Interpretations:Which Describes How You're Feeling

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The Apollo 18 version sucks the energy from the definitive demo. This was perhaps the first sign that the Giants were running out of puff. The excellent first half of the album (the appalling Guitar being the exception) gives way to tired rehashes, such as this, and clunky fillers. (Mr Tuck)

So how, exactly, does editorializing on the subject of this song and how it "proves" TMBG were running out of steam have anything to do with actually interpreting the song's lyrics? - TheNintenGenius

Besides, I think that this version is actually an improvement. The loud, constant beats and cymbal clashes in the original were distracting, whereas this version seems more melodic. Also, there's nothing wrong with groups taking their own songs and doing remixes of them in a different fashion; it's fair game. And your comment doesn't really belong in the Interpretations anyway. -Guest


This song is about a loved one dying, and the person with the loved one regretting that they didn't get closer to each other (they had a long-distance relationship). The "he" is the person regretting, and the loved one thought the relationship had too many cracks.


Classic Linnell labyrinth wordplay here. With these kinds of songs, it's dangerous to try to grasp meaning because the point is largely to experiment with these flowing lyrical statements. However the song seems to deal with some kind of introspection...don't we all wish that a guy in the sky would be able to articulate perfectly how we're always feeling? In reality, those feelings are inexpressible in words--we just sigh at the cracks in the ceiling, silently.


I would probably agree that it is just mere word play. However, it reminds me of obsessive-compulsive disorder. I believe I have OCD and I always found it kind of hard to describe the random urges to do various things. The thing about the guy in the sky could mean something about God, which happens to be one of the things suffers of OCD obsess over (I read this in a medical dictionary of some kind). The existence of a God is typically questioned and the sufferer often comes to the logical conclusion that there is no God, but at the same time paradoxily fears his wrath for the loss in faith. Some sufferers must have a perfectly sterile environment and would sigh at cracks in the ceiling, especially if they could do nothing about it. The part about the spine could have something to do about a morbid fascination about the human anatomy and a fear of how fragile we are and a straight spine would be ideal because of the geometric perfection of a straight line. About the person saying "I'm feeling fine." could be a them saying that it doesn't bother them, but they are ridden with the doubt that they are wrong. The thing about the rhyme could refer to the fact that some sufferers randomly quote a line of a favorite poem. I'm pretty sure that it isn't a correct interpretation, but I just thought it was a weird coincidence.


My two cents: This song is about nothing. Have you ever met anyone who starts babbling on and on and on about nothing of much point, and then ends up talking about nothing similar to what they were talking about originally? That's what WDHYF is about. And we just wrap it all up with "Which Describes how you're feeling all the time." ~AgentChronon


I would like to know if anyone could explore the work overseas. is it a reference to freud, or perhaps someone else who could be postulated to have "Worked overseas" on behalf of the person who is trying to lie to themselves about the way they are feeling? I'm just hoping that all of the words echo themes in a particular author/psychologist's works. -guest RobMango (the guy that hit you in the eye)


My take on this song is that it is about God and free will. There's this guy in the sky who can tell what's going on with you at any time and you don't have any choice in the matter. You can try to feel the way you want (You said "I'm feeling fine") but it won't actually coincide ("rhyme") with how you truly feel. You aren't really free to do or feel what you want; God can find, in his mind, what you're feeling all the time. "Overseas" might refer to the metaphysical realm where God resdies (heaven, outside of time, whatever).


I think this is a meta-song; it's a song with vague lyrics ABOUT a song with vague lyrics, a song that bored, ceiling-staring teenagers around the world might at once declare describes EXACTLY how they're feeling - no matter how they're actually feeling. We get a bland, repetitive, depressing song about writing and listening to bland, repetitive, depressing songs.

Regardless of how it's interpreted, the line "You said 'I'm feeling fine' but it didn't really rhyme" is very clever.


I think this song is not so much word play, but a song about word play. Languages are very different, and some things that are really easy to express in one language are nearly impossible to express in another. Phrases do not sound the same; they don't "rhyme". You say "I'm feeling fine", but that isn't quite right. Meanwhile some guy on the other side of the world can express exactly how you are feeling.


Continuation of Hall of Heads[edit]

I think that this song pretty much picks up where Hall of Heads left off. Hall of Heads describes such a state of desperation, insanity, and frustration, and then John skillfully puts it all into perspective in Which Describes How You're Feeling, making all of this crazy imagery from HoH taking place in the mind of the person in WDHYF. I think all people tend to be more crazy and prone to emotional extremes in their heads; we just see how they choose to moderate those feeling on the outside. John is just describing how people feel to themselves, all of the insecurity, inferiority complexes, etc.


