Missed the Boat
Modest Mouse Lyrics


Jump to: Overall Meaning ↴  Line by Line Meaning ↴

While we're on the subject
Could we change the subject now?
I was knocking on your ear's door, but you were always out
Looking towards the future
We were begging for the past
Well, we know we had the good things
But those never seemed to last
Oh, please just last

Everyone's unhappy
Everyone's ashamed
Well, we all just got caught looking
At somebody else's page
Well, nothing ever went
Quite exactly as we planned
Our ideas held no water
But we used them like a dam

Oh, and we carried it all so well
As if we got a new position
Oh, and I laugh all the way to hell
Saying, "Yes, this is a fine promotion"
Oh, and I laugh all the way to hell

Of course everyone goes crazy
Over such and such and such
We made ourselves a pillar
We just used it as a crutch
We were certainly uncertain
At least, I'm pretty sure I am
Well, we didn't need the water
But we just built that, good God damn

Oh, and I know this of myself
I assume as much for other people
Oh, and I know this of myself
We've listened more to life's end-gong
Than the sound of life's sweet bells

Was it ever worth it?
Was there all that much to gain?
Well, we knew we missed the boat
And we'd already missed the plane
We didn't read the invite
We just dance at our wake
All our favorites were playing
So we could shake, shake, shake, shake, shake

Tiny curtain's open, and we heard the tiny clap of little hands
A tiny man would tell a little joke, and get a tiny laugh from all the folks
Sitting, drifting around in bubbles, and thinking it was us that carried them
When we finally got it figured out, that we had truly missed the boat

Oh, and we carried it all so well
As if we got a new position
Oh, and we owned all the tools ourselves




But not the skills to make a shelf with
Oh, what useless tools ourselves

Overall Meaning

The opening lines of “Missed the Boat” by Modest Mouse, suggest a longing for a change in conversation. The singer seems to have been previously knocking on someone’s ear’s metaphorical door, but was always met with absence. The conversation partners were looking towards the future while begging for the past, seemingly having difficulty in appreciating or perhaps even acknowledging the present. Despite experiencing good things, life’s moments do not last forever.


The next verse of the song discusses how everyone seems to be unhappy and ashamed. People are caught up in the lives of others, comparing themselves to those around them. Things never quite go according to plan and the ideas they held so tightly soon lost their merit. Nevertheless, they still clung onto these ideas like a dam, despite them holding no water.


The pre-chorus points out how the singer and their community carries these struggles well. Laughing all the way to hell, acknowledging their promotions — even though they are driving into disaster. The following verse details how people create pillars for themselves, turning them into metaphorical crutches. They remain uncertain about themselves; they build things which they never truly needed.


In the final verse, the singer poses questions like: was it worth it? Was there all that much to gain? They missed their chance, having already missed both the boat and the plane. The singer comes to understand that they were celebrating their own death, dancing at their own wake. At some point, they realize that all their favorite things are happening, but they have missed it all. The tiny curtains open, and they hear little hands clapping, and a tiny laugh from people they don’t even know. They realize all they have are useless tools.


Line by Line Meaning

While we're on the subject
Since we're already talking about something, can we shift the focus of the conversation?


Could we change the subject now?
Can we talk about something else?


I was knocking on your ear's door, but you were always out
I tried to communicate with you, but you were never really present to listen to me.


Looking towards the future
Focusing on what's next to come.


We were begging for the past
We were seeking to relive memories of what has already happened rather than looking ahead to the future.


Well, we know we had the good things
We know that we experienced enjoyable things.


But those never seemed to last
However, those good things never lasted for very long.


Oh, please just last
I really wish those good things would have lasted longer.


Everyone's unhappy
Everyone is dissatisfied or discontent with their current situation.


Everyone's ashamed
Everyone feels guilty or embarrassed about something.


Well, we all just got caught looking
We all got caught paying too much attention to someone else's situation or life.


At somebody else's page
At someone else's social media profile or personal story.


Well, nothing ever went
Things didn't really work out the way we had hoped.


Quite exactly as we planned
In fact, things turned out quite differently from our intended plan.


Our ideas held no water
Our plans, concepts or ideas did not work well in practice.


But we used them like a dam
But we still relied on them as if they would offer us stability or protection.


