Interpretations:Wearing A Raincoat

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There's a fun sort of absurdity to this song, that kind of reminds me of those "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie" books we all read when we were young. I think this song is just meant as an absurd, free-association thought-fest.

This is one of the most fun songs to sing out loud. It's starts off as an fun escapy free-association, even associating with the last words of the previous song. But as we reach the melodic climax, the song starts to make "sense". I'm a relatively social guy, but sometimes it is simply a pain in the ass to deal with everyone who wants your attention throughout the entire day. Sometimes I just want to smoke a bowl and watch some reality TV with my girlfriend. And I need that downtime in order to save my mind for later on (tomorrow, ugh). Singing this song can be a tremendous release when people have been bothering me all damn day. ;)

The song is about a man who's deeply sick. He keeps remembering an experience from his childhood. He was wearing a yellow raincoat, running with the coat held over his head like an airplane. Even then he wanted to be a pilot. But this memory is fused with the one of his injury -- now he's flying a small plane in the rain and it crashes. The memory "hurt[s] his mind" and agitates him, so he "need[s] a friend [nurse] to talk him down". He's hooked to a feeding tube and takes drugs so he can go to sleep. The downside of the drugs is that he just wakes up again, back to the horror that's now his life. Friends come to visit, but he can't see them clearly -- they look like "a lake / of the undead" -- and they "demand constant attention" since they keep trying to communicate with him. He relives the experience again, but tries to stop thinking about it so he can use his mind to talk to his friends. But they're gone now, all that's left is his paid nurse ("a friend that comes at a price") who he "hate[s]". So he tries to go back to sleep.

(ALTERNATIVE: Referring the the beginning of the song when he "needs a friend to talk him down" I don't think he is referring to a nurse. The way I see it he did become a pilot but there is something now wrong with the plane he is driving and he is on the radio talking to the tower at the nearest airport. The person directing him on how to land the plane is the "friend" who is "talking him down." He of course crashes the plane and the interpratation continues as stated above.)

I was listening to this song a couple minutes ago when on the last verse I was suddenly reminded of a poem I read in English class a while ago. I knew this song reminded me of a certain poem by Stephen Crane, but I only just remembered the title of the poem. It is The Wayfarer. In it, a man is on a pathway (typical Crane setup) and the oppertunity for change arises. The man decides the change is not worth the consequences, when we know that is not true.

Translating that to the last verse, the friend that comes at a price is the weeds that turn into knives. You hate the knives, so you go right back to sleep (go on a different road) until you wake up again and find yourself in the same situation. You'll never choose the knives. The confusion between drums and drugs is appropriate, because what happens between your confrontation with the knife-weeds is trivial. - sheep

Hey, I was thinking it might be backwards. At a concert Linnell joked about how the song would make sense if you played it backwards. I only got part of it, but it definately makes sense.

Ok, so backwards... Your friends ask for attention and once they have your attention, they use it to ask for more attention. They demand constant attention. This is annoying to the narrator. He compares them to the undead. And this is why he doesn't like being awake. Being awake is being submerged in a lake of these annoying friends.

Waking up is inevitable. (forgive my spelling.) He sleeps so often because he hates his friends. He must use drugs to help him escape and sleep. Eventually he uses the drugs that come from a pipe. These drugs push him over the edge and he his friends tell him how bad these drugs are. They tell him that he is hurting his mind. His friends tell him that he'll need his mind for later on. (the future aka the time after The World Before Later On) I guess in the end his drug trip conists of him pondering the similarities of riding in a yellow plane and wearing a raincoat. I don't understand the last verse, but you can see where I'm going with this, right? - Doctor Masonstein

I'd just like to throw in that the last verse, the playing the drums bit, immediately made me think of Doctor Worm. They've been known to reference or allude to other songs from within songs before, so I found this somewhat interesting. Perhaps this may be on purpose? - CyberSh33p

This song is about my roommate, <skeptopotamus>, who needs to either take sleeping pills or play his drums to fall asleep.

