From This Might Be A Wiki

As mentioned in Interpretations:Contrecoup (Demo), this is a fairly straightforward song if you know the obscure words they use:

  • contrecoup: A head injury where the brain is bruised against the far wall from the impact
  • phrenology: The archaic study of the shape of the head and how it relates to your personality and fate; this was basically palm reading turned into a pseudo-science
  • craniosophic: The state of being well-versed in phrenology. Sophic = knowledge, Cranio = of the skull.
  • limerent: The state of infatuation or being in love

So, to summarize: Guy gets hit in the head, falls in love, but his vocabulary goes all obtuse and no one can understand him.

Just to add, he gets pushed into a wall by someone, that causes his contrecoup\brain injury, this causes him to suddenly fall in love with his attacker but can't convey his love due to the sustained head injury, and possible concussion, he has just received from his attacker\proposed beloved. I know it looks like I'm rehashing what you said, but I just wanted to clarify that the guy fell in love with his attacker... I suppose I could have just said that... Ah well. --Thaddius 14:39, 18 November 2007 (UTC)

Small note: I think the accompaniement becoming faster and then fading out represents the singer descending into madness in the moments before he dies. Perhaps the contrecoup was more severe than he thought?

I'm just here to explain the word origins of contrecoup. (yay! learning!) Coup is the French word for a hit, or blow; however, my friend has just pointed out that Linnell is saying contrecoo, or at least, pronouncing it that way... Contra is a perfix meaning "opposite", or "Contrary". Therefore, Contrecoup would be a blow opposite the site of the hit. Sounds painful...


The pronunciation of contrecoup as "contrecoo" is because we English speakers have adopted the French pronunciation of the word coup. They -- the French -- like to soften or leave off the last letters of their words when spoken, though they affect the pronunciation of the part that comes directly before the unspoken letters. JFYI. --MichelleMaBelle 21:57, 18 February 2009 (UTC)

Note the change in the first chorus from, "And the second was worse by far than the first 'Cause it made me limerent" (where the second impact caused the speaker to fall in love) to a later chorus of, "And the second was worse by far than the first 'Cause the first one woke my feelings for you" (where the first impact caused the speaker to fall in love).


Yes. It seems as if the first blow sent his mind off into some alternate state (the brain went the opposite way, to speak figuratively), in which he was in love with the person. The second snapped him back to his usual state, the only souvenir from his injury being the feeling of love but without the reason. Though the impulse is strong, the connection is weak. It's a common problem, and a wonderful song. It's all the more valuable since we saw the inspiration/assignment handed to Linnell. ~ magbatz 02:35, 28 October 2010 (UTC)

Actually, being limerent means that you are deeply in love and feel a deep need to be loved. ( So in the first chorus, the injury causes the narrator to fall in love, and the second causes the narrator to want to be loved back.

After I found out what contrecoup and limerent mean, I've become completely convinced that the song is about Krazy Kat.


I've always thought that "Contrecoup" was about a bad relationship, and a bad rebound relationship following it. Somewhere in those two bad relationships, the singer realises his feelings for a person who has been his confidant during both bad relationships.

The confidant "knows what's wrong with [him]" and knows him well enough to tell just by looking at him. The singer is recounting how when he was hurt in his first relationship he went in an entirely different direction ("When my head was hit / I bounced away from it") but he got hurt in that reactionary relationship as well ("Contrecoup, on the rebound / Contrecoup hurt me again"). He was hurt once (the "coup") and then hurt again while "on the rebound" (the "contrecoup").

I think the singer is also realising that his behaviour during both of the bad relationships has hurt his chances of ever being able to get together with his confidant. He talks about the "second one" making him limerent (in love) while the "first one" merely woke the feelings without fanning them into full-blown love. He talks about how, "...the first one woke my feelings for you / But the contrecoup made my words untrue" which suggests that he'd made a promise to himself after the first bad relationship to wait for someone as good as his confidant (for whom feelings had been woken but not fully actualized) only to make himself a liar by getting involved with the contrecoup relationship.

Now that he realises that he's in love with his confidant, he also realises how bad his relationship decisions have been and he knows what he wants to tell the confidant, but the past pain has made it so that he, "forgot how to speak" because he's afraid that if he expresses what he's feeling, he'll just ruin that relationship too.

Or maybe I'm over-thinking. =P

Yes, the song is not about a literal blow to the head but a rebound from one relationship to another. The second is worse than the first because he becomes limerent, which means not just "in love" but obsessed.

I don't think that the person he fell in love with because of contrecoup was his attacker. I've done a bit of research on Wikipedia, and it says that contrecoup often comes with injuries in which a moving head hits a stationary object. If the narrator was attacked, it is likely that his head would be stationary and the object would be definitely be moving. (Did I just use a small bit of forensic science to interpret a song?) I know that this doesn't mean that he wasn't attacked, but I think that there was probably some sort of accident. That being said I have my own interpretation to add, but first a little more information to add:

  • Contrecoup is particularly common in the temporal and frontal lobes of the brain.
  • The temporal lobe is responsible for comprehending language, processing sensory input, emotion, and deriving meaning.

So if the temporal lobe was the one injured, it would coorelate with the injury causing the narrator to fall in love, since it is involved in emotion, so I agree with the other interpretations in that the narrator fell in love because of contrecoup. "Though the impulse is strong the connection is weak. And I know what to say but forgot how to speak." The temporal lobe is also responsible for comprehending language, so the injury may have made him unable to express his emotion, which I just realized is what user Thaddius said, so I guess all I did was add some more scientific information. But I have something to say about some lyrics: "When my head was hit, I bounced away from it. Or as someone who is craniosophic would say, the brain went the opposite way." I think that this is just describing contrecoup. The "I" could be referring to the brain, and I believe that contrecoup is thought to be caused by the brain colliding with the skull. Also, "Which is to say, how it goes, cached in terms, no one knows. As if the choice were slim, as if there's no synonym." Wikipedia says this song was written as a challenge to write a song including the terms contrecoup, craniosophic, and limerent. I don't know how they know this, I think they need a citation, but if that is true then this song could be serving a duel purpose of making fun of medical terminology. Throughout the song TMBG are describing contrecoup and some of its affects in various ways, and the whole song could be pointing out that the choice is not slim, that there are some synonyms, and that people don't have to describe this in "terms no one knows."