Interpretations:They'll Need A Crane

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This song is about a couple, who were in love. But are falling out of it fairly quickly.

The first verse talks about how they can be happy, but that their love is also sad. Because They obviously need a change.

The second verse says that they are all they have. They only have eachother, and they rely on eachother for everything. They're eachother's worlds, but they both say things that they don't mean to be bad, but come off alot worse.

They Bridge is describing that gal may be a little overbearing for lad, and that it bugs him a little, and then it gives an example of the above verse by lad making a mistake in what he said, causing gal to be upset, but ALSO what he says states how he really feels, and that is that their relationship is turning into a nightmare.

The third verse talks about how lad develops a 'wandering eye' and how gal develops a drinking problem. And then it talks about them calling off the 'wedding band' which on the surface would mean the band that was playing, but since it was AFTER the wedding, it is obviously speaking about their rings, in which they will be removing in the case of the seemingly seperation. but he then says 'play that again' which makes me believe, that unlike those below me, they want to try again. Which leads to my idea about the chorus.

The chorus says

"They'll need a crane, they'll need a crane To take the house he built for her apart To make it break it's gonna take a metal ball hung from a chain They'll need a crane, they'll need a crane To pick the broken ruins up again To mend her heart, to help him start to see a world apart from pain"

and with the 'play that again' line, it makes me think that what the chorus is saying, is that they'll need to tear their relationship apart, 'to take the house he built for her apart' But then it also says that they want to try again, 'to pick the broken ruins up again' meaning, they need this crane, to take their relationship down, and build it back up, into something more healthy.

this isn't THAT sad of a song. It shows preserverance and patience for something they both love, but are unhappy with at the time. =D

<3 Casey

The beginning of the song reminds me (in a good way - what other way is there) of the Smiths's song "I Want The One I Can't Have;" the juxtaposition of sprightly janglepop and lyrics wrapped in muslin misery frankly shouts out "Morrissey" too. I think Mozz could pull this one off quite nicely. (gp39m)

Perhaps the most perfect breaking up song ever written. I love the juxtapostion of the 1965 guitar melody with the 80s alternative lyrics. The first song I ever bought of theirs. Many happy memories! (Mr Tuck)

I think it is about a sad breakup where the man pines with old love and some resentment

Possibly one of the easiest songs to interpret in TMBG's catelog, the song's all about the deterioration of one couple's relationship as it leads up to divorce.

Love sees love's happiness
But happiness can't see that love is sad.

With these lines, TMBG tell one of the great truths behind love: when caught in the early stages of love, you can only see the positives, the happiness that "love sees" in the first line. Due to this clouded thinking, people can fail to see that love can actually be quite tragic and painful if not handled properly.

Sadness is hanging there
To show love somewhere something needs a change.
They need a change

Continuing from the first two lines, the lines remind that, no matter how enthusiastically happy lovers may be at first, sadness is always just around the bend to show where a relationship may need to be altered if it's to remain in good health. "They need a change" briefly introduces us to the two central characters of the song by saying how the above applies to "them."

They'll need a crane,
They'll need a crane (etc)

The chorus symbolizes what needs to be done to the central characters' relationship. Being so far gone, the entire relationship needs to be torn down so that eventually a new one may be constructed over it. The rather violent imagery in the chorus (the crane smashing through the house of their love) helps show that this is not going to be a very fun or painless project, especially when, after destroying the old relationship, the girl's heart will need to be mended so she can see a world apart from the pain of her failed relationship.

Lad's Gal is all he has.
Gal's gladness hangs upon the love of Lad

Now we're introduced to the central characters of the tragedy. The characters are probably only referred to as "Lad" and "Gal" to give them an everyman feel. Anyone could be Lad, just as anyone could be Gal. The lines suggest already that there may be problems in the relationship, hinting that Lad & Gal's relationship may be codependent (especially with Gal only being able to feel happiness when loved by Lad), and as such, rather unhealthy.

Some things Gal says to Lad
Aren't meant as bad but cause a little pain
They cause him pain

Very common in most relationships, everyone's said something they didn't mean to be hurtful but end up doing so anyway. Here, though, it is suggested that the hurtful statements are more a continuing problem than a mild slip-up, and instead of confronting Gal about it, Lad is quietly withstanding the pain she's inadvertently causing him.