I personally agree with the first interpration that is a guy who got into a plane crash. However, my wonderful girlfreind offered to me another possible meaning. Instead of a plane crash she thinks it is a guy who tried to commit suicide. Hence the people trying to talk him down would be people telling him to step back from the edge (of a bridge, or a roof, or a cliff perhaps) and he fails his attempt and is left hurt in the hospital etc.

What if he's just taking one statement (Wearing a raincoat is flying around in a yellow rubber airplane made out of a raincoat) and following it from one logical jump to another? (That doesn't make sense, the raincoat being like a plaine My head hurts! I need a friend to help me out! ....) in a nonsensical, childlike manner? The connections sound sort of like something from a stream of conciousness writing session, or from a young child being humorous. There's a good chance he just randomly wrote this one day and liked how the logic didn't have any logic to it. -Baziliak

Whenever I listen to this song, I think of Memo to Human Resources. They both sound a lot alike, and both use the lyric "talk me down". Could there be a possible connection?

I think Linnell's lyrics (which, to me, sound like simply a wallow in depression and futility) *could* be related to Flansburgh's "Memo": Linnell gets inside the narrator's head ("You'll need a friend to talk you down / Needing a friend to talk you down is food that comes from a pipe, but when you hate the food that comes from a pipe, you will turn to drugs to help you sleep..."), while Flans deals with the external situation ("I'd be shouting out to you but I was mighty hoarse / [I'd] talk you through the finer points and issues much too small to force ... Then the people came to talk me down, but I don't need advice; I'm down."). If that's the case, though, I don't necessarily think one approach is better than the other; each John's approach is merely indicative of his personality (Linnell being introverted and interior, Flansy being extroverted and sociable), and both Johns play to their strengths on these songs with entertaining and affecting results. -- GR

I think this song is about the dangers of becoming too emotionally detached and self-reliant. "Wearing a raincoat" is a typically oblique Giant-esque way of saying "closing down one's borders, withdrawing, making oneself less vulnerable to hurt." Too much of this can really mess up your mind, though, since human beings are social animals, and eventually you'll need a friend -- but soon you grow disgusted with your own dependence on other people. (What am I, a hamster eating food from a pipe?) So you withdraw again, maybe using drugs to help you "sleep" -- i.e. close yourself off. The cycle just continues, with you running to friends, growing impatient with friends, growing disgusted with yourself, and trying more and more unlikely and outlandish ways to prove your own independence. Linnell's voice is wonderfully sympathetic here, and the melacholy melody really identifies with and underscores the plight of the wanna-be lone ranger who just can't quite tear himself away from others. Awesome. - Octofish

Here's my crazy interpretation:

What I get from it is, this song is about growing up, and tells two stories. The first story begins at childhood, the "wearing a raincoat" line about being a child and not thinking about much, but being safe inside your raincoat. The next line, when you "hurt your mind" by thinking about this, is the point in your childhood when you first start to become self-aware.

"Needing a friend, to talk you down" is about the fact that in school, you're going to have friends who won't understand you, and will 'talk down' this self-awareness... and being at school, among hundreds of other children like yourself, if nobody else is hurting their minds by becoming self-aware, then why should you?

However, "needing a friend to talk you down is food that comes from a pipe", because it doesn't solve the problem, and after a while all the talking down is the same thing to you, and doesn't really help you individually; you're hurting inside, so you "turn to drugs, to help you sleep" - this could mean alcohol etc, or even just activities that are detrimental to you, like eating too much icecream, or any self-destructive vice.

But "sleeping is a gateway drug, to being awake again" - no real solution. And you've been trying all these fixes, and failing, which means you're now in a self-destructive pattern, with the lake of the undead being your vices and your flaws, which demand your constant attention...