Oh, and we carried it all so well
We are very skilled at masking our struggles and unfulfilled desires to those around us.


As if we got a new position
As if we experienced a new status or level of success when in reality we did not.


Oh, and I laugh all the way to hell
I try to find humor in my own shortcomings, which might have negative consequences in the future.


Saying, "Yes, this is a fine promotion"
Claiming that something seemingly trivial or unimportant is actually a positive thing.


Of course everyone goes crazy
It's normal for everyone to sometimes become obsessed over something-anything they admire or consider important.


Over such and such and such
Over trivial things that others may not find as significant.


We made ourselves a pillar
We tried to create a stable foundation for ourselves.


We just used it as a crutch
We relied too heavily on this perceived foundation, making ourselves too dependent on it.


We were certainly uncertain
We were all unsure of our circumstances or the future.


At least, I'm pretty sure I am
I am not entirely certain of what is going on or what the future holds, but I assume I'm not the only one who feels this way.


Well, we didn't need the water
We did not require something to survive or to press forward.


But we just built that, good God damn
But we went ahead and constructed it, even though it was unnecessary and of little value to us in the long run.


Oh, and I know this of myself
I am fully aware of my own shortcomings and failures.


We've listened more to life's end-gong
We often pay more attention to the negative aspects or endings of situations than the positive parts.


Than the sound of life's sweet bells
We do not value the good or rewarding parts of life as much as we should.


Was it ever worth it?
After reflecting on our past actions or decisions, we are questioning if they were truly beneficial or worthwhile.


Was there all that much to gain?
Did we really gain anything from these past experiences?


Well, we knew we missed the boat
We fully understand that we missed an opportunity in the past that may have been beneficial to us.


And we'd already missed the plane
We lost an opportunity or the chance of experiencing something new, exciting, or different.


We didn't read the invite
We rejected or ignored an opportunity that was offered to us.


We just dance at our wake
We celebrate our 'funeral' rather than focusing on our opportunities while we are alive.


All our favorites were playing
During our 'funeral,' our favorite songs or memories were shared or played.


So we could shake, shake, shake, shake, shake
We enjoyed our 'funeral' as if it were a fun party, not realizing that we are celebrating a death, rather than a life.


Tiny curtain's open, and we heard the tiny clap of little hands
Our past memories or experiences flashed before our eyes, reminding us of what we have lost and what we have missed.


A tiny man would tell a little joke, and get a tiny laugh from all the folks
Occasionally, we find something trivial amusing or comforting, despite the stresses and anxieties of daily life.


Sitting, drifting around in bubbles, and thinking it was us that carried them
We are often delusional about our own capabilities or powers; we think that our actions and choices lead to a perfect life and we pretend to be the center of the universe, while in reality we don't have any control over what happens.


When we finally got it figured out, that we had truly missed the boat
When we can finally see the negative effects of our past choices and understand how they have affected our lives.


Oh, and we carried it all so well
We pretended that everything was going well even though we had missed an important opportunity that could have changed our lives for the better.


As if we got a new position
We portrayed ourselves as having higher status or better-off than we actually were, even though we had missed a chance that could have made it genuinely possible.


Oh, and we owned all the tools ourselves
We thought we had all the necessary equipment and knowledge to succeed, when in reality we were lacking mastery of it.


But not the skills to make a shelf with
We lacked the ability to use our abilities and tools properly to create something of value that would last.


Oh, what useless tools ourselves
We realize that the things we thought were valuable or useful, were in fact not helpful at all or had no practical application.




Lyrics © BMG Rights Management, Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC
Written by: ERIC JUDY, ISAAC BROCK, JEREMIAH GREEN, JOE PLUMMER, JOHNNY MARR, TOM PELOSO

Lyrics Licensed & Provided by LyricFind
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Most interesting comments from YouTube:

@klashr13

[Verse 1: Isaac Brock]
While we're on the subject
Could we change the subject now?
I was knocking on your ear's door
But you were always out
Looking towards the future
We were begging for the past
Well, we knew we had the good things
But those never seemed to last
Oh, please just last

[Verse 2: Isaac Brock]
Everyone's unhappy
Everyone's ashamed
Well, we all just got caught looking
At somebody else's page
Well, nothing ever went
Quite exactly as we planned
Our ideas held no water
But we used them like a dam

[Chorus 1: Isaac Brock & James Mercer]
Oh, and we carried it all so well
As if we got a new position
Oh, and I'll laugh all the way to Hell
Sayin', "Yes, this is a fine promotion"
Oh, and I'll laugh all the way to Hell

[Verse 3: Isaac Brock]
Of course, everyone goes crazy
Over such and such and such
We made ourselves a pillar
We just used it as a crutch
We were certainly uncertain
At least, I'm pretty sure I am
Well, we didn't need the water
But we just built that good Goddamn!

