I think this song is about a man who is dying. As his eyes strain to see the air (assuming he is suffocating in some way) he reflects on important things in life. He doesn't need diamond rings, picture frames, or fancy things because he has the memory of his experiences . He is looking forward to dying with the line "lets see what the day light brings"
This is an interpretation I would not have come up with without having watched the official video on youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Akkl80c9_uo.
So the video shows a dirty, depressing apartment for a while, then in the bridge of the song, it cuts to symbols of promise and potential (graduation photos, gifts, awards...). The graduation photo looks to be the smoking man (shown in the tub and later watching TV), but you never see the face of the other man. Then it cuts to one roommate packing his clothes while another smokes cigarettes and watches TV. The packing roommate almost makes it out, but something draws him back in, he drops the bag and sits down on the couch.
One thing to note is the prominence of the TV in the first shot, and that it does come back at the end of the video. I think this speaks to its importance to the theme. So here's my take on what the lyrics and video mean. When you are "awake and dreaming," you are awake sitting there, but dreaming a story being provided by whatever you are watching. The "daylight" is really the glow of the TV. "Let's see what the daylight brings" is another way of saying (in this case), "let's see what's on TV." Rather than pursuing a passion, working on a project, etc., you can always just see what the daylight brings. [On a personal note, TMBG continue to be masters of taking something that sounds so positive and instilling such a negative and subversive sentiment to it. Normally you'd take, "let's see what the daylight brings," to mean "let's begin anew," but in this case it means the opposite, "let's forego a new beginning in favor of sedation."]
The song is about the the way prolonged indulgence in television saps one's ambitions. The first shot in the video displays a TV, almost triumphantly atop the mess it has created. The disaster of a bedroom as a symbol of lost ambition, lorded over by the snowing television. The smoking man's former promise is shown through numerous symbols, juxtaposed during the lyrics "who needs diamond rings...", but then you can see this dejected man facing the television, he's "worse for trying." Finally, the roommate, still with some hope left for himself, packs his bag, tries to leave, and unfortunately for him this is not a happy ending. The television gets him too. Killer song writing.
-three_toe aka the Cube-dwelling loser.
Still Alive And There's Nothing They Want to Do
Same basic theme as Dead: procrastination. "Let's see what the daylight brings" is another way of saying "Why do today what you can put off til tomorrow?" Except Flans goes further and makes excuses for his laziness. "Nothing's fair," so why bother, it probably wouldn't work. "I'm worse for trying," and no one likes failure, so why try? Some sour-grapes language in there too with the whole "diamond rings" bit.
Alternate take: That second verse is about some actual neurosis the narrator has. Maybe he's not just lazy, but paralyzed with fear, and so he just keeps waiting to see if the next day will be any different.
Also worth noting that "tilting at tilting things" is a play on the phrase "tilting at windmills"—of course, as Don Quixote learned, those windmills Might Be Giants. Twalsh06 (talk) 17:08, 24 August 2017 (EDT)
Don't look up
The droning music mirrors the soul-deadening nature of the addict's daily negations. Evening to evening the good life - marriage, fine china, pictures of happy times on the wall - recedes, unobtainable. Cheap entertainment - mindless TV & radio, trashy paperbacks - tell the tale of low expectations and an empty spirit. The narrator doesn't really anticipate that the new day will bring any improvement, he is simply baiting his mate with a hopeless morsel of hope: "let's see" if the dawn helps. It won't. --Nehushtan (talk) 23:33, 27 November 2019 (EST)
Fearing the day ahead.
This song strikes me as someone who has just woken up, and is contemplating the day before them and are contemplating if they are willing to face the day. will it be better today? or will it just be the same as the day before. They try to convince themselves that they don't need fancy things to be happy, but they're still "tilting at tilting things", obsessing over all the minor imperfections in their daily life. But in the end, they accept it anyways, saying "let's see what the daylight brings." Lansburgh (talk) 08:58, 11 May 2021 (EDT)