The second part of the song is about a different life, one where you "hurt your mind" but you realise the importance of "needing a mind for later on" - you're not going to get a friend to talk you down. But "needing a mind for later on is a friend that comes at a price" - your mind is still hurting, and you "hate the friend", so "you'll play the drums, to help you sleep..."

Now this is a bit of a buy (not like the rest, eheh), but I think its possible the Johns refer to their music-making as "playing the drums", which makes sense to me at least (and ties in with Dr. Worm, which CyberSh33p mentioned above). So "playing the drums, to help you sleep", is allowing yourself to become creative, become individual, and make your own music, whatever form that it takes... and that'll help you sleep, and will end the cycle of self-destructiveness before it begins. --Jason

Along the same lines of the first one is my interpretation. it's probably wrong, but i figured i'd just put it out there.

see, what i saw when i was listening was: There's a child who likes pretending his raincoat is an airplane; that he can fly. But his imagination goes kind of wild, and when he finds he can't take off from the ground, he tries jumping off of something, like a roof. Of course, he doesn't fly, but falls down, hitting his head. People are around him now, trying to calm him or "talk him" down because he's kind of panicky from the fall. They take him to the hospital, and they stop the bleeding. His IV is... the food from the pipe. that's kinda self-explanatory. I don't know what, but something is wrong with the kid. some... internal bleeding or summat. anyway, they have to anesthetize him to make him go to sleep. As he's going to "sleep", doctors are telling him he'll be awake in no time. Unfortunately, in the operation, he flatlines. He thinks he's awake, but he's in this sort of limbo. He's swimming in a big lake with other people, yelling for help and all, of course, wanting attention so they could get help. But it's all good. he's brought back, and now it's later, maybe when he's an adult, even. He's dreaming about that day, about that memory of flying in his raincoat. But the undead part comes too. he tries to push it out, but it comes anyway, giving him a headache. He sees all the people he saw all those years ago, reminding him, "you can come back anytime, but you'll have to pay a certain price!" He wakes up, scared, and he tries to calm himself down by... playing the drums... >_> yeah.

that's what i came up with, anyway.

This song always reminds me of The Saga of Darren Shan because of the line "Being awake is swimming around in a lake of the undead". In fact, a major portion of the series is about a lake of the undead, called The Lake of Souls. Also, the first book is all about the freak show (Prevenge, anybody?).

Wearing a raincoat is flying around in a yellow rubber airplane made out of a raincoat try to imagine flying around in an airlplane made of a raincoat that you are wearing will proberly hurt your mind. It reminds me of those optical illusions, the kind where a picture is placed in the pictur itself, making it endless. Kinda like the effect you get hwen you would place 2 mirrors in front of each other . Just wanted to note that.

The last line, "You will play the drums to help you sleep," I used to think was a real embarrassment to the song, just as a cheap changing of the "turn to drugs" part of the first verse. But it's pretty neat. The song is about a feeble-minded person who has incessant struggles and possible arguments in his head that he tries to escape from, and as he learns from realizing that he'll need to have a mind for later on at the price of leaving drugs (which he had used to drown out the voices in his head), he turns to playing the drums and crashing cymbals to make enough noise so that he cannot hear the voices and so he can rest in sleep and escape from them, if only for just a while as he finds when he wakes up in a lake surrounded by the undead where he cannot stand up and leave them.