Don't call me at work again
No no, the boss still hates me (etc)

The bridge serves as the best evidence that the relationship is completely falling apart. The strain of the relationship, compounded by his hate for his job are becoming too great for Lad to bear. He first snaps at Gal for calling him, then tries to cover it up ("I'm just tired") but fails miserably at hiding his true feelings for her ("and I don't love you anymore"). He suggests taking her out to a presumably fancy restaraunt, but his personal dislike of the restaraunt's other patrons causes him to accidentally call them "nightmare people," which it's inferred that he's worried he and Gal have now become, causing even more damage to the relationship despite trying to backpedal from his statement ("I meant nice people, baby, wait, I didn't mean to say nightmare.")

Lad looks at other gals
Gal thinks Jim Beam is handsomer than Lad
He isn't bad

Because of the meltdown in the bridge, Lad and Gal's relationship is in a shambles. Lad's growing problems with the relationship have come to a head, as he's now openly looking at other women with no regard for Gal's feelings. Because of this, Gal's turned to the bottle to make herself feel better. (Jim Beam being a brand of whiskey and a rather clever reference.)

Call off the wedding band
Nobody wants to hear that one again
Play that again

The last lines symbolize the divorce, using a play on the two different meanings of the term "wedding band" (a band that plays at a wedding as well as the wedding ring). By "calling off" the wedding band (and saying that nobody wants to hear it again), it's obviously meant that the relationship, as such, be nullified. "Play that again" makes note of the rather cyclical nature of human relationships and how, though pain and misery may await yet again, people never stop searching for love.

Overall, A Great Song. -Walrus

I rather disagree. Think about the central, repeating line, "they'll need a crane." The point is, their love isn't perfect, but it would take something strong, big, and powerful (the crane) to tear them apart. Once its torn apart, their love for each other is so strong that it'd take something just as powerful as what caused the break-up to mend their hearts. It's about love triumphing over the pettiness of everyday disagreements and the stresses of life. (-FireLily)

I think it's kind of a mix of both. It takes something big to tear them apart, because its such an infatuation. But the relationship gets so strained that the "crane" could be any tiny thing, and the happy home falls apart. (-- A. R. A.)

I think the crane is intended to strip away all the excess from the relationship, so that all that's left is Lad and Gal's love. Sort of turn them into a couple like from Pet Name or Another First Kiss.


Another set of lyrics to consider is "To make it break it's going to take a metal ball hung from a chain". Like in "Lucky Ball and Chain", the prase is brought up as a refference to the marriage. Perhaps it was a relationship where everything was dandy till they decided to get married. (~xynk)

I believe this song is about someone the narrarater knows of or about and begins describing the person and his love life and how it is in shables and is about to crumble. During the bridge, the nararater finds that he is not only describing the person's love life, but his as well.- sockmonkey89

They'll need something big, a crane, to tear them apart dispite the fact that neither of them is happy with the relationship because they're both so dependant on and comfortable with the relationship. Just my thoughts - DefMon

I think the crane, is the thing that breaks them up bucause they need something big to undo all the damage their relationship has caused for them. - CuppaCoffee 20:45, 25 Jun 2006 (EDT)

I quite agree with Walrus on this one. Great breakdown, man. --deathgecko (Evil Emperor of Lizards) 20:31, 12 November 2006 (UTC)

Apart from giving the subjects an "everyman" characterisation (see Walrus above) and making for some tongue-twisters, the use of "lad", "lass", "glad" etc. throughout reminds me of these awful typing exercises we were made to do way back around the fourth grade in school. We were supposed to practise blindly typing sentences using words mainly from one row. Pretty much every sentence using the home row had to use "lad" or "lass" instead of normal pronouns, and verbs like "hang," "add" and "had". Observe:

Gal's gladness hangs upon the love of Lad

That kind of sentence was pretty typical - glad, lad, lass, hang, sad; all very common, and all used in this song. I'm not sure if this was intentional or just a side-effect of the lyrical cleverness, but damned if it doesn't make me nostalgic for those elementary school afternoons of monotony as well as evoking all those bittersweet memories of another kind.

