particularly in the 2nd verse, so I asked John, “Do you think the band is talking to a singular woman and comforting her by saying that they as individuals will help her or is it more a general thing in society?”

John said, “I think it’s a societal thing.”

We discussed it further, talking about the need for society as a whole to support single mothers. This song seems to suggest that the father has died, if you take the first verse that way, and left her alone. We then moved on to discussing other songs on the album and the themes of loss, hope, and choices.

What do you think the meaning of this song is?Β What song has struck you with its beauty and/or meaning recently? Have you taken the time to listen to music carefully or are John and I just huge music nerds?

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