I'm going to say the song is about being unable to put everything into song. The character appears to be musing over song lyrics and how they can't get them to come together (but it didn't really rhyme). The meta-song they are musing about is not important.



It's a question[edit]

Whenever I listen to this song, it makes me think (logically or not) about the "pain chart" that doctors use (at least in the US).

View it here: [1]

Basically, the doctor shows patients (usually kids) this chart, points to the row of faces and asks "Which describes how you're feeling?"


I thought this song was, like the Fingertips tracks, meant to function best when the CD was being shuffled: that the song's meaning hinges on whichever track happens to pop up before it. "I'm having a heart attack... which describes how you're feeling all the time."

Guy Overseas[edit]

I've always thought this song expresses an American's sense of intellectual claustrophobia, of being hemmed in by the fact that Europeans have already been there, done that -- figured everything out before us. The guy overseas might be a British or French snob, or Sigmund Freud. You think you are unique and original? How you're feeling all the time has already been described by someone else -- novelist, philosopher, poet, sociologist -- and they've usually described it better than you can. --Nehushtan (talk) 22:48, 30 September 2013 (EDT)

I think the idea is that describing how you're feeling all the time is impossible, because feelings are so fleeting and indescribable[edit]

It might just be fun wordplay like others have suggested, but I think it's about the fluidity of states of minds/emotions, and how difficult it is to pin point them. I think the song's about the dichotomy between feeling and describing how you're feeling; it argues that any effort to bring subconscious feelings into the conscious is futile. A lot of people get into habits of thought and take their own word as read on how they're "feeling all the time" (e.g., telling yourself how depressed you are, even when you might have a period where you're feeling excited or happy without noticing it).

I think people get into these rote attitudes where we think we know how we're "feeling all the time," but sometimes we might have a niggling notion that we're feeling differently. The man overseas and the guy in the sky might be a reference to the state of mind itself (within the subconscious) and the fallacy that this feeling is being articulated by the subconscious/guy in the sky/man overseas rather than simply being felt. So when we get a hold of that secret knowledge, we label it as how we're "feeling all the time" rather than just experiencing its beginning and its ending. The way we describe our feelings doesn't always "rhyme" with what we're actually feeling because of our tendency to think that these feelings are so persistent and concrete.

I'll analyse part of this song line-by-line with my interpretation in mind:

When you lie that your life's unappealing all the time - You contend that you're depressed "all the time" even though you have periods during the day where you aren't.

But your lie doesn't rhyme with the word overseas - Your contention that you're depressed "doesn't rhyme" with your actual state of mind

Overseas there's this guy - You begin to notice that your subconscious mind has "the answers" as to how you're truly feeling...

Who describes how you're feeling all the time - ...But when you bring whatever you find out of your subconscious and into your conscious mind, you fall back into the trap of believing it to describe how you're always feeling


To me, the song has always sounded like it's about someone who's depressed, maybe trying to hide it, from the perspective of someone trying to help them but not completely understanding how they feel. "Sighing at the cracks in the ceiling all the time" refers to lying around in bed, sighing to themself (something I and many others with depression are familiar with) and "lying that [their] life's unappealing all the time" is them either trying to justify to themself why they're depressed or giving excuses to their acquaintances as to why they lie around sad all day. The guy in the sky is god. The narrator might be trying to convert the person, saying God would fix their problems. The guy overseas could be a therapist who could help the person, or who they think would help them. The line "when you felt how you're feeling all the time" implies the person's depression was worse in the past than it is now.

I also like the "pain chart" explanation previously suggested. It's clever and makes sense. (Sorry if this seems a bit jumbled, I'll edit it later to make it more coherent.)


I'm amazed the interpretations are so diverse here, since this one has always seemed straightforward to me (aside from the confusing wordplay): to me it's about self-pity in the First World, with the omitted word being something like "miserable".

So "miserable" describes how you're feeling all the time; you feel like God is making your life difficult; you have cracks in your ceiling and it feels like a hardship; you've convinced yourself that your life is unappealing and that you're right to feel so miserable. But overseas, in the Third World, there's a guy whose life IS the way you're feeling all the time (miserable, awful, hopeless, painful etc). And yet in spite of all that, he doesn't feel miserable the way you do all the time; he stands tall and carries on.

It's contrasting someone whose life is fine and who feels miserable, with someone whose life is miserable and who feels fine. As if to say "suck it up" to privileged teenagers who whine about how terrible their life is.