I think this song is about a guy who is gradually getting over his problems and overcoming depression. At the end, he finally accepts himself as he is and is more positive about life in general. The lyrics greatly resemble dream symbolism. According to some dream analogies, wearing a raincoat symbolizes you are shielding yourself from your emotions, and also says you have a pessimistic outlook. Here are some other dream symbols that tie into the song: Airplane - Indicates that you will overcome your obstacles. Friends - Signifies aspects of your personality that you have rejected, but are ready to integrate these rejected parts of yourself. Food - Represents physical and emotional nourishment and energies. Pipe - Indicates that you are open and receptive to new ideas. Drugs - Signifies your need for a "quick fix". You may be turning to a potentially harmful alternative as an instant escape from your problems. Sleeping - Sleeping may be synonymous with death in that it beckons renewal and new beginnings. Lake - Signifies your emotional state of mind. If the lake is clear and calm, then it symbolize your inner peace. If the lake is disturbed, then you may be going through some emotional turmoil. Awake - To awaken in your dream, represents a spiritual rebirth. You may be acknowledging and embracing both your feminine and masculine aspects of Self. Undead - To see a ghoul in your dream, suggests that your habits and negative ways are hindering your growth. Yellow - Represents cowardice and sickness. You may have a fear or an inability to make a decision or take action. Rubber - To see rubber goods in your dream, signifies that your secretive activities will alienate your friends. They will fail to understand your conduct. Drums - To dream that you are playing the drums, indicates that you progress through life by your own terms. You are strong willed and stick by the decisions you make. All these were taken from It just really seemed to fit the song.

I think that the lyrics are meant to be absurd.


I think Wearing a Raincoat is about insanity. First of all… The lyrics are absurd.

They are absurd unless you’re insane, and you think that a raincoat is an airplane. So you go up to the top of a building and try to fly around, so you need a friend to talk you down from the edge of the building. Then they put you in an insane asylum where they feed you from a tube and give you drugs to relax you. And while you’re sedated you have dreams that you’re awake and surrounded by zombies that embody the hundreds of voices in your head… And the voices which you think are your friends demand your attention all the time… which is why you are crazy. Because you're constantly pestered by schizophrenic delusions.

So, it could very well be that a raincoat is an airplane in a sense, but thinking so makes you insane, and you don’t want to be insane. So save your brain, don’t try to fly a raincoat off a building.

Looking Back[edit]

I think this song has a childhood-related theme and focus– specifically, childish behavior. One of its goals is to remind us of the way we'd think of the world as children, including our impressions of our friends.

Only a kid would run around in a yellow, rubber raincoat, pretending to be a pilot. Typically kids have friends who come at a price, or demand their constant attention– it's not uncommon for kids to behave this way, because they haven't yet learned how to properly behave.

The line "needing your mind for later on", again, is something an adult might say to a child to encourage them to be cautious. This kind of talk can be annoying to kids, who aren't prone to be very cautious or forward-thinking.

All the other weird terms– food from a pipe, a lake of the undead, the crude rendition of drugs– sound a bit like schoolyard banter. Any witty eight-year-old will tell you that cafeteria food "comes from a pipe", that the kid flipping out in class is "on drugs", and let's face it, the people who have the most to say about the undead are little kids.

Wearing a Raincoat has nothing to say about dealing with people, or who the narrator is; all it is is a rambling chain of thoughts that comes across to me as juvenile. We're meant to remember the people we were when we formulated thoughts and feelings like these.

Some parts the song made me think about how people try too hard to find hidden meanings in songs.

"Wearing a raincoat is flying around in a yellow rubber airplane Made out of a raincoat, yes but when you think of that You hurt your mind And you'll need your mind For later on"

Basically, they're saying something confusing, and then say that you shouldn't look into it too hard.


The song sounds like it's about someone who is trying to commit suicide in a yellow rain coat, by jumping off a building...flying around in a plane. The sheers idea of ending yourself is enough to drive you mad enough to kill yourself. And you'll need a friend To talk you down.... because you won't ever get to that conclusion. In the same way you hate the IV drip that is keeping you alive (after you jumped), you hate the friend that tried to help. You will turn to drugs To help you sleep, because your still in pain from 'landing'. Sleeping is a gateway drug, a gateway to other drugs or just liking being on drugs not the pain from having 'hurt your mind'. But it always leads to waking up. Being awake is swimming around in a lake Of the undead, being in 'hospital' can feel like swimming in a lake of the undead, everyone ill or dying. The people in your ward are like A bunch of friends That demand constant attention. Because no one comes to visit them. Once you talk to them you have no were to run And once they have your attention They use it to ask for attention, because you're still bedridden.

