Arcade Fire – Tunnels

By , September 15, 2004

And if the snow buries my,
My neighborhood.
And if my parents are crying
Then I’ll dig a tunnel
From my window to yours,
Yeah, a tunnel from my window to yours.
You climb out the chimney
And meet me in the middle,
The middle of the town

I’ve been playing this song over and over and over for more than a week. I can’t get enough of it, and I cannot wait for the supposedly soon-to-come album.

Currently Playing: Arcade Fire – Tunnels

I am not using hyperbole when I say that this song may be finest combination of deeply profound, poetic lyrics and a beautiful tune I have ever heard. I am fully prepared to crown this song as just that. There may well be songs with a prettier tune, and songs with even more poignant lyrics, but none that I know have both to the degree that this one does. There are more levels to this song than I can yet comprehend, and with every listen I feel I have grasped some new element of its meaning.

I’m going to try to break down some of what I take away from the song, so bear with me as I suddenly get all abstract and emotional.

But sometimes, we remember our bedrooms,
And our parent’s bedrooms,
And the bedrooms of our friends

They have hit upon something so powerful there– the bedrooms of our parents and our friends. I think I speak for nearly everyone when I say that as a child, though willing and able to run rampant through the rest of the house, I treated my parents’ bedroom with a sense of awe and respect. It wasn’t quite off-limits, but it was certainly semi-hallowed ground, and now that I’m grown-up I remember it as somehow mysterious and larger than life. Now, that alone would have been enough of an allusion to elevate this song to the “super hella profound and deep” category, but then they immediately take it one step further– the bedrooms of our friends.

If there was trepidation in the bedroom of my parents, there was a magic in the bedrooms of my friends. At that age, your bedroom is the only place where you have any autonomy; beyond how you dress, the posters with which you adorn your bedroom walls are nearly your sole expression of self. Seeing what someone else did with their tiny corner of the world always made me question how my own little kingdom looked. Today, years later, I remember those rooms with a hallowed sense of nostalgia. The hours spent listening to music or just wondering about life were all framed by the environment of some friend’s bedroom. I hadn’t thought about it before, but that one little line in this song floods my mind with memories every time I hear it.

Arcade Fire - Tunnels

If I had to offer an overarching meaning, I’d say this is a song about growing up unprepared for the world that we must face as adults. Either because of death, absence, or plain negligence, so many of our parents just aren’t there to guide us, and we’re on our own. We’re a generation of children in adult’s bodies, going through the motions of adulthood without ever having earned it. That is just my take on the lyrics, and I’m sure there are many other ways to interpret this song. In truth, there are certainly numerous meanings intertwined with one another. The only certainty is that it is a song charged with powerful symbolism and poetic wordplay, perhaps none so more than when the chorus comes in for the final time: it arrives with one extra line, and it’s a line that ups the ante exponentially:

You change all the lead
Sleeping in my head to gold,
As the day grows dim,
I hear you sing a golden hymn,
The song I’ve been trying to sing

The song I’ve been trying to sing. That feeling or emotion that is forever in the back of your mind, and one you know, if you could just bring it forward, would make all the difference in the world; but one you can’t put it into concrete form. It remains hovering just behind your consciousness. To hear someone singing it– would that be to experience a moment where someone is able to make sense of everything in your life that has heretofore been a confused jumble? Or would it only add to the confusion, when a moment later the song is gone and you can’t remember exactly how it went, and it too ends up buried in the recesses of your mind, a haunting melody that you need to hear again but know you never will.

I’m normally a very literal, to-the-point writer, and when I try to put my emotional response to a song like this onto paper (computer screen?) I fear I am lacking. Much like the golden hymn in the song, I’m afraid that I am only skirting around what I feel because there really aren’t words that convey what I am feeling; or, if such words do exist, I do not know them.

Purify the colors, purify my mind
And spread the ashes of the colors
Over this heart of mine!

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14 Responses to “Arcade Fire – Tunnels”

  1. I love the sound of this song. Good find!

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  2. amandaness says:

    Great breakdown of the lyrics! Great song too

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  3. They think I’m cool, cold, and icy. I’m none of the above. cheers.

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  4. Also think that I’m a Korean girl in my mid 20s. None of the above.

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    Peasprout Reply:

    @Magic Beanstalk, um, thanks for sharing?

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    stelladoro Reply:

    @Peasprout, …they think i’m nice.

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  5. blacksesame says:

    This doesn’t sound like anything else I have heard before. Do you know more songs that have this feel to it?

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  6. muppetluv says:

    Oh I like this! Where did you find this song?

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  7. YukiTonbo says:

    hey sister, soul sister…

    *sigh* kids…

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  8. Hola P ! I love stealing your MP3’s. It’s the highlight of my day. I get to listen to new music I don’t know as well ! :) ~P

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  9. Where did you go, P ?

    I’m prob going to stay wth a gf in LA for the wedding. And I’m flyin ! No driving 8 hrs for me !! ~P

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    Peasprout Reply:

    @Dirti Martini, Fizzy and I took a day trip to Ukiah today. Not a hell of a lot there.

    Beats a kick in the pants, I reckon.

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  10. I’ll get back to you on the MP3 req .. :) ~P

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