[Chorus 2: Isaac Brock & James Mercer]
Oh, and I know this of myself
I assume as much for other people
Oh, and I know this of myself
We've listened more to life's end gong than
The sound of life's sweet bells

[Verse 4: Isaac Brock]
Was it ever worth it?
Was there all that much to gain?
Well, we knew we'd missed the boat
And we'd already missed the plane
We didn't read the invite
We just danced at our own wake
All our favorites were a-playing
So we could shake, shake, shake, shake, shake

[Verse 5: Isaac Brock]
Tiny curtains open and we heard the
Tiny clap of little hands, a tiny
Man would tell a little joke, and get a
Tiny laugh from all the folks, sittin'
Driftin' around on bubbles then
Thinkin' it was us that carried them
When we finally got it figured out
That we had truly missed the boat

[Chorus 3: Isaac Brock & James Mercer]
Oh, and we carried it all so well
As if we got a new position
Oh, and we owned all the tools ourselves
But not the skills to make a shelf with
Oh, what useless tools ourselves

Missed the Boat by Modest Mouse
Lyrics source: Genius



@Leonator-cz9ix

While we're on the subject
Could we change the subject now?
I was knocking on your ear's door
But you were always out
Looking towards the future
We were begging for the past
Well, we knew we had the good things
But those never seemed to last
Oh, please just last
Everyone's unhappy
Everyone's ashamed
Well, we all just got caught looking
At somebody else's page
Well, nothing ever went
Quite exactly as we planned
Our ideas held no water
But we used them like a dam
Oh, and we carried it all so well
As if we got a new position
Oh, and I laugh all the way to Hell
Saying, "Yes, this is a fine promotion"
Oh, and I laugh all the way to Hell
Of course everyone goes crazy
Over such and such and such
We made ourselves a pillar
We just used it as a crutch
We were certainly uncertain
At least, I'm pretty sure I am
Well, we didn't need the water
But we just built that good-God-damn
Oh, and I know this of myself
I assume as much for other people
Oh, and I know this of myself
We've listened more to life's end-gong than
The sound of life's sweet bells


Was it ever worth it?
Was there all that much to gain?
Well, we knew we'd missed the boat
And we'd already missed the plane
We didn't read the invite
We just dance at our own wake
All our favorites were a-playing
So we could shake, shake, shake, shake, shake
Tiny curtain's open
And we heard the tiny clap of little hands
A tiny man would tell a little joke
And get a tiny laugh from all the folks
Sittin', driftin' around in bubbles, and
Thinkin' it was us that carried them
When we finally got it figured out
That we had truly missed the boat
Oh, and we carried it all so well
As if we got a new position
Oh, and we owned all the tools ourselves
But not the skills to make a shelf with
Oh, what useless tools ourselves



All comments from YouTube:

@SamuelEMPowell131

I miss these types of music videos. I remember in high school seeing and hearing Modest Mouse for the first time in the local pizza shop with my friend. The tv used to always be set to the music channel. Didn't realize how great those days were at the time. For modest mouse vibes you should check out Lonely Gimmick - Stay at home to sleep in, it gives me Modest mouse vibes and its my friend from high schools music project. I'm seriously impressed.

@dncproductions9717

This is such an underrated song off such an underrated album from such an underrated band

@AmirRazan

Very true.

@bradmoberly6164

During underrated times and judged by overated critics.

@paigeherrin29

One of my most favorite bands ever! So so so sad about Jeremiah. 😥 💔

@joybayer1244

Underrated is such an over rated word😝

@nellie6635

facts

17 More Replies...

@ZeroShaneBob

"We've listened more to life's end gong
Than the sound of life's sweet bells"

That's my favorite part. So much truth.

@emilygora3872

Me too.

@banzaiboy23

Same

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