You get out of hospital, it rains. You wear a rain coat. Wearing a raincoat is flying around in a yellow rubber airplane , you flashback to the last time you wore the coat, though the memory is different, it's not a real airplane....when you think of that You hurt your mind And you'll need your mind For later on. Later on when you recover.

Needing a mind for later on Is a friend that comes at a price. You're back, your mind is not so broken, but now it can think of jumping off the building again, so you hate the friend (you mind) That comes at a price of not killing yourself. Because Now you have the mind fixed you can break it again.

You will play the drums To help you sleep, the drum of a revolver.

The answer to a question[edit]

This song makes me imagine a scene that goes like this:

It's 2:00 AM, and the guy in the apartment next door is STILL playing the drums. I finally decide I've had enough, so I go over and pound on his door. The drum-playing stops for a moment, and my neighbor appears at the door.

"Do you realize what time it is?" I shout. "What are you trying to do playing the drums at this hour?" Just as I'm about to lay into him, I notice that he's wearing a raincoat indoors. "Wait a minute," I say. "Why are you wearing a raincoat?"

His explanation makes me wish I hadn't asked.

Kolrad 07:14, 14 January 2011 (UTC)



Not exactly- more like hypnosis. My hisband, who has been hypnotized says these lyrics work in a similar way to the story a hypnotist tells to hypnotize. The associations dissassociate and lead to things which leads to nothing then revisits the thing before the hypnosis takes over. I wonder if these lyrics are based on hypnosis treatment.

Going Mad in the Hospital[edit]

(Taken from when I posted this on TV Tropes)

My interpretation is that the narrator was in some nasty accident (hit by a car, perhaps?) and is in the hospital for an extended period of time, slowly going crazy with "cabin fever". He can't remember a thing from before the accident except that he was wearing a raincoat and pretending to fly around "in a plane made of a raincoat" like he used to as a kid. But trying to recall anything before that "hurts [his] mind", and the "friend to talk you down / that comes at a price" is an orderly or nurse. He has to eat "food that comes from a pipe" (which he's growing tired of at this point) because of internal injuries that weakened his digestive system (he might even be in a full-body cast or have his jaw wired shut), and he has to "turn to drugs to help you sleep" because of chronic pain. He regards sleeping as "a gateway drug to being awake again" because being awake feels like "swimming around in a lake of the undead", and he's hounded by "a bunch of friends that demand constant attention" (well-meaning visitors and hospital staff trying to keep him lucid). The song ends on a happier note, as he seems to have recovered enough to start physical and art therapy ("You will play the drums to help you sleep").

FriendlyLocalGeek (talk) 10:24, 5 June 2015 (EDT)

Part 5 of The Spine

The Skullivan reads a self help book given to him by Human Resources. His slight mental illness, however, lead to him interpreting the book in odd ways, even starting to think that all his friends want is constant attention. He starts to think that his friend that comes at a price, The Spine, is going to betray him, so he starts planning Prevenge.

Singers: The Skullivan

--MidoFS (talk) 16:25, 1 June 2018 (EDT)

It’s a long connection of gerunds[edit]

I think Linnell just took the concept of a gerund, came up with a bunch of them and linked them up.


This song is about someone who is a crackhead or tweaker. The food that comes from a pipe is the crack/meth because when you smoke it you also don't need to eat food. Because they have been up smoking speed they need to then do some other drug to sleep. When they are awake they are swimming with the undead as they are moving at a much faster pace than the sober undead people.


It's a song about nothing. The lyrics are intentionally absurd, and are meant to sound very meaningful, but actually mean nothing. In this way it may be a jab at pretentious writers who use extended metaphors to seem smarter.

--Thomas Sleepybones