Portable Television
Death Cab for Cutie Lyrics


Jump to: Overall Meaning ↴  Line by Line Meaning ↴

Portable television, shrouded in snow
In a raggedy van on the side of the road
The night it had frozen through my little bones
So you took me in your arms, you squeezed out the cold

And oh

Upstate New York, autumn, brightly colored leaves
Oh, the hills were on fire, they burn for you and me
And where we were going it was built like a lie
But as sacred as the Bible, so we didn't question why

And oh

I saw it in the soil just recently
Where the rows of teeth they grow in fields of infinite greed
And here laid the father, and here stood the son
Where the road meets the horizon for everyone
For everyone

Portable television, take us away
From this burden of reflection we've carried today
Oh, the generator's running but there's nothing on the air
And the static is a comfort, so we huddle around and stare





And oh

Overall Meaning

The song Portable Television by Death Cab for Cutie is a significant exploration of the transience and dislocation that lies at the heart of the human experience. The song opens with the image of a portable television that is shrouded in snow, sitting in a raggedy van on the side of the road. The singer feels the cold night in his little bones, and that's when his lover takes him in her arms and manages to squeeze out the cold from his body. This moment of warmth and comfort sets the tone for the rest of the song, which explores a series of experiences through which the singer and his lover journey together.


The second verse is set in upstate New York during autumn, where the brightly-colored leaves on the hills make everything appear to be on fire. The couple is unsure of where they are going, but the journey feels as sacred as the Bible, so they don't question why. The following lines in the bridge could be interpreted in a number of ways. The rows of teeth could refer to graves, and the fields of infinite greed may be referring to humanity's struggle with mortality. The father and the son could represent a family; a father dying, and the son waiting to take over his responsibilities. The road meets the horizon for everyone, and that's where the experiences of the couple and the people around them will end.


The final chorus brings up the main motif again. A portable television that takes them away from the burden of reflection on their experiences throughout the day. The generator is running, but there is nothing on the air, and the static brings them comfort as they huddle around and stare.


Line by Line Meaning

Portable television, shrouded in snow
The image of a small portable television covered in snow is a metaphor for finding comfort in something familiar during trying times.


In a raggedy van on the side of the road
The scene is set of two people in a run-down, makeshift vehicle somewhere lonely, a place where they have only each other to rely on.


The night it had frozen through my little bones
The coldness of the night had affected the singer down to his core, leaving him vulnerable and reminding him of his mortality.


So you took me in your arms, you squeezed out the cold
The warmth of human touch has the power to bring comfort and offer relief from difficult situations.


Upstate New York, autumn, brightly colored leaves
The scene shifts to a beautiful autumn landscape, symbolic of change and a time of transition.


Oh, the hills were on fire, they burn for you and me
The fiery hills are a metaphor for the intensity of the singer's feelings toward the other person, and how together they are creating something meaningful.


And where we were going it was built like a lie
The destination they're heading to may not be as it seems or may be uncertain, but the intention behind it is still pure.


But as sacred as the Bible, so we didn't question why
Despite any doubts or uncertainties, they trust their journey to be as meaningful and significant as any spiritual journey.


I saw it in the soil just recently
The singer may have had a recent realization or epiphany that makes them appreciate the world in a different way.


Where the rows of teeth they grow in fields of infinite greed
The teeth growing in fields represent the dangers of consumerism and greed that threaten to consume our society and individuals.


And here laid the father, and here stood the son
The image of a father lying down and a son standing up is symbolic of the passing of knowledge and wisdom from one generation to the next.


Where the road meets the horizon for everyone
This image represents the endless possibilities that exist when we are open to new experiences and willing to take risks.


Portable television, take us away
Once again, the singer looks to the comfort of something familiar to escape the hardships and challenges of daily life.


From this burden of reflection we've carried today
The weight of thinking deeply about oneself and one's life can be overwhelming, and the singer longs to escape this burden.


Oh, the generator's running but there's nothing on the air
Even though life may seem to be moving forward and progressing, it can still feel empty or meaningless without a deeper purpose or meaning.


And the static is a comfort, so we huddle around and stare
Once again, the comfort of something familiar gives the singer and the other person a sense of security and stability in a chaotic world.




Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, BMG Rights Management
Written by: BENJAMIN GIBBARD

Lyrics Licensed & Provided by LyricFind
To comment on or correct specific content, highlight it

Genre not found
Artist not found
Album not found
Song not found

Frank


on I Will Follow You Into The Dark

This song sucks