There isn't much to add here, since everyone pretty much nailed it. The one thing I'll say is that the interlude/bridge where she calls him at work is even more complex than it first seems. He first says he doesn't love her, then moves on to talking about restaurants and "nightmare" people. Which of these two statements does he apologize for? The one about nightmare people, because he doesn't even seem to realize that he blurted out his loss of affection.

I think it's a pretty straight foward song. The two fall in love, they get engaged, and then slowly and painfully fall out of love. The girl starts getting interested in other guys, and the guy just losses interest.

Nightmare People[edit]

This song is relatively straightforward. The one phrase that seems to be interpreted differently by different people is "Nightmare People." Someone suggested that this was a reflection on Lad's opinion of the other people at the restaurant, while others suggest that it's instead a reflection on Lad's opinion of his own relationship with Gal. When I hear the phrase, I'm reminded of Joel from the movie Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. There is a scene when he and Clem are eating at a restaurant and Joel wonders "Are we like those bored couples you feel sorry for in restaurants? Are we the 'Dining Dead?'" This seems to be Lad's mindset in the song. The Nightmare People are the Dining Dead, and Lad fears they might be among them.

Not much new[edit]

I don't have much to add, but I would still like to give my (similar) opinion on the lines of this song. "Love sees love happiness, but happiness can't see that love is sad." This is about a couple that is in love, but all they see is that love. They don't see that their love is a sad love, that even though they love each other they are not happy and won't be happy. "Sadness is hanging there. To show love somewhere something need's a change" A deep sadness is hanging behind the love, and they can't cover it up forever. If they do want a kind of love that does not bring them pain and sorrow, then something has to change. (As in, they need to break up.) "They'll need a crane to take the house he built for her apart, to make it break, it's gonna take, a metal bar hung from a chain.) Some sort of big event or effort needs to come to disassemble this dysfunctional relationship. "They'll need a crane, to pick the broken ruins up again, to mend her heart, to help them start, to see a world apart from pain." They need to have all ties between them severed, to leave their love and their relationship in shattered pieces, because their relationship is going nowhere, and they can't start to rebuild, to find something that actually works, before it is completely over. Before they get over their break up, they actually have to break up. "Lad's gal is all he has, gal's gladness hangs upon the love of lad" The relationship is completely mutual. They each care about each other and want each other to be happy, but "Some things gal says to lad, aren't meant as bad but cause a little pain" they will never be happy together. Every attempt to bring the other happiness seems to delve them into misery. "Don't call me at work again, no no, the boss still hates me and I'm just tired, and I don't love you anymore, and there's a restaurant we should check out where the other nightmare people like to go, I mean nice people, baby wait, I didn't mean to say nightmare." They start making excuses not to see each other, dreading the other's company. I find it funny that the line "nightmare people" apparently upsets the one the narrator is talking to, while "I don't love you anymore" seems to draw no comment. "Lad looks at other gals, gal thinks Jim Beam is handsomer than lad, he isn't bad." They each start looking at other options, lad just at general gals and gal at a lad named Jim Beam. I think that the last name beam may be intentional, as a beam is something that provides support, which could help as they rebuild. "Call off the wedding band, nobody wants to hear that song again, play that again." Just get it over already. Nothing is working, and you will do no one a favor to drag this out into marriage, and then I think "play that again" might be a reference to them playing the chorus again. Sorry, this is a little bit longer than I meant it to be. But, this is a great song with a lot of meaning. Basically, all I added was that this song is not only saying that the couple will break up, but that they should break up.


One of Linnel's best themes, I think this song is about a broken marriage, obviously. A crane can be many things, along with a stork. Storks are heavily associated with babies. "They'll need a crane" is basically saying "To save their relationship, they need to have a kid."

Robot Parade (talk) 21:50, 12 September 2019 (EDT)

Paradise Lost[edit]

If the Bible were one page long, the paradise of Adam and Eve would be a passing phrase. In fact it would be the phrase "love sees love's happiness". The song's brief spark of bliss is a distant memory in short order... the remainder of the story is like the long fallout from an imploded nuclear reactor. --Nehushtan (talk) 23:56, 11 December 2019 (EST)